Lessons from John 20: Jesus Has Risen
John recognized Jesus signal! Jesus had indeed risen and was coming back just as He said He would! And though John tells us that they did not fully understand, they were growing in their understanding and soon Jesus Himself would explain it to them.
God always provides sufficient evidence for our next step of belief in Him. What evidence has God given you this year at BSF? And how is God increasing your understanding of Him and His plan? Come to share night and tell us of the great and mighty things God has done in your life as a result of this year’s study!
Now John tells us that after he and Peter had left the tomb, Mary Magdalene remained and stood outside and wept. Now, whether in disbelief, astonishment or confusion, Mary full of grief bends to look inside the tomb once again and sees two angels dressed in white, seated where Jesus body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. And they asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” To which she replied, “They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put Him.”
Now we aren’t told what caught Mary’s attention, whether she sensed the presence of someone else or maybe it was the angels who were looking past her at this moment, but whatever happened, Mary turned around and saw Jesus standing there, though she didn’t realize it at the time. And He repeats the words that the angel had just spoken, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it that you are looking for?” Still not recognizing Jesus and thinking He was the gardener, Mary Magdalene pleads, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you put Him, and I will get Him.”
Why, didn’t Mary recognize Jesus? We aren’t told but it could be that she was so overcome with grief, her eyes filled with tears and her thinking not quite clear, or maybe somehow Jesus in His resurrected body looked different. We aren’t told why, but whatever the reason even Mary hadn’t recognized Him or His voice. Not until Jesus called her by name in verse 16. It was then that Mary Magdalene turned toward Jesus and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
Mary Magdalene had learned and experienced early on of Jesus resurrection power as He miraculously transformed her life as He drove seven demons out of her. And in every situation we find her in, she is acting out of her appreciation for the freedom Jesus had given her. That freedom had allowed her to stand alongside of the other women near the cross at Christ’s crucifixion when all the other disciples, except John, had deserted Jesus in fear.
And though she tried to do everything possible to tend to Jesus dead body, out of her love and devotion and respect for Him and all He had done not only for her but also for others, she never expected His bodily resurrection, though she was filled with joy when she discovered it.
Yet, John tells us in verse 17 that Jesus responded to her joy by cautioning her that she could not hold on to Him for He had not yet returned to His Father. Meaning that Jesus did not plan to stay permanently.
Jesus had already promised prior to His death that once He returned to His Father, He promised to send another one just like Himself, the Promised Holy Spirit, who would not only live with them but in them. Leading them and teaching them and guiding them into His truths, offering them comfort, conviction, and encouragement through His personal presence.
Yet, Jesus did not leave Mary with a negative tone, He encouraged her by giving her a work to do and that work was to go instead and tell His brothers, as He now refers to His disciples, what she had seen and experienced.
Here we see that Mary Magdalene was not only the first to the tomb, and the first to see that the stone had been removed, but God also granted her the privilege of seeing His resurrected body first and then He sent her off as the first human to bring the gospel of good news that Jesus the one who bore their sins on the cross, was indeed alive! His mission of redemption and His life-giving resurrection accomplished.
I believe the truth to live by here is this: Jesus equips believers to tell others about His resurrection power over death.
Mary’s life had been changed by Jesus and she couldn’t wait to go and tell others! She didn’t let her grief or her lack of knowledge get in the way of accomplishing God’s goal for her! Can that same truth be said of you, or do you let your feelings or emotions get in the way of doing what God has commanded you to do?