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The Gospel of John: Manifesting God’s Glory Book 5

Jesus manifested God's glory through 8 miraculous signs in the gospel of John. These are a revelation of the feast of tabernacles.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Chapter 12

The Resurrection

John 20:1 says,

1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb while it was still dark and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.

From this and similar statements by the other gospel writers, we learn that Jesus was raised from the dead during the night. “The first day of the week” had begun the previous evening, so the “night” phase of that 24-hour day had been completed by sunup that Sunday morning. I believe that Jesus rose from the dead about 3:00 a.m.

The Father taught me many years ago (by personal experience) that the timing of Jesus’ resurrection coincided with the next shift of priests arriving to minister in the temple, something that always occurred somewhere about 3:00 a.m. When the temple doors were swung open to give them entrance, the stone was rolled away from the door of the tomb as well.

The story of my personal revelation is told in greater detail in my book, Dr. Luke: Healing the Breaches, Book VIII, chapter 21 (page 130).

The previous day (Saturday), toward the end of the Preparation Day, the chief priests had put a guard at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ disciples from stealing His body and then claiming He had been raised from the dead (Matt. 27:62-64). Pilate refused to send Roman guards, so the temple guard was sent to do this (Matt. 27:65, 66).

Hence, not wanting to work on the Sabbath, they arrived at sundown, Saturday evening, just as the Sabbath day had ended.

Mark 16:1 tells us that on Sunday morning Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, accompanied by Mary, the mother of James, and her daughter, Salome. Matt. 28:1 lists just “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary,” omitting Salome. Luke 24:10 says that Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s chief steward, came as well. Jesus’ mother was absent.

But before we continue with this study, we should address the question of timing and the length of Jesus’ stay in the tomb.

Three Days and Three Nights

In Matt. 12:40 Jesus said that “so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” In about 21 other passages, however, He says that He was to be raised “the third day” (Matt. 16:21) to fulfill the prophecy in Hosea 6:2, “He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day.”

This apparent contradiction has caused much debate over the years. I have argued in the past that one should interpret Scripture according to the majority of statements, rather than use a single verse to overthrow the multitude of passages. In other words, “three days and three nights” ought to be interpreted as an idiom of continuous time, so that the multitude of plain statements about “the third day” would not be interpreted in a contradictory way.

However, in September 2019 I was introduced to another view that would seem to reconcile the apparent contradiction above. The view is based on God’s definition of day and night, which is found in Gen. 1:5, “God called the light day and the darkness He called night.” This shows that God’s definition of day is not based upon time but upon light. God’s definition of night is not based upon time but upon the absence of light.

Jesus was put on the cross while it was yet day, some say at 9:00 a.m., others at noon. The point is that it was yet light. Hence, that first day began about 6 a.m. and ended at noon when darkness fell.

At noon it turned dark for three hours (Luke 23:44). That was the first night in the sequence, by God’s definition given in Gen. 1:5.

When Jesus died, the sun shone again, and this began the second day, which lasted only a few hours before the second night began.

The next morning (Sabbath), the light shined on the third day for a full 12 hours, while Jesus lay in the tomb. That evening, as the temple guard placed soldiers at the tomb, the third night began. Jesus was then raised from the dead about 3:00 a.m. while it was yet dark.

Hence, by this way of reckoning, Jesus was in the tomb three days and three nights.

The only difficulty with this is in the fact that Jesus was to be “in the heart of the earth” for this time. Most interpret this to mean that it began at His burial, not at His crucifixion. But the phrase does have a broader meaning, for the Jews considered Jerusalem itself and its vicinity to be “the heart [i.e., the center or focal point] of the earth.”

In another part of the world, China had the same idea in mind when its people referred to the land as the Middle Kingdom. It was not the center of the land mass, but they believed it was the focus of God’s attention and concern.

Anyway, it is certainly interesting to note that the extra “night” on the day of crucifixion allowed for a literal three days and three nights in these events ending with His resurrection. Was this God’s purpose in bringing darkness for three hours that afternoon? Is this how Jesus could be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights, while also rising on the third day?

In the end, church history itself shows that Jesus was crucified on Friday, April 3, 33 A.D., which was precisely 80 x 153 days from His birth on the feast of Trumpets, September 29, 2 B.C. He was raised from the dead on the third day, Sunday, April 5, 33 A.D., which was the day of the wave-sheaf offering that year.

I have shown in my book Secrets of Time that Jesus was born in September of 2 B.C. That was the only year possible that Cyrenius was the acting governor of Syria, who had been sent there in March of 2 B.C. to compel everyone in that part of the empire to ratify the Roman Senate’s decree declaring Augustus to be Pater Patriae, “Father of the Country.”

This is what brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem later that same year to register and sign the Senate’s decree. Jesus was then baptized when He turned thirty in September of 29 A.D. After a three-and-a-half year ministry, He was crucified in April of 33 A.D. Historians know that the Preparation Day for Passover in 33 A.D. fell on Friday, April 3, and the actual Day of Passover fell on Saturday, April 4.

The barley firstfruits offering was to be waved on the first Sunday after Passover (Lev. 23:11), which in this case was on April 5. Historically speaking, then, Jesus was raised from the dead on April 5, 33 A.D. when He was 33½ years old.

To know the precise days of the week on which His crucifixion and resurrection occurred, one must know the year in which this happened. History tells us how to interpret the prophecies, because this is how the prophecies were actually fulfilled. We cannot impose our own understanding upon history just to maintain a doctrine.

Discovering the Resurrection

John 20:1 implies that Mary Magdalene was the first to arrive at the tomb. John mentions no other women at this visitation, although this seems to contradict the other gospel accounts, where other women were said to come with her. Mary did not enter the open tomb, for she assumed His body had been stolen. She immediately turned around and ran to tell the disciples. John 20:2 says,

2 So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

We see here that at this point in time, Mary still did not know that Jesus had risen from the dead. Hence, she had not seen the two angels in the tomb, who appeared only to the other women to tell them that Jesus had been raised from the dead. The other gospel writers do not distinguish between the women but treat the story as if they all came together.

Mark 16:3 tells us that the group of women coming to the tomb discussed the problem of how they might open the tomb in order to apply the spices to Jesus’ body. They were unaware that the tomb had been sealed the previous evening.

Luke 24:2-4 says that the women “entered” the tomb but “did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” Instead, they were met by “two men” (angels) who suddenly materialized before them and told them that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Mark 16:5 says “they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe.” Perhaps some of the women saw just one man, while at least one woman saw “two men.” Angelic appearances are not always seen in the same way.

Mark also tells us that the “young man” told them that “He has risen… but go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him’.”

The women then ran to the house where the disciples were staying and reported their findings to the disciples, “while they were mourning and weeping” (Mark 16:10).

Perhaps they had been up all night. At first, “they refused to believe it” (Mark 16:11).

However, in the earlier case, when Mary first told the disciples that Jesus' body was missing, she did not know that He had been raised from the dead. She had arrived first, and Peter and John believed her story about the tomb being vandalized, for it was much more plausible than what they heard later from the other women. John 20:3 says,

3 So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb.

These disciples then ran to the tomb, leaving Mary Magdalene far behind. John, being a younger man, outran Peter and looked into the tomb without entering. When Peter arrived, he boldly walked into the tomb. John 20:4-8 says,

4 The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; 5 and stooping and looking in, he saw the line wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. 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 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.

When they assessed the situation, they “believed.” Believed what? And what did they observe that made believers out of them?

The Grave Clothes

Dr. Bullinger comments on the revelation of the grave clothes:

wrapped together = rolled, or coiled round and round. Gr. entulisso… Here it implies that the cloth had been folded round the head as a turban is folded, and that it lay still in the form of a turban. The linen clothes also lay exactly as they were when swathed around the body. The Lord had passed out of them, not needing, as Lazarus (11:44), to be loosed. It was this sight that convinced John (v. 8).

Having passed through the grave clothes and turban, Jesus showed that He was raised with a spiritual body, unlike Lazarus, who remained in a mortal body and had to be unbound from his grave clothes. Lazarus remained mortal and died many years later in Marseilles. When John saw the undisturbed grave clothes, it confirmed to him that Jesus had indeed been raised from the dead.

John 20:9 continues,

9 For as yet [up to that point in time] they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

From this we see that in spite of all the hints and even plain teachings that Jesus had told them prior to this, the veil had remained over their eyes, for they still did not really understand. Perhaps they thought He had been speaking spiritually, when in fact He had been talking about His physical resurrection.

John 20:10 finishes out this thought, saying,

10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

Of course, much more occurred, as written in the other gospel accounts, but John omits those details.