John 20

The Appearances of the Risen One[a]

Chapter 20

The Mystery of the Empty Tomb.[b] 1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb. 2 Therefore, she ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him.”

3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and made their way toward the tomb. 4 They both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.

6 When Simon Peter caught up with him, he entered the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and also the cloth that had covered his head not lying with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. 8 Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went inside, and he saw and believed. 9 They still did not understand the Scripture indicating that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11 Mary Magdalene Recognizes Jesus.[c] Mary Magdalene remained weeping outside the tomb. And as she wept, she bent down to look into the tomb, 12 and she saw two angels in white sitting there where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She answered, “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him.”

14 As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have removed him, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!”[d] (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus then said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”[e] 18 Mary Magdalene then went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and repeated what he had said to her.

19 Jesus Appears to the Disciples.[f] On the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors of the house where the disciples had gathered were locked because of their fear of the Jews. Jesus then came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord. 21 “Peace be with you,” Jesus said to them again.

“As the Father has sent me,
so I send you.”

22 After saying this, he breathed on them and said,

“Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive anyone’s sins,
they are forgiven.
If you retain anyone’s sins,
they are retained.”

24 Jesus Appears to Thomas.[g] Now Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with the rest when Jesus came. 25 When the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord,” he replied, “Unless I see the mark of the nails on his hands and put my finger into the place where the nails pierced and insert my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 Eight days later, the disciples were again in the house, and on this occasion Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and he said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Do not doubt any longer, but believe.” 28 Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus said to him,

“You have come to believe
because you have seen me.
Blessed are those who have not seen
and yet have come to believe.”

30 Believe in Order To Live.[h] Now Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not recorded in this work. 31 But those written here have been recorded so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through your belief you may have life in his name.


  1. John 20:1 Here, as in the rest of his work, John is pleased to dwell on some incidents not set down, or at least barely noticed, by the Synoptics; more than once, these are episodes involving the very person who is passing them on to his brethren in the faith. We owe to John the most extensive part of the Easter Gospel. By speaking of the empty tomb, he emphasizes the victory of life over death. When he describes one or other of the appearances, he wants to show how Jesus was recognized by his followers, what his new presence in their midst is like, how we are to believe in Christ, the mission to be carried out in the world in order to bear witness to him, and the gift of the Spirit to all believers. The last chapter, which has every appearance of having been added by disciples to the first edition of John’s Gospel, emphasizes and expands the ecclesial perspective: The Resurrection, which ends the earthly career of Jesus, begins the earthly career of the Church.
  2. John 20:1 Why is the body no longer there and why are the linen cloths still there? The beloved disciple, who had come with Peter, becomes the witness of the event and its meaning. Because he looks at the linen cloths with faith, he understands them as belonging to God’s plan: the linen cloths mean that Jesus is alive.
    The tomb is the symbol of death, but in the presence of this tomb the sign of death is changed. We are here at the beginning of a new life. Death is overcome.
  3. John 20:11 To Mary Magdalene everything has been taken away, even the mortal remains of the One who has just died. But the appearance of the living Christ stands out in bold relief before her. And nothing is as it was before. The time of privileged encounters and sensible presence is past. The joy of Mary will be to announce to the disciples this new Covenant: Jesus lives with the Father, who is our Father, too. Believers are brothers and sisters of Jesus. Here lies the mystery of the Church—that is, in the communion with Jesus.
  4. John 20:16 Rabbouni is more solemn than “Rabbi”; it means “My Teacher.”
  5. John 20:17 Jesus tells Mary Magdalene not to delay. She must immediately go and announce his Resurrection to the disciples, while he will ascend to the Father before returning to manifest himself to them in full possession of all his prerogatives as the firstborn among many brothers. He had foretold that his glorification was necessary in order for the Holy Spirit to be sent. Hence, for John, the Ascension takes place on the same day as the Resurrection. The external and more demonstrative Ascension described in the Acts of the Apostles (1:6-11), forty days after the Resurrection, was only Jesus’ sensible and definitive departure from the disciples after the various appearances to sustain and confirm their faith.
  6. John 20:19 This is the first “Sunday” of the Church, the day on which the risen Lord meets his disciples. The season of joy has come (see Jn 15:11; 16:20-24; 17:13). He who comes, alive, into the midst of his followers is the same one who took on himself the suffering of the cross. He will now make them preachers of his mystery and ministers of his forgiveness. He sends the Spirit upon them as the Spirit had been sent on him by the Father at his Baptism, when he was beginning his mission (see also Ezek 37:9; Jn 15:26-27); this marks the beginning of the apostolic mission, which is a continuation of the work of Jesus Christ.
  7. John 20:24 The true happiness of the disciples was not to have seen the Lord but to have understood the meaning of his Passion. The Passion makes known God’s love. Blessed are they who believe in this love. Christian generations who have not known the visible Christ will meet him in faith.
  8. John 20:30 The purpose of John’s Gospel was to bring people to belief in Jesus: there is life only in communion with him.
    These verses undoubtedly constituted the first conclusion of the fourth Gospel.

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