Skip to content
May 20 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

May 19, 2019


Luke 24:1-12 and John 20:1-10

Intro: With John chapter 20 we come to the end of our survey

This one last time, I will remind you what we’ve been tracking
– John wrote a gospel that’s very different from the Synoptic gospels
• the other three follow the same outline, tell the same stories
• John is surprising in how much he leaves out and what he puts in
– during Jesus’ life the disciples did not always understand him
• some times he said things that:
◦ had to do with the future
◦ contradicted what they had been taught
◦ contained spiritual truth that the rational mind cannot discover
• they heard his teaching and at times thought they understood him,
◦ but there were often deeper meanings that they missed

I said this was the situation “during Jesus’ lifetime,”
– but look at verse 9,
. . . for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
• here, immediately after Jesus’ resurrection they still don’t understand
(cf. Mk. 9:9-10 & 30-32)
• this illustrates what John saw as the problem he needed to address
◦ frequently they failed to pick up on what Jesus was telling them
◦ in fact, even after Jesus’ resurrection they would still be discovering the meaning of his teaching
– the other three gospels stick to the time frame of Jesus’ life up to his resurrection (or for Luke, his ascension)
• John wrote his gospel from a perspective of many years later
• and in those intervening years, what had not been understood now made sense
◦ John wrote a gospel to bring these hidden meanings to the surface

John closely follows the beginning of Luke’s version of the resurrection

Except that John has more to say about specific people and events
– the first person we encounter is Mary Magdalene
• but her story is broken into two parts
• so we’ll begin with what John has to say about Peter

John adds to Luke’s story, that he went with Peter to tomb

Mary Magdalene had come to Peter and John straight from the empty tomb
– notice carefully what she told them
So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the 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” (Jn. 20:2)
• perhaps she suspected that grave robbers stole his body
• Peter and John immediately got up to go investigate
◦ that they ran to the tomb indicates their concern–their worry and confusion
• why does John have to say that he got there first?
◦ because that’s the way he remembers it
◦ the same reason he tells us that he glanced into the tomb from outside, but that Peter charged in to investigate
(this is the difference between the Greek words translated looking and seeing)
– seeing the grave clothes still there, it was unlikely the body was stolen
A. T. Roberston, “Peter saw more after he entered than John did at first glance, but John saw into the meaning of it all better than Peter. Peter had more sight, John more insight.”
• when John went into the tomb, he then he saw and believed

John’s additional insight to this part of the resurrection story:
– he lets us see that the mystery of Jesus is ongoing, even after the resurrection
• there will always be more to be explored and revealed
• even now, there will be things we don’t understand
◦ and until the mystery is fully revealed,
◦ the best way to go forward is in faith, trusting Jesus

Next, John tells us about a private encounter

Peter and John left Mary Magdalene alone at the tomb
– I doubt she could think of anywhere else to go
• she came there with the intention of tending to his body
◦ to gently administer the final touches
• but now she was prevented this last moment of affection
◦ and she could not give up her need to see his body
– it seems to me she was fixated on finding out what happened
• but there were no clues, no trail to follow
◦ she was at a loss – so she just stood there weeping
• like the apostles, she stooped to look in the tomb
◦ but it wasn’t the grave clothes she saw, rather angels
◦ they asked her, Woman, why are you weeping?

I told you to notice what she said to Peter and John
– “They” – some unknown persons
• “taken the Lord” – she did not need to say his name
◦ she and the two men shared the same Lord
• “and we do not know where they have laid him”;
(the “we” refers to her and the other women, Lk. 24:10)
– but to the angels she makes a slight, but significant change
They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him (Jn. 20:13)
• she identified herself with Jesus, her Lord
he belonged to her in a relationship that defined her as belonging to him
• in the most romantic book of the Bible, the Song of Songs,
◦ a woman says of her lover,
My beloved is mine, and I am his (Song 2:16)
◦ yes, it is possible to have that depth of a relationship with God

It seems that the angels either did not answer Mary, or
– she turned before they could answer,
– or she did not listen to what they had to say,
– or she found no comfort in their message
• then suddenly Jesus was in front of her, asking same question
Woman, why are you weeping?
◦ she assumed he was the gardener!
• she thought, perhaps he had done something with Jesus’ body
It is typical of the post-resurrection stories that Jesus wasn’t recognized at first; for example:
– like with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24:16)
– the disciples in the upper room (Lk. 24:37-38)
– on the Sea of Galilee (Jn. 21:4)
• in each instance Jesus did something that triggered recognition
◦ in the way he broke bread before the meal (Lk. 24:30-31)
◦ when he showed them his hands and feet (Lk. 24:39; Jn. 20:20-21)
◦ when he told them throw their nets on the other side of the boat (Jn. 21:6-7)
• in this instance, it was the way Jesus said her name, Mary
◦ in the next moment Jesus was saying, Do not cling to me!
(I added the exclamation mark)
– I am thinking that when she realized it was Jesus, she lunged at him
• if her plan had been to touch his lifeless body,
◦ finding him alive, she was not about to let him get away again
◦ obviously Mary did not plan to clutch Jesus like that–it was a spontaneous act
Sue Johnson wrote, “Don’t we all want the one or two infallible rules for how to love and be loved? But love is improvisation.”
◦ Mary improvised
• Jesus went on to say,
for I have not yet ascended to the Father
◦ what did Jesus mean by this? Why would this prevent Mary from hugging him?
◦ I think he was saying, I haven’t completed my mission, there’s still work to be done
◦ and Mary had not completed her mission yet either
. . . go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”

John’s additional insight to this part of the resurrection story:
Mary would always know an undying love

John takes us from tomb that morning to the upper room that evening

The disciples were hunkered down in Jerusalem, still traumatized and terrified
– when Jesus appeared he greeted them with, Peace be with you
• he said this twice – and then again when Thomas was present
• this was his resurrection greeting and way he introduced his next announcement
◦ from now on, it would be peace for them – his peace (cf. Jn. 16:38)
◦ I would like for us to hear it every time Jim begins our service with
“The Lord be with you” or “The peace of the Lord be with you”

“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (v. 22)
• they felt the breath of Jesus on their faces
◦ and with his breath, they received his Spirit
John’s additional insight to this part of the resurrection story:
they would have continued presence of Jesus

Thomas missed this encounter (I know that now I’m rushing the story)

When the other disciples told him, We have seen the Lord,
– Thomas was adamant
Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe (v. 25)
• John has highlighted the connection of seeing and believing
4:48, Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe
6:30, What sign will you do that we may see and believe you?
• so now he convinces Thomas he is alive by letting him see
◦ to which Tomas responds with the strongest declaration of who Jesus is:
My Lord and my God!
– Jesus’ next statement is important, and vital for us today
Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (v. 29)
• the benediction is for you, who
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory (1 Pe. 1:8)
• that statement brings John to the purpose of his gospel
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (vv. 30-31)

John’s additional insight to this part of the resurrection story:
Go forward in faith without first needing to see

Conclusion: Where has this survey through John taken us?

I will suggest one possibility
– that we not only learn about the deeper meanings in Jesus’ teaching
• and allow the Spirit to reveal them to us,
◦ but that we learn from John to look for deeper meanings
◦ and we don’t rely on our rational, analytical minds to find them
• a deeper, hidden meaning can be found anywhere in our world
◦ sometimes in music, sometimes an insect, or the horizon
– an object, event, a person suddenly becomes a sign and symbol
• and becoming a symbol, it becomes a sacrament
◦ an object in our world that communicates another reality
◦ a reality different from the things, but present in them
• it can be fire, water, bread, wine – a ring, a scar, a drop of rain
◦ a slight breeze on our cheek can be the breath of Jesus,
◦ filling our lungs with his Spirit

More than twenty years ago, a friend asked me to perform a renewal of vows ceremony for his wife and himself–they had been married twenty-five years. My daughter, Jennifer, rode up to Newport Beach that Sunday afternoon, and on the way she asked, “Dad, what are you going to say?” I replied, “Oops! Jenn, dig around in my glove compartment. You’ll find a pen and see if you can find something to write on.”
She produced a pen and said, “There’s an old envelope in here.” I said, “Perfect! Pull it out and start writing.” I then dictated the vows that I would have Jack and Helen repeat to each other.
During the reception after the ceremony, Jack asked me, “Where did you get those vows? They were perfect.” When I told him that I had Jennifer write them on the way there, he said, “I want them.” I said, “Sure. When I get home I’ll type them out and mail them to you.” He replied, “No, I want them now.” “But they’re just scrawled on an old envelope.” Jack said, “That’s what I want.” So I handed him the envelope, and later he had it framed.
That envelope became a sacrament for him, a symbol of the life God had given him with Helen and a reminder of the grace that kept them in the love of God.

If we train ourselves to look for meaning
in ordinary and everyday things,
we will find many things that have
a sacramental potential for us.
Allowing those things to awaken us
to deeper, hidden meanings,
is one of the ways we continue clinging to Jesus

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ – 1 John 1:1-3

Leave a comment