The Resurrection of Jesus: John 20:19-31
This is probably one of the easiest narratives to interpret in the entire Bible. The clues are evident. There is repetition (notice “peace” and “believe”), foreshadow and immediate resolution with Thomas (verses 24-29), and best of all, the intended purpose of the entire narrative (verses 30-31). The point is John called you to believe in the peace which Jesus proclaimed. The problem with sections like this is that they may be so familiar, and so simple that we ignore the riches that they speak to us.
The peace Jesus proclaimed was between God and man. In His death on the cross Jesus earned the whole of salvation for you. Thus this text calls you to believe! The Question is, what does the resurrection mean with regards to you?
So we have three points.
- Jesus Earned Salvation,
- We respond by Faith,
- Jesus’ Reward Effects You
1. Jesus Earned Salvation, 19-23
The collocation “earn salvation” is loaded. I could probably go into any Church and America and yell this at the top of my lungs and get a response of some kind. People would first think, “Who is this crazy person.” Then they would think “that is not true.” Because of this there is a terror of even speaking about the topic. However false it may be to say that you can earn your salvation, it is true that Jesus earned your salvation.
Jesus says to his disciples, “peace” in verses 19, 21, and 26. He greeted them with these words, but it is not just a greeting. The idea is that he has just accomplished peace between God and man. This is clear from how he commissions the Disciples. Look at verse 23, He told them to “forgive sins.” The dynamic here is crime and forgiveness of that crime by the blood of Jesus. Jesus proclaimed peace to them.
This peace was earned by Jesus. In 10:17-18 Jesus said that he had a commandment from his Father to lay down his life and take it up again! In 17:4-5 He prayed for the reward for his obedience, glory! The idea is that Jesus was earning salvation for you! Look at verse 17:22, here Jesus pointed to the bottom line. He died to earn your salvation!
2. We Respond by Faith 24-31
I once heard someone say, I hope without its implied meaning, “I hope I never do anything to shame myself, my family, or my other family.” Sometimes we just say stupid things, things we regret. Thomas no doubt regretted his words.
If I end up in history books I hope it is for something better than Thomas. He has been called doubting Thomas throughout church history. However embarrassing this may have been for Thomas, he serves as foil for the message of salvation in this text. Read verse 24-29. Do you think Thomas saw Jesus and then said, “wait just a minute there, Let me inspect you to make sure I am not being fooled.” No, he was reduced to confess Jesus as “Lord and God.”
Then, John makes an interesting note. Jesus said noted that Thomas had seen Him, but then he said, “Blessed are those who did not seen me and yet believe.” The point He implies to the reader is that Jesus is one to be trusted and confessed as Thomas did! John, the narrator, then went on to interpret the text in verses 30-31. The stated purpose of this text is that you will believe. The end result is not ambiguous. In fact the whole of John was written for this purpose.
3. Jesus’ Death Benefits You
Did you know that in the middle ages there was an emphasis on salvation by purgation of sin. Man was seen as indebted to God and paying back by certain ceremonies. This lead Martin Luther’s response which said, a not guilty verdict before God is by faith alone in Christ alone!
However true this is, it is still myopic when you consider the infinite merit of Jesus’ work and the resulting benefits to His people. So others argued that Justification was by faith alone, and so is sanctification! The Christian life and reconciliation are both from God. Finally, the Reformers began saying that not just justification and sanctification, but the whole of salvation was by faith alone, from Justification to final deliverance from this body of sin in the resurrection. That is, you gain all the benefits of Jesus’ death by faith.
Why Jesus say to the Disciples, “Peace be with you” (19, 21, 26.). The resurrected Jesus says to you “peace!” With that peace comes the whole of Salvation. Peace between God and man is the foundation, but that is not all that Jesus earned, He earned infinite reward, including the resulting recreation of the whole world.
Look at verse 30-31. First off, the miracles are signs that Jesus is truly who he says he is, but they are selectively used here for the purpose of teaching that Jesus is one to be trusted. However, we are not eyewitnesses to these miracles, so it is possible that another nuanced meaning is intended here. These miracles are signs which signify that Jesus has power over creation. The implication is that Jesus, in his exaltation is ruler over all creation. His salvation will inevitably result in the resurrection of your physical bodies as well as the recreation of the entire universe!
The benefits of Jesus’ death apply to you. Herman Bavink said,
“When Christ descended into the earth, he became poor, though he was rich, but when he rose and ascended to heaven he took with him a treasure of merits that he had acquired by his obedience ‘to death, even death on a cross.’”
Look at verse 30b. “And that believing in his name you may have life.” The result of believing is life. Life is the idea of a renewed inner person. “In His name” refers to the whole person of Jesus. This means that the resurrected Jesus gives you life which corresponds to His life. Jesus is recreating in you what he earned in his death!
The Venerable Bede said, “In each and every one of us He hated what we had done, but love what He had made.”
Jesus proclaimed peace and made peace between God and man. In His death on the cross Jesus earned the whole of salvation for you. Thus this text calls you to believe! The Question is, what does the resurrection mean with regards to you?
There are many different benefits of salvation. Herman Bavink lists many of these benefits. This is a summary list of his summary list. Bavink said, “The benefits that accrue to us from the reconciliation of God in Christ are too numerous to mention.” It could be said that by faith in the work of Christ on your behalf Jesus applies these things to you. The whole Christ is your Lord, God and Salvation.
By faith you ate Judicially reconciled, forgiven of your sins, adopted as sons, given the right to eternal life, given heavenly inheritance, given redemption from sin and results in all the others. By faith you are Mystically crucified, killed, buried, and resurrected. By faith you are Ethically regenerated, made alive in Christ, sanctified and set apart to live a holy life, washed by the water of baptism of the heart, cleansed of sin in body soul and spirit. By faith you are Morally enabled to imitate Christ as an example. By faith you are Economically the fulfillment of the Covenant with Abraham, in the New Covenant with all its promises, free from the condemnation as criminal before God, the bonds of sin are broken, and you are engrafted into the Israel of God. By faith you are Physically victorious over the temptations of the world, over death itself, over hell to come, and, finally, over Satan himself.
What does the resurrection mean to you? It means that, by faith in the work of Jesus, you benefit from what Jesus earned. I you have not yet noticed you are mortal. One day, you will die. If this is not terrifying enough, likelihood is that you will suffer a long painful life before that day. I am not trying to be cute here. This is our only comfort in life and death; that we belong to our faithful savior.
As Bede said, Jesus made us something new, though he hated what we have done. Here, Jesus came to his disciples and said, “Peace!” That peace that he accomplished results in life not only in the world to come, but in this life. By faith we live, and by faith we will die. By faith we embrace the whole of salvation, because Jesus earned salvation and rose that you would have life in His name.
 Bavink Dogmatics 447
 Bede quoted in Turretin Inst. Elenc. Discussion 86.
 Bavink Dogmatics vol 3 451