Unbelieving Believers at the Empty Tomb

Peter Barnes: John 20:1-10

(13 October 2019)


(John 20:1-10)

Philip Schaff: ‘The resurrection of Christ is … either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records.’

1. The first witnesses were women.

– 20:1-2. Matthew mentions two women, Mark mentions three, while Luke says there were at least five. John only mentions Mary Magdalene, but she speaks in the plural in verse 2: ‘we do not know where they have put Him’.

2. Nobody expected Jesus to rise from the dead.

– 20:2, 9. Later we find Mary weeping – 20:11-13. The suffering servant of Isaiah 53 was dead and buried, but then alive again – Isa.53:11-12. What we see here is not the power of positive thinking but the slow and reluctant acceptance of hard fact.

– Luke 24:10-11, 17-21, 25-27, 36-43. The wishful thinkers seem to be the sceptical unbelievers who do not want this to be true.

3. The account reads like it comes from an eye-witness.

– 20:3-7. Josephus mentions that he once outswam some others when a ship was wrecked.

4. The tomb was empty.

– 20:6-8. What did John believe? Gordon Keddie, J. Ramsey Michaels and Don Carson say that John believed that Jesus was risen, but the context tells us that he only believed Mary that the body was gone. Verse 9 tells us that neither Peter nor John had too many clues.

Who Moved the Stone? wrote Frank Morison. The women? The disciples? The authorities? Hardly! And nobody stole the body. Christ rose in the body from the dead.