JOHN 20:1-7 FROM FEAR TO FAITH (MARY SAID TO THEM, “THEY HAVE TAKEN AWAY THE LORD OUT OF THE TOMB, AND WE DO NOT KNOW WHERE THEY HAVE LAID HIM)

29Mar

 John 20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." 3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.On this first day of the week Mary goes to the tomb and seeing the stone has been moved decides that they have stolen the body of Jesus. She goes and gets Peter and John and they come running. When they get there John glances in, Peter looks a little harder and is puzzled because he sees the grave wrappings lying there in their proper place. This is a day that seems to be the worst ever in that not only has Jesus died, but they have stolen His body too. It is actually the best day to ever have happened, because this is the day that Jesus rose from the grave, proved He was God, and showed that He had done everything necessary to pay for the sins of the whole world. This is the Good News, the Gospel, that Jesus died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose the third day according to the Scriptures (1Corinthians 15:3-4).

In a 24‑hour period leading up to and including His death on the cross there were 28 specific Old Testament prophecies fulfilled to the letter, and in addition to that, there were many types fulfilled. Now as we see Jesus Christ conquer death, we are going to see some additional fulfillment of prophecy doubly verifying to us that He is in fact God.

The fact that John continued his account and shared the excitement of the Resurrection miracle is proof that Jesus Christ is not like any other man. He is, indeed, the Son of God."

This is The best news ever told. Most important news in human history. ‘He is not here. He has risen’ see Matthew 28:6. His death, burial, and resurrection will affect the destiny of us all! Gospel: power of God for salvation. The Gospel challenges the intellect, challenges emotions and challenges the will.

"For John, as for all the early Christians, the resurrection of Jesus was the indisputable fact upon which their faith was based; and their faith in large part depended on the testimony and transformed behavior of those who had actually seen the resurrected Jesus. Their Master was not in God's eyes a condemned criminal; the resurrection proved that he was vindicated by God, and therefore nothing less than the Messiah, the Son of God he claimed to be .

Romans 1:4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

1Co 15:14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up--if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

Ro 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

We are at the climactic point in John's Gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and in fact we're looking at the Sunday morning event, the first day of the week. I know there's been some talk throughout history about the three days that Jesus was dead. Did He die on Friday? Did He die on Wednesday? What is your take on how we understand the chronology of the events? 

Roman versus Jewish calendar, Sabbath begins at twilight on what we would call Friday. And so the crucifixion takes place sometime Friday afternoon and so that would be day one. So we have the one day and then the second day is Saturday and then the third day is technically Sunday. The first day of the week is when He is resurrected.

So when He says "Tear down this Temple and in three days -- I'll raise it up again," that doesn't necessarily mean 72 hours.

I just think it's the way they view a calendar. We think of 72 hours, but to them a day was the course of what happened during that time frame, so Friday, Saturday and then the first day of the week, Sunday; three days.

Before we concentrate on John’s account of the burial and resurrection of our Lord, allow me to call your attention to the contribution of the Synoptic Gospels. Matthew’s Gospel has some especially important information, which enhances our study in John. Matthew informs us of the request the Jewish religious leaders made of Pilate after the death and burial of Jesus. They remembered that Jesus claimed He would rise from the dead after three days:

Matthew 12:39-40- 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights” ( also Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34; John 2:19).

Even though the disciples had forgotten our Lord’s words about His resurrection, the Jewish religious leaders had not:

Matthew 27:62-66 -62 The next day (which is after the day of preparation) the chief priests and the Pharisees assembled before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that while that deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give orders to secure the tomb until the third day. Otherwise his disciples may come and steal his body and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “Take a guard of soldiers. Go and make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went with the soldiers of the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

In my mind’s eye, I can see the smug look of satisfaction on the faces of those who had brought about the death of our Lord. What could be more perfect? The body of Jesus was in a chamber hewn out of rock, with a very large stone sealing the entrance to the tomb. Once the stone was “sealed,” no one would dare to try to steal the body of Jesus, to make it look as if He had been raised from the dead in fulfillment of His own prophecies. And to be doubly sure, guards were posted at the tomb so that no one could gain access to the body of Jesus. These guards would terrify anyone who dared to attempt to gain entrance to the tomb.

Matthew’s account shows how useless these efforts were to “contain” the Son of God:

(Matthew 28:2-4) 2 And there was a severe earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descending from heaven came and rolled back the stone, and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were shaken and became like dead men because they were so afraid of him.

Did the Jewish religious leaders hope to strike terror into the hearts of our Lord’s disciples to prevent them from attempting to steal the body of Jesus from that tomb? It was not the disciples they were opposing; it was God. The guards were no match for the angels, and a sealed stone was no match for an earthquake. In an instant, every barrier to that tomb was removed. And to think that the women had wasted their time worrying about how they would remove that stone (see Mark 16:3)! It was the Roman guards who were “all shook up” by the earthquake. They were petrified with fear at the sight of the angel of the Lord.

I don’t think you need to be reminded of this, but that stone was not removed so that Jesus could get out of the tomb (see John 20:19). The stone was removed to make it completely clear to those outside that Jesus was not inside—that He had been raised from the dead, just as He had said.

"In each of the following [resurrection appearances] we will discover a pattern with the following features: (1) The beneficiaries of the appearance are engulfed in a human emotion (Mary, grief; the disciples, fear; and Thomas, doubt). (2) The risen Christ appears to them in the midst of their condition. (3) As a result, their condition is transformed (Mary, mission; the disciples, gladness; Thomas, faith)."

"With Mary, the emphasis is on love; with the ten, the emphasis is on hope; and with Thomas, the emphasis is on faith."

1. Mary’s Distress, Love, and Devotion

1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Mt 28:1; Mr. 16:1; Lu 24:1

"The first day of the week" was Sunday. It is interesting that all the Gospel writers referred to the day of Jesus' resurrection this way rather than as the third day after His death.

Now the first day of the week is Sunday and so Sunday morning this group of women, John records Mary Magdalene only, but there's a group and she'll use a plural pronoun here that will tip there's a group there, but the Synoptics talk about a group of women. She probably beat them there. All Synoptics indicate she was the first one on the scene. So Mary of Magdala appears.

Although John’s Gospel does not state the purpose of Mary’s visit, Mark 16:1 and Luke 23:56 mention that several women (cf. v. 2) came early to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. Apparently they did not know of Joseph and Nicodemus’ anointing or thought it needed to be supplemented.[i]

Perhaps John mentioned Mary Magdalene and none of the other women because of the testimony that she gave after she had seen Jesus (v. 18).

Her devotion to Jesus Christ was probably born out of the fact that she was delivered of seven demons and that she had been a very oppressed individual. From whom much is forgiven, there is much love in this story. She has a great love for Jesus Christ and so the Gospels, all of them, say, "Look she was the first one to go to the tomb early in the morning."

Lu 7:47 "Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."

This tomb had been closed with a large rock door (Mark 16:3-4) and had been sealed by the authority of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate (Matt. 27:65-66). The women were amazed to see an open and apparently empty tomb. [ii]

So we see her love. In Mark sixteen, the women are worried about who's going to move the stone. Of course if you know a little bit of the harmonization, an angel has descended, an earthquake occurred, Matthew twenty-eight, and it says the angel lifted up or moved the stone and sat on it.

From the other gospel accounts we have one in the tomb as well who talks to them. So we have some issues of timing and chronology that John does not detail. We have no guard; the guard is gone. The stone is removed, an angel has shown up to tell them and he says, "Go tell His disciples and Peter."

 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." Joh 13:23; 19:26; 21:7,20,24

Mary was to experience a far greater blessing than she could have imagined at this dark moment in her life, no doubt the darkest she had ever known. She had been delivered from bondage to Satan. She had been privileged to follow her Lord and to help support Him and His ministry. She had placed all her faith and hope in Him, and yet He had been put to death as a criminal. That was bad enough, but now she thought that she would not even be able to honor His memory by properly anointing His body for burial. It couldn’t get any worse—or so she thought. But the truth was that it could not get much better. How slow we are to see God’s richest blessings in the things which appear to be great adversity!

Mary first assumed that grave robbers had stolen Jesus' body. Evidently robbing graves was not uncommon around Jerusalem (cf. Matt. 28:13-15).

But it's very typical of what a hewn tomb would look like. You go inside and you see this sort of shelf that they've carved and you see this area and when their hewing the rock, it would make sense that you would want to remove as little room material as you have to, right, because it's stone you're dealing with. So leave ledges in place to lay the bodies on. That would be a very typical First Century stone hewn tomb that Jesus might have been buried in.
Well they don't understand the story yet. They don't understand what's happened. They haven't figured it out. In fact they think the body has been stolen. That's the implication from all the texts.

 3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. Lu 24:12

4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.

 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Joh 19:40

“stooping” The tombs of this period had a low entrance about 3 to 4 feet high. One would have to bend down (cf. v. 11) to enter the cave/dugout.[iii]

I want to point out a number of things here. We have Peter and his personality running in the tomb. Some presume John is younger so he wins the foot race. In any event, there's three words that John the Gospel writer uses for the word, in English, “saw“; to see something, past tense. I want to show you these words because they're all different in the original language and John does this for a wonderful point.

So first of all they run into the tomb and John gets there early and the tomb or the hole was probably low to the ground, so he stoops in and takes a quick glance. The word is blepo. It's like a little quick peek. He glanced. And then maybe he leans back and stands aright waiting for Peter to catch up. If grave robbers had removed the body, they would have undoubtedly taken the expensive cloth with which Joseph and Nicodemus had prepared it for burial. John may have assumed that Jesus' body was still there since the light was bad at that hour. Perhaps John did not enter the tomb because he did not want to violate its sanctity or incur ritual defilement.

2. Peter’s Perplexity

 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,

Peter, as was his personality, huffing and puffing runs right in the tomb and he's looking around.

Notice in verse five you have the word "sees" meaning he took a quick glancing look, but in verse six the word is theoreo, which in English is to theorize or to make a theory. So where John takes a quick glance, Peter goes in and we kind of see him scratching his head. He is absorbing the information. He is developing a theory based on what he sees. So John takes a quick look; Peter takes a longer studious look.

When Peter arrived at the tomb, he barged right in, probably because he wanted to know exactly how things stood regardless of the consequences. He also beheld (Gr. theopei, beheld intently) the linen burial clothes (Gr. ta othonia) but also the cloth that had covered Jesus' face (Gr. soudarion, cf. 11:44). Evidently John could not see this from his vantage point. It's distance from the other clothes and the care with which someone had positioned it were unusual. Jesus was obviously not there, but someone had been there.

Lying there means - Undisturbed and in their proper place

 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Joh 11:44  Head piece resembles a ball of cloth that was wrapped around something that was no longer there

The orderly arrangement of everything in the tomb marks the absence of haste and circumstances in the awakening and rising from the dead.

When he arrived, he seems to have entered the tomb without giving it a thought. Peter came out scratching his head, so to speak. It was a mystery to him, one that he couldn’t reason out. The body of Jesus was definitely gone, but the scene inside the tomb was not what one would expect if the grave had been robbed. And where were the guards? Who had moved the stone? What was going on? Peter simply didn’t know

According to Luke 24:12 Peter went away “wondering” still.

Lu 24:12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

What we do know from the text are two things. The body is not there and the wrappings are. If you were a grave robber kneeling down into some stone hewn crypt to bring out a body, would you go to the trouble to unwrap the sticky gooey substance and leave the wrappings in and neat pile and take a naked corpse out? That by the way has been scourged and hemorrhaged and bleeding and stuck with a spear in the side, don't forget.

If you are a grave robber, it's a lot neater to pick up the package, isn't it? So what John wants you and me to see is that the body's not there but the wrappings are. So we sort of scratch our head along with Peter and with John. Look at verse eight: It was not the scene of a grave robbery, for no robbers could have gotten the body out of the grave clothes without tearing the cloth and disarranging things. Jesus had returned to life in power and glory and had passed through the grave clothes and the tomb itself!

Mark 8:36 "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

 John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Have you trusted Him as your Savior? He can Save you if You ask Him based on His death, burial, and resurrection for your sins. Believe in Him for forgiveness of your sins today.

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“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  -John 8:32

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