Sunday, April 12, 2020
“Victory! Jesus Wins!”
Service Orientation: Every man dies, but only one rose again victorious over sin and death. In Christ, we too can share in the victory achieved on Easter.
Memory Verse for the Week: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57
- When [Mary] saw the stone rolled away from the door of the tomb, she concluded that somebody had broken into the tomb and stolen the body of her Lord. We may criticize Mary for jumping to conclusions, but when you consider the circumstances, it is difficult to see how she would have reached any other conclusion. It was still dark, she was alone, and, like the other followers of Jesus, she did not believe that He would return from the dead. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, 310)
- It is Peter, impulsive and courageous as ever, who goes in all the way and sees the grave clothes lying there neatly, all in place. “Still in the folds” is the Greek phrase. Even the head cloths are separated from the rest of the garments. It is as if the dead one had simply stepped out into life. (Roger L. Fredrikson, Mastering the New Testament: John, 282) .
- Matthew’s Gospel records that after Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, the chief priests and Pharisees again went to Pilate. This time they requested that the tomb be made secure. The religious leaders remembered Jesus’ claims to rise again on the third day so they wanted to make sure that no one could get into the tomb (or maybe that no one could get out). (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 383)
- The religious leaders took a further precaution, asking that guards be placed at the tomb’s entrance. Their explanation to Pilate: “His disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first” (Matthew 27:64 nrsv). The religious leaders didn’t know that at that moment the disciples were cowering in fear for their lives, not even thinking about the Resurrection. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 383)
- It was immediately clear that no ordinary explanation made sense. What robber or enemy would strip a decomposing corpse and leave behind the valuable linens and spice, even taking the time to fold up (neatly?) the burial cloth? (Joseph Dongell, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 234)
The question to be answered is…
What are the implications of the resurrection for humanity?
The resurrection implies ultimate victory over sin’s curse. It’s the guarantee that payment for sin has been made; ensuring the purchase of those whose faith rests in Jesus.
The word of the day is… Victory
What victories were secured by Jesus’ resurrection?
1. Ultimate victory over the broad fallout of sin and death.
(Gen. 2:15-17; 3:1-24; Ps. 51:5; Ecc. 7:20; Rom. 3:23; Rom. 5:12; James 1:15; Rev. 22:1-5)
In His resurrection Jesus has not only broken the bonds of sin and death, but also the limitation of space and time and the weaknesses of earthly existence. By the power of God He has wrought a new creation, a new order. (Roger L. Fredrikson, Mastering the New Testament: John, 284)
The ultimate demonstration of Christ’s power over death, and hence proof of His deity, was His resurrection. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John 12-21, 368)
Many people wonder how God could create a world with so much evil in it. But they seem to overlook the fact that most of that evil is the result of man’s free choices. (William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, 12)
2.Ultimate victory over sin’s strangle-hold on our lives.
(Gen. 4:7; Ps. 119:1-3; Mark 7:20-23; John 8:34; Rom. 6:12-14; Gal. 5:1; James 1:14; 4:7 )
Have you noticed that when the supernatural touches the natural the message is always “Peace” or “Fear not”? His word to them now, when His deity touches their humanity, is “peace” This is the peace that comes from being justified by faith through our Lord Jesus Christ, which gives us peace with God. (J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible Commentary Series, John vol2, 327)
Let us keep in mind that God wants and expects us to be conquerors over the powers of darkness, not only for the sake of personal victory and for the liberation of other souls from the chains of Satan (though this is very important) but for His glory, so that His triumph and victory over His enemies may be demonstrated! (Corrie ten Boom, Defeated Enemies, 7)
3. Victory over sin’s ability to taint our future-fixed hope.
(John 3:16-17; 6:40; 11:25; 16:33; Rom. 6:23; 1 Cor. 6:14; Col. 3:1-4; 1 Thes. 4:14; 1 Pet. 1:3; Rev. 21:4 )
Those in glory must often wonder about our tears. They see from such a different vantage point. (Roger L. Fredrikson, The Communicator’s Commentary: John, 284)
Every tragedy provides us with an opportunity to see Jesus in a new way. As we experience sorrow, we can recall Christ’s suffering for us. Our pain is a result of living in a fallen world; his pain was the result of his love for us who inhabit this sinful world. Our pain is deserved, or at least unavoidable; his pain was freely chosen. Our pain reminds us that beyond it lies all the blessing that Christ provided for us by his pain. Because Jesus died, we can be forgiven. Because he lives, we too shall live! Christ’s resurrection gives us hope for a future restoration with loved ones and the gift of new bodies in the heavenly kingdom. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 389)
How can Jesus’ victory be realized in a person’s life?
A. When realized need is met by growing faith in Jesus.
(John 3:3; 14:6; Rom. 3:23; 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:3; 1 John 1:8-10; Tit. 3:5; Rev. 20:15)
It is those who have had the clearest sight of their deservingness of hell, whose hearts are most moved at the amazing grace which snatched them as brands from the burning, that are most devoted among Christ’s people. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 1071)
B. When growing desire exists to be dead to the old self and made alive in Jesus.
(Rom. 6:4; 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:1-3; 2 Tim. 2:19; 1 Pet. 2:24; )
Those who love Christ most are those who have received most benefit from him. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, 196)
The lives of Christians today demonstrate that the resurrection is still changing people. It changes fear into love, despair into joy. The resurrection changes people from being spiritually dead to being alive to God. It changes guilty condemnation into a celebration of forgiveness and freedom. It changes anxiety into a hope that goes beyond the grave. It can change our sinful hearts so they want to follow the Lord Jesus, and the power of the resurrection is relentlessly killing sin in every true Christian. (Adrian Warnock, Raised With Christ, 13)
C. When the hope of the resurrection impacts the way life is lived now.
(Prov. 8:13; Rom. 6:17-18; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 10:13; 1 Pet. 1:14-16; 4:8; 1 John 3:6-10)
The surest way to discover whether or not I am trusting in Christ is not to peer within to see if I have faith, but to exercise faith, by looking away to its Object —faith is the eye of the soul, and the eye does not look at itself. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 1075)
Why sacrifice for the needs of others if in the end nothing we do will make any difference? If the resurrection of Jesus happened, however, that means there’s infinite hope and reason to pour ourselves out for the needs of the world. (Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, 220)
Jesus is Victor. Calvary is the place of victory. Obedience is the pathway of victory, Bible study and prayer the preparation. Courage, faith, the spirit of victory—every temptation is a chance for victory, a signal to fly the flag of our Victor, a chance to make the tempter know anew that he is defeated. Roy Hession writes in Calvary Road: “Jesus is always victorious. We have only to keep the right relationship with Him and His victorious life will flow through us and touch other people.” (Corrie ten Boom, 365 Daily Treasures of Wisdom)
God is seeking true worshipers. But that only happens when the reality and implications of the resurrection become alive in those who follow Jesus.
(Ps. 29:2; 95:6; 96:9 Is. 12:5; Rom. 12:1; Heb. 12:28; 1 Pet. 2:5; John 4:23; Rev. 14:17)
If you do not know Him and worship Him, if you do not long to reside where He is, if you have never known wonder and ecstasy in your soul because of His crucifixion and resurrection, your claim of Christianity is unfounded. It cannot be related to the true Christian life and experience at all. (A. W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship, 114)
Unless God breathe upon these dry bones, they shall never live. But the breath of the Almighty can cause a resurrection where every thing betokens a condition utterly hopeless. Those who believe in God should never despair. There is help in him. These dead can live. (B.T. Roberts, Pungent Truths, 68)
The resurrection is the receipt, proving the purchase of those who are in Jesus. His victory is ours when we are in Him.
(Dan. 12:2; John 6:40; 11:25; Rom. 3:23-24; 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14; Eph. 1:7; 1 Thes. 4:14-16)
Spiritual Challenge Questions…
Reflect on these questions in your time with the Lord this week, or discuss with a Christian family member or life group.
- Why do you think Mary was the first to see Jesus? Is there any significance in this? Why weren’t the disciples the first ones to see him?
- Why do you think Mary didn’t recognize Jesus at first? What caused her to finally recognize him?
- In v. 29, Jesus says that those who believe without seeing are blessed. Why do you think he says this? Who would fall into this category?
- To whom do you relate most in this chapter—Mary, Thomas, or the rest of the disciples? Why?
Quotes to note…
One indisputable certainty of life is that it will someday end. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John 12-21, 360)
As the one who decisively conquered death, Jesus is the one to whom we must turn for victory over man’s most dreaded enemy. (William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, 141)
The testimonies of the Roman authors Seutonius and Juvenal confirm that within thirty-one years after Jesus’ death, Christians were dying for their faith. From the writings of Pliny the Younger, Martial, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, it is clear that the believers voluntarily submitted to torture and death rather than renounce their faith. (William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, 29)
We cannot make too much of the death of Christ, but we can make too little of His resurrection. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 1068)
Evidence that does not lead to experience is nothing but dead dogma. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, 312)
The empty tomb and graveclothes pointed beyond every natural explanation to some sort of resurrection, even more glorious than that of Lazarus. The tomb of Lazarus had to be unsealed by human hands, and his graveclothes unwound in the same fashion. But no human hand assisted in the release of Jesus from these restraints which had been overcome with ease. (Joseph Dongell, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 234)
The change in the disciples shows they had not invented the resurrection. After the crucifixion the disciples were confused, defeated, fearful, and burdened with sorrow. Suddenly they changed, becoming fearless preachers of Jesus’ resurrection. They suffered bravely and confidently for this fact. They went from the depths of despair to the boldest certainty. This incredible change in the disciples showed that they were not merely lying, but were absolutely convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead. (William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, 27)
FURTHER QUOTES & RESEARCH:
Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection not in books alone but in every leaf in spring time. (Martin Luther, in Watchwords for the Warfare of Life (1869), p. 317.)
2011 Free Methodist Book of Discipline
The Son – His Resurrection and Exaltation
¶104 Jesus Christ is risen victorious from the dead. His resurrected body became more glorious, not hindered by ordinary human limitations. Thus He ascended into heaven. There He sits as our exalted Lord at the right hand of God the Father, where He intercedes for us until all His enemies shall be brought into complete subjection. He will return to judge all people. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (17-18)
¶106 The Holy Spirit is the administrator of the salvation planned by the Father and provided by the Son’s death, resurrection and ascension. He is the effective agent in our conviction, regeneration, sanctifcation and glorifcation. He is our Lord’s ever-present self, indwelling, assuring and enabling the believer. (18)
The Resurrection of Christ is the guarantee of resurrection unto life to those who are in Him. (25)
The Heidelberg Catechism
Question 45. What does the “resurrection” of Christ profit us?
Answer. First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, that he might make us partakers of that righteousness which he had purchased for us by his death; secondly, we are also by his power raised up to a new life; and lastly, the resurrection of Christ is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.
It is quite clear that without the belief in the resurrection the Christian faith could not have come into being. The disciples would have remained crushed and defeated men. Even had they continued to remember Jesus as their beloved teacher, His crucifixion would have forever silenced any hopes of His being the Messiah. The cross would have remained the sad and shameful end to His career. (William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, 128)
- H. Dodd observes, “There can hardly be any purpose in mentioning the fact that most of the five hundred are still alive, unless Paul is saying, in effect, ‘the witnesses are there to be questioned.’ ” (94) (C. H. Dodd, “The Appearances of the Risen Christ: A study in the form criticism of the Gospels,” in More New Testament Studies (Manchester: U. of Manchester Press, 1968), . 128.)
These are the evidences for the resurrection. The body had disappeared. The graveclothes remained undisturbed. The Lord was seen. And the disciples were changed. There is no adequate explanation of these phenomena other than the great Christian affirmation ‘the Lord is risen indeed’. (John Stott, Basic Christianity, 59)
We stand on victory ground, because our fight is under King Jesus, and King Jesus is Victor. He makes us more than conquerors. (Corrie ten Boom, Jesus is Victor, 53)
The battle always has to be fought before the victory is won, though many people think they must have the victory before the battle. The conflict with worry and fear is almost always there—each person must overcome or be overcome. But we must fight each battle of our lives in the strength of Jesus’ victory. He said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). We are to be like Jesus-—One of whom Satan is afraid! (Corrie ten Boom, Jesus is Victor, 159)
Every temptation to worry or fear is an opportunity for victory. It is a signal to fly the flag of our Victor. It is the chance to make the tempter know anew that he is defeated. (Corrie ten Boom, Jesus is Victor, 160)
Worry is utterly useless. It never serves a good purpose. It brings no good results. One cannot think or see clearly when worrying. Let pagans worry, if they will, but we must not, for we have a living Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, and His conquering power. His victory can be our victory. Life at best is brief, and there is so much to be accomplished. If we must burn ourselves out, let us burn out for God. (Corrie ten Boom, Jesus is Victor, 163)
It is Peter, impulsive and courageous as ever, who goes in all the way and sees the grave clothes lying there neatly, all in place. “Still in the folds” is the Greek phrase. Even the head cloths are separated from the rest of the garments. It is as if the dead one had simply stepped out into life. Peter sees, but apparently makes no response. (Roger L. Fredrikson, The Communicator’s Commentary: John, 282)
Now John “went in also; and he saw and believed” (v. 8). Notice the sequence. Love has brought John into the tomb, and then with eyes of love, he sees and understands what physical eyes alone can never penetrate. The empty tomb and the folded grave clothes are quiet evidence for him that Jesus is alive. And John believes! Love has brought him to faith. Later the living Christ will illuminate and open up those Scriptures which testify to His own resurrection, teachings the disciples never understood during Jesus’ earthly ministry. (Roger L. Fredrikson, The Communicator’s Commentary: John, 283)
In His resurrection Jesus has not only broken the bonds of sin and death, but also the limitation of space and time and the weaknesses of earthly existence. By the power of God He has wrought a new creation, a new order. He is now returning to His Father. Mary is to cling to Him when this journey is completed and He is in perfect union with the Father. Through the Spirit, she will then abide in Christ and “cling” to Him as her permanent place of abiding. (Roger L. Fredrikson, The Communicator’s Commentary: John, 284 )
Mary, who is the first to see the Lord, is to be the messenger of His resurrection and ascension. Rather than allowing her to cling to Him, the risen Lord sends her on a mission to tell the others what she has seen and heard. Like Mary, we are sent forth to announce that the body is not in the tomb, for He is with the Father in resurrected glory. (Roger L. Fredrikson, The Communicator’s Commentary: John, 285 )
If the narrative of John had ended with ch. 19, it would not have been exceptional; all human biographies end with death. The picture of Jesus would have been that of a man of exceptional character, who made extraordinary claims, and whose sincerity could not be reasonably doubted. Nevertheless, the main narrative would have been closed with a sense of frustration. His claims would have been negated, his aspirations would have been unrealized, and his teaching would have seemed too lofty to be true. The major difference between the life and teachings of Jesus and those of any other great religious leader lies in the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and the others did not, however persistent their influence may be. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 187 )
vv 6-7 Peter, who by this time had overtaken his partner, had no such inhibitions. He entered directly into the tomb. He also saw the graveclothes and observed that the headcloth was not lying with the other pieces but was rolled up in a place by itself. This means the headcloth still retained the shape the contour of Jesus’ head had given it and that it was still separated from the other wrappings by a space that suggested the distance between the neck of the deceased and the upper chest, where the wrappings of the body would have begun. Peter must have been wondering why the graveclothes were left in this position if the body had been stolen. A robber would not have left them in good order. He would have stripped the body completely, leaving the clothing in a disorderly heap; or he would have taken the body, graveclothes and all. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 188 )
This section contains a series of encounters with Christ that show him overcoming a variety of barriers to faith, including ignorance, grief, fear and doubt. Five occasions of faith are mentioned, forming a chiasm. In the first and last, Jesus himself is not seen. In the first, the Beloved Disciple’s faith is based on the evidence of the grave clothes; in the last, Jesus says future believers will have the witness of those who did see him (cf. v. 30-31). The other three occasions are actual sightings of the resurrected Jesus. Mary sees both angels and Jesus but only believes when she hears him call her name. Thomas also requires something more than sight to believe—to touch Jesus’ wounds. Between these two individuals, at the center of the chiasm, is Jesus’ appearance to the disciples as a group, who recognize him by seeing his wounds and in whose presence Jesus imparts the Holy Spirit. 471
This chiastic structure makes it clear that John has chosen his material and arranged it with care, as have the other Evangelists.
Earlier the image of darkness symbolized the period of deadly conflict with the prince of this world (cf. 13;30), but now Jesus has been victorious. (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 471)
While there were a few different kinds of tombs in use at this period (cf. Meyers 1976:906-8), the details provided here (vv. 5-7) help indicate the type in which Jesus was buried. Most likely it had a low entrance and a step down into the central, rectangular pit, with shelves cut into the rock around the pit (see diagram in R. H. Smith 1976:414). If Jesus had been laid on the shelf either to the right or left of the entrance, then only part of the on the shelf either to the right or left of the entrance, then only part of the grave clothes would be visible from the entrance. If he had been positioned with his head toward the entrance wall, this would explain why the cloth for Jesus’ head was not noticed until they actually entered the tomb. (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 473)
Great attention is given to the grave clothes. The strips of linen (vv. 5-6; othonia) were the covering for the body, whether they consisted of strips, as in the NlV, or a shroud (see comment on 19:40) or both. Since Jesus’ resurrected body was able to appear in a locked room (v. 19), it seems he simply passed through the grave clothes. With the body gone, the clothes were presumably collapsed, though perhaps retaining much of their shape due to the spices. The cloth for Jesus’ head (soudarion) was either a face covering or a cloth tied around Jesus’ face to hold his jaw in place (see comment on 11:44). If the latter, then perhaps John’s description indicates the cloth was lying in place, still in the oval shape it had when around Jesus’ head. Or it could be John means this cloth, however it had been used, was in a separate place, rolled or wrapped up (v. 7, entetyligmenon). Jesus’ body passed through the grave clothes, presumably including the soudarion, so the fact that the soudarion was rolled up suggests Jesus tidied up before leaving! “There were no traces of haste. The deserted tomb bore the marks of perfect calm” (Westcott 1908:2:340). The royal calmness of Jesus throughout his Passion is also hinted at here in his resurrection. (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 473)
Here the Beloved Disciple sees an empty tomb and inside grave clothes neatly rolled up. If Jesus’ body had been stolen, the thieves would not have left the grave clothes behind. If Jesus had revived and had somehow struggled out of the grave clothes (not likely since seventy-five pounds of spices held them together), then they would be torn to shreds and the soudarion would not be rolled up. So the Beloved Disciple sees that something very strange has happened. He has faith in that he recognizes God’s fingerprints at the scene. But he still does not understand the full meaning of what he sees. (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 474)
John does not say whether Peter also believed at this point. But he does say that neither of them understood the Scripture regarding resurrection, thereby admitting his own ignorance at this point. Several texts of Scripture have been suggested as the ones to which John is referring (Ps 16:10; Hos 6:2; Jon 1:17), but he may simply mean the Scripture’s witness as a whole, whole, as when Paul says Christ “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:4; cf. Lk 24:44-47; Beasley-Murray 1987:373). (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 474)
Now she sees the very object of her concern, but she is unable to recognize him. Such can be the blinding effect of profound emotions. In this case her inability to recognize him also seems to be due to the character of Jesus’ resurrection body, since such failure is typical of encounters with him (cf. Mt 28:17; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:16,37; Jn21:4). (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 475)
But though she had reason for expecting to find the Roman soldiers on guard there (Matt. 27:66), though there had just been “a great earthquake” (Matt. 28:2), though there were no male disciples accompanying her, though this was the midst of the Feast, when thousands of strangers were most probably sleeping under any slight shelter near the walls of Jerusalem, love drew Mary to the place where the Saviour’s body bad been laid. How this devotion of hers puts to shame many of us, who perhaps have greater intelligence in spiritual things, but \u2029who manifest far less love for Christ! Few were as deeply attached to the Redeemer as was this woman. Few had received much at His gracious hands, and her gratitude knew no bounds. How this explains the listlessness and half-heartedness among us! Where there is little sense of our indebtedness to Christ, there will be little affection for Him. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 1070-1)
Both ran to the \u2029sepulchre. John, of the two, the more gentle, quiet, reserved, deep-feeling, stooped down, but went no further. Peter, more hot and zealous, impulsive, fervent and forward, cannot be content without going into the sepulchre, and actually seeing with his own eyes. Both, we may be sure, were deeply attached to our Lord. The hearts of both, at this critical juncture, were full of hopes and fears, anxieties and expectations, all tangled together. Yet each acts in his own characteristic fashion! Let us learn from this to make allowance for wide varieties in the individual character of believers. To do so will save us much trouble in the journey of life, and prevent many an uncharitable thought. Let us not judge brethren harshly and set them down in a low place, because they do not see or feel things as we see and feel. The flowers in the Lord’s garden are not all of one color and one scent, though they are all planted by the One Spirit. The subjects of Christ’s kingdom are not all exactly one tone or temperament, though they all love the same Saviour,\u2029 and are written in the same book of life. The Church has some in its ranks who are like Peter, and some who are like John, but a place for all, and a work for all to do. Let us love all who love Christ in sincerity and thank God that they love Him at all” (Bishop Ryle). (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 1075-6)
Creation demonstrates a Creator, but the outward proofs of His hand do not move the heart, nor bring the soul into communion with Him-the written Word, applied by the Spirit, alone does that! (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 1079)
The resurrection of Jesus is not a spectacular event with crashing cymbals and blaring trumpets. No, the discovery that He is alive is like the quiet dawning of a new day heralding the defeat of the night. The risen Christ meets His friends personally and intimately at unexpected times and places, overcoming their grief and doubt. They are flooded with joy and peace as they move from sight to faith. (Roger L. Fredrikson, Mastering the New Testament: John, 282)
If it hadn’t been for Easter, nobody would ever have dreamed of celebrating Christmas. (N.T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part 2, 143)
If someone in the first century had wanted to invent a story about people seeing Jesus they wouldn’t have dreamed of giving the star part to a woman. Let alone Mary Magdalene. (N.T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part 2, 147)
The resurrection is an essential part of the gospel message (1 Cor. 15:1–8) and a key doctrine in the Christian faith. It proves that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Acts 2:32–36; Rom. 1:4) and that His atoning work on the cross has been completed and is effective (Rom. 4:24–25). The empty cross and the empty tomb are God’s “receipts” telling us that the debt has been paid. Jesus Christ is not only the Savior, but He is also the Sanctifier (Rom. 6:4–10) and the Intercessor (Rom. 8:34). One day He shall return as Judge (Acts 17:30–31). (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, 309)
It is significant that the first witnesses of the resurrection of Christ were believing women. Among the Jews in that day, the testimony of women was not held in high regard. “It is better that the words of the law be burned,” said the rabbis, “than be delivered to a woman.” But these Christian women had a greater message than that of the law, for they knew that their Savior was alive. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, 310)
Peter arrived and impulsively went into the tomb, just as we would expect him to do. He also saw the linen clothes lying there empty and the cloth for the head carefully rolled and lying by itself. Grave robbers do not carefully unwrap the corpse and then leave the graveclothes neatly behind. In fact, with the presence of the spices in the folds of the clothes, it would be almost impossible to unwrap a corpse without damaging the wrappings. The only way those linen clothes could be left in that condition would be if Jesus passed through them as He arose from the dead. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, 310)
There is certainly nothing wrong with sincere sorrow, because God made us to shed tears, and weeping is good therapy for broken hearts. The sorrow of the Christian, however, must be different from the hopeless sorrow of the world (1 Thess. 4:13–18), because we have been born again “unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3 nasb). We weep—not because our believing loved ones have gone to heaven—but because they have left us and we miss them. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, 311)
When Mary looked into the sepulcher, she saw two men in white. Their position at either end of the shelf where the body had been lying makes us think of the cherubim on the mercy seat (Ex. 25:17–19). It is as though God is saying, “There is now a new mercy seat! My Son has paid the price for sin, and the way is open into the presence of God!” (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, 311)
It is good to have faith that is based on solid evidence, but the evidence should lead us to the Word, and the Word should lead us to the Savior. It is one thing to accept a doctrine and defend it; it is something else to have a personal relationship to the living Lord. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, 312)
The first whom John names among those who came to Christ’s sepulcher, is Mary Magdalene. The history of this faithful woman, no doubt, is hidden in much obscurity. A vast amount of needless ridicule has been heaped upon her memory, as if she was once an habitual sinner against the seventh commandment. Yet there is literally no evidence whatever that she was anything of the kind! But we are distinctly told that she was one out of whom the Lord had cast “seven devils” (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2)–one who had been subjected in a peculiar way to Satan’s possession–and one whose gratitude to our Lord for deliverance was a gratitude that knew no bounds. In short, of all our Lord’s followers on earth, none seem to have loved Him so much as Mary Magdalene. None felt that they owed so much to Christ. None felt so strongly that there was nothing too great to do for Christ. Hence, as Andrews beautifully puts it–“She was last at His cross, and first at His grave. She stayed longest there, and was soonest here. She could not rest until she was up to seek Him. She sought Him while it was yet dark, even before she had light to seek Him by.” In a word, having received much, she loved much; and loving much, she did much, in order to prove the reality of her love. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, 196)
How is it that many who profess and call themselves Christians, do so little for the Savior whose name they bear? How is it that many, whose faith and grace it would be uncharitable to deny, work so little, give so little, say so little, take so little pains, to promote Christ’s cause, and bring glory to Christ in the world? These questions admit of only one answer. It is a low sense of debt and obligation to Christ, which is the account of the whole matter. Where sin is not felt at all, nothing is done; and where sin is little felt, little is done. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, 196)
We are taught, secondly, in these verses, that there are widely different temperaments in different believers.
Let us learn, from the case before us, to make allowances for wide varieties in the inward character of believers. To do so will save us much trouble in the journey of life, and prevent many an uncharitable thought. Let us not judge brethren harshly, and set them down in a low place, because they do not see or feel things exactly as we see and feel, and because things do not affect or strike them just as they affect and strike us. The flowers in the Lord’s garden are not all of one color and one scent, though they are all planted by one Spirit. The subjects of His kingdom are not all exactly of one tone and temperament, though they all love the same Savior, and are written in the same book of life. The Church of Christ has some in its ranks who are like Peter, and some who are like John; and a place for all, and a work for all to do. Let us love all who love Christ in sincerity, and thank God that they love Him at all. The great thing is to love Jesus.
We are taught, finally, in these verses, that there may be much ignorance even in true believers.
How often we are anxious when there is no just cause for anxiety! How often we mourn over the absence of things which in reality are within our grasp, and even at our right hand! Two-thirds of the things we fear in life never happen at all, and two-thirds of the tears we shed are thrown away, and shed in vain. Let us pray for more faith and patience, and allow more time for the full development of God’s purposes. Let us believe that things are often working together for our peace and joy, which seem at one time to contain nothing but bitterness and sorrow. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, 199)
Temple points out that “St. John does not promote the Resurrection as a mighty act by which the hosts of evil are routed, but rather as the quiet rising of the sun which has already vanquished night.” (William Temple, Readings in St. John’s Gospel, 375)
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very heart-blood of the Christian faith. It is so important that someone has said, “We cannot make too much of the death of Christ, but we can make too little of the resurrection of Christ.” (J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible Commentary Series, John vol2, 325)
The disciple “whom Jesus loved” is John. He always refers to himself in this way rather than by name. Any of the disciples, except Judas, could have used this title for himself. You can use it for yourself…You can’t keep Him from loving, you! (J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible Commentary Series, John vol2, 326)
Simon Peter and John were not expecting the resurrection. They probably thought that Mary didn’t really see well in the dark. She saw the stone rolled away, became frightened, and ran. Or maybe she went to the wrong tomb. So they rush to the cemetery. Friends, you don’t go into a cemetery to look for the living. They were not expecting to find Jesus alive when they rushed to the tomb. They were expecting to find the Lord’s body. (J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible Commentary Series, John vol2, 327)
20:13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” Under normal circumstances this would seem to be an odd question. People might be expected to be crying beside the tomb of a loved one, and even more so if one thought the tomb had been desecrated and the body stolen. However, the angels knew the incredible joy of the empty tomb. They also knew that if these people had listened to Jesus’ words about his resurrection while he was alive, they would not be sad and confused; instead, they would be leaping for joy. So the angels’ question was not odd, but obvious. It was not meant as a rebuke, but as a reminder of heaven’s perspective. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 389)
Fear, either of the unknown, or that something terrible had happened to the Lord’s body, as Mary feared, prevented him from entering. Simon Peter, however, had no such fears. Impetuous as always, he came, following John, and promptly entered the tomb.\u2029 (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John 12-21, 368)
Even the face-cloth which had been on His head, was not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. This seemingly minor detail shows that the tomb was left in a neat, orderly condition. In contrast, grave robbers would hardly have taken time to roll up the facecloth, and in their haste they would have scattered the grave clothes all over the tomb. More likely still, they would not have removed them at all, since it would have been easier to transport the body if it were still wrapped. Nor would thieves likely have left the wrappings, containing expensive spices, behind. The presence of the grave clothes also shows that the story the Jewish leaders concocted, that the disciples stole Christ’s body (Matt. 28:11—15), is false. If they had stolen the body, why would the disciples dishonor it by tearing off the grave clothes and spices that covered it? (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John 12-21, 369)
Those who reject the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ remain outside the sphere of salvation.(John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John 12-21, 372)