Summary: The scrpture’s account in John chapter 20 of when Mary Magdalene encountered the living Christ at the tomb that first Easter morning.
A WOMAN’S REPORT John 20:1-18
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Now Peter, speaking to Cornelius and a Gentile crowd, preaches that God is no respecter of persons…that Jesus is Lord of all, the judge of both the living and the dead. He is a witness to the bodily resurrection of Jesus because he not only saw him, but ate with him and heard him speak.
1. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Here Paul is saying that the way a believer participates in Christ’s death is that we become dead to the things of this world and because of his resurrection we become more alive to the eternal things in the world to come.
We are not trying to live a Christian life by discipline, but by faith in the finished work of Christ on our behalf. We know that Christ living in us is the hope of glory. This all happens because our new relationship to the living Christ has resulted in a transformation in us that is similar to a resurrection from death to life.
Not that we are so “heavenly minded” we are no earthly good, in fact, quite the opposite. We live in the “nasty now and now” so that others see a glimpse of what life will be like in the “sweet by and by”: caring for individuals as Christ did, alleviating suffering, being socially responsible, mending broken relationships and pointing the way to God.
Now in our focal passage we look at what happened on that first Easter morning:
1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
In Matthew and Luke’s version we are told that Mary came to the tomb with some other women, so now she says “we” can’t find him, mentioning additional witnesses to the fact that his body is indeed not there in the tomb.
3 So Peter and the other disciple (who was John himself) started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, (John) who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.
This bit of information about the condition of the grave clothes is given to help us understand that what they saw was not a scene of grave robbery in which case more than likely the body would have been snatched up still wrapped in the grave clothes or with at least some sign of disturbance in which the face napkin would have been probably dropped on the ground rather than neatly folded up. But instead, this confirmed instantly that there had indeed been a resurrection.