John Chapters 18 to 20, Part 5
by Karl Kemp
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This verse-by-verse study of John chapters 18-20 starts with John 19:36 here in Part 5.
(36) For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture [cf. John 19:24, 28], 'NOT A BONE OF HIM SHALL BE BROKEN. [[See Ex. 12:46; 9:12; cf. Psalm 34:20. The first two references (from the book of Exodus) deal with God's instructions to Israel regarding the Passover lambs. They were instructed that not a bone of the Passover lambs was to be broken. What do the Passover lambs have to do with Jesus? For one very important thing, He was crucified/sacrificed (in the plan of God) on the very day the Passover lambs were being slain in the temple. The Passover lambs (and all the sacrifices prescribed under the old covenant, very much including the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement) prefigured (they were types of) the one all-important sacrifice of the Lamb of God. We can also undoubtedly say that those old-covenant sacrifices were effective (to the extent they were effective) through the coming sacrifice of Christ Jesus, which was predestined by God the Father before the world was created.
The old-covenant sacrifices were effective to do what they were designed to do, but they could not dethrone sin, spiritual death, or Satan. Before the world was created (cf. 1 Pet. 1:20) God had already planned to sacrifice His beloved Son to dethrone sin, spiritual death, and Satan and to save us (all believers) with a very full salvation, a salvation that includes eventually being glorified and reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ forever. During this present age we have the victory over spiritual death in that we have been born again by the Spirit of life and walk in/by/after the Spirit, and we have the victory over sin in that we have been forgiven and are enabled to receive and walk in the very righteousness and holiness of God by the grace of God through faith. We also have the victory over Satan - we have the authority (for one thing) to keep him from having any place in us (cf., e.g., Eph. 4:27).]] (37) And again another Scripture says, 'THEY SHALL LOOK ON HIM WHOM THEY PIERCED [see Zech. 12:10; cf. Psalm 22:16].' (38) [See Matt. 27:57-61; Mark 15:43-47; and Luke 23:50-56.] After these things Joseph of Arimathea ["Arimathea was about 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem" (Edwin A. Blum, "Bible Knowledge Commentary," New Testament (SP Publications, Inc., 1983), page 341).], being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews [cf. John 12:42], asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. [[Joseph of Arimathea is not mentioned by name in the New Testament except in connection with the burial of Jesus (where he is mentioned by all four Gospel writers), but (apparently) he is included among those mentioned in John 12:42, 43 ("Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God").
He was a ruler of the Jews, a prominent member of the Council/Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50) and a rich man (Matt. 27:57). Clearly he was a disciple of Jesus to some extent. Luke 23:50 mentions that he was "a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their plan and action [cf. John 7:50, 51])...who was waiting for the kingdom of God" (cf. Luke 23:43). And taking this controversial step of acquiring the body of Jesus and burying it, which could have cost him everything the world has to offer, probably demonstrates that he was solidly on the way to becoming a fully committed Christian.]] So he came and took away His body. (39) Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night [see John 3:1-12], also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. [["about seventy-five pounds" NIV. "The mixture of spices brought by Nicodemus, one hundred "litrai"...was a little less than the seventy-five pounds specified by the NIV - 65.45 pounds, to be more precise.... Mention of so large an amount is neither an error nor an exaggeration.... The Jews turned [myrrh] into a powdered form, and mixed it with aloes, a powder of aromatic sandalwood. The mixture provided a pleasant fragrance in a variety of circumstances (e.g. Psalm 45:8; Prov. 7:17; Song of Solomon 4:14). Used in connection with burial, its purpose was...to stifle the smell of putrefaction" (D. A. Carson, "Gospel According to John," pages 629, 630).
"... Spices were generally imported and were very expensive. Myrrh is a gum exuded by a tree that grows in Arabia and is prized for its perfume. It was one of the gifts of the wise men to Jesus (Matt. 2:11). Aloes are derived from the pulp in the leaves of a plant that belongs to the lily family. The spice is fragrant and bitter to the taste. Used with myrrh, it acts as a drying agent; and the fragrance would counteract the odor of decaying flesh. The quantity...revealed both Nicodemus's wealth and his appreciation of Jesus" (Merrill C. Tenney, "Expositor's Bible Commentary," Vol. 9, page 186).
John was the only Gospel writer to mention Nicodemus at the burial of Jesus, or at all (also see John 3;1-12; 7:50-52). Apparently Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (both rulers of the Jews) had talked with each other about trying to bury Jesus' body before Joseph approached Pilate to request permission to take His body away.]] (40) So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings [cf. Matt. 27:59; Mark 15:46; Luke 24:12; and John 20:5, 7] with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. (41) Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden [cf. John 20:15] a new tomb [Matt. 27:60 shows that this was Joseph's "own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock." Compare Isa. 53:9.] in which no one had yet been laid [cf. Luke 23:53]. [[On the location of Calvary and the garden tomb, see the footnote under John 19:17. I'll quote a paragraph from D. A. Carson regarding the location of this garden tomb ("Gospel According to John," page 631). "The site is almost certainly not the 'garden tomb' to which tourists are directed (though that is the sort of appearance the genuine tomb doubtless had in the first century), but the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In the fourth century, the Emperor Constantine tore down the temple of Venus erected there by Hadrian after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 135, and built in its stead the Church of the Resurrection, now replaced by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (which goes back to Crusading times)." And I'll quote a sentence from what F. F. Bruce says here ("Gospel of John," page 380). "The site now called the Garden Tomb probably presents the visitor with a general picture of what the original site looked like in AD 30 even if the tomb seen there is of a style two or three centuries later than that date." Raymond E. Brown points out that "In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre...the site of the tomb is only about 125 feet from Calvary" ("Gospel According to John XIII-XXI," page 905).]] (42) Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation [cf. John 19:14, 31], since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there." [They had to finish burying Jesus' body before sunset or they would have violated the Mosaic Law by working on the Sabbath (cf. Luke 23:54). That is at least one reason they decided to use Joseph's tomb, because it was close at hand.]
JOHN CHAPTER 20.
[See Matt. 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-8; and Luke 24:1-12.] "Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene [On Mary Magdalene, see under John 19:25 and see John 20:11-18. Matthew, Mark, and Luke show that other women came to the tomb early that Sunday morning besides Mary Magdalene (also note "we" in John 20:2).] came early to the tomb, while it was still dark [Jesus died Friday afternoon, about 3 p.m. He was raised from the dead (on the third day) very early Sunday morning, while it was still dark. As these verses show, Jesus had been resurrected before Mary Magdalene came to the tomb.], and saw the stone [cf. Matt. 27:60, 66; 28:2; Mark 15:46; 16:3, 4; and Luke 24:2] already taken away from the tomb. [[Mary Magdalene was thinking in terms of Jesus' body having been taken away (see verses 2, 13, 15); she was not thinking that maybe He had been resurrected. She was not thinking of His resurrection even after she looked into the tomb (at some time after the apostles Peter and John had entered the tomb and left) and "saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying" (verse 12), who went on to ask her (in verse 13), "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" John makes it clear that the disciples, including him, were not expecting Christ's resurrection (at least not before the resurrection at the end of this age).]] (2) So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved [the apostle John (cf. John 13:23; 19:26; 21:7, 20)], and said to them, 'They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him [cf. John 20:13, 15].' (3) So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb [cf. Luke 24:12]. (4) The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first [The apostle John outran the apostle Peter, and he got to the tomb first, and as verse 5 shows, he stooped and looked into the tomb and saw the linen wrappings (with which Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had wrapped Jesus' body [John 19:40]), but he did not go into the tomb.]; (5) and stooping ["He bent over" NIV] and looking in [Verse 11 says Mary Magdalene "stooped and looked into the tomb." Apparently the doorway into the tomb wasn't very high. The top of the doorway must have been substantially lower than the eye level of both John and Mary Magdalene, so they had to bend over to see inside the tomb. I'll quote a sentence from what Andreas J. Kostenberger says regarding the probable height of the entrance to the tomb ("John," page 562). "This opening was usually no higher than a yard, so that people had to bend down to crawl in (20:5)."], he saw the linen wrappings [The Greek behind the "linen wrappings" is a plural form of the noun "othonion," as in John 19:40; 20:7; and Luke 24:12.] lying there; but he did not go in. [[Apparently John didn't go into the tomb at first because he was caught up in the awe of the moment. He saw enough by stooping and looking into the tomb to know that the body of Jesus wasn't there; he saw the linen wrappings.]] (6) And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, (7) and the face-cloth [cf. John 11:44] which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. (8) So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. [[See under verse 5. Somewhat surprisingly, because Jesus had told the apostles more than once that He would be killed and would rise from the dead on the third day, which turned out to be very early Sunday morning; the message that Jesus would be raised from the dead on the third day had not registered with the apostles. ((I had a footnote: See Matt. 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; Matt. 17:9, 23; 20:19; and 26:32. I'll quote Mark 9:31, 32, "For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, 'The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.' (32) BUT THEY DID NOT UNDERSTAND THIS STATEMENT [my emphasis], and they were afraid to ask Him." And I'll quote Luke 18:31-34, "Then He took the twelve aside and said to them 'Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. (32) For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, (33) and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him, and the third day He will rise again.' BUT THE DISCIPLES UNDERSTOOD NONE OF THESE THINGS, AND THE MEANING OF THIS STATEMENT WAS HIDDEN FROM THEM, AND THEY DID NOT COMPREHEND THE THINGS THAT WERE SAID [my emphasis].")) See verse 9. This verse (verse 8) shows that when John entered the tomb, after Peter had entered, he saw and believed." John was at
least on the verge of believing in the resurrection of Jesus on the third day before he entered the tomb. (On believing in the resurrection, see verses 25, 27, and 29.) Verses 6, 7 show what he saw: he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings. It was obvious, for one thing, that Jesus' enemies had not stolen His body. His enemies would not have removed His grave clothes, and they certainly would not have taken the time to roll up (or, fold up cf. NIV) the face cloth. Apparently Jesus' resurrected, glorified body passed through the linen cloths with which He was wrapped.]] (9) For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. [[See under verse 8, including the footnote. I'll quote John 2:19-22, "Jesus answered them [the Jews], 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' ... (21) But He was speaking of the temple of His body. (22) So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken to them." Also see Luke 24:25-27, 36-49. I'll quote Luke 24:44-46, "Now He [the resurrected Christ] said to them [His disciples], 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you [before His crucifixion], that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer [including suffer death] and rise again from the dead the third day...."
See Acts 2:22-36 [The apostle Peter's words (spoken on the day of Pentecost) showed that Psalm 16:8-11 (which Peter quoted in Acts 2:25-28) prophesied of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and the fact that He would not undergo decay.]; Acts 13:26-37. I'll quote what the apostle Paul said in Acts 13:30-37, "But God [God the Father] raised Him from the dead; (31) and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him out of Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people. [See 1 Cor. 15:3-9.] (32) And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, (33) that God has fulfilled this promise to our children [I prefer a translation like "that God has fulfilled this promise to us their children." The NIV has, "he has fulfilled for us, their children" (I had a footnote: The United Bible Societies' "Greek New Testament" (Fourth Revised Edition) includes the word translated "their" with the word translated "children," but they include the Greek word in a bracket, which means that "the enclosed word...may be regarded as part of the text, but that in the present state of New Testament textual scholarship this cannot be taken as completely certain."] in that He raised up Jesus [Paul meant that God had raised up Jesus from the dead. The Greek verb ("anistemi") used here (actually Paul used an aorist participle of this Greek verb here) is used of being raised from the dead in Acts 2:24, 32; 13:34 and quite a few other verses in the New Testament. A different verb was used for Jesus' being raised from the dead in Acts 13:30, but with the same meaning.], as it is also written in the second Psalm [Psalm 2:7], 'YOU ARE MY SON; TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU.' [Paul interpreted these words "TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU" of Christ's being resurrected and born into the fullness of eternal life with a glorified body. He was "the firstborn from the dead" (see Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5; cf. Rom. 8:29). Having been glorified and taken up to the right hand of God the Father, He was able to usher believers into new-covenant salvation, very much including His pouring forth the promised life-giving, sanctifying, gift-dispensing Spirit, starting on the day of Pentecost (cf., e.g., Acts 2:33).] (34) As for the fact that He was raised from the dead, no longer to return to decay [The Bible mentions several people who were raised from the dead, including Lazarus, but they were not raised with glorified bodies, and they eventually died again to undergo physical decay.], He has spoken in this way: 'I WILL GIVE YOU THE HOLY and SURE blessings OF DAVID [cf. Isa. 55:3].' (35) Therefore He also says in another Psalm, 'YOU [God the Father] WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY [Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27].' (36) For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay: (37) but He whom God raised from the dead did not undergo decay."
One reason it was totally necessary for Jesus to be raised from the dead was that He had conquered death in His atoning death (cf. Rom. 4:25 [On Rom. 4:25 see pages 87-89 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin."]).]] (10) So the disciples [Peter and John] went away again to their own homes [cf. Luke 24:12]. (11) But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping [Apparently Mary Magdalene followed Peter and John back to the tomb. Verses 11-15 show that Mary was still not thinking in terms of Jesus' resurrection; she was still thinking that someone had taken His body from the tomb (cf. verse 2).]; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb [cf. verse 5]; (12) and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. [Compare Matt. 28:2-7; Mark 16:5; and Luke 24:3-7.] (13) And they said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.' [[Compare verses 2, 15. I'll quote part of what R. C. H. Lenski says here ("St. John's Gospel [Augsburg Publishing House, 1943], pages 1351, 1352). "The question as to why she is sobbing intends to call her to herself, to give her pause. It breathes friendly sympathy, and it intimates that no cause for her sobbing really exists. Indeed, why does she weep? - when we should all have had cause to weep to all eternity if what she wept for had been given her, the dead body of her Lord! Why does she weep? - when the empty tomb, the shining angels, the way in which the linen lay, which fact so impressed Peter and John, are trying their best to call to her mind her own Lord's words that on the third day he would rise again! But we are often like her, grieving where no real cause for grief exists if only we would heed God and his Word which opens to us such fulness of joy. O these blinding tears that dim both eyes and hearts!"]] (14) When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus [cf. Matt. 28:9; Mark 16:9] standing there and did not know that it was Jesus [cf. Mark 16:12; Luke 24:15-35; John 21:4]. (15) Jesus said to her, 'Woman [cf. John 2:4; 19:26; 20:13], why are you weeping [cf. verses 11, 13]? Whom are you seeking?' Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away [cf. verses 2, 13].' (16) Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' She turned and said to Him in Hebrew ["I.e. Jewish Aramaic" (margin of NASB); cf. John 5:2; 19:13, 17, 20; Acts 21:40; and Rev. 9:11; 16:16], 'Rabboni! [cf. Mark 10:51; Matt. 23:8]' (which means, Teacher). (17) Jesus said to her, 'Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren [[On being His brethren, compare, for example Matt. 25:40; 28:10; and Heb. 2:11, 12. The disciples were adopted into the family of God through union with the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death and resurrection. They were to become His brethren in a much fuller sense shortly thereafter, when they were born again/from above through receiving the outpoured Spirit (starting on the day of Pentecost). And we (all believers) will become His brethren in a much fuller sense yet when we are glorified and born into the fullness of eternal life at the end of this age (cf., e.g., Col. 1:18, 27; Titus 3:7; and Rev. 12:5). From that time on we will be "conformed to the image of [God the Father's Son]," and His unique Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, "will be the firstborn among many brethren" (see Rom. 8:29). From that time we will reign with Him (and we will worship Him with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit). In Christ we are taken to a place much higher than what Adam had before the fall.]] and say to them, "I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God." ' [[It wasn't that Jesus was untouchable at that time, as some say (see Matt. 28:9; cf. Luke 24:39-43). (I had a footnote: See the discussion of John 20:11-18 under John 16:16 in my paper on John chapters 13-17. For one thing, I discuss there the translation of the KJV, "Touch Me not" of John 20:17.) The primary message that Jesus was communicating to Mary Magdalene with His words, "Stop clinging to Me," was that He had not come back to stay with His disciples in a physical sense (as Mary was undoubtedly thinking [I had a footnote: I can picture Mary Magdalene thinking something like, "You have come back, and I'll never let go of You again!"]), but that (as He goes on to say) He must ascend to God the Father, where He will function as our great high priest until it is time for Him to return at the end of this age.
On the last night Jesus had spent with His apostles (see John chapters 13-17), He had told them that He was going to the Father (cf., e.g., John 13:33; 14:2, 3, 26; 16:5, 7, 28; 17:5, 13); but also that He would come back and stay with them - that He would not leave them as orphans (see, for example, John 14:16-19). But, as I discussed under John 14:18, 19 in my paper on John chapters 13-17, Jesus was speaking of His being with them throughout this age in the sense that He would come to them and stay with them through the coming of the outpoured Holy Spirit, starting on the Day of Pentecost. Mary could not cling to Him now because He was not here to stay. ((I had a lengthy footnote, going on for three paragraphs: As it turned out, Jesus didn't go back to the Father until after forty days (cf., e.g., Acts 1:2, 3, 9-11 with Luke 24:50, 51).
I'll quote part of what F. Godet says here ("Gospel of John," Vol. 2 [Zondervan reprint, 1969], page 418). " 'Clasp not my feet; I have not come to renew the old earthly relations. The true seeing again which I have promised you is not this. To return in a real and permanent [age-long] way, it must be that I shall have first ascended. That time has not yet come.' ... Instead of enjoying this moment of possession, therefore, as if Jesus were really restored to her, Mary must rise and go to tell the disciples what is taking place. ... 'But go' is opposed to the act of staying to enjoy."
I'll quote part of what R. C. H. Lenski says here ("St. John's Gospel," 1943), page 1360). "As Mary recognizes Jesus, the first impulse of her heart is to seize hold of him whom she had lost and feared not to find again. Here he is, not dead, but marvelously alive again! All her loss is turned into sudden possession. She clasps him as her own, never to lose him again. The old days that were before the tragedy on Golgotha have now returned, and she intends that they shall now stay, stay forever." I'll also quote two sentences from what Lenski says (page 1363) regarding Mary Madgalene's demeanor as she came announcing to the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that He had said these things to her (see verse 18), "This is a changed Mary. The fear, the grief, the tears all gone - radiant with superlative joy she sails, like a vessel laden with precious freight, into the place where the disciples are gathered.")) Besides that, as this verse (John 20:17) shows, Jesus told Mary to go tell His disciples that He was ascending to the Father (to His Father and their/our Father and His God and their/our God).]] (18) Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord [Mary Magdalene was privileged to be the first person to see the resurrected Christ (cf. Mark 16:9).],' and that He had said these things to her [cf. Mark 16:10; Luke 24:10, 23].
We will finish this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 18-20 in Part 6, starting with John 20:19.
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