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Testimony that Jesus truly rose - B

Text: John 20: 11-18

Text verse: John 20:17

In verse 17, Jesus tells Mary not to cling to Him. It should not be understood that she was not to touch Him, for many other people touched Him after His resurrection (also see John 20:27; Matt. 28:9).

What we see here is that it is difficult for people to accept the gospel. Mary, like the disciples, spent much time with Jesus. We learn in Luke 8 that Jesus cast out seven evil spirits from her and she is mentioned under the women who cared for Him. Like John, she was present when Jesus was crucified (Mark 15:40). This while the other disciples hid in fear.

Despite her intimate relationship with Jesus, His resurrection and ascension were also beyond her comprehension, and thus difficult to believe.

We do not have to be ashamed to admit that it is sometimes difficult for us to believe. The important thing, however, is that we continue to study the Word. This is how we stay with Jesus and can see how all the witnesses give sufficient evidence that it really happened that way.

Here we also get the necessary encouragement and reinforcement.

Encouragement

It is striking that Jesus refers to the disciples as His brothers here for the first time. At the beginning, Jesus referred to them as subordinates and before His death, He referred to them as friends (John 15:15). In doing so, He shows that the relationship between Him and His followers deepened considerably through His mediation work.

He also describes this new relationship by saying, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17).

Sin made us God’s enemies, but through Jesus’ mediation we received the grace to be included in God’s family (Rom. 5:10, 8: 14-17). We are now children and heirs (Gal. 3:29).

Reinforcement

1. The grave

When Mary so diligently searches for Jesus’ body, it reminds you of losing a loved-one. Their smell remains with you for some time through his / her clothes. That’s why you cling to it.

Mary wanted to do the same with Jesus’ body. Through His body she could have one last thing of Him with her to finally say goodbye. Thus, the tomb also becomes proof that Jesus really rose. If the believers had made up a story, the empty tomb would have had great significance and therefore the exact location would have been known to this day.

However, Jesus’ resurrection and glorified body were far more important than the empty tomb and therefore, the exact location of the tomb was forgotten within a few generations.

As believers, we do not cling to a grave or body, but to a risen Lord. The Conqueror!

2. The woman

What this passage further emphasises is that the first witness of Jesus’ resurrection was a woman. Any historian will be able to tell you that the testimony of a woman was not considered in the time of Jesus.

The fact that the Gospels specifically mention that Jesus first appeared to Mary and commanded her to tell the other disciples the good news, is therefore remarkable.

If Jesus’ disciples wanted to fabricate the gospel for the purpose of convincing people of this doctrine they were preaching, they certainly would not have written that a woman was the first witness. This would detract from the credibility of their case.

The only logical reason why John tells us here about Mary as the first witness, is that it must have been true.

Therefore, if you are struggling to accept this gospel as truth, go and study it. Do not try to cling to earthly things. Go to the risen Jesus. Studying His Word and its glory will overwhelm you.

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