Bible Reading Day 165
Today we read the chapter which reveals the pivot point of history. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb as early as her faith permits – just before sunrise on the day after the Passover. John doesn’t tell us, but we know from Luke’s account that she was coming to bring more spices for the hastily buried body. One thing is for sure: she was not coming to be the first witness of the resurrection!
When she sees the stone rolled away from the tomb, she runs to Peter and John to tell them someone has stolen Jesus’ body. So Peter and John run to the tomb, and there is a progression in their response to what has happened.
First John looks in to the empty tomb (the word ‘looked in,’ in the original language, means “glanced at.” John is a little more spiritually sensitive than Peter; he is aware that God’s word says that a tomb is not a place for a Jewish man. John respects the restriction, and stays out of the tomb. Peter catches up with John, and he is less respectful of the details of the law. He wants to know what has happened to his murdered leader’s body, so he goes in to the tomb and looks around. The word for ‘seeing’ in this verse refers to a careful examination (in contrast to John’s quick glance). Notice that Peter sees more detail than John did.
But then we see a third level of response to the empty tomb: John overcomes his reserve and goes into the tomb with Peter. Now, he sees (a third Greek word) and believes. The seeing now is the seeing of faith: he focuses on the significance of the wrappings, and the folded cloth, and puts together what he sees with what he heard Jesus teach them: that he must be killed and then rise again. The combining of Jesus’ teaching with the sights of the empty tomb brings John to faith. Revelation and teaching work together to create faith.
Meanwhile Mary returns to the tomb after Peter and John return home to tell the other disciples. She does not not yet know what John has understood: she is still grieving the death of her Lord, and the theft of His body. She sees angels who ask why she is crying. Then she meets Jesus but thinks He is the gardener; and He asks her why she is crying! It is almost as if everyone is waiting for Mary to find out the secret that they all know! When she asks the gardener (Jesus) where he has put the body, He simply speaks her name, and she recognizes Him!
Then Jesus tells her not to cling to Him (presumably because she IS!) and sends her to tell the other disciples He is risen and will ascend to the Father. So Mary is appointed as an apostle to the apostles.
Next Jesus appears to the disciples in their hiding place, blesses them with peace, and shows them the evidence of His crucifixion. He releases the Holy Spirit on them, and tells them they are to forgive sins. What a commission for them to be given!
But Thomas was not with them on that occasion, and refused to believe without empirical evidence. Thomas is a literal, rational guy! He has to wait more than a week before Jesus meets them again (still behind locked doors) and gives them peace again. Then Jesus shows Thomas the evidence of the crucifixion, and Thomas believes too. Jesus tells him that those who will believe without seeing are blessed; a promise Thomas must have taken to heart because history tells us that Thomas led many to believe in Jesus.
Then John concludes with a comment that there was much that he left out, because Jesus did many more miracles. The account John wrote, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has the purpose that we continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. By believing in Him you and I will have life by the power of His name.
That’s reason enough for every one of us to have a great day!