St. John’s Gospel (35): The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (John 20:1-18)

Date: 4/5/2015
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St John’s Gospel (35) - The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (John 20:1-18)

The Seven Signs + One: The New Creation
1. New Creation Breaks In at Wedding: Water into wine (2:1-11)
    2. Stopping Death with a Word: Prevents death of king’s man’s son (4:46ff)
        3. Life of the World: True Sabbath - Paralyzed (38 years) at Bethesda pool (5:2-9) (sin no more)
            4. The New Exodus: Bread of Life - Loaves (6:1-14) + Crossing the Sea (6:19)
        5. Light of the World: Blind (born) cleansed at Siloam pool on Sabbath (9:1-7) (not his sin)
    6. Calling Forth Life with a Word: Delays/death, then raises Lazarus (11:1-44)
7. New Adam: Water & blood on the cross (19:34-35)
8. New Adam/Gardener: The resurrection (20:1-29) “First Day” (8th Day)

The Empty Tomb (vv1-3) - The events in the darkness of this very “first day of the week” are carefully expressed by St. John to emphasis eye-witnesses of the empty tomb. After not seeing the body of Jesus in the open, cave-like tomb, Mary Magdalene runs to Peter and John (disciple whom Jesus loved), saying, “they have taken the Lord out of the tomb” (v2). John outran Peter and when they arrived they were “stooping and looking in” (v5), also concluding the tomb did not contain the body of Jesus. The “body” of Jesus is at issue in the resurrection. Seeing the ghost or spirit of Jesus was not the resurrection. Jesus was raised in body.

The Tomb Clothes (vv4-10) - Then, the most important event of human history is described in this passage. Amazingly, 3 of 18 verses (vv5-7) are spent on details about wrappings of the corpse.  This evidence is evangelistic to the Evangelist: when John “saw [this veil rolled up] and believed” (v8). This alludes to Lazarus coming from the tomb. He came “bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth” (John 11:44). The image of the facial shroud fulfills prophecy (Is. 25:7; 1Cor. 15:54). Whatever the precise position of the “face-cloth” and arrangement of the linens, it is clear the empty tomb was not empty because grave robbers came in and hurriedly removed the body (since they would have hardly unwrapped and done the ironing). John perceived that Jesus had arisen, bodily.

The Tomb Garden (vv11-18) - Mary returns and “stooped and looked into the tomb” (v11) seeing “two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying” (v12). This is an odd detail. But like other details in St. John, it is not without purpose. Then the angels ask, “Woman, why are you weeping?” (v13). Then Jesus appears to her, apparently behind her. This encounter of Mary with the risen Lord (v14ff) was quite real, but poetically written to  frame the new creation teaching (Is. 65, 2Cor. 5:17). Christ is the new Gardener, i.e., the New Adam who will cultivate a new creation. His resurrection restores creation, opening a way back into the presence of the Father (v17). The emphasis on the resurrected body of Jesus shows new creation is present.

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more