Lessons from John 20: The Everlasting Gift of Life
What seemed like a loss was really a gain! The tomb was empty! Jesus, the light of the world, had overcome death (the penalty of sin) and its darkness, so that we, who place our faith in the truth of His Word and in the power of His mighty acts might become overcomers like Him, and receive His everlasting gift of life.
So here, John opens chapter 20 by telling us that early on the first day of the week…I want to stop here first and discuss what this means. Jesus’ death and resurrection made all things new, including, the Sabbath. The first day of the week for centuries had been associated with the Law, in which the Jewish people worked for six days and then they rested on the Sabbath, which at that time was Saturday.
Yet, when Jesus Christ died on the cross, He became the fulfillment of that law and therefore He broke the curse and set a new course. Teaching us that instead of putting works before rest, His people would rest before work. Therefore, Sunday thus became the first day of the week, the Lord’s Sabbath, a Day of Rest before the week of work!
John goes on to tell us that while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. But, the other gospels tell us that Mary Magdalene did not go alone. Why, does John leave them out? Well, I think it’s because the other gospels had already been written and John’s purpose is not to retell the other’s stories. John’s purpose as stated in John 20:31 was so that others might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing each one would have life in His name. And so I believe that John singled out these here in this chapter to show how God individually transformed their lives through His resurrection power.
Well, as Mary Magdalene and the other women arrived at the tomb with their spices, like we would take flowers, as a sign of love and respect, much to their surprise they see that the stone had been rolled away!
Now, ladies, this was not just a stone, it was a massive boulder! Which would have been too heavy for these women to move on their own or anyone else for that matter. But, God took care of that for them, because we are told in Matthew 28:2 that there was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
Matthew 28:3 tells us that, the angel’s appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. And the guards that were there became so afraid that they shook and became like dead men.”
Which is why you will hear it said that the stone was rolled away from the tomb not to let Jesus out, for He had already been raised from the dead. No, instead the stone was rolled away in order that others might get in and see and then believe.
So, when the women arrived, the angel comforted them by saying, “Don’t be afraid, for I know that you have come looking for Jesus, who was crucified. But, He is not here! He has risen, just as He said.” And then the angel invites them to come and see for themselves the place where Jesus had laid.
Now, the other gospels tell us that the women entered the tomb and as they were wondering what happened, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. Luke tells us that in their fright, the women bowed down with their faces to the ground and, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here! He is risen! Remember how He told you, while He was with you in Galilee; ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful man, be crucified and on the third day will be raised again.’”
Then the women were instructed to go quickly and tell His disciples: “He is risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him. Now I have told you.” And so the women, though they had been afraid had entered the tomb and yet they were also filled with joy, they ran to tell Jesus disciples.
Now obviously from what John tells us, the women did not fully comprehend or understand what they had seen or heard or experienced. Because John tells us that when the women arrived at where the disciples were gathered behind locked doors out of fear of the Jews, they reported that someone had taken Jesus out of the tomb, most likely referring to grave robbers…grave robbers in that day were very common.
It’s like mail theft today. It happened often. Egyptians were known for being buried with their treasures, and expensive jewelry and more and Jesus Himself had been buried with 75 pounds of expensive spices, so there was a lot of treasure in a grave.
Yet the women stated that though they thought Jesus body had been stolen, they didn’t know where they had put Him.
Now, Luke tells us that when the disciples heard the testimonies of the women they thought it sounded like non-sense.