John 20:1-17

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 1) Our Lord was laid in the tomb toward the close of the sixth day of the week (Friday), a stone was rolled to the door, and guards were placed outside the tomb (Matt. 27:59-66). He lay in the tomb all the Sabbath day and arose on the first day of the week. His resurrection confirms all His claims (Rom. 1:4), denotes the Father's acceptance of His work (Acts 17:31), and assures every believer of his own resurrection (John 14:19; I Cor. 15:20-23). The women were prevented from coming to the tomb to anoint the body (Luke 23:55-56) because of the Jewish Sabbath laws. But a few hours after the Sabbath was over, while it was still dark, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome (Mark 16:1) came to the grave and found the stone rolled away (Matt. 28:2-4).

(Vs. 2) After looking into the sepulchre and seeing that the body of Jesus was gone, Mary ran to tell the disciples. John says nothing about the other women nor about the angels which appeared to them and said, "The Lord is risen," as reported by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Mary found the disciples and addressed Peter and John, telling them that someone had taken away the body of the Lord; and she added, "WE know not where they have taken Him."

(Vs. 3-4) Peter and John immediately left the house to go to the tomb to investigate the report brought by the women. Being the younger of the two, John outran Peter and came first to the tomb.

(Vs. 5-8) John came first to the sepulchre but did not enter. He stooped down, looked in, and saw the linen grave clothes in which the body of the Lord had been wrapped; yet he went not in but waited for Peter. When Peter arrived at the tomb, he rushed in and John followed him. The linen clothes were lying in one place, and the napkin which was about His head was folded and placed separately from the wrappings. This was not the work of thieves nor officials, for the body would not have been unwrapped nor such care taken with the linen and napkin. What they observed was the work of one in no hurry, but with thought, care, and composure laid aside these emblems of death and came forth. John reports what he saw and declared that he believed. What did John believe? That the Lord had actually risen from the dead or the report of the women that someone had removed the body?

(Vs. 9-10) It is difficult to say what these disciples believed; for John writes here that even though the Lord had told them that He would arise from the grave and they found not His body, they did not fully understand the Scriptures and the types of the Old Testament by which His resurrection was foretold and pictured (Psalm 16:10; Jonah 2:10; Matt. 12:39-40; Matt. 16:21-22; Luke 24:11; Luke 24:22-25). John and Peter returned to their own homes.

(Vs. 11-12) Mary returned to the sepulchre; and after Peter and John had departed, she remained there weeping, not knowing that the Lord had risen but thinking that the body had been removed by someone. She stooped down and looked again into the tomb and saw two angels. One was sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body had been laid (Luke 24:3-6).

(Vs. 13) The angel asked her, "Why do you weep?" There is no cause to weep but to rejoice, for the Lord is risen! What a commentary on our carnality and unbelief! With no remembrance of the Lord's promise to rise, ignoring the presence of these heavenly beings, and making no inquiry as to why they were there, she continued to weep and say, "They have taken away my Lord's body, and I don't know where they have taken Him."

(Vs. 14) Perhaps she heard someone behind her, or perhaps one of the angels pointed behind her; but as soon as these words were out of her mouth, she turned around and the Lord Jesus was standing before her. She knew not that it was Christ. Why? I do not know. Perhaps her eyes were swollen and filled with tears, perhaps through modesty she kept her head lowered, perhaps the light was dim, perhaps she did not expect Him and He was clothed differently, or perhaps her eyes were holden as the disciples' eyes in Luke 24:16.

(Vs. 15) The Lord asked her, "Why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?" Mary, supposing Him to be the gardener or caretaker, replied, "Sir, if you have removed the body of my Lord, tell me where you have taken Him and I will care for the body."

(Vs. 16-17) Then the Lord Jesus called her by name in such a way as she had heard many times before; and she knew Him, crying, "Rabboni – my Master." Mary evidently fell at His feet as she had done so often and would cling to Him in joy, with reverence, and possessively. He replied, "There is not reason to cling to Me and try to hold Me to you and with you. I am not yet ascended to the right hand in glory but will be with you for awhile. You will have opportunity enough to see Me, hear Me, and touch Me before My ascension." At this time the Lord would have her go and tell His disciples all that she had seen and that He would soon ascend to His Father and their Father – to His God and their God. Because of His mercy and grace, all that is His is ours who believe. Because of our identification with Him as our representative and Redeemer, His Father is our Father – fully reconciled (II Cor. 5:19; Rom. 8:34).

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.