Sermon Starters

Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

The Second Sunday After Easter
Series B

Option #1: "The Beginning of a New Life"
John 20:19-31
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div.

I. Peace and joy replaced fear--vv19-20--John 14:27, 16:33; Eph 6:23; 2 Thess 3:16

Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol 5: John & Hebrews by Robertson, Archibald Thomas, on John 20:20:

Showed (edeixen). First aorist active indicative of deiknumi. His body retained the marks of the nails and of the soldier’s spear, ample proof of the bodily resurrection against the modern view that only Christ’s "spirit" arose and against the Docetic notion that Jesus had no actual human body. Luke (24:39f) adds feet to hands and side.

Were glad (echare˘san). Second aorist passive indicative of chairo˘. Jesus had said (16:22) that it would be so. Luke adds (24:41) that they "disbelieved for joy." It was too good to be true, though terror had first seized them when Jesus appeared (Luke 24:37) because of the suddenness of Christ’s appearance and their highly wrought state.

II. Forgiving sins in the Spirit’s power was their mission--vv21-23

John 20:21–John 17:17-18; Luke 24:46-47; Author: Robertson, Archibald Thomas

Even so send I you (kago˘ pempo˘ humas). Jesus has often spoken of the Father’s sending him using both apostello˘ and pempo˘. Here he employs both words in practically the same sense. Jesus still bears the Commission of the Father (perfect active indicative). For this balanced contention ( see 6:57; 10:15. This is the first of the three commissions given by the Risen Christ (another on the mountain in Galilee [Matt 28:16-20; 1 Cor 15:6], another on the Mount of Olives [Luke 24:44-51; Acts 1:3-11]).

John 20:22--Gen 2:7; John 15:26-27; Acts 2:38-39

He breathed on them (enephuse˘sen). First aorist active indicative of emphusao˘, late verb, here only in NT, though eleven times in the LXX and in the papyri. It was a symbolic act with the same word used in the LXX when God breathed the breath of life upon Adam (Gen 2:7). It occurs also in Ezek 37:9. See Christ’s promise in John 16:23. Jesus gives the disciples a foretaste of the great pentecost.

Receive ye the Holy Ghost (labete pneuma hagion). Second aorist (ingressive) active imperative of lambano˘. Note absence of article here (pneuma hagion), though to pneuma to hagion in 14:26. No real distinction is to be observed, for Holy Spirit is treated as a proper name with or without the article.

John 20:23--Acts 10:43, 13:38-39

Whosesoever sins ye forgive (an tino˘n aphe˘te tas hamartias). "If the sins of any ye forgive" (aphe˘te, second aorist active subjunctive with an in the sense of ean), a condition of the third class. Precisely so with "retain" (krate˘te, present active subjunctive of krateo˘).

They are forgiven (apheo˘ntai). Perfect passive indicative of aphie˘mi, Doric perfect for apheintai.

Are retained (kekrate˘ntai). Perfect passive indicative of krateo˘. The power to forgive sin belongs only to God, but Jesus claimed to have this power and right (Mark 2:5-7). What he commits to the disciples and to us is the power and privilege of giving assurance of the forgiveness of sins by God by correctly announcing the terms of forgiveness. There is no proof that he actually transferred to the apostles or their successors the power in and of themselves to forgive sins. In Matt 16:19; 18:18 we have a similar use of the rabbinical metaphor of binding and loosing by proclaiming and teaching. Jesus put into the hands of Peter and of all believers the keys of the Kingdom which we should use to open the door for those who wish to enter. This glorious promise applies to all believers who will tell the story of Christ’s love for men.

III. Faith replaced doubt, and still does, through the power of God’s Word--vv24-31

Title: Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

My Lord: The disbelief of the apostle is the means of furnishing us with a full and satisfactory demonstration of the resurrection of our Lord. Throughout the divine dispensations every doctrine and every important truth is gradually revealed; and here we have a conspicuous instance of the progressive system. An angel first declares the glorious event; the empty sepulchre confirms the women’s report. Christ’s appearance to Mary Magdalene showed that he was alive; that to the disciples at Emmaus proved that it was at the least the spirit of Christ; that to the eleven showed the reality of his body; and the conviction given to Thomas proved it the self-same body that had been crucified. Incredulity itself is satisfied; and the convinced apostle exclaims, in the joy of his heart, "My Lord and my God!" John 20:16, 31, 5:23, 9:35-38; Psa 45:6, 11, 102:24-28, 118:24-28; Isa 7:14, 9:6; Isa 25:9, 40:9-11; Jer 23:5, 6; Mal 3:1; Matt 14:33; Luke 24:52; Acts 7:59, 60; 1 Tim 3:16; Rev. 5:9-14


Author: Robertson, Archibald Thomas; John 20:31

Are written (gegraptai). Perfect passive indicative of grapho˘, "have been written" by John.

That ye may believe (hina pisteue˘te). Purpose with hina and the present active subjunctive of pisteuo˘, "that you may keep on believing." The book has had precisely this effect of continuous and successive confirmation of faith in Jesus Christ through the ages.

Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Ie˘sous estin ho Christos ho huios tou theou). The man named Jesus is identical with the Messiah (the Anointed One) as opposed to the Cerinthian separation of the Jesus of history and the Christ (aeon) of theology. And the Docetic notion of a phantom body for Jesus with no actual human body is also false. Jesus is the Son of God with all that this high term implies, the Logos of John 1:1-18 (the Prologue). "Very God of very God," Incarnate Revealer of God. But there is a further purpose.

And that believing ye may have life in his name (kai hina pisteuontes zo˘e˘n eche˘te en to˘i onomati autou). Note present participle pisteuontes (continuing to believe) and the present active subjunctive eche˘te (keep on having). "Life" (zo˘e˘n) is eternal life so often mentioned in this Gospel, life to be found only in the name (and power) of Jesus Christ the Son of God. This verse constitutes a fitting close for this wonderful book and John may at first have intended to stop here. But before he published the work he added the Epilogue (Chapter XXI) which is written in the same style and gives a beautiful picture of the Risen Christ with a sidelight on John and Peter (restored to fellowship).

+   +   +


John 20:22-23: And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."




I’m guessing that you own one of these. It’s probably pretty light some nights when you don’t have a lot of homework. And then there are those nights when the backpack is just full of books and it’s a lot of work just to carry it home.

(Choose boy to put it on) Is this a light backpack or a heavy one? A heavy one, eh? Well, stand up for a little while because I want everybody in church to see what we’re talking about today.

Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. He told his disciples that night that they had work to do. One of the very important things they would do is to tell people about how to get their sins forgiven. Jesus said: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." (John 20:22-23)

Here’s how they did that. They told people that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. When we believe that He died for us, we lay our sins on him and he takes them all away. It would be like (BOY) taking off the heavy backpack and letting Jesus carry it away. BUT, if someone doesn’t believe in Jesus, you end up carrying the heavy load yourself and it drags you down.

But something strange can happen to people who really do believe in Jesus as their Savior. They bring their heavy load (the backpack) to Jesus; they take it off and lay it at the cross and then they pick it up and carry it away again!

That’s kinda silly, isn’t it? Here’s what I mean: When we trust that Jesus died for our sins, we lay the heavy load of our guilt on Him. That’s what he wants us to do. He’s big enough and strong enough to carry all of our heavy loads. He told the disciples "when you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven." The word he used means that the heavy load is cut off of our backs. We don’t have to carry it anymore.

So try to remember this, no matter how old you are. Jesus said: Come to me, you who are carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

It wouldn’t make much sense for you to carry this heavy backpack when your dad or another big guy wants to carry it for you. Let Jesus carry your heavy load of sin. Lay it down at the cross and, whatever you do, let Jesus carry it! (Pastor puts on backpack and carries it away.)

+   +   +

 Option #2: "A Breath of Fresh Heir"
John 20:19-31
Rev. Kelly Bedard, M.Div.

A.  Bad Breath
    1. Self-resuscitation, artificial respiration: "If I can just forgive and believe!"
    2. Hovering, intrusive, over-your-shoulder, in-your-face breathing

B. The Breath of Peace

    1. Breathing on us: giving us life and Life!--forgiving us=personal peace!

    2. Breathing into us: moving us from discipleship to apostleship--forgiving others=peace on earth!


1. eirene {i-ray'-nay}, v19:  a state of national tranquillity; exemption from the rage and havoc of war; peace between individuals, i.e., harmony, concord; security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous); of the Messiah's peace, the way that leads to peace (salvation); of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is; the blessed state of devout and upright people after death. (Strong's)

2. pempo {pem'-po}, v20:  to send; to bid a thing to be carried to one; to send (thrust or insert) a thing into another. (Strong's) Interestingly, different than the "send" (apostello)--though not necessarily in meaning--earlier in the verse used of God sending Jesus.

3. emphusao {em-foo-sah'-o}, v22: to blow or breathe upon. (Strong's) This word used only once by the LXX translators in Genesis 2:7, where God breathed on Adam and he became a living soul. Just as the original creation was completed by an act of God, so the new creation was completed by an act from the Head of the new creation. (AWP Jo 20:22)

4. A sign of the new creation is not just new rules, but an appreciation of the role of doubt and curiosity within life. (Wesley White)

5. The question has been asked, "What changed the disciples from fearful (hiding behind locked doors) to fearless witnesses in the world?" One answer is that they had seen the resurrected Jesus--but only a few had this life-changing experience. Another answer is that they had all been filled with the Holy Spirit. (Brian Stoffregen)

6. Forgiveness is the full promise that provides a lasting security for a world gasping for the air. (Michael Hoy)

7. To forgive is not a right to be jealously guarded, but an obligation to be exercised generously. (Andrew Greeley)

8. Peace, inner calmness, is our inheritance. I sometimes wonder if that is not the most desirable trait possible in this hurly-burly, restless age in which we live. (Ray Stedman)

Ministry Health Sermon Starters
Copyright 2003 Ministry Health
All Rights Reserved

Go to Main Page

Main Site:

Copyright ę 1997-2005 Ministry Health, LLC  All Rights Reserved.

Microsoft FrontPage and Microsoft Internet Explorer are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation
Adobe Acrobat and PDF are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated

Contact Support for any technical issues with this website!

This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:32 PM