Jesus Risen - John 20:1-18

Expositions by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Memory Verse — I Corinthians 15:20

The Gospel of Jesus Christ which is the "power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth" consists of three facts. The first is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. The second is that He rose from the dead. And the third Is that He is coming back again to receive us unto Himself. These simple facts constitute a message which has power to deliver the souls of men from the wrath of God, to transform lives into the likeness of the Son of God, and to raise dead bodies from the corruption of death into the liberty of eternal life. That the resurrection is an integral part of the Gospel is indicated in the fifteenth chapter of I Cor. in which we find the inspired definition of the Gospel. It is concerning this part of the glorious Gospel of God's Son that we study in the twentieth chapter of John. I Cor. 15:1-4, 23-25.

In order to fully appreciate the significance of the simple narrative which is given here it is necessary for us to consider with it other passages in the Word which bear on the same subject. As we do this four things are clearly presented to our minds:


There can be no doubt about the fact that Jesus rose again from the dead. Abundance of evidence can be adduced which proves this. Many writers and speakers on this subject have averred that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best authenticated fact of history. Several points of evidence which prove the reality of Jesus' resurrection may be noted in the chapter which we are studying and in the preceding chapter. In the first place the reality of Jesus' resurrection is established by the testimony of the inspired writer of this book who declares that Jesus "gave up the Ghost" (John 19:30). Surely these words can mean nothing hut death, and if, as it is later declared by this same writer, Jesus appeared alive to His disciples, then He must have risen from the dead. The soldiers, when they came to the Cross of Jesus, "saw that He was dead already," but in order to be sure one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, which would have ended His life if He were not already dead. The fact that the blood and water flowed from His side is held by medical authorities to be proof of His death, and more than that, it proves that He died of a ruptured heart. These facts make it clear that Jesus really died, and consequently when He appeared to the disciples He must have risen from the dead.

Two facts set forth in the chapter which is the particular subject of our study make it clear that this was the case. When Peter and John came to the empty tomb and looked in they saw the linen clothes which had been about the body of Jesus, and the napkin which had been about his head, lying in the tomb. Those grave clothes were not folded up and laid orderly in the grave as they might have been if the body of Jesus had been taken away by natural means, nor were they unwrapped, and lying in confusion on the floor as if to indicate that the body had been taken by men in haste. They were lying in such a manner as to indicate that the body of Jesus which had been lying in them had been suddenly and supernaturally removed without disturbing them. They were still wrapped as if they were about a body, but no doubt collapsed so as to show that the body was gone. This would have been impossible had the body been removed by natural means. Only on this basis can we explain the faith in the resurrection which entered the disciples' hearts as they looked upon the grave clothes in the empty tomb, for it is explicitly stated that "as yet they knew not the Scripture that He must rise from the dead." There was something about the way those clothes were lying which inspired faith in the resurrection in the hearts of Jesus two disciples! And this proves the reality of His resurrection. (Jno. 20: 14-16, 19-30). This is further proved by His appearance to Mary and to the disciples. They saw Him alive and talked with Him. Though many other proofs might be considered we shall be obliged for the present purpose to limit ourselves to this very brief consideration of those in the chapter which we are studying. However, it may be stated positively that the proof of Jesus' resurrection is indisputable. The fact is established. Jesus has risen from the dead. John 19:30, 33, 34; John 20:5-9.


When we consider the importance of the resurrection we realize that it is well that the fact of His resurrection is so 'well established, for the resurrection of Jesus is veritably a foundation of our hope. The Apostle Paul, led of the Spirit, states the importance of the resurrection in I Cor. 15:14-19. In this remarkable passage he points out several reasons why the resurrection of Jesus is of vital importance. If Christ be not risen the preaching of the Gospel is vain, for the resurrection is a part of that Gospel. In addition to this the faith of the disciples is in vain and they are yet in their sins, for they have believed in a lie. Furthermore unless Christ be raised from the dead those who have fallen asleep believing in Him have miserably perished. So important is the resurrection of Christ, and so closely is our hope associated with it that the apostle is led to cry: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, then we are of all men most miserable" (I Cor. 15:13-19).

Several facts may be adduced which serve to show why the resurrection of Christ is so important. It proves His deity, for if He had not risen then the Jews would have been justified in their argument that He was only a man. And if only a man, then a sinner, for He said He was God. And if He were a sinner He could not be the Saviour of sinners, for He would need saving Himself. But because He is risen from the dead He is "proved to be the Son of God with power" by that resurrection. Then, too, His resurrection proves that His sacrifice was acceptable to God. Had He not completely satisfied the claims of divine justice He could not have risen from the dead, but must forever have remained dead and under the judgment of God. In addition to this His resurrection gives evidence to our poor weak faith that God has power to raise the dead, and that in His grace some day^ He will raise us up together with Christ. He raised Jesus from the dead, consequently we know He has power to raise us from the dead as well. Many other considerations enter into the importance of the resurrection of Christ, but these must suffice to show us how important it is. Rom. 1:3-4; Heb. 10:12-14; I Pet. 1:3.


We should note several facts concerning Jesus' resurrection which shed light upon the character of the resurrection, and which answer many questions concerning it. The first fact is that the resurrection body is the same body which died, though marvelously changed. This is shown in Mary's recognition of Jesus and in His showing the disciples His pierced hands and feet and the wound in His side. The body which was raised from the dead was the same body which had been nailed to the Cross. (Jno. 20:11-16, 20, 27). We must not suppose that all resurrection bodies are to have the wounds and infirmities which they suffered in this life just because Jesus had the wounds in His body. The teaching is very clear that the resurrection body of the believers are to be free from the infirmities which now mar them. (Isa. 35:6) God doubtless preserved the wounds in the body of Jesus as a memorial to His grace. The fact already noted involves another fact and that is that the resurrection body is a real body. There are many things which we do not know about it but we know this, that the body of Jesus was a body which could be seen and felt and in which He could eat food which was set before Him, for all these things are clearly taught concerning Him after His resurrection. (John 20:1116, 20, 27; Luke 24: 39-43) And though we cannot understand how it can be, we know that the resurrection body is a body which is not subject to natural laws. The body of Jesus could pass through the grave clothes without disturbing them. It could enter rooms where the doors were closed without opening them. Someone has well said that it was not necessary for the stone to be rolled away from the grave in order for the resurrection body of Jesus to come out, but rather for the disciples to see that He had risen from the dead and that His body had come forth. The resurrection body is the same body which was laid down in death, but it is so changed as to be free from the limitations of sickness and infirmity and from those of natural laws. I Cor. 15:42-44.


The power of the resurrection of Jesus cannot be fully appreciated, but what we do know about it fills our souls with joy unspeakable. It is too great to be understood by our finite minds but the few facts which God has revealed to us concerning that power are so radiant with the light of His glory as to be almost too much for our poor weak understanding. God definitely teaches us that it is by the power of Christ's resurrection that He will raise the bodies of believers in the time of His second coming. So great is the power of His resurrection that by it even the bodies of unbelievers will be raised from the dead. But a great gulf is fixed between the resurrection of believers and that of unbelievers. One is a resurrection of life while the other is a resurrection of damnation. The power of His resurrection is such that when a believer submits himself to the will of God and permits Him to manifest that power in his life it transforms the life completely. It makes God's yielded child to live as though he were already dead and resurrected, because he becomes as unresponsive to the world's allurements as a dead man, and his life glows with a new light — the light of heaven itself. Nearly everyone knows someone whose life, though a mystery to them, is a blessing to all about them because of the power of Christ's resurrection. It is possible in the grace of God to live in the power of Christ's resurrection victorious over sin and transformed into the likeness of the resurrection life. II Cor. 4:14; I Cor. 15:22; Rev. 20:6, 12-15; Phil. 3:10-11; Rom. 6:4-11.