He Stood Among Them
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 20:19b Then Jesus came, stood among them, . . .
Jesus was suddenly there, standing in their midst on a spot where no one had been standing previously. He did not flash through like a comet, or crash in like an intruder. He stood among them, as if He belonged, and intended to stay a while.
It would be hard to overstate the shock that must have gripped everyone in the room. Maybe our worst sin against the resurrection is, we take it for granted.
Like a well-worn coin, it can lose its awe and wonder. God forgive us for losing the thrill, the excitement, the shock, of knowing that One who was dead lived.
Have you ever thought you saw someone you knew was dead? This has happened to me twice.
One of my teenage friends was killed in a motorcycle accident. Months later I saw someone from the back that looked almost exactly like him. I thought it was him. It scared me to death. I nearly lost my breath. A sense of paralysis washed over my body like a tidal wave. I was almost too afraid to take a closer look.
One night in a dream I saw my Grandpa Marshall, who had been dead for years. He was as real as if he were sitting on the bed beside me. I was petrified, woke up in a cold sweat, breathing hard, my heart pounding.
A similar sensation must have filled this room. It was impossible, but He was there. The body that had been crucified was standing among them alive. Sixty years later, John remembered the moment well. In his mind’s eye he could still see Jesus standing in their midst.
He saw significance in Jesus’ location. He was among them, in the middle, at the center, as if in charge, as if everything and everyone else were peripheral.
This pictures the way things are. Jesus is the center of everything; in the midst of creation, holding it together; in the middle of history, its predominant focus; in the midst of His churches, walking among them (Revelation 1:13).
Christ is the center of Christianity. Billy Graham, the Wesleys, George Whitefield, Spurgeon, Calvin – we are grateful for them all, but they are lesser lights. Jesus is the preeminent sun, the central object of our spiritual galaxy.
Jesus is the center of Heaven, dwelling in the midst of the very throne of God (Revelation 5:6). As its temple, its light, its object of praise and adoration, Jesus will forever be the axis around which eternity itself shall rotate.
There is one more place where He desires to be the center; in human hearts. This amazing truth is the most miraculous of all. Holy, Omnipotent, Lord – yet He wants to live in our hearts. Wonder of wonders!
What, Lord? In me you have made your home?
Then make it a castle! Build a throne!
And rule me, Lord, from the midst of my heart.
Be the center, the focus, my all in all.
I will obey, send forth your call,
And do it, Lord, from the midst of my heart.
Control the whole, not just a part.
Speak Your commands, Your will impart,
And do it, Lord, from the midst of my heart.
Not in a corner, nor off to the side,
May all the world know, whate’er betide,
That You control from the midst of my heart.
When in death’s clutches I’m taken hold,
When I shiver from Jordan’s chilly cold,
Please warm me, Lord, from the midst of my heart.
Then start the glory. Turn warmth into light.
Radiate! And as I take my flight,
Shine through me, Lord, from the midst of my heart.
Is Jesus the center, the focal point, in your heart? Is He preeminent in your life? If we could look into your heart, would we see the scene of our text re-created? Would all else and all others, including your own self, be peripheral, with Jesus standing supreme in the midst? I pray so.
John 20:19c (Jesus) said to them, “Peace to you!”
Jesus encouraged them. Before He arrived, the disciples were depressed. Most did not believe Jesus was alive. Even if He were, their joy would be spoiled by remembering they had denied Him. They had all forsaken Him, fleeing like faithless cowards. None had spoken in His behalf. Only one stood at the cross.
Their failures must have been burdening them, but when Jesus appeared, He comforted them. He knew they were grieving for what they had done. Rather than say, “Shame on you,” He said, “Peace to you.”
What a blessing! When Jesus speaks peace, there is peace. Of all words ever spoken, few are sweeter than “peace.” It conjures up thoughts of simpler times, of the ease a child shows in a mother’s arms.
Be encouraged by Jesus’ words to the disciples here. They were unworthy, deserving no word of peace, but received one. We too are unworthy, but when we are sorry for our sins, and desire forgiveness, we also receive Jesus’ benediction. “Peace to you!”
John 20:20a Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side.
Jesus was not a phantom or ghost. To prove it, He gave the disciples evidence. To convince them it really was Him, He let the disciples examine His body closely.
This was also Jesus’ way of letting the disciples know what made their peace possible. What He said (“Peace to you”) directly correlated with, and came from, what He showed them. The scars were the basis of the peace He bestows. Jesus still shows those scars to the Father, presenting them as payment for our sin.
Nothing is sweeter than Jesus’ wounds, “founts of redemption, doors of eternal life, sources of hope, seals of Heaven” (Spurgeon). “He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds” (Isaiah 53:5).
Jesus showed them His hands. The sacred scars in them prove our punishment was borne by a Substitute. These wounds are a cancelled receipt, saying, “Debt paid in full.” The scars in His hands are the signature of the Divine bookkeeper, eliminating our debt.
Hands that had healed fever, deafness, speechlessness, blindness, and leprosy would now heal sinful hearts. Hands that had blessed little children would now bless all God’s children. The hand that grasped sinking Peter will now reach out to rescue a sinking world. The hand a spike held will now hold us to the end.
Jesus showed them His side. His pierced side gives us an open window into God’s loving heart. His side, the bosom in which our author John the Beloved rested his head, would now be a resting place for repentant sinners everywhere.
Our calling is to trust the crucified One. Look through His wounds. You will see Heaven on the other side.
John 20:20b So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
He had promised them their sorrow would be turned to joy (John 16:20-22). Now it happened. Gladness and blessing filled the room. He wiped away all tears from their eyes. The threatening religious leaders were still near, but all fear died.
A new world began in this room. From it, forgiveness makes its way across the Earth, shockwaves of joy vibrate, the lava of love needed by a cold world spews forth, and Christ’s ministry expands to epic worldwide proportions.
When we consciously interact with the living forgiving Christ, He still gladdens the heart. The more mindful we become of His loving smile, the more gladness we find. To enjoy God truly is earth’s highest joy.
Jesus’ Resurrection should always give all our lives a joyful underpinning. Life is hard and painful. We struggle often, but underneath the storm, calm waters should prevail because we are a Resurrection people. We serve a Master who rose from death. He is at work in us to lift us out of our helplessness and hopelessness. Rejoice, friends, rejoice!