(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: John Ch. 20 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv. 1-18) When the Lord was crucified on the cross and his body placed in the tomb, the power in the darkness, the evil one, seemed to have its victory. Yet, on the first day of the week, Jesus was risen! The resurrection of Jesus indicates that He has triumphed over persecution from religious leaders, over the darkness of politics, over the threat of death, and beyond the power of evil. It was and is the happiest and most celebratory day for all Christians!
Seeing the stone that was removed from the entrance of the tomb, the face cloth of Jesus that was folded up in a place by itself, and the empty tomb, the disciples testified that Jesus has truly risen. Brothers and sisters, as we confess that Jesus was crucified for our sins (yours and mine), we must believe that Jesus has risen! In other words, acknowledging that our sins are forgiven by God through Jesus, we must know that we are to live with the resurrected Lord Jesus!
John emphasized that “…the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.” (v.7) As illustrated, both items were left intact in their original forms, not scattered nor piled up, but remained rolled up, without any signs of being taken off. The only thing that was missing there is the Body of the Lord. This can be used as a piece of evidence that refutes the “stolen body hypothesis”. If the body of Jesus was to be stolen by someone, why bother taking off his face cloth and rolling it again there, instead of just taking the entire body away?
This evidence might not be sufficient for us to convince the seekers to believe in Jesus’ resurrection. While we can pray that the risen Lord will manifest himself to them, we can also testify to them that our lives have truly changed by the power of the risen Lord. May you and I bear witness to the risen Lord in our lives!
With regard to Mary of Magdalene, the scripture mentioned that when she first saw an empty tomb, she was thinking that someone had taken away Jesus’ body. When Jesus spoke to her, she thought it was the gardener who spoke. She did not recognize the resurrected Lord until Jesus called her name. What can we learn from Mary? Previously, Jesus had driven out seven demons from her body, which changed her life. She and several other women had served Jesus and his disciples with their own means (Luke 8:1-3). After Jesus’ body had been placed in a tomb that was new and owned by a man named Joseph, Mary was not only the last person to leave the tomb (Matthew 27:61) but the first one who came to Jesus’ tomb early in the morning on the first day of the week. Her tears and her following the steps of Jesus showed how sincere and earnest her love was for the Lord.
In John 14:21, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” May we be committed to loving the Lord, following the Lord, and serving the Lord. May God manifest himself to us in our lives and our faith continue to be strengthened by the Lord.
(vv. 19-31) In this passage, we see the Lord Jesus, after his resurrection, appeared to the disciples and he said three times: “Peace be with you.” (v.19, v.21, v.26)
The first time (vv.19-20), on the night of the resurrection, the disciples closed the door and gathered because they were afraid of the Jews. But Jesus appeared to his disciples with his resurrected body, with nail marks on his hands and wounds on his ribs. He stood among them in person to comfort them with peace and relieve them from fear and worry. In times when we feel hopeless, may we remember what the risen Lord has said: “Peace be with you!” and then be comforted by His Word.
The second time (vv.21-23) when the Lord said, “Peace be with you!”, the disciples were about to be sent on mission to preach the gospel of forgiveness and repentance. They were strong and courageous because the power of the Holy Spirit had been given to them by the Lord. In times when we feel uncertain and hesitant about sharing the gospel with others, may we remember what the risen Lord has said: “Peace be with you!” and then follow and obey His commands.
We don’t know why Thomas wasn’t there with other disciples initially such that he missed the opportunity to see the Lord in person. He was doubtful and said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Due to this case, I often have a “fear of missing any opportunity” whenever I am unable to attend church or fellowship gatherings!
The Lord had compassion for Thomas and eight days later he appeared again among his disciples (vv. 26-29). For the third time, Jesus said: “Peace be with you!” He turned to Thomas and said, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
If there is any reason that makes you feel doubtful, disbelief or losing faith, ask the Lord for his acceptance and mercy for your little faith. Ask the faithful Lord to manifest himself to you, just like how He has done for Thomas. Don not have disbelief and always believe. Remember his words: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Dear brothers and sisters, the resurrected Lord said, “Peace be with you.” May you believe that Jesus is truly risen and may you receive the peace of the Lord! May you take part in the Lord’s ministry and receive the peace of the Lord! Furthermore, may you experience the peace of the Lord by faith in every perspective of your life, whether you feel you are on mountains or in the valleys. May your faith be strengthened that Jesus is the Lord and He is God! “Peace be with you!”
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)