John Chapter 20
Vs 1-4 “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. 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.’ Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.”
What is the first day of the week on your calendar? It’s Sunday! It was the same on the Jewish calendar. This is the Sunday after Passover (remember the Last Supper was on Passover Thursday, the day before Jesus’ execution).
At this point there is nothing in Mary’s mind but the thought that someone removed His body. She is not thinking about a resurrected Jesus at all.
The “other disciple whom Jesus loved” is John the Apostle (that wrote this Gospel of John). So John and Peter go racing off to the tomb. I find it really funny that John points out that he “outran Peter and came to the tomb first”. If you’re a guy, you understand.
Vs 5-7 “And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.”
In the book of Matthew, we read in 28:15
“Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, ‘You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.’ And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.”
The religious leaders and the chief priests bribed the soldiers to say that they fell asleep! And while they were sleeping, a group of men came and quietly rolled away the giant stone that covered the tomb, then they silently unclothed the body, then they were able to sneak Jesus’ body past the still sleeping guards to hide Him away somewhere. Right! No problem!
If someone were in a rush to remove Jesus’ body, they certainly would not have taken the time to remove the burial cloths, nor would they have taken the time to then fold them neatly there.
Even if they were able to sneak around with the body of a full grown adult man, the stone would have been large enough that it would take several men to move and it would not be quiet. I speak from experience: my wife teases me when I move heavy stuff because I can’t seem to do it without grunting and making lots of man-type noises.
*(If you’re interested, see notes from David Guzik on the Shroud of Turin at the bottom of this page.)
Vs 8-10 “Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.”
When it says that John “saw and believed” it simply means he now knows that the body is gone. “For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.”
The disciples had been laying low, trying to stay out of the spotlight much as they did when Jesus was being tried. So theses guys go back home, but not Mary!
Vs 11-16 “But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’ Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ She, supposing Him to be the gardener, 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, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is to say, Teacher).”
Mary is still mourning His death and is now distraught over the fact that His body is gone. She peeks inside to confirm it’s still true and finds two guys sitting in there all dressed in white. Her mind is so distracted, she responds to the angels,a nd then to Jesus without recognizing Him. Then when He says her name, it clicks in her head.
John 10:1-4 Jesus tells us: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
Once Mary heard Jesus say her voice, she knew exactly who He was! It is amazing thing – after we know Jesus for a period of time and we get to know His word and spend time with Him, we know His voice in our lives and in our hearts.
Vs 17-18 “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.”
He was asking her not to cling to Him as she was probably clinging to Him. So He wasn’t telling her not to touch Him, but rather He was saying “Mary, I need to get going. I’ve got lots of things I still need to accomplish. You need to let me go.” Then she went and told the guys who were still in hiding from the authorities.
Vs 19-23 “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.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send 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 retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ ”
Picture the disciples all hiding in a locked room, talking about how the Jewish leaders are probably after them, they’re frightened, and now Mary tells them Jesus’ body is gone. It doesn’t seem that they believed her story yet.
Mark 16:9-11 “Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.”
So they’re scared and locked in this room out of fear, the body is gone and now they are thinking the Jews are really going to come after them. Then Jesus appears to them and gives them His assurance. What a blessing that must have been to them! Can you imagine! Scared for your life, and then Jesus shows up! It still happens today. Maybe Jesus doesn’t show up in bodily form so we can see Him, but He provides that needed miracle and in a way that is total shock and awe!
Vs 24-29 “Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ 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!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ ”
Thomas didn’t believe because he couldn’t see, touch, and feel the risen Lord. I understand that kind of thinking, however I choose to believe. Even though I haven’t seen the risen Christ, I believe. Jesus said that those who believe without seeing are specially blessed! I love hearing that.
Vs 30-31 “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
John finishes this chapter with the simple message of the Good News: He wrote this all down so that we would believe in Jesus, that he is the Son of God, and accept His free gift of eternal life! All it takes is to believe and it’s ours. That is our special blessing!
*The Shroud of Turin notes from David Guzik:
“Whatever happened to the grave clothes? Is the Shroud of Turin for real?
No one can say for certain. But, ‘The evidence thus far indicates the probable conclusions that the shroud is ancient (perhaps from the first century), that it does not contradict the NT accounts, and that the image is not a fake. It may well be the actual burial garment of Jesus.’ (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology)
The image on the shroud is of a crucified male, bearded, 5’11″ in height, weighing about 175 pounds. His physique was muscular and well built, and he is an estimated age of 30-35 years. His long hair is tied into a pigtail and there is no evidence on decomposition on the cloth.
Results of the Shroud of Turin Research Project in October 1978 determined that the Shroud is not a painting or a forgery. They determined that its blood is real blood and the image seems to be some type of scorch, though they cannot account for how it was made.
It may be genuine but there may also be good reason why God did not preserve Jesus’ grave clothes – not wanting to leave behind a relic that inevitably would be worshipped.”
(I put these notes at the bottom because folks are always curious about the Shroud, but I wanted to avoid distracting from the Bible study itself. ~Anthony)