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John 20:1, NIV 1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
May 1, 2012
Who, what, where and when. It's all here in this verse. In the early morning darkness, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that someone had tampered with the gravesite. Even in the shadows she could see that the large stone had been rolled away from the entrance to her Lord's burial place. Why?--That was the unkinown. Who would do such a thing!
Had she stopped to think about it, she may have realized a positive side. Having the stone removed gave her access. Which would have been helpful to her, but on the other hand, everyone else had access too and that was not good.
But the brain of Mary was not thinking rationally at the moment. She was surprised, perplexed, fearful. She didn't know what to do, so she ran.
John 20:2, NIV 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"
May 2, 2012Had Mary looked into the tomb and seen it was empty? Or did she just assume because the entrance was open that meant the body had been removed?
Mary ran to Peter and John and hurriedly gave them the latest news. This implies Peter and John, along with Jesus' mother and possibly others who believed in Jesus, were together 24x7 on the days following the death of Jesus. The crucifixion was on Friday. Saturday was the Sabbath day of rest. The first light of Easter came on Sunday morning.
Peter and John responded to Mary's announcement by going to see for themselves. They also ran. As with most news stories, Mary's initial report had some flaws and inaccuracies. The "they" and the "we" are not identified. They referred to whoever stole the body of Jesus. We is not clear, but the other gospel accounts mention a group of women who went to the tomb as soon as the Sabbath was over.
If Jesus was not in the tomb, then where was his body? That was the big concern. They all ran to find the answer.
John 20:3-9, NIV 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
May 3, 2012Here's what they saw when they got to the tomb. John stood outside and bent over to pier in. He could see strips of linen cloth lying about. He did not step inside the grave. Peter, who arrived after John, went right into the tomb. Peter was bold, even in a cemetery. Beyond the strips of linen, Peter saw the cloth that had been around the head of Jesus. It was folded up by itself. When John saw that no harm had befallen Peter inside the tomb, he also stepped in. They looked, they processed the information, and they "believed." Then within the parenthesis of verse 9 we are told they did not yet understand. They were not thinking resurrection nor anything resembling resurrection.
The facts were simply what they had seen--the grave clothes, strips of linen lying about and the head cloth folded separately. They saw this and believed. What exactly they believed is not recorded. Maybe they just conceded Mary was right.
There were lots of questions for which they had no answers. How would they get along without Jesus? What they would do now? But the more immediate question was where is the body of Jesus? How come the burial clothes were all that remained in the tomb? Who folded the head cloth? Someone must know the answers. But who?
The cast of characters on that first Easter morning in order of their appearance were Mary of Magdala. She was the last to leave the scene on Friday according to the other gospels. In John's account, she is the first to arrive at the tomb, while it was still dark. Unable to sleep? Was her attitude one of sorrow and defeat? Had she any reason to expect anything more? To her, an empty tomb meant someone had come and taken the body away. Jews don't "work" on the Sabbath, so it must have been the Romans.
In times of uncertainty, it's common to stick together in small groups. Peter and John were the next ones on the scene. Breathless from running, the younger one, John, arrived first. Timidly he looked inside the tomb. Then Peter arrived and walked right into the fray. What they saw just raised more questions.
Or maybe not. It says they believed. There's a peaceful attitude that goes with believing. When I believe, I put my concerns into the hands of God. Maybe that's what Peter and John did. Even though Peter had denied knowing Jesus just a few days earlier, he was still very much in the picture. All the disciples had deserted, so no one could feel superior to the next guy.
If Jesus were alive, where was he and what was he doing? That first Easter was a breathless morning, full of mystery.