Sapphire Sky

January 2, 2016

He is Risen!

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , , — Steve Knaus @ 1:00 am

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1 Corinthians 15:3-7
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

 

1 Corinthians 15:14-15
And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.

 

“Had the body of the Lord Jesus Christ never come forth from the tomb, it would have been silent evidence that He was either a deceiver or deceived when He declared that He was to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). He would have been simply another martyr to what He believed to be the truth, or else to His own ambitions.” – H.A. Ironside [14]

Jesus Christ came to earth and lived among mankind for about 33 years. He taught people, healed the sick, and led a small group of disciples. He was arrested by His countrymen and crucified by the Romans. His friends took His lifeless body and laid Him in a new tomb.

If that was the entire story, it would make for a compelling biography. It would be the story about a good man who met a tragic ending.

But the story of Jesus Christ is so much more. He did not die as a tragic martyr on the Roman cross. He willingly, intentionally gave up His own life so that He could free mankind from the penalty of sin. When He cried, “It is finished!”, he permanently removed the barrier that separated us from God (see here and here).

But the story of Jesus Christ is even more than that! Close friends laid His lifeless body in the tomb on Friday evening, expecting never to see Him again. The Sabbath was quickly approaching, so they could not properly prepare the body for burial. They wrapped His body and covered Him with spices as was the custom, but they had to wait until after the Sabbath to complete the burial rites.

Jesus had led eleven faithful disciples, but they were now gone. Jesus had sent John to take care of His mother (see here), and the others had run away in fear. Only the faithful women stayed with Jesus through His death and burial.

As soon as the Sabbath was over (Saturday evening), these women bought and prepared the burial spices. They brought the spices to the tomb early on Sunday morning so that they could open the tomb and finish preparing the body.

Little did the women know what was happening at the very time. Jesus Himself came back to life with a new body that was no longer damaged! He slipped through his wrapped grave clothes and left the sealed tomb.

No one saw Jesus rise from the dead, but the soldiers on guard witnessed the dramatic events that followed! With a great earthquake, an angel descended from heaven and threw back the great stone.

The women would not know of these events until afterward. When they came to the tomb, the great stone was thrown back, the soldiers had run away, and the body was gone!

One of the women, Mary Magdalene, quickly left to tell the disciples. The other women stayed long enough to notice two angels sitting inside the tomb. The message of the angels was “Jesus is not here — He has risen!”

The account of the women

The women who had come early on Sunday morning to prepare the body were met with a surprise when they came to the tomb. The stone had been thrown aside and the body was gone! Mary Magdalene abruptly left the group to go report to the disciples while the other women lingered at the tomb.

The women encountered two angels at the tomb. The angels instructed them that Jesus had risen and to go tell the disciples. The women then returned to the disciples who did not believe them.

Jesus appeared to the women and greeted them after they left the disciples. They fell at His feet in worship and Jesus repeated the instructions that were given by the angels. They were to tell the brethren to go to Galilee where Jesus will meet with them.

 

The account of Mary Magdalene

Mary left the tomb, and ran to tell Peter and John that the body was gone. Unlike the other women, Mary never saw the angels, nor did she hear the news that He had risen. She believed that the body had been taken, possibly by the gardener.

Mary followed Peter and John to the tomb and waited outside while they investigated the scene. The men left while she stayed behind to grieve. She had followed the Lord Jesus since he had saved her from a life of demon possession. She followed him through His ministry in Galilee and when He went up to Jerusalem. She had stayed with Him through His six hours of agony on the cross, and she was standing near Him as He bowed His head in death.

She had followed Joseph and Nicodemus as they hastily removed His body from the cross and prepared Him for burial. She watched as they wrapped Him in linen cloths and covered His body with burial spices. She saw them lay Him in the tomb on Friday evening and she saw Joseph roll the great stone over the doorway.

Mary was one of the first women to the tomb on Sunday morning, and she may have led the other women. This was the last chance that she had to show her love to her departed Lord. She had personally seen that the body was missing and had run to tell Peter and John.

But now she was back at the tomb. Alone! There is no way to know how she handled the ordeal over the past three days, but now she gives full vent to her grief and despair. She sobs uncontrollably.

In the midst of her tears, Mary looks down into the tomb. To her surprise, there are two men (angels) in white, sitting where the body should have been. The angels ask why she was sobbing, and she tells them that they have taken the body and she does not know where.

Turning around, Mary notices that a man is standing behind her. The man asks the same question, “Why are you sobbing?” She does not recognize the man and expects that he must be the gardener. Perhaps he has removed the body? Through her tears, she blurts out, Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

The man calls her by name, “Mary”. In the instant of recognition, she knows it is Him! He is alive! She yells out “My teacher!” as she runs to Him and desperately throws her arms around Him.

But Jesus has a message for her. “Stop clutching me like I am going to disappear. I am not ready to return yet. But go, and tell the good news to the others.”

 

The account of Peter (and John)

Peter was one of Jesus’ closest companions during His life, yet he was missing during Jesus’ death. Peter had followed John into the High Priest’s courtyard, yet it was there that Peter denied ever knowing Jesus. The narrative last shows Peter as a broken man, leaving the courtyard in tears as he realized his guilt (see here).

John was with Jesus at His crucifixion, and Jesus sent John away to take care of His mother (see here).

Mary Magdalene knew exactly where to find both Peter and John on Sunday morning. She brought the news that the tomb was empty. People must have taken the body and they do not know where He is. Peter and John ran immediately to the tomb.

John ran ahead of Peter and reaching the tomb first, he looked in to see the empty grave clothes. Peter followed and went into the tomb, observing that the grave clothes were folded but empty. The head cloth was neatly folded up in a place by itself.

Jesus had told them that He would rise from the dead but they had not understood. But now, looking at the empty grave clothes, they saw and believed. They knew that He had risen!

Jesus is beginning to restore Peter. He is bringing Peter from the broken, impetuous man to become the leader of His church. First, Jesus offered forgiveness. The angel specifically told the women to announce to Peter that He had risen. We also know that Jesus personally appeared to Peter (see here and here). Peter no longer needs to carry the guilt of denying His Lord.

 

The account of the disciples

Jesus had personally met with Mary, the other women, and to Peter. The disciples continued to gather together, yet they were not convinced of His resurrection.

As the disciples were gathered, Jesus himself suddenly appeared among them, saying “Peace to you!” They were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. But Jesus showed them that He was very much alive and real. He showed them His scars from the cross. They could touch Him and He breathed on them. Finally, Jesus ate before them, showing that He was really there.

 

The account of Thomas

Thomas was absent on the Sunday evening when Jesus met with the disciples. Thomas was skeptical when he heard that Jesus was alive. He insisted that he could not believe that Jesus had risen until he saw and touched Jesus himself.

Eight days later, Thomas had his chance to see Jesus in person. Thomas was with disciples as they were gathered together again. Jesus personally joined them and invited Thomas to touch the scars in his hands and side. Thomas no longer doubted, but cried out, “My Lord and My God!”

“Doubt says, ‘I cannot believe’. Unbelief says, ‘I will not believe’”. – Warren Wiersbe [5]

 

John’s Conclusion

These experiences are only a few of the many people who were impacted by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We do not have many details about the resurrection itself, but we have a lot of detail about those who were affected by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

John concludes with a summary, not only of the resurrection itself but of His entire book:

John 20:30-31

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

“What a difference it made when the full realization of His resurrection took hold of them! For Mary Magdalene it meant moving from tears to joy (John 20:1-18), for the ten disciples it meant going from fear to courage (John 20:19-23), and for Thomas it meant moving from doubt to assurance (John 20:24-31). With Mary, the emphasis is on love; with the ten, the emphasis is on hope; and with Thomas, the emphasis is on faith.” – Warren Wiersbe [5]

 

Previous post: It is Finished!


‭‭John‬ ‭20
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went 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 do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “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.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:1-10‬
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”


 ‭‭Mark‬ ‭16:1-8‬
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.


Luke‬ ‭24:1-12, 36-43
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.


John 20:1a
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark,

Matthew 28:1
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

Mark 16:1-2
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.

Luke 24:1
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.

The four different gospel accounts give four different perspectives on the resurrection account. This section of scripture is often criticized for having contradictions. However, a closer look at the four gospel accounts show that they all harmonize to form a much more complete view of the events on that day.

Jesus was hastily buried before the beginning of the Sabbath on Friday evening. Joseph and Nicodemus had bought spices in order to prepare the body for burial but the preparation was not complete (John 19:38-42; Luke 23:53-56). As soon as the Passover had ended, the faithful women went to the tomb in order to complete the burial rites.

None of the gospel accounts give a complete list of the women who went to the tomb that morning. Luke’s account shows that this was the same group of women who stayed with Jesus on the cross and who were present at His burial (John 19:25; Mark 15:40; Luke 24:10; see here and here). The group included the following:

  • Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2)
  • Mary the mother of James (the less) and the wife of Clopas
  • Salome, the mother of James and John (the sons of Zebedee)
  • Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward (Luke 8:3)

Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts indicate that the women went to the tomb at the first break of dawn. Mark’s and John’s accounts seem somewhat at odds, since Mark’s account says that “the sun had risen” and John’s account says that “it was still dark”. The best understanding is that the women arrived in separate groups. Mary Magdalene arrived first, immediately before the sun had risen, and the rest of the women arrived shortly afterward [2].

Note also that this was the third day after Jesus was buried in the tomb. Jewish tradition allowed loved ones to attend the body for up to three days after death. After the third day, the tomb was permanently sealed (see also here).

“Do you know why [the women] were the first to know about the resurrection? Because they were the first to show up.” – John MacArthur [3]

 

Mark 16:3
And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”

Joseph had closed the tomb with a great stone on Friday (Matthew 27:60; Mark 15:46). The women did not have the strength to move the stone. They had come to show their love for their departed teacher, but they were unable to plan for all possibilities.

The challenge for the women to open the tomb was more difficult than they knew. The women apparently did not know that the Jewish leaders had procured soldiers and had set a seal on the stone (Matthew 27:62-66). No one, under penalty of death, would be allowed to open the tomb.

 

Matthew 28:2-4
And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.

The women were being faithful to their Lord, even though they did not know how. God sent an angel to take care of the stone and the soldiers.

The angel descended from heaven, tossed aside the stone, and sat on it.

The appearance of the angel terrified the trained Roman soldiers so that they fell down in terror. Presumably, the soldiers ran away when they regained their consciousness since they were absent from the scene when the women arrived.

We do not have the exact time of the earthquake and the arrival of the angel. Most commentators believe that earthquake happened in the early morning hours as the women were on the way to the tomb. There is no record of the women acknowledging the great earthquake. Either the earthquake was very localized or it was otherwise unnoticed by the women as they traveled to the tomb.

There is a record of the angel, the earthquake, and the soldiers reacting in fear. Nowhere is it recorded that Jesus came out of the tomb. He was already gone. [3]

“But there is a sublime irony in the contrast between man’s elaborate precautions and the ease with which the Divine Hand can sweep them aside, and which, as throughout the history of Christ and of His Church, recalls the prophetic declaration: ‘He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh at them.’” – Alfred Edersheim [4]

 

John 20:1b
and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

Mark 16:4
And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.

Luke 24:2-3
And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

What about Jesus? His body was not there!

Mark’s account emphasizes that the stone was very large. It could not have been moved by the women.

John’s account emphasizes that the stone was not only rolled back, it was taken away from the tomb entrance! It was not simply rolled back but it was tossed aside.

The women saw that the stone was moved and they went into the tomb and personally saw that the body of Jesus was no longer there.

 

Matthew 28:5-7
But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

Mark 16:5-7
And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

Luke 24:4-7
While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

The women did not find the body of Jesus but they did see the two angels. The angel who had thrown aside the stone was now joined by another angel and they sat inside the tomb.

The message of the angels was, “Jesus is not here — He has risen!”

The women were given specific instructions. The were to come and see where Jesus lay. Then they were to go quickly to tell the disciples that Jesus has risen from the dead. They will see him in Galilee.

The angels also reminded the women what Jesus had said. He predicted that he would be crucified and that he would rise again on the third day (Matthew 20:17-19; Matthew 26:31-32).

Mark’s account gives an additional instruction, “Go tell Peter!” Peter had spent the last three days in despair over how he had failed his Lord. He tried to fight when he should have been quiet (see here), and he had denied Him three times (see here)!

But the angel is specific. Go tell Peter that Jesus has risen from the dead. It is as if God wants to specifically remind Peter that there is hope!

Mary Magdalene was apparently absent from this scene. The angels announced that Jesus was risen, yet Mary did not understand when she returned to the tomb (see below). The most likely explanation is that Mary abruptly left to tell Peter and John while the angels spoke to the other women.

 

John 20:2
So she ran and went 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 do not know where they have laid him.”

Matthew 28:8
So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Mark 16:8
And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Luke 24:8-11
And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

The women quickly left the tomb. They were flooded with the emotions of fear, astonishment, and great joy.

The women were silent at first, but they soon reunited with the disciples. But as they recounted what had happened, the men did not believe them.

Jewish men of that day did not respect the testimony of women. The rabbis taught that, “It is better that the words of the law be burned than be delivered to a woman.” [5] This attitude apparently had influenced even the believing disciples to the point that they did not believe the women when they returned from the tomb.

Note especially that the disciples — even the eleven apostles — did not believe that Jesus would rise from the dead!

John’s account highlights specific individuals. Mary Magdalene was the most visible of the group of women, and she specifically sought out Peter and John (referenced here as the other disciple whom Jesus loved, see here).

John’s account focuses only on Mary Magdalene, yet she tells Peter and John that, “we do not know where they have laid him”. The plural shows that she is including the other woman.

“It is absolutely absurd to contend that the followers of Christ expected Him to rise again; that it was easy for them to think they saw Him; that He had told them He would rise again, and so they were expecting Him. They expected nothing of the kind. All they knew was that He had died, and with Him died also their hopes of deliverance, for they had trusted He was the One who would free them from the Roman yoke.” – H.A. Ironside [6]

 

John 20:3-10
So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Luke 24:12
But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Peter and John believed Mary enough to go and investigate the tomb themselves. They both ran to the tomb but John outran Peter.

John got to the tomb first and stopped at the outside. He looked in and saw the clothes lying there. John saw, or observed the scene (blepo, βλέπω).

Peter got to the tomb after John and went directly into the tomb. Peter saw the linen cloths and face cloth lying there, folded up to the side. The grave clothes that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body on Friday evening were still there where they were laid, only the body was no longer there!

Peter observed, or theorized about the scene (theóreó, θεωρέω).

John then joined Peter inside the tomb. John saw and believed (horaó, ὁράω). He began to understand the scripture that Jesus would rise from the dead.

The body could not have been stolen by tomb robbers without the grave clothes being disturbed. Jesus could not have simply resuscitated from his ordeal and removed his grave clothes without disturbing them. There could be no natural explanation.

It is interesting to note that Peter and John did not see the angels. The angels showed themselves to the women but not to Peter and John.

“There was no sign of haste, but all was orderly, leaving the impression of One Who had leisurely divested Himself of what no longer befitted Him.” – Alfred Edersheim [4]

Lazarus was raised in his natural body and still in his grave clothes. Jesus was raised with a glorified body and was able to pass directly through the grave clothes. [7]

 

John 20:11-13
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

Mary went back to the tomb after announcing the news to Peter and John. She was driven by grief, knowing only that the tomb was empty. [4]

She stood outside the tomb, loudly sobbing. This is the same word used for Jesus’ anguish over Jerusalem  (klaiō, κλαίω, see Luke 19:41-44 and here) and for Mary and Martha’s  anguish over Lazarus’ death (John 11:31-33 and here).

Mary looked into the tomb and saw the angels, but showed no recognition of them. She simply answered their question and continued with her grief.

 

John 20:14-17
Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

In one of the most intense scenes of all scripture, Mary turns away from the tomb and sees Jesus standing there. She does not recognize Him and assumes that He is the gardener. He asks her, “Why are you sobbing?” and “Whom are you seeking?”

Mary is so overcome with emotion that she cannot think about anything else but the body of her Lord. She had come early in the morning to pay her last respects and to prepare His body for burial. But now He is gone and she is sure that someone has taken away the body.

She is not affected by the angels sitting in the tomb. She ignores social norms and talks directly with the unknown man who comes up behind her. She ignores logic. If the gardener has removed His body from the tomb, she will take Him away.

Jesus simply calls her by name, “Mary!”

In instant recognition, she runs to Him, clutching on to Him. She says one word, “Rabboni”, meaning “My teacher!”, the greatest one.

Jesus responds to Mary with words that sound insensitive at first. “Stop clinging to me.” She was grasping on to Him so that she would not lose Him again, but He could not stay. Jesus was about to ascend to the Father so that He could send the Holy Spirit (see here).  

“Stop holding on to Me as if I were about to disappear permanently, for I am not yet ready to ascend to My Father. This is a time for joy and sharing the good news, not for clutching Me as if I were some private dream-come-true. Stop clinging to Me, but go and tell My brothers that I am in the process of ascending to My Father and your Father . . . I want them to know the good news too. “ – D.A. Carson [8]

Mary also needed to go and tell the disciples what she had seen. Jesus also announced a new relationship to the disciples. They were not only friends of Jesus Christ (see here), but they were now brothers.

This is Jesus’ first appearance after His resurrection [1].

Mary recognized Jesus after He called her by name [9]. This is a reminder of John 10:27 (“my sheep hear my voice”).

 

Matthew 28:9-10
And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Jesus next appeared to the other women after they returned from the tomb. He repeated the instructions given by the angels, that they should go to Galilee where they would see Him.

This was Jesus’ second appearance after His resurrection [1].

Luke 24:22-24 seems to indicate that Jesus appeared to the women after they had told the disciples of the empty tomb, since the travelers to Emmaus do not mention that the women had seen Jesus.

 

John 20:18
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Meanwhile, Mary went and announced to the disciples that she had seen the risen Lord.

 

John 20:19-23
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Luke 24:36-43
As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

The disciples had gathered behind locked doors on Sunday evening. They were apparently skeptical of the women’s report that Jesus had risen (Luke 24:22-24). Luke 24:33-35 recounts that the two travelers to Emmaus had returned to Jerusalem, announcing that Jesus had appeared to them. They found the apostles and faithful disciples gathered together.

As the disciples were gathered, Jesus himself suddenly appeared among them, saying “Peace to you!”. Luke’s account says that they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. But Jesus showed them that He was very much alive and real. He showed them His scars from the cross. They could touch Him and He breathed on them. Finally, Jesus ate before them, showing that He was really there.

“So is Christ often near to us when our eyes are holden, and we know Him not; and so do ignorance and unbelief often fill our hearts with sadness, even when truest joy would most become us.” – Alfred Edersheim [4]

Note again that there were more disciples in this room than just the eleven (actually ten) apostles (Luke 24:33-35).

John’s account shows two promises that Jesus made to the disciples: they would receive the Holy Spirit, and they would be able to declare the forgiveness of sins. Commentators have debated the meaning of these two statements.

We know that the Holy Spirit would come to the believers at Pentecost, about 40 days in the future (Acts 2:1-13). Therefore, the declaration of the Holy Spirit at this time was most likely a promise of what would come. Jesus may have also given the disciples enough of a presence of the Holy Spirit to enable them to serve Him until He fully came at Pentecost.

Jesus also announced that the disciples could grant and withhold God’s forgiveness. We know from other scripture (Mark 2:7) that only God can forgive sins. Therefore, this promise is better understood to indicate that the disciples were empowered to declare God’s forgiveness. They would declare that people had been forgiven by God when they received Him and that they were not forgiven when they rejected Him. Note also that this promise is granted to all of the disciples in the room, not just the apostles.

“Believe on Jesus and you will get remission. That is the commission that every servant of Christ has. We go out to the world and say, “We are commanded by Jesus Christ to offer you remission of sin if you will believe on Jesus. And when they do, we dare to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven or remitted.'” And if they will not believe, what then? We say to them, “Your sins are retained.” How do we know it? Because He said so.” – H.A. Ironside [10]

Most commentators believe that this passage also shows that Jesus, in His glorified body, was able to pass through a locked door. This also also explains how Jesus was able to pass through the folded grave clothes at the resurrection, and that He was able to leave the tomb before the stone was removed. Some commentators also believe that Jesus was secretly among the disciples, but he did not reveal Himself until that moment. However, this explanation does not account for the shock and fear that the disciples showed when Jesus revealed Himself.

 

John 20:24-25
Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “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.”

Thomas was absent from the disciples when Jesus appeared to them. Thomas expressed his skepticism, that he would not believe until he is able to see and touch Jesus himself. Thomas did not doubt that Jesus was Messiah and Lord, but he doubted that Jesus was physically alive again.

 

John 20:26-29
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The disciples had gathered again eight days later, this time with Thomas present. Jesus again appeared to them and invited Thomas to touch his scars. Jesus also admonished Thomas, “Do not disbelieve, but believe”.

That was enough for Thomas. We have no record that Thomas actually touched Jesus, but Thomas declared his belief in his Lord, “My Lord and my God!”  Thomas fully believed Jesus and that He was there with them.

Jesus answered for those who have not seen Him in person, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. It is wonderful to believe when you can see, but it is even better when you believe without seeing!

 

John 20:30-31
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

John never intended to write a comprehensive biography of Jesus Christ. John wrote this gospel account so that we would believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. More than simply believing, we can then have life in His name.

The four gospel accounts record 35 different miracles. John selected 7 (see here) in order that people might come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, and the Son of God. [11]

“A dead Christ might have been a Teacher and Wonder-worker, and remembered and loved as such. But only a Risen and Living Christ could be the Saviour, the Life, and the Life-Giver, and as such preached to all men. And of this most blessed truth we have the fullest and most unquestionable evidence.” – Alfred Edersheim [12]


 

[1] Scripture records 10 appearances by Jesus after his resurrection:

  1. To Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb (Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18).
  2. To the other women who came to attend to His body in the tomb (Mary, the mother of James, Salome, and Joanna, among others) (Matthew 28:8-10).
  3. To Peter (Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5).
  4. To two men on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-32).
  5. To the disciples in the Upper Room, including the 10 apostles without Thomas, on Sunday evening (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25).
  6. To the 11 apostles, including Thomas, eight days later (John 20:26-28).
  7. To 7 disciples by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-14).
  8. To more than 500 (including the 11 apostles) at a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18; 1 Corinthians 15:6).
  9. To James, Jesus’ half-brother (1 Corinthians 15:7).
  10. To His Disciples in Jerusalem at His ascension (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:3-8).

Sources:

 

[2] Another possible understanding may be that the women started off while it was dark, yet the sun had risen before they reached the tomb.

 

[3] John MacArthur, Eyewitnesses to the Resurrection, Matthew 28:1-10

 

[4] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XVII. ‘ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD; HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN’.

 

[5] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, John 20:1-18, pages 309-312

 

[6] H.A. Ironside, Address 77, The Empty Tomb, Luke 24:1-12

 

[7] John MacArthur, One Perfect Life: The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus, Part X, 197. On Sunday Morning, the Tomb is Empty – 204. The Upper Room with Thomas Present, pages 470-482

 

[8] Stephen Davey, Surprise!, John 20:1-18

 

[9] Why did Mary not recognize Jesus when she first saw Him? Some commentators have proposed that Mary’s eyes were blinded by tears, or that she was surprised that Jesus was no longer the beaten, bloody corpse that they had removed from the cross on Friday. But Jesus, in His glorified body, appears to have been able to conceal his identity until He was ready to reveal Himself (see Luke 24:13-32). He may have used a supernatural ability to keep them from recognizing Him, or it may have simply been that His new body looked different. Some disciples seemed to recognize Him immediately (see Matthew 28:9-10) while others did not recognize Jesus until He revealed Himself:

  • Mary Magdalene recognized Jesus when He called her by name (John 20:16)
  • The travelers to Emmaus recognized Jesus when He blessed the bread (Luke 24:30-31)
  • The disciples recognized Jesus when He appeared among them and showed them His scars (Luke 24:36-40)

 

[10] H.A. Ironside, Address 67, JESUS IN THE MIDST, John 20:19-31

 

[11] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John 20, pages 341-344

 

[12] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XVI. ON THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST FROM THE DEAD

 

[13] Common objections to the resurrection [12]:

  • The conspiracy theory: the belief that the disciples stole the body and only pretended that He was risen.
    • This is incompatible with the change to the disciples, who went from fear to being willing to die for their faith.
    • This puts Jesus as a fraud.
  • The swoon theory: the belief that Jesus did not really die on the cross but revived in the tomb.
    • This is not possible given a Roman crucifixion and the spear in the side.
    • Jesus would have been unable to move the stone.
    • The grave clothes were folded neatly.
    • This puts Jesus as a fraud.
  • The vision theory: the disciples only imagined seeing the resurrected Christ.
    • This is counter to what they expected. They did not believe that He would rise again and would not believe the report from the women.
    • This is inconsistent with the details: appearing to many, touching Him, He eating before them.
    • This does not explain the empty tomb.

 

[14] H.A. Ironside, Chapter 28, The Risen King and the Royal Commission, Matthew 28

 

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2 Comments »

  1. […] He remembered early Sunday morning, when Mary came running in with news. She had gone to the teacher’s tomb and someone had taken the body! Peter and John had raced to the tomb, observing the scene. They saw the empty grave clothes and realized why the tomb was empty – the teacher was alive! He had come back to life! (see here) […]

    Pingback by The Stranger on the Shore | Sapphire Sky — February 7, 2016 @ 5:46 pm

  2. […] Jesus rises from the dead!! (Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-49; John 20:1-23) […]

    Pingback by Events of the Passion Week | Sapphire Sky — March 26, 2016 @ 1:51 am


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