Lesson 112

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

20:1 Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came early, while it was yet dark, to the tomb, and saw the stone taken away from the tomb. 20:2 She ran therefore, and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have laid him!"

20:3 Peter therefore went forth, and the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. 20:4 They both ran together. The other disciple outran Peter, and came to the tomb first. 20:5 Stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths lying, yet he didn't enter in. 20:6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying, 20:7 and the cloth that was on his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself. 20:8 Then the other disciple also entered in therefore, who came first to the tomb, and he saw, and believed. 20:9 For as yet they didn't know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 20:10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

 Today's Lesson 

Today's Scripture is the first discovery of the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene goes out to the site of the tomb early in the morning. The text tells us that it was, "while it was yet dark." When she arrived, she saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she returned to where the disciples had been staying and told Simon Peter and the unnamed disciple that. "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have laid him!"


Peter and the unnamed disciple race to the tomb to see for themselves what Mary had told them. What happens next is told from the perspective of a first-hand observer.


The unnamed disciple arrives first and looks into the tomb. He sees the linen cloths that the body of Jesus had been wrapped in but he does not enter the tomb immediately. Peter arrives and he enters the tomb first. What they find is the linen cloth in one place and the head cloth in another, rolled up and apart.


Verse 29 tells us, "For as yet they didn't know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead." Every indication is that Peter and the unnamed disciple (probably John) did not yet understand what the empty tomb meant. They seemed to still be under the impression that the body of Jesus had been taken away for some reason. But whether they understood or not, their role in this morning's events had been fulfilled.


Peter and the other disciple had been witnesses to the most important fact in Christian history. On that morning, the tomb was empty. Later, they would know the full details and they would understand and believe why it was empty. But, even before they understood, they witnessed the fact that the tomb was empty and the body of Jesus was nowhere to be found.


As the disciples departed they returned to their own homes. These two men return, but thankfully there is another disciple that is not mentioned in verses 3-10 but who has an important role in this morning's events. For Mary Magdalene has returned to the tomb, not running quite so fast as the men do. And Mary does not return to her home, but stays on at the tomb.


It is interesting that the revelation of the resurrection does not come first to Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved. They had raced to the tomb and they were witnesses that the tomb was empty but they return to their homes to ponder its meaning. Mary Magdalene not only found the tomb empty, but also stays and receives a greater revelation.


Sometimes God works through unlikely people. Usually God works through unlikely people! The disciples as a whole were an unlikely bunch. They were mostly Galilean fishermen with an occasional tax collector and zealot thrown in for leavening. None of them were scholars or authorities on religious matters. None of them had been known for their piety. Yet the Lord had chosen them. And on this morning, Mary Magdalene will be chosen to receive the greatest revelation.


Are you an "unlikely person"? Are you ready to receive the revelation that Mary Magdalene encounters?


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