Musings From the Gospel of John – Number 61

The Scriptures covered in this post are from John 20:1-10 NASB 1995 and reads as follows:

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So 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.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. So the disciples went away again to their own homes.”

We are now looking at the last two chapters of the Gospel of John. I mentioned at the beginning of this commentary that when I was a relatively new Christian, I wrote a commentary on the Gospel of John which has long since disappeared. Yes, I know, I was pretty presumptuous, that is a given. Nevertheless, an awful lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and now and even though I am now well into my twilight years, I actually have mixed feelings about coming to the end of the Gospel of John. I have always loved the Gospel of John and now I actually love it more. And the scary part is, I know that I have only scratched the surface of what is within John’s Gospel. What follows is the triumph of Jesus, the Son of God, confirmed by our Father and demonstrated in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. And . . . the first hand witness of what transpired, and how it effected the disciples of Jesus. This is about as real as it gets.

I have deliberately chosen the 1995 version of the NASB and there is a reason for that which I shall explain shortly.

John 20:1-2 NASB 1995 “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So 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.”

First day of the week, which would be Sunday, while it was still dark.
If you are wondering how the three days and three nights that Jesus said he would be in the heart of the earth as recorded in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” equates to three days and three nights from Friday to Sunday, the following link provides an overview on this question:
https://www.gotquestions.org/three-days.html

As per the overview, note that there are different perspectives on how the three days and three nights where and could have been calculated according to Jewish custom regarding the Sabbath(s).. And for good measure, here is another perspective:
https://bibleask.org/jesus-raised-three-days/

Moving right along, we know that the “other disciple whom Jesus loved” is in most probability, John himself. You can check this link for additional info: https://www.gotquestions.org/disciple-whom-Jesus-loved.html If this assumption is correct, which I would think it is, we have John, giving us his first hand account of what specifically transpired. First hand witness accounts are strong evidence when looking at the credibility factor. Just something to be mindful of.

John 20:3-7 NASB 1995 “So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.”

The reason I selected the 1995 version of NASB is because of the words “rolled” up in a place by itself versus “folded”. Check out the following link for an overview on a common association made about the head cloth being “folded” and the assumption that does NOT appear to be supported: https://crossexamined.org/why-was-the-head-cloth-of-jesus-wrapped-to-the-side/

John 20:8-10 NASB:”So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb also entered then, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead. So the disciples went away again to their own homes.”

It would appear, according to what John is in all probability saying, that it is only at this moment, when they literally view the empty tomb, along with the remaining burial cloths, that the disciples John and Peter, or most probably, all of the disciples, began to perceive of the reality of Jesus literally physically rising from the dead. Notice that “and believed” is linked with the fact that they did not or had not understood the Scripture, that He MUST rise from the dead. Note that the New Testament had not been written at this time, so this Scripture that John speaks of where the Messiah is said to rise again, would of necessity, have to be from the Old Testament. Psalm 16:10 comes to mind: For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.” “Will not allow” could easily be understood as “MUST rise from the dead”. In addition, Psalm 22, and Isaiah 53:10–11 and Daniel 12:2–3 reveal that the Messiah, in particular, would be raised from the dead. Review this link for amplifying information: https://blog.tms.edu/resurrection-according-to-scriptures

Considering that Jesus had already foretold His disciples what would happen (Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:22-23, Mark 8:31) one might wonder why the resurrection of Jesus came as a surprise to His disciples, considering that they had already seen Jesus raise others from the dead, including Lazarus who had been dead for four days (John 11:38-44).

But there are a additional factors that need to be taken into consideration. For one, NO ONE had ever raised THEMSELVES from the dead.

For two, Jesus was and is the Messiah, God in the flesh, we need to understand that seeing God literally die would be a difficult concept to grasp and it did not fit in with the Jews perception of the promised Messiah.

For three, hearing what will happen and seeing what happened are two different things. The disciples could have been expecting a spirit resurrection and not necessarily a physical body resurrection. Remember when Jesus walked on the water and when they first saw Him, they thought He was coming towards them as a spirit (Luke 24:37).

And finally, we acknowledge and recognize that Jesus rose from the dead with a physical body because Jesus actually did it, but prior to Jesus, no one had ever done this. No one, ever. Nor has anyone since!

The bottom line, from my personal perspective is that I do not know why they did not grasp what Jesus told them would happen, but had I been there, in their shoes, it is quite feasible that I would not have grasped it either. Call out a hunch but I have a gut feeling that you’d have to have been there.

More to follow.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

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