28.2 John – Race

In our verses today we see more running about than probably anywhere else in scripture short of Elijah racing the chariot or Jacob fleeing Esau.  Mary rushes to the grave site at or before the crack of dawn even without a plan for rolling back the stone.  Upon finding the tomb empty she runs to Peter and John, who, in turn, take off running to the grave.  Next thing we know, Mary is back at the grave as well.

Why all the running?  All of it starts with the assumptions in their minds.  Mary assumes “they” have taken Jesus’ body.  Peter and John assume they need to get to the scene ASAP to either confirm or repute what she has told them while the evidence is fresh.  And, yet, it is not until they stop running that any of them find what they are looking for.  John stands there and finds that he believes.  Mary stands crying and hears her name called by Jesus.

Isn’t this how our lives go, too?  We run from thing to thing, trying to do the “right thing.”  We are busy, busy, running and serving and working and leading.  We run our kids from event to event.  We run to appointments.  We run to prepare meals.  Jesus is present with us when we are running (just as he was present with the men on the road to Emmaus), but we are so busy running and hurting and running from the hurt, that we don’t see or recognize Him even when He is there.

We know we need to stop, and sit at Jesus’ feet.  We know we need to be fed to feed others, but, we fear that if we stop the guilt of stopping will catch up with us, because stopping would be for us, while running is for other people.  But, as we’ll see throughout our lessons this week, Jesus wants us to stop.  Over and over again he brings a gift and a command both in the same words:  “Peace be with you.”  The very thing that Jesus gives us, Satan works the hardest to deny us: Peace.  Satan lies to us that running and running gives us more, while we know that it does not.  Satan lies that we must constantly serve others and are not worthy of having peace ourselves, Jesus provides it as a gift.  Satan wants us rushing and unsettled and missing out, Jesus wants us to stand still, hear His voice, and have joy and belief.

Don’t “slow down” this week, but instead, take time to actually stop and be with the Lord.  He did not make Peter and John stand in the tomb for days.  He didn’t make Mary weep for hours.  You don’t have to lock yourself away for hours either.  But you do have to be willing to accept the gift and command – Have Peace!

My Answers:

Both immediately raced to the tomb.  Upon arrival, John hesitated to enter while Peter rushed right in.

I’m hesitant and retrospective.  I am more engaged when I’m doing it with a partner.

Unwrapped linens and the covering over His face.  We are not told why, but if his body had been taken, it would not have been unwrapped.

1 Cor 15:14 – And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
Without the resurrection, death is not defeated.  There is punishment without forgiveness.


27.5 John – Resurrection

There were many, many events in the old testament that foretold and foreshadowed the events that we have read about this week: the suffering, death and burial of our Lord and Savior.  But, as Jesus was with His disciples the day before, breaking bread and drinking wine, he gave the “go forward” reminders as well.  He told them, whenever you eat or drink, do it in remembrance of me.  Don’t just remember me, but do it in my honor, in my memory.

Our lesson today mentioned on ritual many families observe of burying the dead.  We place the bodies of departed family members into the grave, not for some mystic ritual, but because it reminds us that our savior also went into the grave, and, like Him, we fully expect all of His followers to rise again.

But this remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus is not and should not be limited to a time of death.  When a baptism occurs, the new believer goes into the water and comes out a new person, a person who has begun eternal life.

We can do this in some many other ways that does not have to be limited to activities in a church:  sleeping and waking, bathing, going in to and emerging from a house, going in to an emerging from a building, the darkness of night replaced by the brightness of day, the cold of winter replaced by the new birth of spring.

What if you looked at each new day with the attitude that when you wake from sleep, you are awakening in the honor of our Lord’s death and resurrection.  What if your first thoughts of the day were not on your to-do list or even on how creaky your bones felt, but on remembrance and thanks to Jesus for rising in a way that, without Him, we could not?

My Answers:

He was not left to decay, but partially prepared for burial and placed in a sealed tomb
He was given a grave of a rich man who belonged to the council that demanded his murder
It was a new grave, unused, with no other bodies in it

Because the body decays and is no longer of use to us after life.  In the same way, in baptism, our old selves are buried with Jesus but we are resurrected into a new life

27.4 John – In Secret

The serpent in the garden was described as being crafty.  When we sin, we often think we, too, are very crafty in our secrets and lies.  We think our sin is secret and doesn’t impact anyone else.  We think our sin is secret and not evident to others.  We think our sin is secret and doesn’t affect our relationships, especially our relationship with God.  But secrets are never truly secret – it is all just a crafty deception by the father of all lies that leads us to believe that we are crafty deceivers too.

I thought of this as I thought about Joseph of Arimathea working secretly.  Let’s see how that went.  Pilate knew, since he had to ask.  The soldiers knew, since they would have had to lower Jesus from the cross.  The servants of J of A knew, because they would have been tasked with helping move the body.  Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council knew, since he came to help.  His servants knew, since he probably didn’t lug 75 pounds of spices by himself.  The apostles knew because some of the women followed and observed where he was being buried.  The Jewish rulers of the law knew because they requested Pilate post Roman guards at the entrance to the tomb, obviously also knowing which tomb.  The Romans also knew which tomb to stand guard.  God knew.

At this point, I’m not quite sure who wasn’t in on this secret!

Just a point to keep in mind when you look at the “secret things” in your own life.

My Answers:

Joe, member of the council, good and upright (see description of Job: blameless and upright), from Arimathea, Judean town, waiting for the kingdom of God, had a grave.  Nick, Pharisee, member of Jewish ruling council, came to Jesus at night, asked q’s about being born again, J3:16 spoken to him.  Tried to get Jesus a more fair trial, but shouted down.  Neither man confessed following Jesus because of fear – “they loved human praise more than praise from God.”

They lost the ability to interact with Jesus.  They could not sit at his feet and learn, instead they had to hide in the shadows.  They were not a witness to others but sided with those who murdered Jesus.  They gained guilt by association.  They gained membership into the leadership council, but without any true voice in the council.  They gained status and praise of men.

They risked being chastised and shunned by the religious leaders.  They risked being outed to them by others.  They risked being identified with Jesus followers.  They gained a place in history for their kindness (after the fact).  They gained the ability to repent of their part in Jesus’ murder and make minor restitution.  We don’t know their future

fear of censure or ridicule by others.  Fear of being labeled with a lie.  Fear of mis-acting or mis-speaking. Prayerfully and boldly.

27.3 John – Dead or Alive

It makes sense to us, but it is a fact worth stating: to raise from the dead you must first truly be dead.  Our lesson this week does a nice job of looking at the evidence of this fact.

First is the fact that someone died on the cross.  For the Roman soldiers, this execution was not their first rodeo.  They knew a lot about crucifixion, execution and death.  The new the signs of life and of death having experienced it over and over again.  They not only pronounced him dead by observation, but initiated a more thorough bodily exam by piercing his side with a spear while he still hung on the cross.  The direction of the spear into someone suspended above the soldier would have pierced into his diaphragm, lungs and possibly even to his heart.  If he was still alive, air would have gasped through the wound from the lungs, blood would have pulsed out through the cut arteries, the man would have cried out, moaned, or at least reflexed from the incision.

Second, the body was taken down from the cross and buried.  But, before he was placed in a tomb alone for three days he was wrapped and packed in spices by two individuals who had permission from Pilate and who cared about the murdered man.  If he was still alive, they would have seen evidence and would not have placed him enshrouded in a sealed tomb by himself.  They would have whisked the body away to provide medical treatment, not left it in a tomb.

Third, now that it is established that someone died and was buried, could it have been someone other than Jesus.  Now this gets into a great conspiracy theory.  But when and how could the switch have been made.  When he was arrested Judas clearly knew who Jesus was and gave no indication by his subsequent suicide that he pointed to a counterfeit.  Peter’s response to the arrest is not in keeping with them masquerading someone else as Jesus, nor do the actions of the Apostles following the arrest.  Jesus, once in custody, does not leave the hands of the soldiers, so there is a consistent chain of custody.  Even in Pilate’s quarters, he is still surrounded by the guards who torture and mock him.  When he is on the cross he speaks to His mother and John who recognize Him and His voice.  Other women are present.  The Jewish Leaders, who have observed Jesus repeatedly and who watched Him ride in triumphantly less than a week before, recognize Him and believe He is Jesus of Nazareth.  Furthermore, even after He has died, all believe He is the one in the tomb, the Romans who post guards, the Jews who request the guards, the women who go the day after Passover to finalize preparations of His body, the Apostles who run to the empty tomb.

The fact that Jesus lived is cross referenced in many different writings, biblical and other historic documents and all attest to His life and death without dispute.

I think the evidence would support the fact that Jesus died on the cross.  We’ll discuss the evidence of what happens next another day.

My Answers:

1. Roman soldiers knew about death on a cross.  2. His side was pierced and blood and water flowed out.  Depending on how deeply they pierced it may have pierced his lungs or heart as well.

To rise from the dead he had to be dead

No broken bones, not left until morning, pierced for our transgressions

Pierced for our transgressions, crushed for iniquities, our punishment was on him.  The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (scapegoat but He is the High Priest) – They will look on the one they have pierced and mourn, a fountain will be opened to the house of David to cleanse them from sin and impurity


27.2 John – Perfect Planning

In today’s lesson we see the stark contrast between man’s planning and God’s planning.  First, let’s look at the day from God’s planning, and then compare it to man’s.

At the moment of creation (and before if time existed), God knew that His creation would fall to sin and that a savior would be required, a savior who would need to be both fully God and fully part of the creation, man.  When He placed Adam and Eve in the garden He allowed free will, meaning they had to choose to obey or not, meaning there had to be a path available to disobedience.  He knew the serpent would tempt them.  When it happened He told them of His plan to send a son of Eve to crush the serpent’s head.  The books of the bible that we call the Old Testament, from this point forward, all point to that savior, the Messiah, the promised one, the King from the house of David, the scape goat, the pascal lamb, the sacrifice of blood in the garden to provide a covering of sin and as prescribed in the law through Moses.  Foretold over and over again through the prophets.  He knew Rome would overtake the Jews, introducing the torture and death of the cross.  He planned for His son to be born 33 years before.  He planned His ministry to begin three years prior.  He said over and again through Jesus the hour had not yet come, until, He announced in John 12 that the hour had now come.  He died on the cross at the exact moment on the exact day at the exact place that had been foretold and reminded year after year, the moment the Passover Lamb was killed outside of the gates of the city of Jerusalem.

On the other hand, after rushing out to capture Jesus the night before the Jews who captured Jesus and demanded His execution realized the process of crucifixion normally took 3 days and it was getting into the afternoon of the preparation day of the Passover and they needed to “speed things up”.

The next time we grow impatient with “God’s timing”, I think we need to keep in mind the depth of His plans versus the shallowness and naiveté of our own.

My Answers:

To speed up their death (couldn’t prop themselves up to breath so they would die quicker).  The Sabbath was near (started at sundown) and they did not want to be in defiance of the law about leaving a body hanging on a pole overnight nor did they want to come into contact with a dead man.  Either would make them unclean.

It was all for show.  Outward appearances, not inward transformation.  They were receiving all of their rewards and bringing others to harm through false teaching.

His willingness to die.  If Christ did not die he could not have risen again.  If Christ had not died, the price for my sins would be left unpaid.  If Christ had not died He would not have been obedient to His Father


26.5 John – Scapegoat

In Leviticus 16, the Day of Atonement is outlined.  As you might recall, this is the one day of the year, Yom Kippur, that the high priest alone goes behind the curtain in the temple and enters the holy of holies.  This is the day when an atonement is made for the entire nation, all of God’s children.

In past lessons we have discussed how Jesus is the Lamb of God, the sacrificial lamb as foreshadowed in the Passover, magnified by the fact that he dies at Passover, at the hour the lamb would be killed.

But what about the goats in Lev 16.  Two goats are selected.  One is sacrificed as an offering to the Lord.  The other is the scapegoat.  The scapegoat is taken out of the city.  The high priest lays his hands on the scapegoat, transferring all the sins of the people onto the goat.  It is then released, alive, into the wilderness.

Not only do all past events point to Christ, but this one, in particular, is relevant because of what we read about happening at Jesus’ death in Mark 15:38, where the curtain of the temple is torn in two from top to bottom.  This is the curtain that separated the holy of holies, the place that could only be approached on the Day of Atonement, the day of the scapegoat.

But there are 2 goats and only one Jesus, right?  Yes, but, and here is where it gets kind of deep, Jesus is both.  Jesus is fully man and fully God.  Jesus, the man, is sacrificed and killed, as an offering to the Lord.  Now, keep in mind, an offering is like a gift.  The slain animal now belongs to God, like any gift given to someone else.  It no longer belongs to itself or to any man (more on this in a moment).  Jesus, spirit of God, is also the second goat, the scapegoat.  The one taken outside the city.  The one whom all sin is transferred to, ALL SIN!  The one that cannot be killed but instead is released into the wilderness.  How did John word it?  “With that, he (Jesus) bowed his head and gave up his spirit”.  His spirit went, alive, because the spirit of God cannot die, into the grave, for 3 days.

Now, we haven’t gotten there yet in our reading, but after 3 days the really amazing thing happens.  After 3 days the spirit of Jesus returns and claims the body of Jesus.  Now, keep in mind, that body no longer belongs to any man, it was a gift to God.  For Jesus to claim that body once again is a testament that He is God.  He took our sins, carried them into the wilderness, left them in the grave, returned and accepted the sacrifice of his own body delivering it, ultimately, into heaven.

My Answers:

He bowed his head and gave up his spirit – it was finished and/when He died.
by bowing his head and giving up his spirit

curtain torn in two from top to bottom

The payment for sin has been paid in full

26.4 John – Into Home

I absolutely see and get that Jesus honored both his Father and his mother from the cross.  The fact that He was on the cross was to honor His Father in Heaven, that is why He drank this cup.  And, by speaking from that cross to charge John becoming a son to Mary, His mother, He cared for and honored his mother.

But, I think there is also a gift in this for John and for us.

John 19:26-27 record this brief exchange and the result of it.  It says, “He (Jesus) said to her (Mary), “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple (John), “Here is your mother.”  From that time on, the disciple (John) took her into his home.”

Let’s think about that.  John had a mother.  Tradition holds that her name was Salome.  She was married to Zebedee and had, at least, 2 sons, James and John, both apostles of Jesus (the sons of thunder).  We know she too was a follower of Jesus and a bold woman who loved her sons (she asked Jesus to grant them a special place in his kingdom sitting at his right and left).  Tradition also holds that was Mary’s relative (sister/cousin) and the one referred to as being at the cross (John 19:25) along with his mother, his mother’s sister (Salome), Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene.

But when Jesus gives John a calling, a mission, an instruction, he goes all in.  Notice that it does not say he checking in on Mary periodically, or that he sent her a check every month, or that he helped organize her affairs with her.  Instead, it says, “from that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

What a blessing that must have been to John.  To live with the mother of our Lord.  To daily share a house with this woman who had been blessed above all women to be touched by the Holy Spirit and give birth to (and raise) our savior.  What a blessing to have such a clear calling and pronouncement from the Lord, a mission, a direction.

But what about us?  How do we approach the work that God gives us to do?  Do we phone it in?  Do we keep it at a distance, separating church from work or church from home?  Do we go serve in a food kitchen and call it good?  Or, do we bring it home?  Do we embrace it and the people God gives us to shepherd and make them part of our family?  We do find joy in being with them, sharing life and love of our Lord together?

My Answers:

John focused exclusively on what Jesus said and the instruction he provided to Mary and John.  The others painted the bigger picture.  John was the zoom lens of Jesus’ heart

Cared for his mother (and John), took on suffering even though He was King and Holy

Altruism is one of the greatest witnesses because it is contrrary to the “survival of the fittest” mindset