Summary: We see the need for the spread of the gospel as we are introduced to "a chain of witnesses" after Jesus' resurrection.
Jesus, the God-man: Gospel of John
“A Chain of Witnesses”
Introduction: “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” A game show even used that concept as contestants competed to discover “The Weakest Link”. In a group of people the one that performs his or her role the least is considered a weak link.
After Peter and John discover the empty tomb and John determines that Jesus is alive they return home but the drama continues at the tomb. Other events begin to take place which sets in motion the need for the spread of the gospel as we begin the creation of “a chain of witnesses”.
1. The angels testified of the resurrection.
Peter and John run home leaving Mary alone crying.
That which caused her to weep should have been a cause for rejoicing. The tomb is empty because Jesus is alive and not because His body has been stolen!
She glances into the tomb by stooping over like John did.
She is looking in the wrong direction. She is looking down!
Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
She glances into the tomb and sees two angels seated where Jesus’ body and laid –one at the head and one at the foot. This is a picture the Ark of the Covenant covering! Two is also the number of witnesses required by the law. They are seated signifying rest and peace.
Why did Peter and John not see these angels? They were invisible.
v. 13 – “Why are you weeping?” They know the reason but for what cause? This is not a time to weep!
Good question for us to consider. What causes you to weep or be downcast? What causes you pain? That can all be changed by recognition of the resurrection!
Illustration: Martin Luther once spent three days in a black depression over something that had gone wrong. On the third day his wife came downstairs dressed in mourning clothes. "Who's dead?" he asked her. "God," she replied. Luther rebuked her, saying, "What do you mean, God is dead? God cannot die." "Well," she replied, "the way you've been acting I was sure He had!"
Where is your focus? Mary’s is still on grave robbers!
This next part I think is comical:
Angel: “Woman, why are you crying?”
Mary: “Grave robbers!” and not, “WOW! ANGELS! I’ve never seen angels before!”
Her encounter with the supernatural is clouded by her grief and unbelief!
The very absence of the body which made her weep was a token for good, and a cause of joy for herself and all mankind. –J.C. Ryle (1816-1900), Expository Thoughts on John
The psalmist when in a difficult time had asked Himself the same question and arrived at a similar answer as this:
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God. Psalm 43:5
The angels testified of the resurrection without a word. Their simple presence speaks volumes!
2. Jesus testified of His lordship. (vv. 14-17)
She responds to the angels and turns around. Jesus is there, but she does not recognize Him. He asks the same question as the angels, but then adds, “Whom are you seeking?”
Here’s another good question for us. In the midst of your pain and despair do you recognize that Jesus is there?
She thinks He is the gardener. She is still looking for grave robbers, not the Savior. Her focus is on death and not life.
Her answer reflects that. “Sir, if you took Him away please show me where and I will go pick Him up and bring Him back.”
Grief can cloud your judgment, reasoning, and even the presence of God in your life. She is not capable of picking up a dead body wrapped with one hundred pounds of spices and carry it back to the tomb! But her love and devotion makes her willing to try!
v. 16 - Her attention is drawn once again to the tomb, but a single word changes everything! “Mary” or “Miriam” in Aramaic. The lights come on! He knows her name!
But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. Isaiah 43:1
To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3