John 20:1-10 He Must Rise Again

John 20:1-10        He Must Rise Again        Bible Study Notes (The Living Well)

John sets the scene for us telling us that it is the first day of the week, it is early, and it is still dark. Mary Magdalene is seen as going to the tomb in order to pay respects to the crucified teacher. This Mary has not been seen very much in John’s Gospel, but we know some things about her from the other Gospel accounts.

Mary Magdalene:
(1) Her name is Mary and she was from Magdala in Galilee.
(2) Somewhere in the region of Galilee she met Jesus who cast out seven demons from her, and she then began to follow Him (Luke 8:1-2).
(3) She had joined a group of women in following Jesus to Jerusalem to care for His ministry needs (Matt 27:55-56).
(4) When the apostles had scattered, she was still seen at the foot of the cross (Mark 15:40; John 19:25).
(5) She also observed Jesus’ burial (Mark 15:47).
(6) We know that she witnessed events surrounding the resurrection (John 20).
***John tells us that Mary was the first to find the empty tomb; she was the first to report it; and she was the first to meet the risen Lord.

Mary sees that the stone has been rolled away which was obviously possible, but not an easy task to do. Not just anyone could open the heavy, rolling stone door. It appears that she leaves immediately to go tell the apostles. She misses the details that the other two find when they get there.

She runs to tell Peter and the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved (John). These two are seen as leaders, go-to men for the group. What is Mary’s report? “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” Who is the “they”? She must be referring to the Jewish rulers, the opponents of Jesus. She uses the plural term “we” which conveys to us that she was not alone. A woman would not travel outside the city walls while it was still dark all by herself. There was a group of women who had gone to the tomb.

Peter is, of course, the first to jump up and leave while John follows behind him out of the door. John is apparently in better shape and more speedy as he arrives at the tomb first. Although John arrives first, he does not go in, but only looks from outside. As he stoops to look in, he sees the linen cloths lying there (19:40). This is puzzling, huh? Peter is not afraid to run right in. He sees the linen cloths lying there as well and the handkerchief which had been around the Lord’s head was laying separately and was folded. The language of the passage is that the cloths were “lying there” as if they were lying flat where the body of the Lord had been laid. This does not look like a crimes scene, does it? There’s nothing chaotic.

John went on in as well, and when he got to take in the whole scene, he believed. What did he believe exactly? We cannot be sure. It seems that maybe he believed what Mary said, that someone had taken the body. Yet, that does not it with what we know about John and his Gospel account. John has been the one all along who has shown more faith than the others. John was beside the Lord at the last supper and at Calvary for the crucifixion. The term “believe” has a strong sense in this Gospel. It almost always refers to a deeper trusting in Jesus. What we can say about this is that John believed that something different had happened although he did not yet fully understand the biblical and theological significance of the event as verse nine says. He was on the path to clarity and full understanding in faith.

What Scripture would they believe? Let me offer just a few: Ps 16:10; Isa 53:10-12; and Hos 6:2. The "Scripture" may refer to specific Scriptures such as these or to the Old Testament Scripture as a whole.

What were the disciples left to do, but go home after this?