Wednesday, October 10, 2012

John 20:1-9 with Matthew 27:62-66

After Jesus’ death, Matthew records an interesting scene with the Pharisees, who pay Pilate a visit:

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. (Matthew 27:62-66)

Isn’t it interesting that the Jewish leaders were better “believers” here than the disciples? They remembered Jesus’ words about raising Himself up after three days - and here they actually apply it to His body instead of the Temple. Meanwhile, the disciples, had they truly believed Jesus, should have been camped outside the tomb to witness the event! Instead, it’s the Pharisees who insist on having a seal on the tomb along with a contingent of soldiers to secure it. This actually provided the evidence that Jesus had, indeed, been resurrected.

How many guards were actually dispatched? We don’t know for sure, but most agree that there were between 16 and 50 guards sent to protect the tomb from tampering. The tomb probably had a rope around the stone that was given the Roman seal of wax to keep anyone from messing with it. Had the disciples attempted to steal the body, even if all the guards were asleep, they would have surely awakened the guards with the noise required to break the seal, move the heavy stone with some kind of tool, then carry the body out. One thing everyone agreed on: the tomb was empty!

In John’s account, we see Mary Magdalene, who was completely devoted to Jesus, seeking to be with Him first thing in the morning, while it was still dark:

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. 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!” (John 20:1-2)

Now, Mary assumes someone else has taken the body, so she runs to get Peter and John. Even having seen the stone rolled away, she doesn’t get it yet!

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) (vs. 3-9)

Jon Courson points out that the verbs which are used for “looked” and “saw” are different. When John looked in to see the linen strips, the verb is blepo, which means “to look at, to see visibly.” When Peter “saw” the strips, the verb is theoreo, meaning “to study more carefully” (it’s where we get out word “theory”). Then, when John “saw and believed”, the word for “saw” is eido, from which we get the word “idea.” (Courson, P. 594) It means that John got it. John saw the empty tomb and he believed. Now, he says that they still did not get how it all was prophesied in the Scripture and how it all tied in, but he knew Jesus was alive. So, verse 10, which follows, is pretty funny:

Then the disciples went back to their homes...

Huh? I’m thinking they needed to cogitate on what it all meant... But we are told that Mary lingered at the tomb. And because she did, she was the first to see the resurrected Christ! We’ll look at that precious encounter next!  

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