Saturday, April 22, 2017


Print Passage: John 20:1-10; 1 Peter 1:3-5, 8-9
Devotional Reading: Luke 24:1-12

As a young girl I was ecstatic because Easter meant to me receiving a new Sunday outfit, getting the Easter basket full of chocolate and other candy goodies, and reciting my memorized Easter poem. Trust me, I was doing good to get through that poem. Sometimes I had to have a little encouragement, but I made it through the poem. But I had no idea what Resurrection meant. When I first heard someone say it was Resurrection Sunday my first impression was to correct them to say it was Easter. Then I thought I had better go look it up.

I found that the origin of Easter is based on ancient pagan celebration. However, for Christians, the origin of Easter is simply the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.1 I have since preferred to call it Resurrection Sunday. I did not understand as a child, but I understand now that Jesus was crucified on a cross, buried in a borrowed grave, and Resurrected for all of our sins so that we might have the final victory over death and the opportunity to eternal life with God. Paul so elegantly states in 1 Corin 15:54-57, "So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)

We are in Unit II – “God’s Caring, Saving, and Upholding Love” of the three units of the quarter. This is the third lesson of a five-lesson study. The lesson recounts the Resurrection event in which God’s love is displayed as victory over death.

The lesson is written from an eyewitness view from John’s, the other disciple, or the one that Jesus loved point of view. There is no disharmony with the other Gospel accounts. But he was one of the eyewitnesses to the empty tomb. We are also reviewing the Resurrection from the point of view of the other eyewitness, Peter.

Neither John nor Peter discovered the tomb empty. God chose women to be the first eyewitnesses even though the society automatically disqualified them because of their gender. Although the report of the account of the sepulcher visit differs between the Gospel writers, Mary Magdalene is always mentioned first of the women. (See Matt 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10) The Apostle John only mentions Mary Magdalene by name in his account, beginning at verse 1, “Now was the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” (NKJV)

Why were the women there? Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had prepared the body of Jesus with a mixture of myrrh and aloe spices to embalm Him properly as was the custom of the Jews in the linen strips before they placed Him in the tomb. (John 19:38-41) Perhaps the women felt they had to come to complete the proper preparation of Jesus’ body because the celebration of Passover had interrupted Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. People do not normally visit graves, especially this one. The disciples had abandoned Jesus, but rumor was that someone would steal His body.

We had never heard of Mary of Magdala, a town on the western shore of Sea of Galilee, until Jesus cured her of demon possession. From that point she was the most faithful disciple of the LORD. She celebrated the Passover, but as early on the first day as she could she faithfully came to the grave to tend to her LORD. It was still dark. How did the women think they would remove the stone that was in front of the tomb? They didn’t have the strength, but they had faith. When they got there the stone was moved. In Matthew 28:2 we are told, “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the LORD descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.” (NKJV) Did they feel the earthquake? Seeing the tomb empty prompted an immediate response from Mary Magdalene. She ran to the disciples to make an eyewitness report of her early morning findings as John states in verse 2, “Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the LORD out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.’” (NKJV) However, Mary’s report to Peter and John of grave robbery is erroneous. She is upset and wants to retrieve Jesus’ body. She has not given much thought to understand the teaching of Resurrection given by Jesus. John records her saying that we do not know. Although John specifically names Mary, he lets us see she is not alone. This is in harmony with the other Gospels that there were more women present.

Peter and John desire to see for themselves the events surrounding the empty tomb. They run to the site and its emptiness is confirmed. John 20:3-7 indicates, “Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.” (NKJV) Remember these two disciples had acted out of fear. But now they are racing to the empty tomb out of love, not because they expect to see a Resurrected Jesus.

At first they ran at the same pace, but John being younger was able to out-run Peter to get to the tomb first. He could see the linen cloths lying inside, but he did not go in before Peter arrived. John could out-run Peter, but bold Peter could out-dare John. Peter arrived, went into the tomb, and John was encouraged to follow him. They saw the linen cloths that had been wrapped around the LORD’s body with myrrh and aloes in one area and the handkerchief that had covered His head was neatly folded in another area. Peter and John knew this was not a grave robbery. A robber would take the entire body not take the time to undress a mummified body and neatly fold the linen cloths separately from the handkerchief. Robbers of graves have been known to take away the clothes and leave the body, but none ever took away the body and left the clothes especially when they were fine linen and new.

Now that Peter and John have confirmed the tomb is empty and that it could not have been a grave robbery, they must determine what happened. John 20:8-10 states, “Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.” (NKJV) John saw and believed the divine intended effect. Peter saw and wondered (marveled) to himself as to what had happened. (Luke 24:12) Why did they hesitate? They did not understand in their heart at this time the Scriptures that Jesus must rise again from the dead. Even though they knew Old Testament Scriptures which alluded to the fact there would be a resurrection of the Messiah, and even though they believed Him to be the Messiah, Resurrection was the furthest thing in their minds. Knowing the tomb was empty and not wanting to be accused of grave robbery, they searched out the other disciples to wait for the LORD to explain this to them.

Our lesson moves to rejoicing in the Resurrection Life of Jesus Christ as seen through the eyes of our eyewitness, bold Peter. 1 Peter 1:3-5 reads, “Blessed be the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (NKJV) I am sure you have heard the saying God did not promise you a rose garden. But He did promise the suffering Christians a living hope through the Resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. We give blessings to our loving God for His Plan of Salvation which allows us through His abundant mercy to be born again. As sinners we had no hope beyond the grave. Now we can believe in His Son, what He has done for us, and have living hope to an eternal heavenly inheritance. Our inheritance will not corrode or decay. It is tarnish-proof, death-proof, sin-proof, and in perfect condition. It will not fade away in whatever condition it is in as to value, beauty, or time. Once this inheritance is given to the believer it can’t be taken away. It is kept by God through the believer’s faith until the time for his/her salvation. Our eternal inheritance is secure unless we, “…fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.” (2 Peter 3:17b NKJV)

The readers of the Apostle Peter were not eyewitnesses to the ministry nor the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is especially dealing with those who are suffering in the Christian life. Yet they believe because of the testimony of Peter. He writes at 1 Peter 1:8-9, “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.” (NKJV) Though believers have not seen Christ, they love and trust Him. That is what was mentioned to Thomas, the disciple who doubted because he did not believe in the Resurrection because he had seen Jesus crucified but had not seen Him risen as yet. (John 20:29) Therefore, with this belief in the unseen Resurrected Christ, they are able to have unspeakable joy and peace in Him. A believer’s joy is not based on what the world can give him. The world can’t give anything everlasting except hell. Christian joy is based on that everlasting inheritance received through the belief in the death, burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The world can’t give it and can’t take it away. Christians can express their joy, but the extent of their joy is unspeakable and full of the glory of the LORD. Believers are able to receive the goal of their faith, even the salvation of their souls both in the present and finally beyond the grave. The love of God and His Plan of Salvation is incredible.


Written by Deborah C. Davis

No comments: