Lesson 125: Jesus Met with the Apostles Again / Back to the Plan

John 20:19-29

A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 125. In our last lesson we read about Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene and possibly another woman on that great resurrection morning when Jesus came forth from the grave, overcoming Satan and conquering death itself. The apostle Paul in summarizing these things about Jesus' resurrection at a later time said: "he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of the all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time." (I Cor. 15:5-8) Cephas was of course, Peter and we learned in our last lesson, Luke 24:34, that Jesus appeared to Peter on that first Sunday. Jesus later that evening appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and finally to all the apostles that night in Jerusalem. He read in our last lesson ABOUT that occasion; when the two disciples from Emmaus hurried back to Jerusalem on Sunday night after dark to share their good news with the apostles and disciples. And while they were telling their thrilling story, Jesus appeared to the eleven apostles with the exception of Thomas, which we shall learn about shortly. As Jesus spoke to the apostles and disciples behind closed doors that night; he had some ASTOUNDING THINGS to say with great implications for you and me. We didn't have time to discuss that in our last lesson; but, before we talk about these things here, let's read John’s account of that same meeting. The reference is John 20:19-25. Let's read those seven verses, NOW. We'll begin in John 20:19. Do you have your eyes on that? Let's read. "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week* when the doors were shut when the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you, as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 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 prints of the nails, and put my finger into the prints of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." Alright, now, let me suggest you take a moment and review the words of Jesus near the end of Luke ch. 24, that we read in our last lesson. Get a finger on both texts so you can flip back and forth quickly.

The meeting that Sunday night must have been a great emotional experience. Jesus first said, "Peace be unto you." Luke said they were terrified, Luke 24:37. But after they began to calm down, Jesus ate a piece of fish and a honeycomb with them. Then in Luke 24:44-49, Jesus made a speech which might be summarized like this: the shepherd had been smitten, the sheep have been scattered; but, thankfully you are back together again, let's get on with the work of the heavenly Father. Jesus began with a brief review, "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." Now, if anyone has one iota of doubt with respect to Matthew's fulfillment doctrine, as I called it, back in Matt. 5:17-18, the words of Jesus here in Luke 24:44 will remove any doubt when properly understood. Now, analyze the words of Jesus in v.44, "I spake unto you, while I was yet with you..." Now, let me ask you a question, Wasn't Jesus with them that night, there in that locked room? Of course, in a spiritual body! But, you have no trouble understanding that Jesus, in that same spiritual sense, had parted from the apostles. Thus, in his review, Jesus was saying to the apostles, this is what I said to you during my earthly ministry, "all things must be fulfilled", i.e. in the O.T. prophecy. Some, think that v.45 in Luke's account was some miraculous illumination of the Scriptures. But, I prefer to think it has reference to the next few verses, i.e. what Jesus THEN told the apostles. He said two things (#1). "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:" And then (#2), he said: "And that remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Alright, the first part {contained in v.46) had already transpired at that moment. But, the second part (contained in v.47) was really the apostles' part. This is what Jesus had prepared them for, up to this moment AND it was their work of the future to initiate the process of preaching "repentance and remission of sins...among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.'1 That's really, a restatement of what is commonly called the great commission. John, one of the apostles there that night, quoted Jesus in his account like this, in John 20:21, "as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." The point is, that Jesus was making it very clear to the apostles that their work .of the kingdom was still ahead of them. Everything to that point, had been preparatory for the coning kingdom. He is saying in essence, the Father sent me to suffer and to be raised again the third day and thus fulfill the O.T. Scriptures. I have done that. But, I am now sending you, i.e. the apostles, to accomplish the second phase, i.e. to preach the kingdom, to preach repentance and remission of sins to all nations. It would begin at Jerusalem. In v.48 of Luke ch. 24, Jesus said that the apostles were witnesses of these thing. Their 3 years of experience with Jesus had qualified them to testify of these things, i.e. they were witness to the first phase that had Just been completed and secondly, they could testify to the fact that Jesus had preached over and over, the kingdom is at hand, i.e. eminent, will be established soon. O.K. now turn to John ch. 20 and re-read v.22. After Jesus had said, "as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." Then Jesus, in v.22, "saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost..." Now, we haven't read the complete sentence; but, the point I want to make is this: when you first read v.22, you get the feeling that Jesus was saying, HERE RECEIVE THE HOLY GHOST RIGHT NOW, i.e. that the apostles received the Holy Ghost then anid there on that Sunday night, i.e. the first time Jesus appeared to them. Well, of course, I trust you immediately think of John ch. 14-15-16, where Jesus discussed this with the apostles in the upper room that night before he was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. On that occasion, Jesus definitely PROMISED that they would receive miraculous powers, there called the Holy Ghost. He, i.e. the Holy Ghost would help them to remember. Jesus said, "He will guide you into all truth." (John 16:13). Thus, the apostles WERE to receive the Holy Ghost. The only problem with John 20:22 is that THEN AND THERE PART that we tend to read into it. Obviously, it does not harmonize with Luke 24:49, which is Luke’s duplicate of this thought. Luke quoted Jesus like this: "behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: [i.e. the Holy Ghost] but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." So. Luke's quote from Jesus did not make Jesus' promise of the Holy Ghost, take on that, THEN AND THERE aspect that we tend to get from John. Then, to further verify this, Luke quotes Jesus, speaking to the apostles again, in Acts 1:5 like this, "Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." So, re-read John 20:22 again. What makes us assume that the apostles received the Holy Ghost at that moment, i.e. Sunday night, the day Jesus arose from the dead? I think it's that strange part about "he breathed on them." I tried to chase this in a concordance, the dictionary and the commentaries and I discovered the word "breathed" here is a little peculiar use of that word. I'm NOT saying it is incorrectly translated, I simply don't know. But, the Greek word here is spelled "E-P-H-U-S-A-O" and this is the only time that word is used in the entire N.T. So, I'll let you take it from there. However, as much as it sounds like the apostles receive the Holy Ghost that night in John 20:22, it apparently DOES NOT convey that thought. Jesus was simply reminding the apostles that they WOULD receive miraculous help, as Jesus had promised earlier. Now, v.23 in John is connected to the above thought with a colon punctuation. So, when they would receive the Holy Ghost, that Jesus promised, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." Luke's account summarized THAT THOUGHT in these words: "repentance and remission of sins." (Luke 24:47). Now, if you'll think back, this information is not new to us. Jesus had explained this to the apostles before. At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus said: "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt. 16:19). Thus, Jesus was telling the apostles: their authority would be binding at the final judgment following the general resurrection of the dead. Thus, the apostles were ambassadors of Christ, i.e. with the power to act on Christ's behalf. The word "ambassador" is used a couple times in the N.T. in that sense, once in the singular (Eph. 6:2) and once in the plural (II Cor. 5:20). I used to think II Cor. 5:20 applied to all Christians; but, I'm convinced now the word includes only the apostles.

O.K., don't get bogged down here in details. Some of the most important information in the four gospels, relating to us, is spoken in these verses. So, re-read and review, until you have a solid handle on what Jesus said on this occasion. Let me try to summarize: Jesus told those apostles that night, after they got over their fright, the things that had transpired on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, i.e. Jesus death, burial, and resurrection from the dead was a fulfillment of O.T. prophecy. That's Luke 24:44-45-46. And Jesus told them that just as THOSE THINGS had fulfilled prophecy; they WOULD BE, i.e. in the near future, involved in fulfilling prophecy also. In other words, we would say, the apostles would be involved in initiating the Christian age. It would begin at Jerusalem but would go into all nations. And, implied in this is for all time. (Luke 24:47). Jesus reminded them they would received miraculous help, i.e. the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit. But, he told them to "tarry in the city of Jerusalem" until they received the help here promised. (Luke 24:49). Now, the things that are said here are exactly as foretold in the O.T. book of Isaiah. Beginning in Isaiah ch. 2, that writer said this: "it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established...and all nations shall flow into it...out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (Isa. 2:2-3). The old law, i.e. the Mosaic law went forth from Mt. Sinai. But, it was foretold by Isaiah, that "in the last days", i.e. in the Christian age, "the law" or "the word of the Lord" would go forth from Jerusalem, which is also called Mt. Zion. As you read the rest of the N.T., this is exactly what happened. The apostles were the Lord's ambassadors. They gave Christ's law to the world, starting at Jerusalem and spreading into all the world, every nation. Now, you must realize that the law the apostles established, the law of Christ, was not just something the apostles made up and imposed upon the world. The apostles were guided by the Holy Ghost, thus as ambassadors, they simply acted in behalf of their King, Jesus the Christ. And that law supplanted, i.e. replaced, the Mosaic law that went forth from Mt. Sinai. And that's the way it came down to us.
Now, the apostles were to stay in Jerusalem and that was where they were to receive the Holy Ghost and to begin preaching "repentance and remission of sins..." (Luke 24:47). But, don't over look something else here. What was the first message sent by the angel and sent by Jesus, via Mary Magdalene, to the apostles that Sunday morning? Do you remember? In Matt. 28:7, the angel instructed, "go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you." Mark reported this in Mark 16:7. Luke made reference to it in Luke 24:6. Jesus before his death had only recently reminded them of this in Matt. 26:32. So, it is clear that Jesus had appointed them a place to meet with him in Galilee. Just where and when we are not told. But, obviously the apostles understood. And, this meeting was carried out as we shall see. However, Jesus made no reference to this in his remarks to the apostles on that Sunday night, i.e. nothing is recorded.
Now, Thomas one of the apostles was not with the rest of the apostles on that Sunday night, when Jesus appeared. John does not tell us WHY Thomas was not there. So, we must not speculate. John simply said, "Thomas...was not with them when Jesus came." (John 20:24). But, we learn in the next verse that when these things were reported to Thomas, the twin, he said: "Except I shall see in his hands the prints of the nails, and put my fingers into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." In other words, Thomas, just straight admitted, it was more than he could believe. Undoubtedly, Thomas had witnessed Jesus on the cross and he just couldn't get that scene out of his mind. But, the next Sunday night, Jesus appeared to the apostles again and that time Thomas was there. Let's read v.26-29 in John's account. Have you got your finger on that? Beginning in John 20:26, let's read. "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. 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. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." Thomas had boasted that he would not believe until he was an eye witness and further until he had actually examined the nail prints and the spear wound in Jesus' side; but, Thomas was convinced at the very appearance of Jesus and confessed, "My Lord and my God." There's no evidence that Thomas examined his scars as he had boasted he would. This was about the sixth appearance of Jesus to some of his disciples. There is no record of any message that Jesus gave them, that second Sunday night. I suppose he disappeared about like he appeared. Undoubtedly, very much like it is stated he "vanished" from the two disciples in Emmaus.(Luke 24:31). Until our next lesson, have a good day.

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