International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday April 8, 2012
Purpose: To examine our feelings about death and resurrection
Scripture Text: John 20:1-10, 19-20 (NRSV)
(1) 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. (2) 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." (3) Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. (4) The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. (5) He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. (6) Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. (8) Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; (9) for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. (10) Then the disciples returned to their homes.
John 20: 19-20
(19) When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." (20) After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
I think it is important that you read the entire chapter of John 20 to get a sense of today's lesson. It is Sunday morning the day after the Sabbath, and two days after the Friday of the Crucifixion, three days after Passover. The three days in the tomb is calculated by a portion of Friday, Saturday and Sunday by most bible scholars. However John's writing seems to indicate a different schedule with the “last supper” happening on the night prior to Passover as was mentioned in last week's lesson when the Sanhedrin did not want to defile themselves in preparation for the Passover. So Jesus is crucified on Passover, then the Sabbath and then comes our lesson beginning with the first day of the week. John has our Lord sacrificed as the Pascal Lamb in the tradition of Passover.
Mary Magdalene is often thought of as a prostitute, I suppose because of the seven demons that Jesus had cast out of her. However, there is nothing in scripture that indicates that she was a prostitute; her name comes from the town she was from, Magdalene. In our text Mary becomes the Apostle to the Apostles, it is Mary that first tells the Apostles about Jesus' resurrection. Mary becomes the very first to see Jesus in a new form and recognizes him when He calls her by name.
Brash and bold Peter is the first to run into the tomb, although John (the beloved) may have been a little faster afoot, but not quite so bold. When John sees only the grave clothes laying there he stops, but Peter goes further and sees also the turban that had been wrapped around the head. The meaning of all of this takes a while to comprehend. Unlike Lazarus who came out of his tomb still in the grave clothes, Jesus seems to have passed through his grave clothes and he neatly removed the wrappings from his head and rolled them up neatly and placed them separately. Jesus completely conquers death leaving it behind, unlike Lazarus that had to be freed from his burial shroud. Since the burial clothes were still in the tomb it probably eliminates any sincere thoughts about someone stealing the body. What John and Peter witnessed caused them to “believe.”
John writes this story so that we all might believe the same as he and Peter.
Although it is not part of our text, I think verse 12 should be noted, Mary who had been waiting outside goes into the tomb after Peter and John and sees two angels setting on the slab where Jesus had been laid, one at the head the other at the foot. Just as the “Mercy Seat” in the Holy of Hollies, the place where the lamb’s blood was place for the forgiveness of sins in the Temple or Tabernacle, on that “Mercy Seat” was two Cherubim. (Exodus 25:18-19 & 2nd Chronicles 3:10)
On that same evening when the disciples and others gathered together Jesus appears, without using the door, and announces “peace be with you” Certainly a lesson for us, when we are overcome with fear and distraught with grief Jesus is there with us and brings us peace. He also boosts our faith by revealing himself to us in those darkest hours. Before departing, Jesus also breaths on them and gives them the authority to forgive as well as to withhold forgiveness; they are empowered to go and tell and also to go and forgive, that is the mission of the church today. What are you doing to spread that message as we celebrate Easter this week?