19 April 2017

John 20:1-10

“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. 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.” (vv. 1-2)

Psalm: Psalm 8


John was the last of the Gospels to be written, around AD100. It is believed to have been written by John, the brother of James. They were the sons of Zebedee. John's Gospel is very different from the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. One of the Gospel's characteristics is that various themes recur, such as light and darkness. In John 1:5 we read "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it". Then Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night (John 3). And in the story of the healing of the man born blind (John 9), the themes of light and darkness feature prominently. In John 8:12 Jesus said that he is the light of the world. Then in John 13:30 we read that after Satan had entered Judas the traitor, "He immediately went out. And it was night".

At the end of previous chapter we read that Jesus had been wrapped in linen cloths and had been buried in a tomb in a garden (John 20:40-42).

John 20 opens with Mary Magdalene, a woman whose life had been transformed by Jesus, going to the tomb to anoint his body. This was common as a sign of homage. She wanted to get there early. The first day of the week would have been Sunday; the Jewish Sabbath was Saturday. The darkness just before dawn (verse 1) may symbolise the darkness of her mood; her beloved Lord had died. And to make matters worse, when she reached the tomb, the stone had been moved and the grave clothes were neatly folded; he was not there. Someone must have taken his body. She had better fetch Peter and John.

The disciples came. Peter was not sure; John believed (verse 8). And they went home. But Mary could not rest. In the verses that follow we read of how Jesus appeared to her, called her name and how she ran to tell the disciples that she had seen the Lord (John 20:11-18). The darkness had gone; there was new life.

To Ponder

  • When Mary saw the empty tomb, she assumed Jesus' body had been taken. To what extent do we easily jump to conclusions in difficult situations?
  • The two disciples went back home. Why might they have done that? How would you have responded in a similar situation?

Bible notes author

The Revd Lynita Conradie

Lynita Conradie is a Methodist presbyter in the Nottingham North Circuit. Originally from South Africa, she was a human rights' lawyer before entering the ministry and being ordained by the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.