18.01.06 Mk. 16:8; Jn. 20:2-10
WOMEN LEAVE IN FEAR WHILE PETER AND JOHN VISIT THE TOMB
Mk. 8 So they went out and started running from the tomb, because trembling and astonishment overwhelmed them. And they said nothing to anyone, since they were afraid.
Jn. 2 So she (Mary, of Magdala) ran to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!”
3 At that, Peter and the other disciple went out, heading for the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and got to the tomb first. 5 Stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying there, yet he did not go in. 6 Then, following him, Simon Peter came also. He entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. 7 The wrapping that had been on His head was not lying with the linen cloths but was folded up in a separate place by itself. 8 The other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, then entered the tomb, saw, and believed. 9 For they still did not understand the Scripture that He must rise from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went home again.
18.01.06.Q1 Why did John hesitate when he came to the tomb?
John, the disciple, was a kinsman of the high priest Caiaphas (Acts 4:6). Many scholars have said that to enter a tomb that contained a body would have defiled him because he was an orthodox Jew. Some have argued that the John of Acts 4:6 may not have been this disciple, but the fact that he did not enter the tomb until he realized it was empty, strongly suggests that he was a member of the priesthood family, which was required to observe the laws of defilement. But the question remains as to whether entering any tomb would have defiled him, even if did not have a body.
Amazingly, the burial cloth “was folded up in a separate place by itself.” Bodies were generally wrapped in two burial cloths. There was the shroud that was tightly wrapped around the body and a smaller cloth, known in Greek as a soudarion (4676), that covered the head (see Jn. 11:44). The cloth, meaning the large shroud, was neatly and miraculously folded. This statement was placed in the gospel record for a reason, as this action clearly states that the body was not stolen. No one would have stolen a naked body; no thief would have taken the time to fold a worthless grave cloth while trying to avoid detection by Roman soldiers. Jesus died, but His body did not decay.
Commentators throughout the history of the church reflect upon Psalm 16:10 as a Messianic prophecy that pointed to the resurrection. It reads:
For You will not abandon me to Sheol;
You will not allow Your Faithful One to see decay.
There can be no doubt that the understanding of this psalm was not clear until after Jesus arose. Jewish scholars of the first century naturally read this to mean the Messiah would never see physical death. Such an interpretation is easy to understand. Hence, it is evident again that the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as the Messiah was far different than anyone would have ever expected.
The resurrection appearances of Jesus were limited to those friends with whom He had established a rapport and fellowship. His critics did not have the privilege of seeing Him in His resurrected body. So it will be someday for all of humanity, only those who know Him will see Him. Hence, Jesus said, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (Jn. 20:17).
. The small cloth that covered the head is sometimes referred to as a “napkin” and was used to uphold the jaw so the mouth remained closed. See Farrar, The Life of Christ. 360; Vine, “Handkerchief.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:289 and “Napkin.” 2:426.
. One of the mythical legends concerning the resurrection of Jesus pertains to the folded burial cloth, which it incorrectly calls a “napkin.” The legends states that the fact that it was found folded, is symbolic of His return. There is nothing in Jewish literature that suggests this symbolism. The life of Jesus was so dynamic that any fabricated story merely detracts from the historical reality.