John 20 - Part I
John 20:1: The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulcher. John only mentions Mary of Magdala, but there were more than three women that originally came to the tomb early, about dawn (cf Luke 24:10; Matthew 27:55-56; 28:1; Mark 16:1). John had a specific reason for mentioning this part, as will be seen in other verses.
Mark 16:2-4: 2. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun. 3. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher? 4. And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. The primary concern of the women was about how to move the great stone away from the entrance. Apparently, they were not yet aware of the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb. When they arrive, the stone was already removed.
Matthew 28:2-4, 11-15: 2. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.... 11-15: 11. Now when they (the women) were going (to tell the disciples), behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. 12. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave [much] money unto the soldiers, 13. Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. The earthquake must have only been at the tomb, as only the soldiers were affected, just before the women arrived. No mention is made by the women of the earthquake or the soldiers. However, some soldiers would have remained at the tomb, as there was a military law making it punishable by death for a soldier to be found asleep or to leave his post. Likely, officers went into Jerusalem to relate to the chief priests what had happened, while others remained on guard. Why would the priests bribe the soldiers to say that the body was stolen? It indicates that they believed the soldier’s story and that the body was not stolen. Because the soldiers were there all night preventing any removal, they were witnesses, and shortly after, the women witnessed the empty tomb. Therefore, the disciples would have had to come before the women arrived, but while the soldiers slept, as the women could not remove the stone. With careful thinking it can be seen that their story is full of problems. False teachings of the gospel are the same, if people would do the research with an honest heart to serve God, they would discover the truth.
Stories of actual historical events are important and necessary, especially the events surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection. As archeological evidence has, and is uncovered validating the stories, then that evidence gives solid, undeniable proof that the stories are true. Thus, exists what is called, circumstantial evidence as proof of Jesus living and dying as recorded in the Bible. There is also proof that the Emperor Constantine, in the fourth century, was forceful in the commingling of Pagan and Christian concepts. So, when I view the earthquake and the effect on the Roman soldiers, allegorically I can see God, having put a messenger a person’s life to present the truth, and it creating a great spiritual shaking (earthquake) when told the truth. The former thoughts (soldiers) become dead to them as they receive the living word (John 6:63; 14:6), and a great spiritual concept (stone) is removed from the heart, a belief they did not even realize was actually spiritual death (cf John 5:24-25).
Another significant piece of evidence is recorded by John: John 20:2-10: 2. Then she ran, and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him. 3. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulcher. 4. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. 5. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 6. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and sees the linen clothes lie, 7. And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 8. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed. 9. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. 10. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. Verses 5-7 are the key: The linen clothes and the napkin that was about his head, were folded and lying separate on either end. Even if they caught the soldiers sleeping, anyone stealing the body would not have taken the time to remove the linen wraps, much less fold them up. It is evidence that the resurrection took place.
Who removed the linen wraps? John 20:11-13: 11. But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, 12. And sees two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13. And they say unto her, Woman, why weep thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. Luke 24:2-6a: 2. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. 3. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5. And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6. He is not here, but is risen.... Two angels removed the linen wraps. We see a similar example when Lazarus was resurrected, and Jesus instructed those that stood by to loose him from the grave clothes (John 11:44).
In this incident is another type of our spiritual experience, depicted by the two messengers (angels). God sends the truth by a person, who coming to the grave between our ears, a pit of darkness, reveals to us an understanding of the two major phases of the life of Jesus Christ - before the cross; and after the cross. In Revelation 11:3, 4, they are called two witnesses and two olive trees, in reference to the prophecy in the book of Zachariah 4. The effect, however, of what they do is explained in the chapter before. This will happen in the last generation: Zachariah 3:8-9: 8. Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your fellows who sit before you; for they (are) men of symbol. 9. For behold! I will bring forth My Servant the Branch. For behold the stone that I have set before Joshua: On one stone (are) seven eyes (a fullness of understanding). Behold, I will engrave its engraving, says [Yahweh] of Hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day (MKJV). Joshua is a type of what we can become in Christ, if we walk in his ways (Zechariah 3:3-7). And when I reflect on the various ways the two messages are depicted (Note 1), then by means of the cross of the Son of God I realize: 1) God has always loved me; and 2) He will perfect me in His love (cf John 17:23), which is the stature and fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). When the veil of the heart is rent, which is a type of the flesh and another way of depicting the great stone that has kept us from clearly seeing the Father, then as a spiritual high priest, we enter into His love forever. The iniquity is removed in the spiritual sixth day of creation, when we are made into the image of God - inwardly.
Note 1 - Two stacks of bread (Leviticus 24:5-6); two cherubim (Exodus 25:18) two angels visit Sodom (Gen 19:1); Jesus sends disciples two by two (Luke 10:1), to preach the gospel.
Ezekiel 36:25-27a: 25. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27. And I will put my spirit within you... Are you seeing the power of God work in your lives today? The tomb is a figure of the mind, and the stone a great false spiritual concept, maybe more than one, which prevents a person from growing out of the spiritual darkness. I can go down the list of things that I have discovered and that I have had to change concerning the way I thought about them, which were not sound Bible teachings, some of which were straight out of Pagan teachings. As God leads us to let go of the false teachings and worldly things that hinder us, we grow into the stature and fullness of Christ.
John 20:14-18: 14. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weep thou? whom seek thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 16. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 17. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. 18. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
First, gather the actual stories and become familiar with them. Then glean the spiritual lessons as they are studied to understand the Son’s experience and the Father’s purpose in sending and allowing him to die. Paul illustrates actual death and resurrection metaphorically, and applies them a spiritual sense: Romans 6:4-8: 4. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism (immersion) into death (to self): that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6. Knowing this, that our old man (old way of thinking, Ephesians 4:21-24) is crucified with him, that the body of [the] sin-(nature) might be destroyed [of no effect g2673 (cpRomans4:14)], that henceforth we should not serve [the] sin-(nature). 7. For he that is dead is freed from [the] sin-(nature). 8. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
The old way of thinking and perceiving God and His plans for humanity must go; but we also have to reach a level of commitment and understanding so that our sin-nature no longer has any influence in our lives. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory (1Corinthians 15:54). Amen!
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