Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for April 9

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for April 9

I Have Seen

John 20:1–18

The crucifixion and resurrection of the incarnate Jesus is the heart of the Christian faith. The apostle John described encounters that doubters had with the risen Jesus that changed their opinions, and the individuals testified, “I have seen!”

The testimony of the followers of Christ cannot be impeached. Some of the witnesses who saw the risen Jesus were willing to die for their proclamation that Jesus was alive.

Examine (1–10)

On the Sunday after the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb of Jesus before the early light. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke mention that other women also came to the tomb. The fourth Gospel supports the visit of multiple women by Mary’s statement, “We don’t know where they’ve put Him!”

John does not indicate who Mary thought had taken the body of Jesus. Did she think the tomb had been robbed (common during the day), or did she think the rulers had taken the body of Jesus after the honorable burial Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus provided for Him (John 19:38–42)?

Mary’s words to Peter and “the one Jesus loved” (the Apostle John) resulted in the apostles running to the tomb. In Jewish culture, grown men did not run because it was considered undignified. Love for Jesus may result in a believer acting in a manner different from societal expectations of what is proper and dignified.

John and Peter entered the tomb and observed that Jesus’ burial garments were no longer wrapped around His body. Jesus was no longer in the tomb. The cloth around Jesus’ head was separated and folded neatly. While Lazarus exited his tomb still wearing his grave clothes (John 11:44), Jesus’ resurrected body may have passed through His grave clothes.

The emphasis on the neatness of the grave clothes negates the claim that the disciples or the robbers stole the body of Jesus. The positioning of the grave clothes led Peter and John to believe. Peter and John should have understood the truth of the Resurrection based on the teachings of the Old Testament as well as Jesus’ predictions of His resurrection.

John 20:10 seems anticlimactic to the discovery of the empty tomb: “Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.” How could they merely return to the normal pattern of life?

Questions (11–13)

The New Testament does not describe the grief of the male disciples. The emphasis on Mary’s grief then appears to be important. In the Bible, angels often brought good news to people. Rather than comforting Mary in her grief, the angels and Jesus gently said to her, “Woman, why are you crying?” (vv. 13, 15). Perhaps Mary cried because she thought she would never see Jesus, the One she loved, again.

Witness (14–18)

John saw and believed (v. 8). Mary believed, and the risen Lord commissioned her to “Go and tell.” In fact, nearly all the resurrection scenes of Jesus convey the same message. Our celebration of the Resurrection is an opportune time to “Go and tell!”

Jesus asked Mary the question, “Who is it that you’re seeking?” Perhaps we may have the opportunity to witness by asking people, “Who or what are you seeking?” in order to open the door for gospel conversations.

By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida

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