Read verses 3-10
Q: What does John appear to do which Mary Magdalene did not?
A: Mary seems to have only noticed that the body was missing; John observes that something even stranger has happened in that he saw “the linen wrappings lying there”. It is the earliest indication that the body was “taken away” as Mary first reported, but probably not by the most obvious suspects or in the way first assumed.
Q: What happens with John which as yet does not appear to happen to Mary and Peter?
A: “…he saw and believed”. (v.8) John was not merely puzzled or concerned as to the whereabouts of the body, but began to see that something greater spiritually had occurred.
Q: What might be significant about the word translated “saw” in v.5, 6 & 8?
- In v.5 the Greek word for “saw” is “blepo”, which is used in to convey the sense of “becoming aware of” or “to glance at”. Upon first arriving, he was looking around casually.
- In v.6 the Greek word for “saw” is “theoreo”, which means “to observe something with continuity and attention”, often with the implication that what is being observed is something unusual. When they enter the tomb they now “saw” the linen wrappings inexplicably left and the body missing.
- In v.8 the Greek word for “saw” is “eido”, which means “to perceive with intelligent comprehension”, as in finally “seeing” the reality and truth about something. Finally John began to understand what he was really looking at “and believed”.
Q: What kind of faith would you characterize them as having at this point?
A: It was faith based on evidence.
Q: How do we know that this faith may have changed their mind, but not their heart?
A: Their response was that “they went away again to their own homes”. (v.10) They were beginning to think differently about Jesus’ death but they were as yet not acting differently.
Q: Why should the disciples, of all people, have realized before anyone else what happened?
A: Jesus had told them many times He would be raised from the dead, even from the earliest days of His ministry. (Jn. 2:19) Jesus compared Himself to Jonah (Mt. 12:40), on two occasions plainly announced His resurrection after three days (Mt. 16:21; 20:19), and during the last week prior to the crucifixion promised to be raised up and meet them afterward in Galilee. (Mt. 26:32; Lk. 24:6-7) Even Jesus’ enemies understood this plainly and literally. (Mt. 27:40, 63-64)
Q: Is the basic problem that they don’t believe what they see?
A: No, the greater problem is that they have not believed what they heard. The issue of faith always comes down to what we do with God’s Word. Every sign performed by God requires faith in the greater message behind it more than in the sign itself.
Q: How is this made plainly clear in v.9?
A: “…they did not understand the Scripture”. This is particularly interesting since the only Scripture available to them at this time was the Old Testament, the clear meaning being that the Old Testament taught this about the Messiah and should have been comprehended by those possessing true faith in God’s Word. It was not just Jesus’ Word during His earthly ministry which they were not fully believing, but the whole of God’s Word already given in the Old Testament.
Q: Is biblical faith therefore defined as belonging to someone who is able to examine the evidence firsthand for themselves?
A: At His appearance to Thomas at the end of this chapter Jesus will declare, “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed”. (v.29) Peter will later write in detail that the Word of God, not personal experiences, is the basis of biblical faith. (1 Pe. 1:12-21)
Q: How do we know that the Apostles would come to see these things as fulfilled according to the Old Testament?
A: In the Epistles they will refer to specific Old Testament references when discussing Christ’s death and resurrection.
- Paul saw the Resurrection in Ps. 16:8-11. (Acts 13:33)
- Peter saw it in Ps. 110:1. (Acts 2:34-35)
- Isaiah 53:10 is often interpreted as a prediction of the Resurrection.
- Jesus used the illustration of Jonah to illustrate His own death, burial, and resurrection (Mt. 12:38-40) which included the “three days” part of the message.
- Paul saw in the Feast of Firstfruits a picture of the Resurrection. (Lev. 23:9-14; 1 Co. 15:20-23) which also included “the third day”.
- Many see the Resurrection and “third day” in Hosea 6:2.
Application: Their faith, which had been eclipsed by the earthly circumstances of Christ’s death, was now beginning to dawn a little brighter in view of the evidence, but was still not fully embracing the Word of God.