Introduction: I hope that you, like me, have now come to love the
book of John. What a blessing! The bad news is that this is our last
study in John. The good news is that our study is the most joyful
event in the history of the world. Jesus, our Savior, is resurrected
from the dead! Let’s jump right into our study of this triumph of
good over evil!

  1. Out of the Tomb

    1. Read John 20:1-2. What motivates Mary Magdalene to get up
      early on Sunday to go visit Jesus’ tomb?

      1. Who is the “disciple … Jesus loved?” (This is
        John’s way of referring to himself.)

        1. Let’s stop just a minute. We accuse Peter of
          being full of himself. Is it sin for John to
          refer to himself that way?

          1. I imagine that most of you were raised
            with brothers and sisters. What if one of
            your siblings always referred to
            himself/herself as “the one our parents
            loved?” Would that warm your heart or
            your head?

      2. Why do you think Mary went to Peter and John first?
        (She must have viewed them as leaders of the

      3. Mary says, “They have taken the Lord.” Who do you
        think she means by “they?” (The little group had just
        been “rolled over” by the religious and secular
        authorities. She probably did not have anyone
        specific in mind, but meant those in power who had
        caused all of the turmoil in their lives.)

    2. Read John 20:3-8. Compare John with Peter based on the
      facts in these verses. (John is a faster runner, but more
      discreet. I think John wants to tell us something about
      their personalities and physical prowess. However, it
      could be he is just telling the story and is giving us
      these specific facts to bolster the idea he is telling the
      1. Is John still bragging? (Sure seems like it.)

    3. Let’s focus on John 20:8 and add verse 9. What is it that
      John believed?

      1. Remember that John is writing this account. Is he
        saying that he believed in the resurrection at a time
        when the rest of the disciples did not? (John seems
        to say that he believed that Jesus had been raised
        from the dead. But, when John writes that “they did
        not understand from the Scripture,” I think he
        includes himself. John tells us that the disciples as
        a group had not clearly understood the Old Testament
        verses which pointed to Jesus’ death and
        resurrection. John would not have referred to the
        gospel accounts of his fellow disciples as

      2. If I am right that John did not then fully grasp the
        Scriptural basis for the resurrection, on what did he
        base his belief? (Consider the scene logically.
        Verses 5-7 tell us that the grave clothes were
        present and one part even “folded!” If enemies or
        robbers had taken Jesus, they would not have
        unwrapped Him and they would not have folded His
        graveclothes (of all things!) This is powerful
        evidence of an intentional, deliberate, exit. Like a
        detective, John apparently grasped this.)

    4. Read Mark 9:30-32. Why didn’t the disciples understand
      what would happen to Jesus? He had been very plain! (They
      did not want Jesus to die. They wanted Him to be King.
      They were afraid to ask because they did not want to hear
      any bad news. If you look at Matthew 26:32 you will see
      that the night before His death Jesus again reminded the
      disciples that He would arise (“after I have arisen”) and
      meet them in Galilee. They were told, they just did not
      want to believe. I have seen this with the family of a
      terminal patient. I listened to what the doctor said and I
      was amazed at how my understanding differed from that of
      the family.)

    5. Read John 20:10-16. What does this teach us about who Mary
      thought the “they” was who had taken Jesus? (This shows
      she had no idea. She asks the angels. She asks “the
      gardener.” She just wants to make sure the body is
      treated properly.)

      1. Jesus could have appeared to John (the one He loved)
        or Peter just as easily as He appeared to Mary. Why
        did Jesus appear to Mary first? (I suspect this has
        to do with Eve. Genesis tells us that Eve was the
        first to sin ( Genesis 3:1-6). After Jesus had paid
        the penalty for sin, after He had overcome death, the
        first person He appeared to was a woman.)

      2. Put yourself in Mary’s place. What is the range of
        your emotions? (She went from the sad and frustrating
        task of trying to find and protect Jesus’ dead body
        to realizing that Jesus was now her risen Lord! Dawn
        breaks from darkness.)

    6. Read John 20:17. A lot of theology is wrapped up in this
      verse. Jesus had been dead since Friday. It was now
      Sunday. How could He not have returned to His Father by

      1. Compare Luke 23:40-43. Was Jesus in heaven the day He
        died or not? ( John 20:17 clearly says He was not. It
        seems illogical to punctuate Jesus’ statement, “I
        tell you the truth today, you will be with Me in
        paradise.” Why would anyone say they were speaking
        “today?” Obviously, Jesus was speaking that day. Yet,
        that seems to be the only reasonable way to punctuate
        this verse based on John 20:17. (As you know, the
        original Greek had no punctuation.) John 20:17 is a
        powerful argument for the idea that the saints do not
        immediately go to heaven upon death – but that they
        do, indeed, go to heaven because Jesus has overcome
        the grave.)

  2. The Visits

    1. Read John 20:18-20. Why did the disciples fear the Jews?
      (They thought they might be next. Jesus had been killed,
      why not them?)

      1. Imagine you are one of the disciples in the locked
        room when Jesus shows up. Describe your emotions?
        (Mary had brought them news that they might not have
        believed. Maybe it is true. They are huddled together
        in fear. All of a sudden, joy comes when they
        actually see that Jesus is alive and well. Fear turns
        to confidence.)

      2. Why is Jesus showing them His hands and side?

    2. Read John 20:24-28. Is Thomas different than the other
      disciples? (If you review John 20:18-19 it seems that the
      rest of the disciples (other than John) did not accept
      Mary’s report because they were fearful rather than

      1. What does Jesus’ reaction to Thomas’ doubt teach us?
        (That Jesus will go out of His way to remove our
        doubts if we earnestly seek Him.)

    3. Read John 20:29. What is the message for us today? (We
      need to believe the eyewitness accounts of John and
      others. We should not be like Thomas.)

    4. Read John 20:30-31. What is the goal of our belief in
      Jesus? (Life in His name!)

  3. The Assignment

    1. Read John 21:1-3. Is this the picture of busy
      evangelists? How do you explain this?

    2. Read John 21:4-6. Why does Jesus perform this miracle?

      1. If Jesus wants them to be evangelists, why would He
        prosper them in their secular business?

    3. Read John 21:7-9. Not only does John run faster, but he
      has better eyesight than Peter! Am I right? Is John’s
      eyesight better? (Notice that John identifies Jesus after
      they get this unusual catch. The miracle may well have
      triggered John’s mind to give this fellow on the shore a
      closer look. Just like John reads the signs in the empty
      tomb, he now reads the signs of the unusual catch.)

      1. Do we see any change in Peter’s personality? (He
        pulls his sword first. He bursts into the empty tomb.
        He jumps into the water. I love him.)

      2. Does this picture show us that the rest of the
        disciples loved the fish more than they loved Jesus?

    4. Read John 21:10-13. This seems to me to be an odd story.
      The disciples are out fishing, not evangelizing. Jesus
      rewards them in this relative waste of time. Then they all
      sit down to eat together. What is going on? Why is this
      story even in John’s account? (This is like old times. The
      disciples are fishing, Jesus and his disciples are
      together eating fish and bread. This is the ultimate proof
      that Jesus is really alive. He is no ghost or spirit. He
      is eating real food. It is like it was before His

      1. Why are we told the exact number of the catch?
        (Remember that details give credibility to a story.)

    5. Read John 21:15-17. When Jesus says “more than these,” is
      He speaking of the fish and the fishing boat, or is He
      speaking of the other disciples? (Recall that in Matthew
      26:33 Peter is recorded as saying that he would stand with
      Jesus even though all the rest of the disciples abandoned
      Him. If Jesus means the boat, it certainly makes sense
      because Jesus is telling Peter he has a new job – and it
      is not catching fish.)

      1. If Jesus is speaking about the other disciples, what
        do you think of Peter’s response? (Peter does not say
        “Yes, I love you more than they do. Remember, I
        jumped out of the boat!” Instead, Peter simply says
        “I love you” without comparing himself with anyone

    6. Friend, we end our study of John with two important
      messages. First, we serve a risen Lord. There is no doubt
      or vacillation in the eyewitness account. Second, our
      risen Lord calls on us to “feed” and “care” for His
      followers – the “sheep” and the “lambs.” Will you accept
      this responsibility? Will you determine that your
      influence will build up the body of believers and not tear
      it down?

  4. Next week: Isaiah: Crisis of Identity.