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Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-20; Listen
Luke 24:35-53; John 20:19-21:25
In this passage, we see the following in Jesus' ministry:
|14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.||35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
43 And he took it, and did eat before them.
|19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD.
21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
It's still Sunday, resurrection day, and the disciples get a visit from those guys who had seen Jesus on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-34 (see notes). While they're speaking to the disciples, Jesus himself appears before them. Both John and Luke identify this appearance as having taken place on the evening of the resurrection, but they each cover different aspects of the meeting. Mark himself just dedicates one verse to this appearance in Mark 16:14. He points out that they were rebuked by Jesus because of their lack of belief regarding his resurrection prior to this personal appearance before them. Luke records the skepticism of the disciples and the fact that Jesus used the visuals of his pierced (and healed) hands and feet as evidence that he was, indeed, Jesus himself.
Mark reports in verse 14 that Jesus "upbraided them" because of their failure to immediately believe that he had been resurrected. We saw in Mark 16:10 (see notes) that the two women were told to instruct the disciples to go meet Jesus in Galilee. They did not go; they remained in the Jerusalem area.
Yeah, but is this really Jesus bodily resurrected, or is it just a Jesus spirit? Luke wants to make certain this question is answered in Luke 24:41-43. Jesus ate with them; spirits don't eat, but the bodily-resurrected Jesus does.
Incidentally, "the twelve" had been the designation used in the Gospel accounts to differentiate between the appointed apostles of Jesus and the other disciples of Jesus, a much larger number. It is interesting that the Gospel accounts only refer to this group as "apostles" eight times (Matthew 10:2; Mark 6:30; Luke 6:13; 9:10; 11:49; 17:5; 22:14; 24:10), and six of those times are by Luke. We see "the twelve" clearly identified as "apostles" in Luke 6:13 (see notes), "And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles." However, the apostles are most frequently referred to as "the twelve," as is the case here in John 20:24. Likewise, after the departure of Judas, they were known as "the eleven" as seen in Matthew 28:16, Mark 16:14 and Luke 24:9,33. While this body of men were now known as "the eleven," we see in John's account that Thomas was not actually present as a member of "the eleven" in John 20:24. As a matter of fact, it would be another week (John 20:26) before Thomas would actually see Jesus. Therefore, while it is reported by Mark that Jesus appeared on resurrection day to "the eleven," that term is used to describe this particular body of disciples. Thomas missed this meeting of "the eleven."
Two verses in John's passage particularly stand out, John 20:22-23. In these verses, Jesus seems to give something special to his apostles. Bible scholars have debated through the years exactly what it means. I try not to read too much into these verses. First of all, it would appear that Jesus is blessing his disciples with a dose of the Holy Spirit's guidance to hold them over until the Day of Pentecost seven weeks (to the day) away. After the day of Pentecost, it is obvious that the Holy Spirit indwells every Believer at salvation. Click here to see the summary on Acts 2. Secondly, Jesus says this in verse 23, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." Keep in mind, these are specific instructions to the apostles. The same Greek word for "remit" there is usually translated "forgive" ("aphiemi" pronounced "af-ee´-ay-mee"). The Greek verb for "retain" there is "krateo." It means to "continue in the same state." Obviously he is charging them with spreading the salvation message here in this passage, having witnessed the resurrected Jesus in person. It is impossible to conclusively read anymore into these words of Jesus than that. By the time the Feast of Pentecost is complete, it will be quite clear to the apostles what is to be their mission.
|25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.
29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Since Thomas apparently had left early on the resurrection day when Jesus appeared (John 20:24), after being told about it, he expressed doubt about Jesus' appearance. Mark and Luke clearly indicate that the apostles were present when the two Emmaus witnesses showed up, though we see that Thomas was not present when Jesus appeared on that resurrection day. Having missed the visible proof of Jesus' identity which the other disciples viewed, his pierced and scarred hands and feet, Thomas wants to go one better. He remembers the piercing of the side of Jesus with the spear; he wants to see that wound also.
Well Thomas...here we are. Eight days have passed since the resurrection, and the disciples are gathered again. Jesus appears and affords Thomas the opportunity to confirm Jesus' identity. Jesus then declares in John 20:29, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." Understand, salvation is by faith. Jesus blesses those who will come to him by faith, which by the way, is how all of us come to a saving knowledge of Jesus as our savior.
Then John declares his purpose for writing this gospel in John 20:31, "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."
|1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
Jesus appears to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias after an indefinite lapse of time. This is another name for the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. Interestingly enough, Peter decides to go fishing. This is not sport or hobby fishing, but rather big-time fishing for profit with nets, etc. How could the disciples (who went with Peter) fish at a time like this? Obviously they did it for livelihood. There was no church or group to support them otherwise as would be the case later.
Special attention is given to Peter on this day by Jesus. I am reminded of Matthew 16:13-20 (see notes) when Jesus gave special authority to Peter. Jesus seems to build on that authority here. This occasion starts out with their return from the fishing expedition, having only caught the fish made possible by the appearance of Jesus.
When they arrive to shore, Jesus has already prepared a meal for them (fish, of course). Then begins the object lesson. Jesus asks Peter in verse 15, "...lovest thou me more than these?" That is a reference to Peter's declaration before the crucifixion in Mark 14:31 (see notes), "If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise." Ultimately, all the disciples fled at the crucifixion. However, Peter had verbally set himself apart that day from the other disciples with his adamant declaration, and Jesus is now coming to deal with that declaration and subsequent denial.
Keep in mind, John was present on this occasion. The Greek words used in this passage offer some precision regarding this dialogue between Jesus and Peter. The Greek word Jesus uses for "love" means "sacrifice" in verses 15 and 16 (Greek: "agapao"). Those two questions strike at the essence of Peter's pre-crucifixion declaration. However, in both instances in verses 15 and 16, Peter's response to Jesus' questions is characterized with a different Greek word for "love" which means "natural affection" (Greek: "phileo") rather than "sacrifice." It would appear that Peter completely understands the point - that when he said prior to the crucifixion that he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice (die with Jesus) and failed to do so, it would seem empty to make a similar declaration now. Actions speak louder than words. When Jesus asks the question the third time in verse 17, he also is quoted by John as referring to "natural affection" (Greek: "phileo") rather than "sacrifice" ("agapao"). Peter again answers the question declaring his love ("phileo") for Jesus.
My opinion about this verbal exchange is that Peter did not want to be guilty of once again overstating his love for Jesus in the face of his previous denial. I think that's why Peter makes the statement in verse 17, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love [phileo] thee." It was Jesus who correctly prophesied what Peter would do prior to the crucifixion, and Peter realizes that Jesus knows exactly what he will do in future circumstances. Jesus commands Peter to "Feed my sheep." It would appear that Jesus is restating the authority he gave to Peter in Matthew 16:13-20 (see notes). Incidentally, Peter's boldness from the Day of Pentecost to the end of his life demonstrates that he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of Christ. Jesus prophesies the death of Peter in verses 18-19. This serves as a confirmation to Peter that Jesus believes Peter will serve him to the death this time.
|20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
These are curious verses. John (the apostle and author) comments on an exchange between Peter and Jesus, and the subsequent misunderstanding that occurred. John refers to himself as "the disciple that Jesus loved" (verses 20, 24). John is careful to make clear that the subsequent belief among followers of Jesus that John would not suffer death was a misunderstanding of this conversation between Peter and Jesus.
|16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
|15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
|44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
It takes reading all three passages to get a full picture of this commission from Jesus along with Acts 1:8 (see notes), spoken at the same time. Matthew sticks with the essence of the commission - command and authority to preach the gospel to the world. Mark chooses to include some empowerment comments. Luke wants to add perspective to the comments. As a matter of fact, pay particular attention to Luke 24:44, "And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses (per Deuteronomy 18:15-22 see notes), and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me." Luke wants to remove any doubt from the minds of his readers regarding the Messianic fulfillment of Jesus. Peter latches onto this in his message of Acts 3 when he refers to Moses' prophecy regarding the Messiah in Acts 3:22-23 (see notes). Moreover, it is Luke who quotes Jesus as giving to the disciples their immediate task at hand of waiting in Jerusalem "until ye be endued with power from on high." As it happens, this turns out to take place on the Day of Pentecost with the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 (see notes).
While Mark and Luke give a brief account of Jesus' ascension into Heaven in these verses, Luke records considerably more detail of this day in Acts 1 (see notes). Acts 1 overlaps the events of these verses.
Mark's account here merits some additional explanation. I recognize that it is popular, even among conservative commentators, to explain away Mark 16:15-20 based upon issues of textual criticism. I, myself, am not comfortable with the notion that this portion of scripture can be discounted based upon its omission from two Alexandrian manuscripts while a host of extant manuscripts support the passage's inclusion. I accept this passage as written. Mark's specifications are very similar to those reported back in Luke 10:1-24 (see notes) when the seventy were sent out on their missionary trip. It should not be troubling to us that Jesus included similar instructions here as he was issuing what has become known as the great commission. As a matter of fact, we do see this level of protection against harm on behalf of the eleven Apostles throughout their efforts in the Book of Acts, along with the great authority given to them.
Some have used Mark's statement regarding baptizing in verse 16 to formulate an entire doctrine regarding Believer's baptism, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." They insist, based upon this verse, that one is saved only after water baptism is complete. This ill-founded doctrine is often referred to as "baptismal regeneration." It is unwise to draw a single verse out of the scripture upon which to build a doctrine, especially in light of the fact that baptism is dealt with in so many other passages of scripture. We see in Romans 6:1-14 (see notes) that water baptism is a picture of what has taken place in a person's life at salvation. The actual baptism at salvation is that of being baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ as seen in I Corinthians 12:13 (see notes). Another verse often cited by those who teach the unscriptural doctrine of "baptismal regeneration" is Acts 2:38 (see notes). In reading that passage and Peter's invitation on the Day of Pentecost, it is obvious that immediate baptism that day was the only logistically acceptable means whereby the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of thousands could step out and be counted for Christ.
In reality, salvation is a heart condition. At salvation, one becomes a Believer by being baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. This transaction is completely supernatural and instantaneous. Any outward physical attempt (like water baptism) to complete this transaction adds a component of works to the salvation process, and that is scripturally unacceptable. Paul states it concisely in Romans 11:5-6 (see notes), " Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." To insist that something other than supernatural saving faith is required to complete the salvation transaction invalidates the work of the Holy Spirit. It's clear; salvation is completely a spiritual transaction between man and God; no outward act can possibly be necessary to validate it.