Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Jesus Is Alive!
WHEN the women find Jesus’ tomb empty, Mary Magdalene runs off to tell Peter and John. However, the other women evidently remain at the tomb. Soon, an angel appears and invites them inside.
Here the women see yet another angel, and one of the angels says to them: “Do not you be fearful, for I know you are looking for Jesus who was impaled. He is not here, for he was raised up, as he said. Come, see the place where he was lying. And go quickly and tell his disciples that he was raised up from the dead.” So with fear and great joy, these women also run off.
By this time, Mary has found Peter and John, and she reports to them: “They have taken away the Lord out of the memorial tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Immediately the two apostles take off running. John is fleeter of foot—evidently being younger—and he reaches the tomb first. By this time the women have left, so no one is around. Stooping down, John peers into the tomb and sees the bandages, but he remains outside.
When Peter arrives, he does not hesitate but goes right on in. He sees the bandages lying there and also the cloth used to wrap Jesus’ head. It is rolled up in one place. John now also enters the tomb, and he believes Mary’s report. But neither Peter nor John grasps that Jesus has been raised up, even though He had often told them that He would be. Puzzled, the two return home, but Mary, who has come back to the tomb, remains.
In the meantime, the other women are hurrying to tell the disciples that Jesus has been resurrected, as the angels commanded them to do. While they are running along as fast as they can, Jesus meets them and says: “Good day!” Falling at his feet, they do obeisance to him. Then Jesus says: “Have no fear! Go, report to my brothers, that they may go off into Galilee; and there they will see me.”
Earlier, when the earthquake occurred and the angels appeared, the soldiers on guard were stunned and became as dead men. Upon recovering, they immediately went into the city and told the chief priests what had happened. After consulting with the “older men” of the Jews, the decision is made to try to hush up the matter by bribing the soldiers. They are instructed: “Say, ‘His disciples came in the night and stole him while we were sleeping.’”
Since Roman soldiers may be punished with death for falling asleep at their posts, the priests promise: “If this [report of your falling asleep] gets to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him and will set you free from worry.” Since the size of the bribe is sufficiently large, the soldiers do as they are instructed. As a result, the false report about the theft of Jesus’ body becomes widely spread among the Jews.
Mary Magdalene, who remains behind at the tomb, is overcome by grief. Where could Jesus be? Stooping forward to look into the tomb, she sees the two angels in white, who have reappeared! One is sitting at the head and the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been lying. “Woman, why are you weeping?” they ask.
“They have taken my Lord away,” Mary answers, “and I do not know where they have laid him.” Then she turns around and sees someone who repeats the question: “Woman, why are you weeping?” And this one also asks: “Whom are you looking for?”
Imagining this person to be the caretaker of the garden in which the tomb is situated, she says to him: “Sir, if you have carried him off, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
“Mary!” the person says. And immediately she knows, by the familiar way he speaks to her, it is Jesus. “Rab·boʹni!” (meaning “Teacher!”) she exclaims. And with unbounded joy, she grabs hold of him. But Jesus says: “Stop clinging to me. For I have not yet ascended to the Father. But be on your way to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God.’”
Mary now runs to where the apostles and fellow disciples have gathered. She adds her account to the report that the other women have already given about seeing the resurrected Jesus. Yet, these men, who did not believe the first women, apparently do not believe Mary either. Matthew 28:3-15; Mark 16:5-8; Luke 24:4-12; John 20:2-18.
◆ After finding the tomb empty, what does Mary Magdalene do, and what experience do the other women have?
◆ How do Peter and John react at finding the tomb empty?
◆ What do the other women encounter on their way to report Jesus’ resurrection to the disciples?
◆ What happens to the soldier guard, and what is the response to their report to the priests?
◆ What happens when Mary Magdalene is alone at the tomb, and what is the response of the disciples to the reports of the women?