Sermon #129[i] John Sermons
Title: “Then were
the disciples glad.”
Text: John 20:18-31
Subject: Things that Make Us Glad
Open your Bibles with me to the 20th chapter of John’s Gospel. We will begin at verse 18. — “Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.”
This was our Lord’s first appearance after His resurrection from the dead (Mark 16:9). Matthew tells of another appearance to the women as they went to tell His disciples (Matthew 28:9-10). Luke and Mark tell us that He appeared to two disciples as they were going to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-34; Mark 16:12-13). These appearances were all on the same day on which He arose. They all took place on Sunday, the first day of the week. The Apostle Paul reports several other appearances of the Lord Jesus Christ during the time between His resurrection and His ascension (1 Corinthians 15:3-7).
After our Lord’s resurrection from the dead the disciples always gathered for worship and the breaking of bread on Sunday, the first day of the week (the day of Christ’s resurrection). It was on this day that the Lord arose; and it was on this day that He first appeared to His disciples. Never again did the disciples observe a legal sabbath. The Gospel Sabbath of faith in Christ began with the resurrection on Sunday morning.
Sunday is not, as many call it, “the Christian Sabbath.” Christ is our Sabbath. We rest in Him. Sunday is called “the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10); but it is not a sabbath day. After the resurrection of our Lord, the disciples met on Sunday, the first day of the week, for worship, preaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and praise. We do not read, anywhere in the New Testament of any congregation of Christians meeting on the Jewish Sabbath or observing any kind of sabbath day. The Apostles preached to the Jews assembled on Saturday, but no record is found of them meeting on Saturday for worship. And there is no record of them ever again observing a legal sabbath day of any kind, to any degree.
Š Our Sabbath is Christ (Hebrews 4:3-10).
(Hebrews 4:3-10) “For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (4) For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. (5) And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. (6) Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: (7) Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. (8) For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. (9) There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. (10) For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”
Š We observe the sabbath spiritually by faith, resting in the Savior. —— Christ is our Rest!
Š All legal sabbath day observance is strictly forbidden in the New Testament (Colossians 2:16-23)
(Colossians 2:16-23) “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: (17) Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (18) Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, (19) And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. (20) Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (21) (Touch not; taste not; handle not; (22) Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? (23) Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.”
Alright, go back to John 20. Let’s pick up our reading at verse 19.
(John 20:19-31) “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. (20) 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. (21) Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (22) And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: (23) Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (24) But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. (25) 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 print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. (26) 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. (27) 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. (28) And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. (29) Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (30) And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: (31) But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Did you notice what John tells us in verses 19 and 20? —— “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where 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 shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.”
Proposition: Nothing gladdens our hearts like the manifest presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in our midst, bestowing His grace and speaking peace to our hearts.
O Son of God, our dear Savior, come in our midst this hour, speak to us by Your Spirit, and make glad our hearts in the fresh experience of your grace.
Divisions: I want to show you seven things in this portion of Holy Scripture. Here are seven things which ought to make us glad.
1. The Peace He Gives
First, we are reminded that the peace Christ gives gladdens the hearts of His people. Twice the Lord Jesus addressed these disciples with the sweet, gentle, gracious words, “Peace be unto you.” He who “spake as never man spake,” said nothing without meaning. He spoke to these disciples with special emphasis because of their present state of mind, with special reference to the events of the last few days, and with special reference to their future days. “Peace” and not blame — “peace” and not fault-finding — “peace” and not rebuke — was the first word which this little band of believers heard from their Master’s lips after He arose from the tomb.
The Lord Jesus sent Mary to these disciples to prepare them for this most gracious visit; and what a refreshing and soul-satisfying visit it must have been! We hear no upbraiding for their recent desertions: — nothing of reproach for their unbelief, — no scolding for their failures, — but all was mercy, love and grace!
“Peace on earth” was the song of the heavenly host, when Christ was born. Peace and rest of soul, was the general subject He continually preached for three years. Peace, and not riches, was the great legacy which He left with the eleven the night before His crucifixion. It was in full keeping with the tenor of all our Lord’s dealings, that, when He came to His disciples after His resurrection, His first word should be “Peace.” It was a word that would soothe and calm their minds.
Peace is the key-note of the Gospel we preach, the Gospel He has sent us to preach.
Christ has sent us to preach peace, spread peace, and practice peace.
Any religion, like that of Mahomet, which makes converts with the sword, is not from above, but from beneath. Any religion, like that of Rome, that burns men at the stake, in order to promote its own success, carries with it the stamp of hell and of antichrist. That is religion which is the religion of the Prince of Peace is that which preaches, spreads, practices, and promotes peace — real, true peace.
2. Assuring Revelations
Second, how greatly our hearts are gladdened by those blessed, sweet revelations of our Lord which assure us of His accomplishments as our Mediator.
Can you imagine what that first meeting of the Church after the Lord’s death must have been like? The disciples had heard the reports of the Lord’s resurrection; but they did not believe them (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:11). They must have been terribly…
Then the Lord Jesus appeared in their midst and showed them His wounds! Our Lord Jesus very gently and graciously gave His beloved disciples this remarkable, assuring evidence of His resurrection and of their redemption. —— He showed them “His hands and His side.”
Without question, the Lord was, in this action, both identifying Himself to them and assuring them that He had really risen from the dead in a real body, He bade them see with their own eyes, that He had a real material body, and that He was not a spirit or a ghost. — “Handle Me and see,” were His words, according to Luke — “a spirit hath not flesh and bone, as ye see Me have” (Luke 24:39). Great indeed was the condescension of our blessed Master, in thus coming down to the feeble faith of His disciples!
Yet, there is more here than a mere proof of our Lord’s bodily resurrection. —— Showing them His hands and side and feet, our Lord Jesus showed them assuring tokens of redemption with which He was going with to heaven as our Representative, tokens of redemption that would everlastingly plead for them in glory.
The Lord had said in His message by Mary, that she should say to His brethren, “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, to my God, and your God.” By showing them His wounds He said, “In my ascension, these wounds will appear for you. And all the petitions you send after Me, I will put into these pierced hands and present you and your prayers to our Father and our God.”
The primary reason for showing the disciples His wounds was to convince them that He had indeed risen and that the reports given by the women and the two disciples (which they did not believe – Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:11) were true. But the wounds and scars of our Lord Jesus were and forever shall be proof of His great love for those whom He redeemed and evidence of our full salvation in and by Him (Isaiah 53:4-6).
(Isaiah 53:4-6) “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (5) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
The disciples rejoiced and were glad when it finally dawned on them that it was their Lord standing in their midst and that He was alive and that He had accomplished redemption by the sacrifice of Himself!
“When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”
As these disciples were then made glad when they saw the Lord, so we are made glad with every spiritual manifestation of our crucified, risen, ascended, exalted Savoir today!
Š In Private
Š In our Assemblies of Worship
3. Our Commission
Third, I want us to see that we are sent by our Savior into this world, just as He was sent by His Father, for the salvation of His elect (vv. 21-23).
(John 20:21-23) “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (22) And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: (23) Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”
The Lord Jesus has left us here as His witnesses, that we might preach His Gospel to all men, for the salvation of His elect. This is our commission (Matthew 28:18-20; John 17:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:1-2; 1 Timothy 4:13-16).
(Matthew 28:18-20) “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
(John 17:18-20) “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. (19) And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (20) Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;”
(2 Timothy 2:1-2) “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2) And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
(1 Timothy 4:13-16) “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. (14) Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (15) Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. (16) Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”
By the preaching of the Gospel the sins of eternity bound men and women are either remitted or retained (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
(2 Corinthians 2:14-16) “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. (15) For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: (16) To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?”
How honored and how glad we ought to be to have this trust given to us!
Illustration: The happiest children in the world are those who are given responsibilities and tasks they are expected to fulfil. — Will Mowing Grass this Year
4. Neglected Worship
Fourth, if you will look at verses 24 and 25, you will see that when we absent ourselves from the house of God, when we neglect the assembly of God’s saints for worship, we deprive ourselves of great blessings.
(John 20:24-25) “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. (25) 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 print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Our Lord had appeared to His disciples, and convinced them that He had indeed risen from the dead. He had given them the Holy Spirit to empower them for their ministry to the world. But Thomas was not present with them when the Lord appeared.
We do not know where he was or why he was not there, but there is a lesson to be learned from his absence.
Paul exhorts us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25). Such neglect leads to spiritual leanness, snares, and temptations, and missed blessings.
(Hebrews 10:23-29) “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) (24) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: (25) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (26) For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (27) But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (28) He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: (29) Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”
5. Restoring Grace
Fifth, in verses 26-29 we see how gracious and merciful our dear Savior is to His poor, weak, sinful people in the exercise of His indescribable restoring grace.
(John 20:26-29) “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. (27) 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. (28) And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. (29) Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
The disciples found Thomas and with great joy and assurance of faith told him that they had “seen the Lord.” They not only had the testimony of the women and the angels, but they saw Him with their own eyes. Still, Thomas said, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Thomas was present at the raising of Lazarus and had heard Christ himself say that He would rise from the dead, and now had the testimony of his friends that the Lord was risen. Still he did not believe.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it!
Prone to leave the God I love!
Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above!
Thank God, He overrules our unbelief and is faithful to us when we are not faithful to Him (2 Timothy 2:13). Where sin abounds, His grace much more abounds!
(2 Timothy 2:13) “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”
6. Christ’s Divinity
Sixth, our hearts are made glad by every reminder that He who is our Savior is Himself our God, as Thomas confessed Him to be. What a glorious confession Thomas gave, once the Lord Jesus in His boundless mercy had granted him restoring grace. —— “My Lord and my God!” Blessed be His name, Jesus Christ is God! ——— None but God could…
7. Wonders Performed
Seventh, our hearts ought to be made glad every time we are reminded that all the Wonders performed by our Lord Jesus Christ in this world are designed for us, that we might believe.
(John 20:30-31) “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: (31) But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Everything our great God and Savior does is a wonder. — “Thou art the God that doest wonders” (Psalm 77:14). And He does His wonders for us, for the everlasting salvation of chosen sinners (Romans 8:28).
By believing on Christ and through His blessed name, we have eternal life, access to the throne, and acceptance before God (Acts 2:36; 4:11-12; Romans 3:19-24; 4:22-25; 1 John 5:10-13).
(Acts 2:36) “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
(Acts 4:11-12) “This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. (12) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
(Romans 3:19-24) “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (20) Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (21) But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; (22) Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: (23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”
(Romans 4:22-25) “And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. (23) Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; (24) But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; (25) Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
(1 John 5:10-13) “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. (11) And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (12) He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and go home today, like the publican of old, justified!
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[i] Danville: Sunday Morning – August 14, 2011
Sovereign Grace Fellowship, Booneville, NC — (08/10/11)
Tape # John #129
Reading: Psalm 138:1-8