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Read John 20

The Empty Tomb

1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of John’s Gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Go Deeper

What would you do if you had just completed the most important act in human history? Let’s say you had just taken the punishment for all of humanity’s sin on the cross, and then defeated death three days later. Surely you’d want to take a victory lap! Maybe you would gloat over the soldiers who killed you or stand in the temple and teach the Pharisees a lesson. But that’s not how Jesus handles His victory. All He really wants to do is go and be with His friends.  

In His reaction to defeating death we get to see the relational nature of Jesus. In the first encounter post-resurrection we read about a remarkable moment between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. In her horror, she thinks that Jesus has been taken from the tomb. Ironically, through her tears she doesn’t realize that she’s looking right at Him. However, all becomes clear in a beautiful moment when Jesus simply says her name. She’s heard Him speak her name hundreds of times before, and the way He said it in the garden stopped her in her tracks. She recognized Jesus by the way He tenderly said her name. 

Shortly after, Jesus would go to be with the disciples and individually greet them as well. He knew what each of them needed, and met their needs accordingly. We read specifically with Thomas that Jesus didn’t dismiss his doubts, but rather in love displayed the scars on His hands. 

This is a fascinating chapter because while Jesus’ resurrection changed the destiny of the entire world, He wanted His friends to know first. He wanted them to know He did it for them on an individual level. While the message of the empty tomb is one for the world, it’s also one specifically for you. Jesus died and rose again so that you could hear Him speak your name and set you free. Now His desire is that you would live your life with Him. As we see in this chapter, Jesus wants a relationship with you. He’ll meet you where you are at, even through the tears and the doubts.


  1. What most stood out to you about Jesus in this chapter?
  2. Why do you think Mary didn’t recognize Him right away?
  3. Do you feel like you are relationtionally close with Jesus? If not, how can you get there?

Did You Know?

Mary Magdalene’s response to Jesus after he said her name is a reminder of what Jesus said in John 10 when He told the Pharisees that He was the good shepherd: His sheep know His voice and they follow it.

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3 thoughts on “John 20”

  1. Mary was so heartbroken and shaken by all the events that happened in her life, that she couldn’t see Jesus who was standing there all along. Jesus said He would never leave us or forsake us. No matter how hard life gets, I want to remember to listen for His voice in the middle of my chaos, He has always been there, I just have to be still and listen.

  2. In stark contrast to where John’s gospel left the reader yesterday with the brutal death of Jesus, today we see the risen Lord as evidenced by an empty tomb. The first to witness this miracle is Mary Magdalene who traveled with Jesus as one of his followers. She had witnessed Christ raise her brother, Lazarus, from the dead and also the crucifixion of Jesus and its aftermath. Luke 8:1-2 shows that Mary had experienced a personal miracle as well, when Jesus delivered her from 7 demons that ruled her life. She who knew no dignity and only shame, Jesus saw! She now would be the first to deliver the gospel story, “I have seen the Lord!” She was the first among men or women to see the risen Lord and hear him speak. Today, I’m pondering all that Christ has done for me. I have been saved to practice my faith in following Jesus to make him known to others. Does my life reflect gratitude, devotion & consecration to the One who gave his life for me? I want to acknowledge him in the countless moments of my days letting his peace mark my life, total well-being and inner rest, abiding in my Savior.

  3. Here are two clear examples of faith as a God-given gift. Mary Magdalene and Thomas both receive faith from their LORD amidst their uncertainty and doubt. John Piper’s reminder (When the Darkness Will Not Lift, 2006, p. 38) should be an encouragement to us as believers: “We are not saved by producing faith on our own and then making that the basis of our new birth. It is the other way around, which means that God is at the bottom of my faith; and when it disappears for a season from my own view, God may yet be there sustaining its root in the new birth and protecting the seed from destruction.”

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