St. John’s Gospel (08) - Grave Clothes (John 20:1-18)

Date: 4/20/2014
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The Resurrection Manifest in St. John’s Gospel (01) - Grave Clothes

John 20:1–18 - Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Mary’s Fears and the Empty Tomb (vv1-3) - The events in the darkness of this very “first day of the week” set up a dramatic change. Mary represents of all of us in her fears, worries, and alarm: “they have taken the Lord….[oh no! what do we do now?]” At this point Mary is sentimentally attached to the dead body of a great, but dead Rabbi. But all of history had been expecting something a great deal more dramatic than the nice smelling corpse of a mild moral lecturer. Now the tomb is empty and a “deeper magic” (CS Lewis) was at work to break the cold stone table of death and the power of Satan. Do not fear, Jesus is not dead (Rev. 1:18).

Disciples and Dead Men’s Clothes (vv3-10) - John outran Peter after the fearful report. Then they also find the tomb empty of a dead man. Now a curious few verses relating to the grave clothes (vv5-7). The most important event of human history is described in this passage and 3 of 18 verses are spent on details about wrappings of the corpse [!]. Why? The facial veil or shroud is both real and symbolic like the “third day” (2:1), “behold the man”(19:5), and “153 fish” (21:11). It fulfills an allusion in John 11 from the OT (Is. 25:7; 1Cor. 15:54). Note the significance: the disciple whom Jesus loved “saw [this veil rolled up] and believed” (v8).

Mary and the New Gardener (vv11-18) - This encounter of Mary with the risen Lord (v14ff) was quite real, but coding the new creation teaching (found throughout the NT: 2Cor. 5:17). Chris is taken as the new Gardener, i.e., the New Adam who will cultivate a new creation. After Jesus reveals Himself in this way/for this purpose, Mary is sent to “announce” (angelo) His resurrection to the Apostles. Jesus resurrection restores creation by making a new creation (since resurrection has come). He opens a way back into the presence of the Father (v17), since He will prepare a place for His followers (John 14).

Therefore: 1 Corinthians 15:54–58 - But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. 55 “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Je

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 receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more