SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Most scholars believe that when John refers to “the other disciple” (in verses 2-8), he is writing about himself.
- After Mary Magdalene discovers Jesus is not the gardener he tells her, “do not hold on to me.” It could be that she wouldn't let go of Jesus because she was afraid he'd leave again. Or it might be that Jesus was trying to get Mary to focus, so he could send her to tell the disciples the news of his resurrection.
- In verses 19-22 Jesus meets up with his disciples and tells them that he is sending them in the same way the Father had sent him. He then says, in verse 23, something that seems odd: "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.“ Since the disciples were to continue Jesus' mission of telling everyone about God's offer of salvation, it could be that Jesus is referring to the forgiveness that comes from accepting the message. So, rephrasing Jesus’ words, it could be: “Those who receive your message will be forgiven; but those who don’t receive your message will not be forgiven.”
- Thomas is not there when all the other disciples see Jesus risen from the dead. He expresses doubt over whether Jesus had truly risen. Jesus, in response, shows up for Thomas and gives him what he needs to believe.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- John ends this chapter by explaining that his purpose in writing was to help people come to faith in Jesus. That is God's desire for everyone. God sent Jesus because he loves the world and wants everyone to know him and to have real and eternal life through him.
- In verse 21 Jesus gives us the same mission God gave him: "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." We now have the responsibility of helping people to know God and find life in him.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Where are you at with faith? Have you come to believe in Jesus? If not, what holds you back? What questions or doubts do you still have? And, like Thomas, have you voiced those concerns -- to God, and to some people who might be able to help you?
- If you have come to faith, do you understand that your mission is to help other people come to faith? Have you accepted that mission? Who are a few people God has put in your life who don't believe, who you can show the love of God to and lead towards Jesus? Take some time to pray for them.