Bible Reading: John 20:19-23

On that same Sunday evening when Mary Magdalene had met with Jesus early in the morning, Jesus appeared to His disciples. Because it was the first day of the week, and the Sabbath was passed, the disciples were afraid that the Jewish leaders, who crucified Jesus, would blame them for His missing body and come to arrest them. The Jewish leaders had already fabricated a story and bribed the Roman soldiers saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept’” [Matthew 28:12].

In fear, the disciples were assembled in a room behind a locked door. The Greek word used here for door is ‘thuron’ meaning ‘large’ and ‘solid’. The Greek word translated as ‘shut’ is the word ‘klaio’ meaning ‘locked’. Doors of this kind were usually locked with a heavy bolt that slid through rings attached to both the door and frame. This door would be almost impossible to break down. The disciples were hiding for self-preservation and protection. These were the men that Jesus would shortly be commissioning!

Suddenly Jesus came, supernaturally, through the door, and stood in the midst of them. There are no doors too hard for Jesus to walk through. I can’t imagine what the disciples must have thought. They would have certainly been expecting censure and rebuke for their behaviour and the way in which they had abandoned Jesus, but instead He spoke peace to them. “Peace be with you,” was the normal Hebrew greeting. He was speaking peace into their past failures, and peace into their present fears. It is that “peace of God that passes all understanding” [Philippians 4:7].

Then Jesus did something very important. He revealed His hands and His side to the disciples. Many years ago in Indonesia missionaries gave a Bible to an Imam. He would often go to the rice fields, carrying this Bible, and in quietness read and seek to understand it. One day, as he was reading the Bible at the edge of a rice field, Jesus came, and revealed Himself to the Imam. That Imam, from that very moment became a follower of Jesus, even though it would mean spending years in prison. It was a revelation of Jesus that changed this man’s life and brought great joy to His disciples.

Jesus is going to tell them what He wants them to do in the future. It is called the Great Commission. He is going to send them out in the same way that the Father sent Him. We will look at this commission more closely tomorrow, but notice that Jesus said, “Peace to you” [John 20:21] a second time. A few moments earlier Jesus spoke peace into their past failures, and their present fears. Now he speaks peace into their future. What a tremendous privilege to know His peace where there had been failures, fear and uncertain future!


What was the answer to the disciple’s self-preservation and fear? Why do you think that Jesus didn’t rebuke His disciples, but instead spoke peace to them?

What are the things that might cause you to be afraid? How can you deal with these, and so instead of fear enjoy God’s peace? [See Isaiah 26:3]


Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-58

We have read in John’s Gospel about the resurrected Christ, but we need also to understand just why this is so important to us today.

Firstly, the fact that Jesus rose again validated all His claims. Jesus had clearly spoken of His resurrection, and promised that He would rise again [Mark 8:31]. Because He rose as He promised, we know that what He said is true – He is God! If he had not risen again, then all the claims he made about Himself would have to have been rejected as untrustworthy! Incidentally, there is more evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than there is for many other events in history!

Secondly, without the resurrection there would have been no gospel, and our faith would have been in vain [1 Corinthians 15:14,17]; we would be false witnesses [1 Corinthians15:15]; those who died in faith are lost [1 Corinthians 15:18]; we would still be lost in our sins [1 Corinthians15:17]; we would be of all people most pitiful [1 Corinthians15:19] and life would be totally futile and without purpose [1 Corinthians 15:32]. We are saved from our sins by the death of Christ and through the resurrection we have His life!

Thirdly, the resurrection defeated the power of death. Death is an enemy! It was the direct result of sin and man’s fall, and the Bible says that, “the wages of sin is death [Romans 6:23]. Wayne Grudem has said, “The last aspect of the fallen world to be removed will be death” [Wayne Grudem]. The last

enemy to be destroyed is death” [1 Corinthians 15:26]. When Jesus died He destroyed the power of death, that is the devil, and set free people who were in slavery by their fear of death [see Hebrews 2:14-15].

As he approached death, the great Methodist preacher, W. E. Sangster wrote to Dr. Billy Graham and said, “All my life I have preached that Christ is able. Tell the world that as I approach death, Jesus Christ is still able.”

Fourthly, the resurrection is the basis of our hope for our own resurrection. We too can look forward to the resurrection. Jesus is the first fruits of those who rise from the dead [1 Corinthians 15:20,23]. We too will have a new body like Christ’s body [1 Corinthians 15:50-54]. Our present bodies are perishable, limited and prone to decay. They will be transformed and we will be changed in a moment [1 Corinthians 15:51-52]; Our new bodies will not be limited by the laws of nature; They will be Imperishable, and not subject to decay, weakness, will never get sick and will never die [1 Corinthians 15:4].

“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone,
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!”

[Written by Bill Gaither in 1971]

Would you take just five minutes now to read through this devotional again, and give thanks to Jesus for all that His resurrection means in your life?


Bible Reading: John 20:11-18

I think that it is a thing most wonderful that the first person to see the resurrected Jesus was a woman! A woman who had been gloriously set free from the seven demons that had bound and tormented her [Luke 8:2]. She would be the first person to meet with and witness to others of the resurrected Christ. This was astounding because in the Jewish culture a woman could not even be a witness in court.

Mary Magdalene’s grief was so deep. The word “crying” [John 20:11] is a Greek word that means, “to wail.” It is used in the same sense in John 11:33 following the death of Lazarus. In her deep grief Mary Magdalene stooped to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting where Jesus’ head and feet had been. This was one of the rare occasions in Scripture where the presence of angels did not cause fear! Perhaps her grief was so deep that there was no room for fear. Unlike John, who recognised that men had not taken the body of Jesus away, Mary is still convinced that someone has taken His body.

Turning around she saw Jesus standing there, but did not recognise Him. She thought it was the gardener! She still didn’t recognise Him when He asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She asked this person whom she thought was the gardener, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away” [v.15].

At that moment Jesus revealed Himself to her. It took just one word, “Mary!” Her response is immediate. “Rabboni” which means “teacher” in her native Aramaic, language. It is often translated into English as “Master.” She had once been a slave of sin, but now Jesus had become her Master! What a moment! The scales fell from her eyes, and the One she loved was alive. Can you feel the emotion that Mary must have felt?

Mary’s immediate response was to cling to Jesus, and never let Him go again! But everything had changed. She could no longer fellowship with Jesus having Him present with her in His human body as in earlier days. Jesus had to return to heaven and be with His Father. Future relationship would be with the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus and the Father would send [see John 20:22]. In the days ahead Mary would converse with Jesus in the same way that we do, but right now He wanted her to go and tell His brethren that He was alive! I love the fact that Jesus called them “My brethren” [John 20:17], even though they had let Him down and abandoned Him in His hour of need. Such is the nature of grace! I also love the fact that He used a woman to tell of His resurrection. That also is grace!


Mary called Jesus “Rabboni” meaning Teacher or Master. What does it mean to love Jesus so deeply, and yet to call Him Master of your life?

Why do you think Jesus chose a woman, and especially in the Jewish culture, to be the first person to tell the world that He had risen from the dead?


Bible Reading: John 20:1-10; Mark 16:1-8

On the greatest day in history a group of women, led by Mary Magdalene [see also Mark 16:2 and note the word “we” in John 20:2], came early in the morning to the tomb of Jesus and found the stone rolled away! They came with the express purpose of anointing the body of Jesus, and were hoping to find someone who would roll the stone away [Mark 16:2]. The idea of resurrection was far from their minds. Imagine their fear on entering the tomb to find an angel, who quoted those now famous, words, “He is risen! He is not here” [Mark 16:6]. Jesus’ body had been placed in the tomb late on Friday afternoon, and now on Sunday morning His body had gone.

The angel told the women to go and tell His disciples that Jesus was going for them into Galilee and they would see Him there. The women fled, both amazed and trembling, and told no one [Mark 16:7-8]. That is with the exception of Mary Magdalene.

She was hurting so badly. Jesus was everything to her. There have been many theories about Mary through history, but we must stick carefully to what we are told in God’s Word. Mary Magdalene is mentioned twelve times in the four Gospels – more than some of the disciples. Most telling is that Jesus set her free, casting seven demons out of her [Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9]. We know that she, together with other women, traveled with Jesus and His disciples, and provided for Him [Luke 8:3]

Mary Magdalene ran to Simon, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved [John], and told them that someone had taken the body of Jesus, and they didn’t know where they had taken Him. The two men ran to the tomb and Simon Peter went in to the tomb. The grave clothes were lying on the ground, and the head wrapping folded neatly nearby. The disciples would have known that a grave robber, common in those days, had not taken the body of Jesus! A robber would never have left that napkin folded neatly!

John saw [‘eido’ Greek, meaning, to understand, to perceive the significance of] and then believed [John 20:8]. But what should they do? They couldn’t deny the evidence, but as yet still did not understand the Scripture that Jesus would be raised from the dead. And so the disciples simply went to their homes, leaving Mary Magdalene weeping by the tomb [John20:11]. Oh, the depth of affection that Mary Magdalene had for Jesus! She wouldn’t leave Him!


The deep affection of Mary Magdalene for Jesus begs the question, “How much do we love Him?” Would we have reacted like her, and gone back home like the disciples? What would you have done?

In what way does Mary Magdalene epitomise the words of Jesus, “Those who are forgiven much love much?”


Bible Reading: John 19:38-42

The whole of the Sanhedrin and the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus to be crucified, with the exception of two men. One we have met earlier in John’s Gospel, and the other was a man known as Joseph of Arimathea.

We first met Nicodemus when he was seeking truth, and came to Jesus by night [John chapter 3]. We met him a second time in John 7:45-52, when he opposed the Sanhedrin’s rejection of Jesus, and he was insulted and mocked for daring to stand up for Jesus. He has often been called a secret disciple, but his support of Jesus was very open and brave.

Joseph of Arimathea was a man that the Bible tells us little about, although he is mentioned in all four Gospels. We know that he was wealthy [Matthew 27:57], that he was also a member of the Council, or Sanhedrin, the group of religious leaders who called for Jesus’ crucifixion. Luke calls him a good man, and says specifically that Joseph had not consented to the decision to have Jesus crucified [Luke 23:50-51]. Mark adds about Joseph that he was, “waiting for the kingdom of God” [Mark 15:43]. God has His men in the most remarkable of places!

Joseph of Arimathea was very courageous and came to Pilate on the same day that Jesus was crucified and asked for His body [Mark 15:43]. Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead, and gave permission for him to take Jesus’ body [Mark 15:45]. Nicodemus joined him bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes. These weighed about one hundred pounds and would have been very expensive. They prepared Jesus’ body for burial in the traditional Jewish manner. Because it was still the Day of Preparation – the sixth day of the week, just before the Jewish Sabbath – and it was late in the day, Joseph and Nicodemus placed Jesus’ body in Joseph’s own tomb, located in a garden close to the place where Jesus was crucified.

What a remarkable story! Two Jewish religious leaders who were sincerely seeking God’s kingdom, and who were prepared to openly challenge, by their actions, those who had demanded His crucifixion. They were even prepared to be sacrificial in giving Him a decent burial and at considerable cost to themselves! We never hear anything else in the Bible about Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, and so any further thoughts can only be theoretical. However, we read that after Pentecost that, “a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” [Acts 6:7]. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were part of that and that God had rewarded their faithfulness!


Why do you think that Nicodemus and Joseph were included in God’s Word?

Why is it important that we are both wise, and take a stand for Jesus amongst those who are opposed to Him?

Why do you think that God puts such a premium on faithfulness?


Bible Reading: John 19:31-37

Jesus was crucified and died on the cross, but He did not die by crucifixion.He died of a broken heart and the Bible makes this very clear

Crucifixion was a horrible and humiliating death. The Romans carried out death by crucifixion, but no Roman citizen was ever crucified. This form of death was reserved for Jews and others. Not only was there scourging, and the humiliation of carrying your own cross, but the person crucified was totally naked, unlike all the paintings that show Jesus wearing at least a loin cloth.

It normally took between two and six days for the person being crucified to die. They would fight for their life by pushing their body upwards with their legs, and when the legs became too weak, would relax for a short time and just hang by the wrists, before again pushing up with their legs. This could last for anything from two to six days. When the legs could no longer support the body the person on the cross would die within two hours of suffocation.

Jesus was crucified on the Passover Preparation Day, just one day before the Passover [John 19:31], but to satisfy the Jewish religious leaders He had to die before the Passover. For this reason they came to Pilate and asked that the legs of Jesus and the two criminals be broken. The breaking of the legs would mean that they would die within two hours, and so could be buried before the Passover.

When the soldiers came to break the legs of Jesus and the two criminals crucified with Him, they did not break the legs of Jesus because He was already dead [John 19:33]. He had only been on the cross for six hours, and died at the ninth hour – 3.00pm Greenwich Mean Time. The soldiers made absolutely sure that He was already dead by piercing his heart with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out [John 19:34]. This remarkable symptom could only mean that the cross did not kill Jesus. The water [fluid] that flowed from Jesus’ heart shows exactly how He died. The medical term is a ruptured pericardium. The pericardium is the two layers of membrane that encircle the heart. In lay terms, Jesus died of a broken heart.

The fact that Jesus did not die of crucifixion confirms what He said about no man taking His life from Him. “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father [John 10:17-18].


What do you think it was that caused Jesus’ heart to break?

As we have come to this final devotional word on the cross, what is your response to the death of Jesus on the cross?

What do you think Jesus meant when He said, “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” [Luke 14:27 KJV]?


Bible Reading: John 19:17-37

The Jewish High Priest went into the Holy of Holies once each year to make atonement for his sins and the sins of the people. On that day the blood was sprinkled seven times on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. Then, going back outside the veil, he sprinkled the blood on the horns of the altar seven times [Leviticus 16:11-19]. This foreshadowed Jesus shedding His blood for us. The number 7 represents completion or perfection. Jesus’ blood was shed seven times, and in shedding His blood He made a full, perfect, and complete sacrifice for sin on the cross! Let’s take a look at the ways that the blood of Christ was shed.

Firstly, His blood was shed in the Garden of Gethsemane. “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” [Luke 22:44]. What a battle!

Secondly, When Jesus acknowledged that He was the Son of God they spat in His face, and beat and slapped Him with their fists [Matthew 26:67-68]. The prophet Micah wrote prophetically, “With a rod they will smite the judge of Israel on the cheek” [Micah 5:1]. The blood flowed down His face!

Thirdly, Isaiah writes prophetically, “I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out my beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting” [Isaiah 50:6]. As the beard is pulled out, so flesh is torn off and blood oozes from His pores.

Fourthly, Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him [John 19:1; Matthew 27:26]. The Roman scourge was a whip with multiple leather strips, each fitted with metal balls and sharp pieces of bone, designed to rip flesh from the body with every lash.

Fifthly, they put a crown of thorns on His head [Matthew 27:29]. These were not just the short thorns of a rose bush, but several inches long, and jammed down on Jesus’ head.

Sixthly, they crucified Him. They drove nails through His hands and feet.

Seventhly, they pierced His side.  “One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water” [John 19:34]. Once again His blood flowed.

Just as the blood was applied seven times in the Passover feast, so the blood of Jesus, our Passover Lamb, was shed seven times. The Bible calls the blood of Jesus “precious” [1 Peter 1:19]. It was shed for us.

In conclusion, let’s consider seven effects in our lives of the blood of Jesus. Through His blood we have forgiveness [Hebrews 9:22], cleansing [1 John 1:9], redemption [Ephesians 1:7]; we are justified [Romans 5:9], made holy [Hebrews 13:12], have peace with God [Colossians 1:20], and have confidence to enter into God’s presence [Hebrews 10:19]

One Question:

When you consider all that Jesus suffered, will you now take time to say thank you to Him, and re-dedicate yourself afresh to Him and His service?


Bible Reading: John 19:17-24

So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of the Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them” [John 19:17-18 Amplified Bible]

In many respects Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac [Genesis 22] was a type and a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus. Genesis 22:2 has a similar ring about it to John 3:16. God said to Abraham, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” [Genesis 22:2].

In the case of Isaac, God provided a substitute that was sacrificed in the place of Isaac. But God allowed His own Son, whom he loved, to be sacrificed for us. There was no substitute for Jesus because He became our substitute. The similarity continues because just as Isaac carried the wood for the burnt offering, so Jesus carried His cross. But the similarity does not end there!

The place where Isaac was offered as a sacrifice was at Mount Moriah. According to 2 Chronicles 3:1 Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah. A dear friend and a pastor, Derek Walker, and an expert on Israel, says in his book, “Mount Moriah, Golgotha, and the Garden Tomb” [available from Amazon in hard copy and kindle format], that Mount Moriah rises and becomes a plateau. It was on that plain that the Temple was built. However, Mount Moriah continued to rise to its peak in the north of the city and outside the city wall. The peak of Mount Moriah was known as Golgotha, or the place of the skull. It was the same place where both Isaac was sacrificed and Jesus was crucified. This is not a coincidence but foreshadowed Christ’s death 2,000 years before He was crucified.

In Genesis we read that God provided a substitute for Abraham to offer in place of his son, and Isaac’s life was spared. “Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh [“The Lord Will Provide”]; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided’” [Genesis 22:14]. The phrase “to this day” implies that this provision was not just for Abraham and Isaac, but literally the place, where to this day God provides all our needs, through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the cross!

Sadly, the phrase Jehovah Jireh has been most commonly used to describe God’s provision of finance, but it is far more than that. At the cross Jesus provided for all our needs, physical, mental, spiritual and emotional. At the cross there is salvation. At the cross there is healing. At the cross God made available to us everything that we need!


Read Psalm 103:2-5. What are some of the benefits that the Psalmist says that God has provided for us?

What is your personal need today? Would you take time now to seek God, and come to the cross afresh so that He can meet that need?


Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

In yesterday’s devotional word we looked at forgiveness, and in doing so I used the illustration of the scapegoat that was sent into the wilderness. This came from Leviticus chapter sixteen. Just for today I am going to digress from John’s Gospel to talk about the importance of reading and understanding the Old Testament.

Very often people have said to me that they don’t read the Old Testament, as it is hard to understand. This always saddens me. So much of what is written in John’s Gospel is linked to the Old Testament. Let’s look at just a few examples. John 1:1-4 is directly linked to Genesis chapter 1. John the Baptist points to Jesus as the Lamb of God. This has its roots in the sacrificial lamb that was offered for each Israeli household in Egypt [Exodus 12:21-23]. In speaking about the new birth Jesus referred to Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness [John 3:14-15]. The background to this is in Numbers 21:4-9. In John chapter 4 Jesus offered living water to a woman of Samaria. To fully understand the background to the story it is helpful to read about the rift between the Jews and the Samaritans that followed the death of Solomon, in 1 Kings 11:41-12:43. The background of much of John’s Gospel is found in the Old Testament.

There are several reasons why it is important to read and study the Old Testament. Firstly, in the Old Testament we learn much about God’s work in history, including His plans purposes. Secondly, the Old Testament teaches us a great deal about the nature and character of God. Thirdly, the Old Testament was the Bible that Jesus used and He frequently quoted from it. For example, at the beginning of His ministry, Jesus quoted directly from Isaiah 61:1-3 [see Luke 4:18-19]. Fourthly, the Old Testament and the New Testament are bound together. There are literally hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled in the New Testament [and some that are yet to be fulfilled]. There are many Old Testament types that point to the teaching of the New Testament. The writer to the Hebrews says The Old Testament was a shadow of the things that were to come [Hebrews 10:1]. Finally, the Old Testament gives us many examples of how to walk in the ways of God and not in ways of evil [1 Corinthians 10:1-6].

I recognise that some people genuinely struggle to read the more difficult passages of the Old Testament, and especially books like Leviticus and Deuteronomy, or long lists of names in a genealogy. For these people there are really helpful books and study tools. As a young Christian I was greatly helped in reading “What the Bible is all About” by Henrietta Mears. Another great help is “Unlocking the Bible” by David Pawson. There are also many on-line helps and studies of the Old Testament.

Other people have different reasons for not studying the Old Testament, but whatever the reason might be I want to encourage you to make a systematic study of the Old Testament. You will find that the greatest treasures in God’s Word require effort in digging and studying, but you will never regret it. Will you make a decision to do this today?


Bible Reading: John 19:17-30; Psalm 103:1-22

If You, Lord, should keep an account of our sins and treat us accordingly,
O Lord, who could stand [before you in judgment and claim innocence]?
But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared and worshiped [with submissive wonder]
” [Psalm 130:3-4 Amplified Bible]

We have seen that Jesus was our substitute who bore our sin and thus satisfied God’s holiness and justice. We have also seen how God through the death of Jesus on the cross was reconciling us to Himself, and how He bought us back from the power of Satan. Today we look at one further reason why the cross is so important.

Fourthly, on the cross Jesus died to forgive our sins. Substitution, Reconciliation, Redemption and now Forgiveness! Writing to the Ephesians, Paul says, “In Jesus we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” [Ephesians 1:7].

The word forgiveness is the Greek word “aphiemi” meaning “to send away” or “to release and let go.” When God speaks about forgiving us it means that he has taken away our sins, and put them on Jesus. There is a type of this in the Old Testament that helps us to understand what God did with our sins. On the Day of Atonement two young goats were used as a sacrifice for sins [Leviticus 16]. One of the young goats was the sin offering, and the other the scapegoat [Leviticus 16:9-10]. The sins of Israel were confessed over the scapegoat and then it was sent away into the wilderness [Leviticus 16:21-23], never to be seen again. Here is the picture of Jesus – the scapegoat on whom our sins have been laid and sent away.

Literally, God has taken our sins away [forgiven us] and put them on Jesus! He has taken them away from us! With this forgiveness we are released from the guilt of sin, the mistakes of the past, the fear of death and future condemnation. “God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins” [Psalm 103:8-12 The Message]. In another translation, verse 12 reads, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” [NKJV]. If it had said from north to south it would have been limited, but it is from east to west! There is no east or west pole, and therefore infinity. That is how far God has removed our transgressions – gone forever! It is total forgiveness.


Do you sometimes struggle to accept that your sins are forgiven? Why not read the verses in this devotional and begin to thank God for their promise?

Read Mark 12:1-12. What do you learn about forgiveness from this story?