In chapter 19 we see Christ on the cross.
He was mocked (verses 1-22); He was crucified (verses 23-30); and He was buried (verses 31-42). It is interesting to contrast Christ's birth and death--He was born in poverty, and buried with the rich; He came into the world wrapped in swaddling clothes, and left wrapped in burial cloths; and at His birth people came to worship Him, and at His burial they forsook Him and even ridiculed Him.
In the Gospel of John there are three crisis events. One is when the multitude leaves Jesus, after wanting to make Him King. This event is found in chapter 6. The second crisis is found in chapter 12, when the people refuse to believe in Him. The third crisis is found in chapter 19, when they crucify Him. In the first crisis the people wanted to make Him King--yet they left Him. In the second crisis they hailed Him as King--yet they rejected Him. And in the third crisis they cried out, "We have no king but Caesar,"--and they crucified Him. The entire Gospel of John is the conflict between faith and unbelief. As recorded in the third chapter, it is unbelief that causes man to be condemned; but through belief, condemnation is taken away.
Chapter 20 records three post-resurrection appearances of Christ. Each appearance brought about a different result in the lives of those who were involved. When Mary recognized the risen Saviour, she said to Him, "Rabboni: which is to say, Master." The disciples saw Christ as He came through the locked doors in His glorified body. He gave them peace--peace with God, based on His sacrifice on the cross (verse 19), and peace of God that comes from His presence with us (verse 21). This is the peace that passes all understanding, and can only come to those who abide in Christ.
Next, we note the reaction of Thomas (called Didymus) when he saw Christ. He had not been present when Christ first appeared to the disciples, and he doubted the fact that Christ had risen. The name Didymus means twin. Today, Thomas has many twins. There are those who doubt Christ's resurrection. His testimony thrills us as he said, "My Lord and my God." The view of Christ's wounds won his heart.
As we review these three appearances of Christ, we can see the different results. With Mary the issue was her love for Christ. She missed Him and wanted to take care of His body. With the disciples it was hope. All their hope was gone. They were locked in their room, gathered together in fear. With Thomas the issue was faith. He would not believe unless he saw proof.
In the final chapter of this great book, we see Christ as the Master of our service and also as a Friend of sinners. We note exactly what happened between Peter and the Lord, and how Christ dealt with the disobedience of Peter. Notice that three times Jesus required Peter to confirm his love. Peter denied Christ three times, and we see him confirming the fact that he loves Jesus three times also. Had Peter not met Christ here in chapter 21, and confessed his sins, we might not have met Peter again as we do in Acts 1. This should be a great encouragement to those who have stumbled and fallen while striving to serve God. Peter denied he even knew Christ. Yet, when he came with a broken heart and confessed his sins, Christ forgave him and blessed him in a greater way than ever before. We will see as we study the Book of Acts how greatly Peter's life was magnified for the glory of God.
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