In this lesson – we will learn about the most important event in the history of mankind – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The most glorious of all mornings is recorded in Matthew chapter 28. Verse 1 “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week (Sunday), came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (the mother James the less) to see the sepulcher.” Up to now, Saturday was the Sabbath or holy day for the Jews. But, in Acts 20:7 it tells us that – among the followers of Christ – Sunday became the holy day or Sabbath – after the resurrection of the Savior. Matthew 28:2 “And, behold, there was a great earthquake (the second earthquake associated with Christ’s death): for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door (the opening of the tomb), and sat upon it.” This all happened before the women arrived. Verses 3-4 “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers (guards) did shake, and became as dead men.” Can you imagine being a witness all this taking place? These guards and they passed out. Verses 5-6 “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen (resurrected), as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” The women were looking in the tomb to see – when the angel tells them, Verse 7 “And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him; lo, I have told.” Jesus had told His disciples in Matthew 26:32 that He would meet them in Galilee after His crucifixion. A description of His meeting them is found later in John, chapter 21.
Mary Magdalene at the tomb still, was concerned about where the Savior’s body had been taken. After turning away from the tomb – she sees a man whom she assumes is the caretaker. John 20:15-17 “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom sleekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” Then, this tender moment. “Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.” As soon as she recognized Him – her sorrow was over. “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not (don’t cling to me); for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God.” Matthew 28, Verses 8-10 “And they (the women) departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold Jesus met them, saying, All hail (a greeting meaning, rejoice). And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren (the Apostles) that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.”
Now, when the women told the apostles the good news, it says in Luke chapter 24 that they didn’t believe the women. John 20:3-8 “Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple (John), and came to the sepulcher. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; ye went he not in. Then commeth Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin (burial cloth), that was about (wrapped around) his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple (John), which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed.”
Matthew 28:16-17 “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him: but some doubted.” We know Thomas doubted, and probably many others. But once convinced by the evidence – they became lions for the Lord. What Jesus now instructs is a clear reminder to these Apostles that – their superior cultural background as descendants of Abraham must be discarded in favor of the true doctrine that – all souls are of equal worth in the kingdom of God. Verse 18 “And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” As God – the Word – He had an original right to all things in heaven and in earth because He created them. By His condescension – taking on flesh – He overcame all to have total power over all things for them that believe. Jesus says, Verse 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.” Did you catch that? He said to baptize “in the NAME” – not NAMES of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are talking about One God here. He continues saying, Verse 20 “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Okay, we have to remember that Jesus came to the House of Israel. And He was sending His disciples to reach the House of Israel – the Jews. They were not to preach or convert any non-Jews, or Gentiles for years to come. The Jews would show their willingness to receive the promised Messiah through baptism – in the name of the Father, Son (now added to the equation), and Holy Spirit. There would be an entirely different process for Gentile converts in the future.
John 20:19 “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week (Sunday), when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews (they were hiding behind locked doors), came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” Luke records in chapter 24, verses 36 through 40 “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit (a ghost). And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold (look at) my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.” A major doctrine is taught in these verses. Namely, that the Savior now has a resurrected body of flesh and bones. LDS doctrine teaches that the same is true of the Father. And where is that found? In the Bible? No, the Bible emphatically teaches in John 4:24 that “God is a Spirit.” Is it found in the Book of Mormon? No, it too teaches in Alma 18:26-28 that God is a “Great Spirit.” Even Joseph Smith in his 1835 Lectures on Faith – Lecture 5 – page 65, that was once were part of the Doctrine and Covenants, claimed “there are two personages in the Godhead, and they are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of SPIRIT…and the Son a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man.” Smith said, the Holy Spirit is “the mind of the Father and the Son.” In 1820 – 15 years earlier – Joseph claimed to have seen the Father and the Son – both of which – had bodies of flesh and bone. So why was he teaching in the 1835 Lectures on Faith that God was a personage of spirit? After 1921, the Lectures on Faith was replaced with the revelation on plural marriage in Doctrine and Covenants 130:22 which states, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” Sounds like Joseph Smith was confused himself, about what he believed. With him the story was always evolving.
Now, back to John 20:20-23 “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. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on the, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit (forgive), they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” When He breathed on them with the Holy Spirit, He breathed additional power into the Apostles. The actual enjoyment of the gift was delayed until the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
John 20:24-25 “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 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.” Verses 26-27 “And after eight days again his disciples were within (the house), and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and trust it into my side: and be not faithless, be believing.” This appearance of the Lord was all for Thomas’ benefit. It doesn’t tell us if Thomas actually touched Jesus, but I assume if the Lord told him to – he did. Because, in the next verse is – one of the greatest statements in scripture. Verse 28 “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” Thomas just called Jesus his God. He declares – Jesus is God. Was Thomas, right? Absolutely! Jesus IS God? Is He the One true living God? If Jesus wasn’t – you would have expected the Savior to correct Thomas’ doctrinal understanding. But, there is no need for correction – cause Thomas was right. Verse 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.” Touching and physical evidence is not the foundation of our belief. It’s not based on a burning in our bosom – it’s based on truth. It’s not a blind faith – it’s an informed faith. Because of his desire to know the truth for himself – we should refer to Thomas as Honest Thomas – not Doubting Thomas. John closes out his writing with this saying, Verses 30-31 “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life (eternal life) through his name.” But then in the next chapter – John includes an encore of Jesus appearing to His Apostles on the lake shore in a very touching scene.
In the last chapter of the Book of John, we read about the appointed meeting of the Apostles with the resurrected Lord at the Sea of Galilee. Peter and the others had been fishing all night with absolutely no success. In the morning a stranger on the shore asks if they have had any luck. He then tells them to simply cast their net overboard on the other side of the ship. Perhaps there are few things worse than a stranger telling professionals how to do their work. Nevertheless, they do what He says and suddenly the net fills with so many big fish, they could hardly pull it in. Aww -this, rings a bell! An almost identical thing had happened three years before – when Peter had been fishing all night with no success and Jesus told him to let down his nets. On that occasion also – their nets were filled with so many fish that the nets began to break. Now the same thing is happening again. Could it be the Master, who is on the shore now? When John recognized it was the Lord – Peter jumped in and swam to the shore. When the others came to land – Jesus was there cooking breakfast for his weary disciples. The last meal with His disciples was not the Last Supper in the City of Jerusalem – but breakfast on the shore of Galilee. Jesus told the Apostles – when He called them back in Matthew 4:19 – that He would make the “fishers of men”. The fact that the Savior helped them have such success with actual fish is symbolic of the fact that He will help them have great success in bringing men, women, and children into the gospel net and – unto the Father. But Jesus wanted to test Peter’s conviction. So, He asked Peter three times – if he loved Him? When Peter answered to the affirmative – Jesus said to “feed my lambs” and to “feed my sheep.” The rest of the New Testament from this point on – shows us that the lesson was not lost on the chief Apostle. Filled with the Spirit – Peter possessed great moral courage in the defense of truth.
Finally, strong testimony is born to us that the things written by John are true. Verses 24-25 “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”