Lord, we want to follow You faithfully, no matter what we see or encounter along the way. Teach us to live by Your teachings and Spirit wholeheartedly, without hesitation or distraction. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read John 19-21
John 19:1–16 The Jews demanded Pilate execute Jesus’ sentence despite Pilate’s protests that He wasn’t guilty of anything. To satisfy the crowd on their holiday, he had Jesus flogged and publicly mocked. When Pilate objected to crucifying Him, however, the crowd threatened Pilate with treason until he handed Jesus over to them.
Notice that Pilate had a deeper fear of God than the Jews who were trying to kill Jesus. He was afraid to take responsibility for someone with claims like Jesus’; he even tried to release Him.
John 19:17–42 On the afternoon of the Passover feast, the Jewish leaders had Roman guards nail Jesus to a cross and hang Him up to die near the city limits; His cross stood between two other criminals. Down to the smallest detail, every prophecy about Jesus’ death was fulfilled. As He died, Jesus entrusted His mother to a new family, a trusted disciple who received her into his home.
And with His last breath, Jesus announced He had completed God’s assignment and released His life. A secret disciple who was a prominent city figure worked with Nicodemus to bury Jesus honorably in a new tomb nearby.
John 20:1–18 After the Passover weekend, Mary (Magdalene, not Jesus’ mother) went to mourn at the grave but found the tomb open and empty! All the disciples were upset, thinking the authorities must have stolen Jesus’ body. But Mary saw two angels and then ran into Jesus—in His resurrected body, which she didn’t recognize at first. She then told the disciples she had seen Jesus alive, and shared His message that He was going to now leave them and return to His Father.
John 20:19–31 Jesus supernaturally appeared in the disciples’ secret meeting. He confirms His resurrection by showing them His crucifixion scars. He breathed over them the new life of the Holy Spirit and transferred His mission to the disciples, telling them to reflect God by practicing radical forgiveness.
Notice that Jesus reappeared to the disciples a second time. He did so for Thomas, who was absent in the first meeting. Jesus prioritized personally addressing the faith and needs of each disciple, even though He says there’s a blessing for those who believe without seeing.
PETER DENIES THE LORD, THEN..
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John 21 The third and last time Jesus appeared to His disciples, they were busy trying to fish and didn’t recognize Him until He directed them to an overwhelming catch. After the disciples finished the haul, Jesus served them bread and fish and they ate together. Peter is instructed to demonstrate his love for Jesus by feeding and taking care of His people. Jesus then predicts how Peter’s life will end, so that he will stay faithful through difficulty.
21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’
- Throughout the Gospels, people ask for signs to help them accept Jesus’ claims and believe God’s power. While Jesus is willing to act so that more people will accept Him, He also teaches that those who believe without miraculous proof are blessed.
Do the first one below and choose one out of the last three.
- After reading these chapters’ gruesome description of the extreme path God took to ensure reconciliation, can you reframe your understanding of God’s value on right relationships? Are there any people in your life with whom you need to seek forgiveness? Plan and commit with a fellow disciple to make that reconciliation a priority.
- Reflect also on your personal sin that made this path to reconciliation necessary. Praise God for Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, who takes away the sins of the world—just like John the Baptist said He would.
- Think back through your version of the gospel story. Are there ways you could incorporate the theme of reconciliation—both as God’s purpose for the world, and as believers’ mission after Jesus?
- Jesus celebrates believers who are able to take him at his word, without signs or confirmations. Thinking through your walk of faith—and perhaps the way you teach about God’s Word—how can you better pursue an approach that celebrates simple, accepting obedience? This is counter-cultural to many religious forms that elevate grand signs and supernatural interventions over a committed, everyday walk with God.