The Day that Changed Everything

Sabbath Study, Part 29

Jesus was crucified and buried on a Friday. During the Jewish Sabbath, His body remained in the tomb. Early Sunday morning, at the beginning of a new week, Christ arose, victor over sin and death. After first appearing to Mary that morning (Jn. 20:14ff), He met and traveled with two disciples on the road to Emmaus later that day (Lk. 24:13ff). When He vanished from their presence, they realized whom they had been talking with and they immediately returned to Jerusalem. That evening, while they were describing to the other disciples their encounter with the risen Savior (see Lk. 24:36), Jesus appeared to them all.

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

The first day of the week.
John makes a point of mentioning what day it was when Jesus first appeared to them. “Christ arose on the first day of the week, and it might have been sufficient to say here Joh 20:19, he appeared the same day at evening; yet, to put an honour upon the day, it is repeated, being the first day of the week; not that the apostles designed to put honour upon the day (they were yet in doubt concerning the occasion of it), but God designed to put honour upon it, by ordering it that they should be altogether, to receive Christ’s first visit on that day. Thus, in effect, he blessed and sanctified that day, because in it the Redeemer rested” (Matthew Henry).

Thomas was not with the twelve when Jesus appeared to them, and he refused to believe their testimony, citing that unless and until he saw the risen Christ himself he would not believe. He had to wait until the following Sunday, for there is no mention of the disciples meeting corporately until a week later. While we can’t be certain, it seems probable that Jesus gave them instructions on when to gather together again.

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” (John 20:26)

After eight days.
This count of eight days shows that the first Sunday is being considered as well as the second. (It’s similar to the measurement used for Christ’s death: He rose on the third day, with Friday being counted as day one.)

Jesus came.
Scripture teaches some truths explicitly and others implicitly. Implicit truths hold no less authority than explicit ones. The doctrine of the Trinity, for example, is never mentioned anywhere in Scripture, and yet it is a core doctrine of the Christian faith. Likewise, the New Testament never explicitly states that the Sabbath switched from the last day of the week to the first day of the week, and yet we find sufficient evidence to show that a Sunday Sabbath was designed to be a staple of the church after Christ’s resurrection.

“From this it appears that they thus early set apart this day for assembling together, and Jesus countenanced it by appearing twice with them. It was natural that the apostles should observe this day, but not probable that they would do it without the sanction of the Lord Jesus. His repeated presence gave such a sanction, and the historical fact is indisputable that from this time this day was observed as the Christian Sabbath” (Albert Barnes).

“[The] Lord designedly reserved His second appearance among them till the recurrence of His resurrection day, that He might thus inaugurate the delightful sanctities of THE LORD’S DAY (Re 1:10)” (JFB).

“That one day in seven should be religiously observed was an appointment from the beginning, as old as innocency; and that in the kingdom of the Messiah the first day of the week should be that solemn day this was indication enough, that Christ on that day once and again met his disciples in a religious assembly” (Matthew Henry).

Commentaries Cited from
Hall, Kay.
Online Bible. Beersheba Springs: Ken Hamel, 2000. CD-ROM.

Commentaries Used
An Exposition of the Old and New Testament, by Matthew Henry
Notes on the New Testament, by Albert Barnes
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary