John 20:19
The most wonderful and memorable day in the world's history was drawing to a close. The sun, whose rising beams had shone upon the empty tomb, the affrighted guards, the anxious sorrowing women, had now set.

I. THE NARRATIVE INTRODUCES US TO AN ANXIOUS COMPANY. Ten apostles and some of their intimate friends and fellow-believers were gathered together, drawn by a community of interest in their unseen Savior. They had a common memory, a common love, a common sorrow. They betook them to seclusion, both from fear lest the wrath of their enemies might assail them, and from lack of sympathy outside. They were disappointed and perplexed. Yet there was inquiry, excitement, wonder, speculation, among them; for the news brought by Simon, by the women, by the two from Emmaus, awakened eager interest and most conflicting emotions.

II. THE NARRATIVE RELATES THE ENTRANCE OF A DIVINE VISITOR. Unexpected, amazing, was the approach of the Master. Gracious was his greeting, welcome his familiar tones. He convinced them of his identity by exhibiting his wounds, and proved his humanity by partaking of food. And though his coming was friendly, yet he upbraided his disciples for their unbelief.

III. THE NARRATIVE DEPICTS THE COMMON AND SUDDEN JOY WHICH POSSESSED THE BROTHERHOOD. (On this, see homily on ver. 20.)

IV. THE NARRATIVE RECORDS THE SACRED COMMISSION WITH WHICH JESUS NOW ENTRUSTED HIS DISCIPLES. It must be borne in mind that these servants of Christ had been for a long time closely associated with him, and had thus been prepared for their life-work. So tremendous a trust as this would otherwise be unaccountable.

1. They were to go among men as Christ's representatives, as those entrusted with Divine authority, and they were to act as ambassadors for God.

2. Their special mission was to declare to men who should receive their message and should truly repent, the absolution and remission of sin. The purpose of Christ's coming was to secure pardon and acceptance for sinful men; and this purpose was to be fulfilled by means of the ministry of the apostles and their successors.

V. THE NARRATIVE MENTIONS THE SPECIAL QUALIFICATION BESTOWED UPON THOSE ENTRUSTED WITH THIS HIGH COMMISSION. The words of Christ, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit," were accompanied with the symbolic act of breathing upon them; and both denoted the reality of the Divine gift by which unlearned and feeble men were fitted to fulfill a ministry of blessing to mankind. - T.







Then the same day at evening.
: —

I. THE ANXIOUS COMPANY. The twelve, with the exception of Judas and Thomas, were gathered and kept together by a community of interest in Christ. They betook themselves to retirement from lack of sympathy from without, and from fear of the Jews. There was excitement among them by reports of the Resurrection.

II. THE DIVINE VISITOR. His appearance was —

1. Miraculous.

2. Unexpected.

3. Welcome. His greeting touched the chords of memory.

4. Indubitable. "He showed them His hands!"

III. THE SUDDEN JOY (ver. 20).

1. Their suspense was at an end

2. Their fears dispelled.

3. Their dim hopes realized.

4. Their belief in His predictions established.

5. Their pleasure in His society renewed.

6. Their confidence in His Divine mission revived.

IV. THE SACRED COMMISSION. Christ —

1. More fully repeated His former language.

2. Instructed them to devote their life to the declaration of God's mind, and the publication of a gospel of pardon for guilty men.

3. Added dignity to their duty in comparing it to His own mission.

4. Imparted the necessary qualifications.Conclusion: It is Christ's presence that hallows every Lord's Day evening.

1. Giving Spiritual power to the preacher.

2. Imparting grace and blessing to the faithful hearer.

(Prof. J. R. Thomson.)

Note here —

1. The reality of Christ's sufferings, death, and resurrection.

2. The proof and attestation of His love.

3. The assurance that He is not ashamed of His humiliation and sufferings on our behalf.

4. The pledge of our resurrection.

5. The affecting circumstances of the history.

I. THE EVENT ITSELF was memorable. Never was such known in the history of man. Jesus came back in fulfilment of His own prophecy, as an evidence of the acceptance of His atonement, as the conqueror of sin and death.

II. THE TIME was memorable. The first day of the week, and the sun must not go down on that day before the Sun of Righteousness shines on the spirits of His dejected people. Thus our Lord puts peculiar honour on the day, and authorized the observance of it by His own example which has all the force of law. But the evening is specified. Why not the morning? Because they did not seek Him. The approach of Christ is often at our evening time — when the sun of hope and happiness is low and our comforters are few; when we least expect the aids of His providence, and are ready to say, "Is His mercy clean gone for ever?" So in the time of His disciples' despair He appeared.

III. THE PLACE was memorable. Probably the scene of the Last Supper; to them like Bethel to Jacob, or the fig-tree to Nathanael. We are all affected by localities in which great blessings or deliverances have been experienced.

IV. THEIR PRIVILEGES were memorable.

1. Personal revelation of Christ.

2. Peace.

3. Spiritual power.

(T. H. Day.)

I. THE MEMBERS of the second company. It has been almost invariably assumed from 1 Corinthians 15:5 that they were apostles only. But "the twelve" is only a collective term. Just as the Roman magistrates, called the decemviri, were so called even though there might be vacancies in the body, so this term was applied to the apostles, though Judas was not counted, and Thomas was an absentee. And there is evidence to prove that the apostles did not alone consitute the assembly. Luke speaks of "the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them"; and it is also inevitable from the circumstances. If the brave women had come, expecting a calm retreat and a cordial welcome, would it be said to them from within, "There is danger in the air; we have shut the door for fear of the Jews; besides, no one can join this company but apostles?" If James and Joses, Simon and Judas, the brothers of our Lord, had knocked at the door, would it have been said to them, "No admission for any but apostles?" If Mark or Luke had whispered the password at the gate, would the answer have been, "This is a meeting of apostles only?" Depend upon it, this company was not a row of ecclesiastical dignitaries, each with a nimbus round his head, and the embroidered symbols of his office on his shoulders; it was only a family, met at the time of a great sorrow, and in the common family room. There was no division between clerical and lay; no upper and lower apartments — one for apostles, one for ordinary disciples.

II. THE FAST-CLOSED DOORS. Most likely this was at the house of John, the beloved disciple — that to which he had conveyed Mary. And we may assume that it was built in a style common to dwellings occupied by persons in fair circumstances. There would be a court open to the sky; and in the four sides of this court there would be rooms opening on to it. In this court the company would be assembled; and as its door was fastened by a great wooden key or iron bar, what did they fear? The bursting in of constables to arrest them on the lying charge of stealing a body out of its grave? They knew that such a charge had been lodged against them only that very day Did they fear the mob? It was the way of the Jews thus to storm the house of one who was unpopular (Acts 17:5); and they could now set no limit to the possibilities of their wicked madness. Perhaps they had no distinct plan of defence, and no particular thought of saving their lives; but mainly out of half-instinctive impulse, they barred the court gates.

III. THE GREETING OF THE MASTER. His greeting to the first company had been, "Rejoice!" To the second, "Peace!" As says, "To the women He proclaims joy; because they were plunged in grief. With a suitable interchange, therefore, He gives peace to the men, on account of their strife. The first was a small detachment of the general society, and consisted of women only. The second was the general society itself, including all the men." The women had been true, and were only conscious of grief; the men had not been true, and, besides their grief, were conscious of deep agitation and burning shame. This message was meant for our one, whole family, not for apostles alone. When we are in trouble, none of us hesitate to take the comfort that breathes in the fourteenth and following chapters of this Gospel. While you read Christ's language after His resurrection, and compare it with those discourses, you say what He says now is but the continuation of what He said then. He said, "My peace I leave with you"; and now, having "made peace by the blood of the Cross," He comes in His own person to pay the legacy! When we see any one wearing the badge of the Cross, yet seeming not to know the secret of the peace that cost Christ the cross to obtain, how can this be accounted for, unless these Christians think that the peace is only figurative; or that they must be better Christians before they can presume to take it? We might say to such, "You are indeed no better Christians than the men who once cowered behind the shut gates of a certain courtyard in old Jerusalem. Let each crying, "God be merciful to me a sinner," go and take this peace from the hand of the dear Christ.

IV. THE RESURRECTION BODY OF OUR LORD.

1. It was not an ordinary body, liable to ordinary laws; still, it was a body, perhaps, like that in which the Saviour had walked with Adam in Paradise, wrestled with Jacob, or reclined under the oak at Mamre. No stone wall could shut it in: no iron bar could keep it out; no law of gravitation could detain it; but it was a body.

2. It was flesh — "All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, &c... for one star differeth from another star in glory." This glory was the glory of the celestial; visible to mortals only by the light of miracle, and by an act of Divine prerogative. As Moses, with face of celestial flame, "put a veil over his face," that the children of Israel might converse with him, so did the King of Moses veil His glories so that the disciples might speak to Him and live. To show them that it was a true body, He even condescended to take food (Luke 24:43).

3. The very body that had been crucified. "He showed them His hands and His feet." Thus did He establish that fact of His resurrection on which the entire supernaturalism of our religion is decided, and on which all the work of the Atonement depends; while doing this He most emphatically and pathetically called their attention to the Atonement itself.

V. THE COMMISSION GIVEN TO THE DISCIPLES (vers. 21-23).

1. The symbol. Both in Hebrew and Greek the word for breath is the word for spirit. The act of breathing here was an "outward and visible sign" of the Holy Spirit, now to be given for the first time; not indeed as a Divine energy in the human heart, but as an energy working through the finished facts of the Gospel, and as the gift of Christ crucified: not to be given for the first time either, in the sense of being given then and there; but to be given for the first time in the dispensation which Christ was about formally to inaugurate. For the Son of God to promise a boon is potentially the same thing as for Him to give it. When we hear Him say that He will do a thing, our souls exclaim, "It is done!"

2. The formula: "Whosoever sins ye remit," &c. What is the import of this?(1) Not the same as that of the great utterance first addressed to Peter, afterwards to the whole body of His colleagues (Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18). We are summoned to think, not of the power that can forbid or permit matters that have to do with the government of the Church, but of the question, When may sin be remitted? when retained?(2) Dr. John Owen says, "Christ here speaks of remitting or retaining sins by declaring the doctrine of the gospel;" and this appears to be the true sense of this mysterious clause. God, by the voice of Christ, had already told the world whose sins He would remit, and whose retain. He who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ is saved — that is, his sins are remitted; he who refuses to believe is condemned already — that is, his sins are retained. This arrangement of remedial grace is fixed and irrevocable, and no sentence pronounced by man, whatever his office in the Church may be, can in the slightest degree alter it, nullify it, or add to it.(3) This declarative mission is the mission of all disciples. It was given to all Christians as such — to ministers and people alike, while as yet they were undistinguished. Surely as Christ was sent by the Father to do what He still continues to do for you, so surely are you sent by Him to do this. Have we received the Holy Ghost? It is only as sharers in the life of our risen Lord that we are sent on His embassies. We must all take in, then give out, that life; tell only what we personally and vitally know; and speak, each according to the measure of His gift. The first thing wanted in the Church is more life; after that, and as the result of it, more work. There may be work without life.

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

(Text, and Luke 24:36-48): —

I. HE DECLARED HIS BEING WEARY IN ORDER TO TRANQUILIZE THEIR HEARTS. His benediction expressed —

1. The great want of human nature, "Peace." The tumult of the disciples is typical of that of those who are at war with —

(1)Themselves.

(2)Society.

(3)The universe.

2. The great design of Christ's mission. He came to reconcile man to his Maker, to Himself, and to the Creation — to reproduce in humanity that supreme sympathy with God which is the essential and unfailing security of spiritual tranquility.

II. HE APPEALED TO THEIR REASON IN ORDER TO ALLAY THEIR FEAR.

1. Their fear implied their belief —

(1)In disembodied spirits.

(2)In the possibility of disembodied spirits appearing to them.

(3)In disembodied spirits being unfriendly to them.

2. In Christ's appeal —

(1)He assures them that spirits may exist apart from matter, and in this state appear to living men.

(2)He demonstrates the materiality of His resurrection body.

(3)He throws upon them an inquiry into the cause of their superstitious fear. Inquiry into our mental phenomena will soon expel superstition.

III. HE GAVE THEM EVIDENCE IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH THEIR FAITH. "While they believed not for joy"; just as we say, "the news is too good to be true." Observe, in relation to the evidence He presents of His resurrection —

1. Its nature.

(1)A palpable exhibition of the reality of His body — He eats with them.

(2)A clear showing that His resurrection answered the predictions of Scripture. "All things must be fulfilled," &c.

2. Its effect. "Then opened He their understandings," &c.

IV. HE PROPOUNDED HIS SYSTEM IN ORDER TO INDICATE THEIR DUTY.

1. The great doctrine of His system. "Repentance and remission of sins."

2. Its world-wide aspect — "All nations" — not a sect or class.

3. The order of propagation, "Beginning at Jerusalem."

V. HE ENDOWED THEM WITH EXTRAORDINARY POWER IN ORDER TO FIT THEM FOR THEIR EXTRAORDINARY WORK.

1. He performs a symbolical act.

2. He endows them with extraordinary authority.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. THE TIME WHEN HE APPEARED. "The same day at evening."

1. Not till He had appeared before to others. Mary Magdalene had seen Him, and Peter and the Emmaus two. It is painful to be thus passed over; to know that He is lifting up the light of His countenance upon others, while we have no glimpse of it. We do not like an earthly friend to pass us by; much less the heavenly.

2. When they did not expect Him, surely they would have left the doors open. And often does He surprise His people. The heart is closed in despair against Him. But "at evening time, it is light"; when light is the last thing expected. Does not this call upon us to cultivate a waiting, expecting spirit. We must not think ourselves forgotten, our turn will come.

3. When they were talking together of Him. St. Luke tells us that "Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them as they spoke; not prayed. What an honour was here put on Christian conversation and communion! And our own experience corresponds. When have our hearts been warmed in social converse, and left refreshed, and longing to see one another again? Has it not been when, forgetting a vexing world, we have spoken together of our blessed Master?" Where two or three are gathered together in My name," &c.

II. THE SALUTATION. We may regard it as —

1. An indication of the peace that reigned within His own soul. We are most ready to speak of what our hearts are full. With distracted minds we are not likely to speak of peace, unless it be to deplore our want of it.

2. An assurance of His forgiveness.

3. An intimation of our Lord's power to communicate the peace it speaks of. Observe the action, "He showed unto them His hands and His side." suggesting that He had made peace for them through the blood of His cross. "See here that the chastisement of your peace has been really on Me. I shall show this hand and this side to My Father on His throne, and claim peace for you."

III. THE EFFECT OF THIS APPEARANCE AND SALUTATION — more than peace, it was gladness. Here is a striking fulfilment of that promise — "Ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy." Their joy was connected with the sight of their Master. Nothing but this could comfort Mary. She goes from the garden to the disciples, and finds them absorbed in sorrow. She bears her testimony, but of what use is it? St. Mark says, "They believed her not." Not one word do we read of their joy till Jesus Himself came. "Then were the disciples glad." Now there is such a thing still as a sight of this risen Saviour. S . Paul tells the Galatians who could never have beheld His face in the flesh, that "before their eyes Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth, crucified among them." To see Christ, then, is to understand this gospel, to receive it of Christ and heartily believe it. Have you ever thus seen the Lord? Till you have thus seen Him, you will never be happy men.

(C. Bradley, M. A.)

(also Matthew 28:9): —

I. THEIR STRANGE AND MAJESTIC SIMPLICITY. Think of what tremendous experiences He had passed through since they saw Him last, and of what a rush of rapture and disturbance of joy shook the minds of the disciples, and then estimate the calm and calming power of that matter-of-fact and simple greeting. They bear upon their very front the mark of truth. Would anybody have imagined the scene so? Neither the delicate pencil of the great dramatic genius nor the coarser brush of legend can have drawn such a trait in character as this, and it seems to me that the only reasonable explanation of it is that these greetings are what He really did say. He has come from that tremendous conflict, and He reappears, not flushed with triumph, nor bearing any trace of effort, but surrounded as by a nimbus with that strange tranquility which evermore enwrapped Him. So small does the awful scene which He has passed through seem to this Divine-human Man, and so utterly are the old ties and bonds unaffected by it, that when He meets them, all He has to say to them as His first greeting is, "Peace be unto you!" — the well-worn salutation that was bandied to and fro in every market place and scene where men were wont to meet. Thus He vindicates the Divine tranquility of His nature; thus He minimizes the fact of death; thus He reduces it to its true insignificance as a parenthesis across which may pass unaffected all sweet familiarities and loving friendships.

II. THE UNIVERSAL DESTINATION OF THE GREETINGS OF THE RISEN LORD. Whatsoever any community or individual has conceived as its highest ideal of blessedness and of good, that the risen Christ hath in His hands to bestow. He takes men's ideals of blessedness, and deepens and purifies and refines them. The Greek notion of joy, as the thing to be most wished for those dear to us, is but a shallow one. They had to learn, and their philosophy, and their poetry, and their art came to corruption because they would not learn that the corn of wheat must be cast into the ground and die before it could bring forth fruit. They knew little of the blessing and meaning of sorrow, and therefore the false glitter passed away, and the pursuit of the ideal became gross and foul and sensuous. And, on the other hand, the Jew, with his longing for peace, had an equally shallow and unworthy conception of what that meant, and what was needed to produce it. If he had only external concord with men, and a competency of outward good within his reach without too much trouble, he thought that because he "had much goods laid up for many years" he might "take his ease, and eat, and drink, and be merry." But Jesus Christ comes to satisfy both aspirations by contradicting both, and to reveal to each how much deeper and diviner his desire was than he dreamed it to be; and therefore how impossible it was to find the joy that would last in the dancing fireflies of external satisfactions or the delights of art and beauty; and how impossible it was to find the repose that ennobled and was wedded to action in anything short of union with God. The Lord Christ comes out of the grave in which He lay for every man, and brings to each man's door, in a dialect intelligible to the man himself, the satisfaction of the single soul's aspirations and ideals, as well as of the national desires.

III. THE UNFAILING EFFICACY OF THE LORD'S GREETINGS. Look at these people to whom He spoke. Remember what they were between the Friday and the Sunday morning; utterly cowed and beaten. They were on the point of parting. The Keystone withdrawn, the stones were ready to fall apart. From that time, when, by all reasonable logic and common sense applied to men's motives, the Crucifixion should have crushed their dreams and dissolved their society, a precisely opposite effect ensues, and not only did the Church continue, but the men changed their characters, and became, somehow or other, full of these very two things which Christ wishes them, namely, joy and peace. Now I want to know — what bridges that gulf? How do you get the Peter of the Acts of the Apostles out of the Peter of the Gospels? Is there any way of explaining that revolution of character, whilst yet its broad outlines remain identical, which befell Him and all of them, except the old-fashioned one that the something which came in between was the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the consequent gift of joy and peace in Him, a joy that no troubles or persecutions could shake, a peace that no conflicts could for a moment disturb? In His right hand He carried peace, and in His left joy. He gave these to them, and therefore "out of weakness they were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens," and when the time came, "were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." There is omnipotent efficacy in Christ's greetings! The one instance opens up the general law, that His wishes are gifts, that all His words are acts, that He speaks and it is done. Christ's wishes are omnipotent, ours are powerless.

IV. OUR SHARE IN THIS TWOFOLD GREETING. When the women clung to His feet on that Easter morning they had no thought of anything but "we clasp Thee again, O Soul of our souls." But then, as time went on, the meaning and blessedness and far-reaching issues of the Resurrection became more plain to them. And I think we can see traces of the process in the development of Christian teaching as presented in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles. Now, in all three aspects — as proof of Messiahship, as the pattern and prophesy of immortality, and as the symbol of the better life which is accessible for us, here and now — the resurrection of Jesus Christ stands for us even more truly than for the rapturous women who caught His feet, or for the thankful men who looked upon Him in the upper chamber as the source of peace and of joy. For therein is set forth for us the Christ whose work is thereby declared to be finished and acceptable to God, and all sorrow of sin, all guilt, all disturbance of heart and mind by reason of evil passions and burning memories of former iniquity, and all disturbance of our concord with God, are at once and for ever swept away. Again, the resurrection of Jesus Christ sets Him forth before us as the pattern and the prophecy of immortal life. This Samson has taken the gates of the prison-house on His broad shoulders and carried them away, and now no man is kept imprisoned evermore in that darkness. Therefore the sorrows of death, for myself and for my dear ones, the agitation which it causes, and all the darkness into which we shrink from passing, are swept away when He comes forth from the grave, serene, radiant, and victorious, to die no more, but to dispense amongst us His peace and His joy. And, again, the risen Christ is the source of a new life drawn from Him and received into my heart by faith in His sacrifice and resurrection and glory. And if I have, deep-seated in my soul, though it may be in imperfect maturity, that life that is hid with Christ in God, an inward fountain of gladness, far beyond the effervescent, and therefore soon fiat, waters of Greek or earthly joy, is mine; and in my inmost being dwells a depth of calm peace which no outward disturbance can touch any more than the winds that rave along the surface of the ocean affect its unmoved and unsounded abysses.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Jesus stood in the midst.
: —

I. THERE IS A PECULIAR MANNER IN OUR LORD'S COMING TO HIS DISCIPLES.

1. He came gladly: for He came so soon and so often: at least four times in one day. His delights were ever with the sons of men. He is glad to come and sup with us that we may sup with Him.

2. He came to those who were quite unworthy of so great a privilege.

3. He came to the full assembly, after He had been seen by the few.

4. He came when they were met together quietly, secluded from the world and its cares. It is a good thing for the saints to be shut in, and the world shut out. You must not expect Jesus to show Himself to you if your heart is at home, or at the workshop, or seeking after vanity.

5. He came when they were all thinking and talking about Him.

6. Some one will say, He will not come here, for there are many barriers, and we are not in a condition to receive Him. But were there no difficulties then? The doors were shut, and the disciples were in fear. Whatever doors there may be between my Lord and my soul, He could pass through them or open them to get at my heart when it longs after Him. You have a fear upon you which you cannot shake off. So had the disciples, or they would not have closed the doors. But Jesus comes though sins encompass us, and doubts and fears and cares hang thick about our path. He comes as the dew which waiteth not for man.

II. OUR SAVIOUR HAD A PECULIAR MANNER WHEN HE WAS COME.

1. He stood, He did not flash across the room like a meteor, but remained in one position as though He meant to tarry. He stood in the midst. There are many preachers, but not one of them is in the midst of the family circle. The Lord alone is there, the centre of all hearts. Others are present, and they shine with differing lights, but He is the sun, the centre and ruler of the system of His Church.

2. He speaks, and His word is, "Peace be unto you."

3. He showed to His disciples, not a new thought, a philosophic discovery, a deep doctrine, a profound mystery, or indeed anything but Himself. The most conspicuous thing Be showed in Himself was His wounds, and it He be present here, the chief object of faith's vision will be Himself; and the most conspicuous point in Himself will be the ensigns of His passion.

4. In so doing our Lord opens up the Scriptures. Christ's presence is always known by His people by the value which they are led to attach to the Scripture.

5. They then forget all their fears. As He had given them peace with God, so now He puts aside the fear of man.

III. THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST WITH HIS DISCIPLES EXCITED VARIOUS EMOTIONS.

1. The disciples —(1) Were terrified, for they thought Him a Spirit. It is a sign of man's depravity that a spirit should alarm him. If we were more spiritual we should be glad to commune with them.(2) When this had a little ceased Jesus said to them, "Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?" I suppose they began to think of their ill conduct to their Master, and conscience made them tremble.(3) We are told by Mark that He also upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart.(4) Meanwhile they doubted whether it could be He, and when they were convinced they greatly rejoiced, and almost at the same time the very vividness of their joy blinded them into another doubt. Like a pendulum, they swung from joy to unbelief.

2. But come to ourselves. Suppose that our Lord were here. We should be filled with —(1)The profoundest awe. Should we not, like John in Patmos, fall at His feet as dead? At any rate, we would devoutly bow the knee before Him, and reverently adore.(2) Overflowing love I How would our hearts melt while He spake! Brethren, He is here! Let us give that loving adoration to Him even now.(3) Serene joy.(4) Deep contribution.

IV. HE LEFT CERTAIN PERMANENT GIFTS, which also can be realized by His spiritual presence.

1. The realization of His person.

2. A commission.

3. The Holy Ghost which He breathed upon them.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

From this we learn —

1. That the primitive disciples were in the habit of meeting for mutual comfort and edification, which says to us, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together," &c.

2. That the time of their religious gatherings was the first day of the week, which supplies authority for our observance of the Lord's-day as the Christian Sabbath.

3. That when so assembled they were always visited by Christ; which shows that He keeps His promise — "Where two or three," &c.

4. That where Christ presents Himself, He invariably does four things.

I. HE BRINGS A BENEDICTION. One of the last things He promised is the first which He bestows — "peace." Observe this is —

1. The great blessing of the covenant, including every kind of peace the human heart can want — peace with God, conscience, man.

2. A much-needed blessing, as urgently needed now as then; because of guilt and danger.

3. A purchased blessing; secured by the shedding of Christ's blood.

4. An efficacious blessing. It was no mere wish, pleasant to hear, not vague or idle in significance, but an actual communication of the thing desired.

II. HE GIVES A REVELATION. "He showed them," &c. This revelation was —

1. Divine.(1) In its origin "He," and it is still Christ Himself who bestows upon His people the "spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him."(2) In its character. What He showed was Himself, than which He has nothing higher to impart. Christ crucified and risen is the highest revelation that can be given on the subject of God, man, truth, duty, salvation, eternal life.

2. Sufficient.(1) Then. The assembled apostles required no more, nor Thomas on the following Lord's-day.(2) Now. It contains all that a sinful man wants to justify his reason in reposing faith in Christ.

3. Cheering. "Then were the disciples glad." And so joy and peace to-day are the invariable results of a believing apprehension of the Saviour (Romans 15:13; 1 Peter 1:8).

III. HE ASSIGNS A COMMISSION. "As My Father," &c. This is —

1. Authoritative in its source. It emanates from Him to whom all power in heaven and earth has been given by the Father, and to whom by our saintship we owe allegiance. From Him, therefore, who has a right to command, and who cannot be disobeyed without incurring heinous guilt.

2. Imitative in its character, fashioned after the pattern of Christ's, by the same authority, in the same manner, and for a similar end.

3. Alternative in its issues, being fraught with either blessing or cursing. "Whosoever sins," &c.

IV. HE SUPPLIES A QUALIFICATION. "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." A qualification —

1. Much needed. "Not by might nor by power."

2. Perfectly sufficient. Not that Christ's people are to neglect subsidiary helps, such as learning, &c.; only that with the Spirit they will not be left destitute of anything requisite for their work.

3. Very real.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

Peace be unto you.
How curiously full of meaning are the different forms of salutation which have been in vogue in different countries and ages! The joyous Greek used to say, χᾶριε! — i.e., rejoice, take a cheerful view of what is before you. The sturdy Roman used to say, Ave! Salve! Vale! Be alive, healthy, strong to surmount all enemies and difficulties; override and trample them down. The serious German, Saxon race used to say, Farewell! — fare on, travel on as best you can along this uncertain mysterious road, walk well, discreetly, and then, whatever betide, it shall be well with you. The Christian of modern times, of whatever race, says, Good-day! Good evening! God bless you! Adieu! Good-bye! &c. God and God's goodness be with you. We commend you to a better guidance than ours. Go on towards God, and may God and all good go on with you. But there is still another form, still universal in the East, Peace be with you! — i.e., peace to the traveller amidst the ceaseless wars and feuds of the desert. Peace from robbers by night, from the enemies' snares, from quarrels which embitter life if they do not destroy it, from the alarms which destroy comfort if they do not destroy life. It was this in which our Lord chose to express His best wishes for His disciples.

(Dean Stanley.)

1. The day mentioned is the day in commemoration of which every Sabbath now is kept. There is no difference between the Jewish and the Christian Sabbath, except the difference there is in the landscape when the sun is on it and when the sun is off it.

2. We progress in the actings of faith very slowly. Were faith in lively exercise you would see in the midst of this house a glory brighter than ten thousand thousand "mountains of light," with the beams of the meridian sun falling on them. You would see in the midst Jesus; for "where two or three," &c.

I. THE SALUTATION — "Peace!" Of all the words that fall on man's ear, none is more delectable.

1. At the sound, perhaps —(1) We think of our infancy, ere the passions of the heart uncoiled themselves, or the cares and turmoil of life were encountered.(2) Or of some happy individual hose mind is graced with all scholarship, charmed with all sensibility, cultivated and wrought up to the mastery of the passions, and the education of the faculties, whose mind seems like a piece of music in tune.(3) Or of some happy family, in which there is such a consentaneousness of thinking and harmoniousness of feeling, such a rippling of kindliness, such a flowing of tenderness that though there are several individuals in the family, it really seems as though they were but one heart beating in the house.(4) Or of some happy land over which the waves of anarchy never rolled, in which the plaints of discord were never heard; where peace and contentment universally prevail; where "every man sits under his own vine and his own fig-tree, having none to make him afraid."(5) Or of a scene inclusive of and transcending all this, even of the garden of Eden itself.

2. But Christ used it in a more sacred sense than any of these. It signifies peace after a war, calm after a storm, tranquility after confusion. In nature, before the storm comes there is generally a very emphatic calm. When the sea is going to be searched through and through, there comes on the deep hush. And now big come the rain drops, now loud comes the wind, now fierce drives the tempest, and before it everything that is rotten gives way directly. Such a time will overtake us all. The peace of the worldling drifts away at once. If the worldling admit that he had any, it is generally found to consist in some reflection to this effect, that on the whole the world has gone tolerably smoothly with him, and he hopes it will continue to do so. But that is not a peace that will live in the storm. Bat the peace which Christ gives is profound and abiding. When the storm comes down on the water, we, perhaps, suppose that the storm has ploughed the ocean up to its depths. Not so! Down a few yards at most is the body of water lying in a state of perfect repose, as when God first gathered the waters into the sea. Such is the peace which Christ gives. The storm does not destroy it. It is deep, abiding peace.

3. Not indeed that "peace" can be found in outward things. Take away from the believer in Christ that to which worldly men may look for satisfaction, wealth, station, power, friends, health, and you have not come down to where his peace lies. Certainly, if these outward things could ever have yielded peace, they would have yielded it to Solomon. With astonishing energy and perseverance he worked the problem through; and when he had exhausted his experiments, he summed up the result — "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity!" And yet very few men are willing to take that lesson from Solomon.

II. THE ACT WITH WHICH THE SAVIOUR ACCOMPANIED HIS SALUTATION. He did something. Actions are more powerful than words.

1. He showed them His hands as much as to say, If these hands had never have been pierced, these lips would not have pronounced, "Peace be unto you." The chastisement of your peace has been laid on Me; "by My stripes ye are healed." He showed His side, so that we might say, "Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee!"

2. The showing of the hands and the side of Christ is the only symbolical movement that now remains. All types which intimated beforehand the glories of our redemption by the death of Christ are gone but this. So now, the whole of your behaviour in relation to Christ just resolves itself into this — touching the hands and side of Christ. Believing in Christ and touching Him are the same thing.

3. Then observe the point of difference there is between the actions of men and this action of our Lord in showing His hands and His side. You can never depend on the action of man — he is mutable. But Christ "is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." He is always showing His hands and His feet in heaven to signify that He is always doing so on earth to faith. Cannot you touch His hands and His side? "Oh!" you say, "it takes such a great effort." Cannot you make a great effort? I know I can. Let your temporal affairs all get into some great extremity, and I know what you are capable of. Suppose you were drowning — some one throws a rope to you — what kind of movement do you make? All I want from you in relation to Christ is a similar effort on the part of the mind which the body takes towards the rope. Conclusion: To those who have this peace, I must speak to them in the language —

1. Of congratulation.

2. Of exhortation; for Christ hath said, "As my Father hath sent Me, so send I you." You are chartered for usefulness. Is there ignorance in the world — remove it. Is there delusion — dissolve it. Is there infidelity — go and supply the elements of faith. Is there immorality — go and check it. Is there misery — wipe its tears, terminate its sighs.

(J. Beaumont, M.D.)

: —

I. THIS GREETING WAS CUSTOMARY AMONG EASTERN NATIONS.

1. It was, with slight variations, of high antiquity, and we meet with it all through the Bible.

2. In our Lord's-day it had become as much part of the social habits of the people as "Good-morning" is among ourselves. In earlier days, no doubt, men had invoked peace from heaven with the utmost seriousness; but by this time it had become a mere conventional phrase; and yet our Lord did not scruple to use it. But it would be a great mistake to infer that He used it conventionally. A conscientious man will mean what he says, even when he uses words prescribed by custom or etiquette. And among great teachers the majority have been less forward to employ new language than to breathe a new meaning into old words. In Christ this latter method is especially observable. He picks up, as it were from the roadside, the common words which fall from men as they saunter unthinkingly through life; and He restores to them their original power and sanctity. His work was to bring reality in all its shapes into human life. Once before, in the supper-room, He rescued the blessing of peace from unmeaning formalism. "Not as the world giveth give I unto you."

3. The word "peace" does not, in the original, mean only or chiefly rest. The Hebrew root-word means whole, entire; a thing as it should be according to its origin or capacity. Of this state of well-being, freedom from disturbance is either a condition or a result. Yet here, as so often else, the incidental meaning has displaced the original. But our Lord had His eye no doubt, at least partially, on its original sense. He meant not merely tranquility but that which leads to it — wellbeing in its largest sense as affecting the highest interests of a being like man.

II. WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE SENSE SUGGESTED BY THE BLESSING TO THOSE WHO HEARD IT.

1. Not peace with the Jews without! That could not be (Luke 12:51). His followers indeed were so much as lieth in them to live peaceably with all men. But this region of possible intercourse could only extend where the truths of faith were not imperilled. Peace with the Jews at that time, like peace with the non-Christian world in later ages, was only to be had by a surrender of the honour and cause of Christ.

2. Nor peace among yourselves! Doubtless this is of priceless value, as involving the best spiritual blessings, and as an evidence to the world of the truth of our Lord's religion (John 13:35). But this peace was not then especially needed. The instinct of self-preservation drew and kept them together. The sad day of divisions among Christians was yet to come.

3. But peace in their individual souls — a sense of protection which conquers or ignores fear. There they were for fear of the Jews. They knew what measure had been dealt to their Master. What could they — His disciples — expect? Then He came and said, "Peace." And from His lips the blessing of peace meant safety from every adversary. This is a primary effect of Christ's blessing. It distracts attention from things without. It does not destroy them. Sickness, death, the loss of friends, opposition, the bad tempers, prejudices, follies of those around us, &c., remain as before. But they no longer absorb attention. The eye of the soul is fixed on the Divine and the eternal.

III. FREEDOM FROM ANXIETY IS NOT THE ONLY OR THE CHIEF PART OF PEACE. Its root is deeper. The soul must be resting on its true object; or the tumult within will continue in thought, affection, will, conscience.

1. The Crucifixion had thrown the disciples into the greatest mental perplexity. They had trusted that it had been He that should have redeemed Israel. Upon this state of mind the Crucifixion burst like a thunderbolt. True, prophecy and He Himself had foretold it. But the human mind has a strange power of closing its ear to the unwelcome when it is half-comprehended. Christ's words then describe the intellectual effect of His mere appearance. The sight of Jesus risen restored order to the thoughts of the disciples. The Crucifixion was no longer the ruin of their faith if it was followed by the Resurrection. The prophecies were consistent after all. This is still the work of Jesus in the world; when He is recognized by souls He blesses them with intellectual peace. Without Him the belief in a Holy God is embarrassed by the gravest perplexities. All the great haunting questions about life and destiny are unanswered, to any real purpose, until Jesus appears. It is indeed sometimes mistakenly supposed that a Christian knows only the peace of mental stagnation; and that in order to be what is oddly called a thinker, a man must needs be a sceptic. It is of course true that a Christian is not for ever re-opening questions which he believes to have been settled on the authority of God Himself. But to believe is not to condemn thought to inertness and stagnation; a man does not do less work at mathematics because he starts with holding the axioms to be beyond discussion. On the contrary, a fixed creed, like that of the Christian, imparts to life and nature such varied interest, that, as experience shows, it fertilizes thought. The human intelligence has, on the whole, been cultivated most largely among the Christian nations.

2. The disciples had, for the moment, by the death of Jesus, lost the object of their affections. How much they already loved our Lord they did not know until He was removed. Now they felt the weary, restless void of an aching heart. When, then, Jesus appeared He brought peace to their hearts (Song of Solomon 3:4). Mental satisfaction does not alone bring peace, if the heart remains unsatisfied. And that which satisfies the heart is beauty; that uncreated and eternal beauty of which all earthly beauty is but the shadow. Sooner or later trouble and death make havoc of temporal peace. Only one Being satisfies the affections in such sort, that the soul's peace is insured beyond risk of forfeiture (Isaiah 26:3).

3. Our Lord's crucifixion had disturbed all the plans for action and life which had been formed by the apostles. They had been looking forward to the establishment of a new kingdom, and to their own places in and work for it. These visions now seemed to have vanished. The apostles were like men who had just failed in business — all is despair. And the will, the energetic and sovereign faculty of the soul, suddenly set free from the tension of continuous effort, falls back upon itself, and becomes within the soul a principle of disturbance. No men know less of inward peace than the unoccupied. A leading secret of peace is work. Our Lord then restored that sort of peace which comes with occupation pursued under a sense of duty. Many a working man, who does not know how to get into the day what he has to do, supposes that the condition of idle people is to be envied. No mistake can well be greater. Work guarantees the peace of the soul; because the soul must be active in some way, and work secures healthy action.

4. But the peace which man needs most especially, and which our Lord gives most abundantly, is that of the conscience. Did the apostles as yet understand in detail how their Master would reconcile them to God? It is difficult to say. They knew that this reconciliation was, in some way, to result from His mission and life. But if the violence of His enemies had indeed prevailed, this was a mere matter of phrase and conjecture; His life was essential to the completion of His work. They knew not whether they were saved after all. They had lost that peace which comes from a sense of union with God. When, then, our Lord appeared He restored peace, because He restored the sense, however indefinite as yet, of pardon for past sin, and of reconciliation with God. Without this there can be no true peace for the soul of man. Perhaps no Christian, since the days of the apostles, has illustrated the peace which Jesus gives so fully as . Read that pathetic story of his early life in his Confessions. What a restless life was his before his conversion I The intellect tossed about on the waves of speculation, without solid hold on any one reassuring truth. The heart distracted between the ideals presented by false philosophies, and the ideals suggested by sensuality. The will unable to fasten on any serious duty; the victim of a feverish unsettlement, or of a capricious languor. The conscience profoundly stirred by the terrible conviction that the Son of Peace was not there, and alternating between the phase of insensibility and the phase of agony. Then came his conversion, and with it what a change! Peace in his understanding, which now surveys with a majestic tranquility, the vast realms of revealed truth; more penetratingly, more comprehensively than any Christian since St. Paul. Peace in his heart, which now turns its undistracted and enraptured gaze upon the Eternal Beauty, who, as he says, is always ancient yet always young. Peace in his will, for which the problem of duty has been simplified; he knows what he has to do, and he does it with all his might. Peace in his conscience. There is no longer any sense of an inward feud with the law of absolute holiness. All has been pardoned through the blood of Jesus; all is possible through His grace.

(Canon Liddon.)

You may have stood by the side of one of those brawling mountain streams which descend from our southern and western coasts into the sea. Such a stream rushes with its noisy waters down its narrow channel, every pebble rattles in the torrent, every ripple makes a murmur of its own. Suddenly the sound ceases, a deep stillness fills the banks from side to side. Why? It is the broad sweep of the advancing tide of the ocean that has checked the stream and occupied the whole space of its narrow channel with its own strong, silent, overwhelming waters. Even so it is with all the little cares, and difficulties, and distractions that make up the noise and clatter of the stream of our daily life. They go on increasing and increasing; they engross our whole attention till they are suddenly met and absorbed by some thought or object greater than themselves, advancing from a wider, deeper, stronger sphere. From a thousand heights the streams of human life are for ever rushing down; but there is another stream advancing into each of those channels, a tide from that wider and trackless ocean, to which they are all tending; and deep indeed is the peace which those tides may bring with them wherever their force extends. The very measure of the greatness of the idea of God and of the things of God is the depth of the peace which that idea is able to impart.

(Dean Stanley.)

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