Studies in the Gospel of John
Lesson 56: Personal Encounters with Christ
Restored relationships are a thrilling thing to see – and especially to experience. And the passage we come to today is the best possible example of that. It will help our understanding of this material if we keep in mind the overview of the chapter. It falls into three parts. In verses 1 through 10 we have The Empty Tomb. Then in verses 11 through 18 we have The Encounter with the Teacher. And in verses 19 through 31 we have The Entrance of Truth.
We have looked at the first two sections in our last two lessons. So in this lesson we want to think about that third section, The Entrance of Truth in verses 19 through 31.
And the first thing we see is The gathering in verse 19:
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled,[c] for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
Notice that the doors were shut for fear of the Jews, (but even so, the disciples must have been excited.) By now Mary had delivered her message about their gathering, and Peter had probably reported his encounter with Christ (recorded by Luke in Luke 24:34) the two with whom Jesus had talked on the road to Emmaus would have been there by now. And suddenly they realized that Jesus was in the room, even though the doors were shut!! Everyone there saw Him. And He gave them His usual beloved greeting, “Peace be with you.”
Luke says that that they thought that it was a spirit and were terrified – so in verses 20 and 22 He gave them two gifts. The first gift was the sight of Himself – His hands and His side. Luke says that He also took a piece of fish and ate it in their presence. Then they realized who He really was. Verse 20 also records one of the greatest understatements in all of the Bible: “Then were the disciples glad” They must have remembered His words from 4 days before “you will see me again.” (16:26). This is probably what John was referring to in his introduction to the book – “that which we have seen and heard, etc.”
That same recognition by individuals today brings assurance of salvation, as in Romans 10:9, “Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth.” I said above that Jesus gave these disciples two gifts. The first one was the gift of seeing Him, but in verses 22 and 23 we see the second one: He offered to give them the gift of the Holy Spirit.
22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, 23 Receive the Holy Spirit.
Most Bible Scholars say that this was a kind of a “down payment” on the Holy Spirit which they would receive on the day of Pentecost a few days from then.