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Day 38: Jesus Leaves An Empty Tomb

Reflect: Let’s look at the three responses of Peter, John and Mary at Jesus’ tomb. John, pauses at first, even though he was at the tomb ahead of Peter (which he makes a point to tell the reader). But, Peter runs headlong into the tomb to see if Jesus is in The Greek word for “saw” is “theaomai” which is where we get our word theater. It means to be a spectator that fully sees or fully observes, like a person who is carefully watching a live play. Peter noticed the cloth was lying separately from the linen. This is significant because the word cloth in Greek is “sŏudariŏn.” It is a napkin or handkerchief that could be used for wiping sweat off one’s face and was also used to cover someone’s face after death. The cloth was still lying (folded) in its place (which would be where Jesus’ head had been laid). The body of a corpse was wrapped in strips of linen. The strips of linen were lying in place where Jesus’ body would have been, separate from the cloth that had been on His face. Luke 24:12 tells us what Peter was thinking after his careful observations, “he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.” John indicates in verse 8, that he finally goes into the tomb (so it took some time for him to enter). But, when he saw, he believed. The Greek word “saw” here is “ĕidō” which means perceived, had knowledge, to understand. The Greek word for believe is, “pistĕuō” a verb, “to believe” which can be translated as: have faith; believe; to entrust one’s spiritual well-being. Elsewhere in the gospel any absolute use of the verb “to believe” indicates a robust, complete faith in Jesus. John took a look and immediately understood and believed that Jesus had risen from the dead. Verse 9 makes it clear that he didn’t understand from the Old Testament scriptures, on a theological basis, but He was convinced Jesus must have risen from the dead.

Mary Magdalene had been the first at the tomb and when she saw the stone rolled away, she ran back to tell others. Mary is stricken with sorrow because she thinks someone has stolen Jesus’ body so she returns to His tomb to mourn. Matthew 28 tells us that another Mary was with her. As they weep and cry out in front of the tomb, Jesus appears to them. Although, Mary Magdalene didn’t recognize Him (this could have been because it was still dark out in the early dawn or His body was transformed and unrecognizable), she knew His voice when He called her by name, “Mary.”

Jesus meets us where we are and understands us completely.

Respond: These are three very different responses by three of Jesus’ followers. God made us each unique. We will respond differently to a similar experience depending on our personalities and our spiritual growth stage. Which one can you identify with the most? Peter, who is brave, runs right in to the tomb, observes all the details and wants to go tell others Jesus isn’t in the tomb as he wondered what was going on. His spiritual growth stage would be: spiritually curious, but not completely sold out to believing in God for all things in life. John, who hesitates, but finally goes in and as soon as he sees, quickly believes and comes to the conclusion that Jesus has risen from the dead. His spiritual growth stage would be: sees and believes, but needs to study the scriptures more to fully understand. Or, Mary, who stays at the tomb to process her deep feelings and tries to decide what’s really going on. Her growth stage would be: emotionally driven and trusts God, but needs to hear His voice. Jesus meets us where we are and understands us completely. It isn’t that one is better than another, it’s embracing and knowing who God is and who we are in Christ so we can grow in our relationship with Him.

Which spiritual growth stage are you in and how can you grow more in Christ? Examples:

Spiritually curious: Your growth point could be to believe God by taking great er steps of faith and trusting Him. God made you brave, but you could be at this stage because you are a bit spiritually stuck – spiritually coasting through life. In what area of your life do you need to take a step of faith? Helpful growth points for you could be: joining a life group, having an accountability partner, going on a mission’s trip, sharing about your faith with a neighbor. In Luke 17:5, the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith. You could pray to Jesus, “I ask you in the same way the apostles did that you will please increase my faith in you so I can better live the purposes you have for my life.”

See and believe: Your growth point may be that you need to take additional time to study God’s Word and become more Biblically astute. In addition to being in the weekend worship experience and in a life group, it would be helpful for you to dig in to God’s word more deeply on your own. Maybe get an NIV Application Bible Commentary to study through along with your Bible.

Emotionally driven and trust God: Your growth point could be to take the time to sit quietly with God. Try reading a passage of scripture and meditating on it as you listen to God’s voice and what He is saying to you through His Word. Try journaling and memorizing God’s word. Memorizing a verse of scripture each week will help fill up your heart.

For additional reading on the sequence of Jesus’ resurrection and harmony of the accounts in the four gospels, you may want to review:

http://www.tektonics.org/harmonize/greenharmony.htm

http://www.jesuswalk.com/resurrection/resurrection-parallels.htm

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