Summary: Year C Easter Sunday, John 20: 1-9, April 15, 2001
Visiting the tomb and finding the body of Jesus gone, Mary Magdalene reports the fact to Peter and the Beloved Disciple who run to the tomb. They both observe the same facts, but the Beloved Disciple believes that Jesus is risen.
Chapter 20 consists of four scenes that teach of different responses to the risen Jesus. In the first scene verses one to nine. Jesus does not even appear. It is a story about the empty tomb. The second scene is about Jesus appearance to Mary Magdalene verses eleven t eighteen at the tomb. Scene three takes place on Easter Sunday night in a locked room. Jesus appears to the ten disciples and then, in scene four a week later, he appears again to them, but this time Thomas is present and his response highlighted. All these scenes take place in Jerusalem, as do the appearances in Luke and Mark 16:1-8 (quickview) . In chapter 21, an epilogue to the gospel work, Jesus appears in two more scenes that take place in Galilee. The author is as much or more concerned with the effect of Jesus’ resurrection on the disciples, faith response, as or than the fact of it.
In itself this story of the empty tomb did not originally convey the idea of resurrection, except to the beloved disciple who interpreted the facts correctly. The subsequent stories of Jesus’ appearances clarified the meaning of the empty tomb, since no one saw the actually event of Jesus’ rising from the dead.
In verse one, “First day of the week,” Sunday. The days of the week are not named in the Bible.
Tomb: The entrance to such tombs was a small opening about a yard high from the ground. Hence the need to bend down to see in. A boulder rolled against the entrance could seal the tomb.
The more elaborate ones had a wheel-shaped slab that rolled in a tract across the entrance, having the effect of a sliding or rolling door.
Mary Magdalene: Mark and Luke say she and other women came to anoint the body, since it had to be buried hastily before Sabbath sunset. Matthew simply states that they came to see the tomb. John gives no reason for the visit. It was believed that the person’s spirit lingered around the tomb for three days.
In verse two, “to Simon Peter,” Both Peter and the “Beloved Disciple,” present at the cross, were reported by John to have stayed around in Jerusalem, so it would be natural for Magdalene to report to them.
“The other disciple whom Jesus loved,” Though he was clearly an historical personage, one of the disciples, though not necessarily one of the Twelve, his name is never given. He represents all faithful disciples of all ages.
In verse four, “the other disciple,” He arrived first, meaning he was the first to believe in the Resurrection. He is also the first to recognize Jesus in 21:7. The fact that he outran Peter has been the subject of much speculation as to its significance. No reason is given in the text. He is presented as the ideal follower who does not need an appearance of Jesus to believe in him. Peter and John are portrayed as friends not rivals. The Beloved Disciple is the quickest to look for Jesus and the first to believe in him.