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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 13

The Aftermath of Resurrection

Neither Peter nor John saw any angels, nor did they see Jesus at the morning of His resurrection. Yet believing that Jesus had been raised from the dead, they left the tomb and returned to the house where they had been staying.

Mary, who lagged far behind when the disciples had run to the tomb to investigate, returned to the tomb without yet realizing that Jesus had been raised.

Mary’s Second Visit to the Tomb

John 20:11, 12 says,

11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; 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.

It appears that the other women had already come to the tomb and learned from the “two men” (Luke 24:4) that Jesus had been raised and was no longer in the tomb. They immediately went to the city to inform the disciples, but they did not believe their story.

Meanwhile, back at the tomb, Mary looked into the tomb and saw the two angels. John 20:13, 14 says,

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.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

The angels asked her why she was weeping but did not tell her that Jesus had been raised from the dead. She turned around at that point and saw Jesus, but she did not recognize Him at first. We might attribute this to the dim light or to her teary eyes, but it seems that no one recognized Jesus after His resurrection until He did something or said something to reveal Himself. His appearance had changed in some unknown manner.

John 20:15, 16 continues,

15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? 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.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni” (which means Teacher).

Calling her “Woman” was not disrespectful, but yet it was impersonal and did not reveal to her that this “gardener” knew her well. It was only when He called her by name that she knew who He was. She then responded, calling Him “Rabboni,” which is said to be “Hebrew,” but is technically Aramaic for “master, chief, prince.” The Jews used the term (along with “Rabbi”) to address their teachers.

The blind man in Mark 10:51 also called Jesus “Rabboni” earlier in His ministry. Jesus healed him of blindness in the next verse. Perhaps it is significant that when Mary called Him “Rabboni,” her eyes were opened as well.

The Ascension

John 20:17, 18 then says,

17 “Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging [hapto] to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.” 18 Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

The NASB renders hapto as “clinging,” thinking that the point of this was to show that Mary was holding on to Him to prevent Him from leaving her. However, the word is everywhere else rendered “touch,” as in Matt. 8:3 and 15; 9:29, etc., unless it is being used in the sense of lighting a fire (Luke 8:16; 11:33; 15:8).

It may be that Jesus was speaking of a deeper truth by connecting His ascension to lighting a fire. Fire turns matter into smoke that ascends upward, and some of the sacrifices in the law are said to bring a “sweet savour” (KJV) or “soothing aroma” (NASB) that is pleasing to God.

For example, Lev. 3:5 says, “it is an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord.”

When Jesus used the word hapto in the context of an ascension, He created a word picture of “an offering by fire” with which the people of that time were familiar.

But what ascension was this? Why was Mary not allowed to touch Him, when later that same evening, when Jesus appeared to His disciples, He actually encouraged His disciples to touch Him? (Luke 24:39) Those who know of only one ascension (on the 40th day) might easily assume that no one should touch Him during those 40 days from His resurrection to His ascension in Acts 1:9.

The fact is that He had to ascend to the Father at the moment when the priest in the temple waved the sheaf of barley at the third hour of the day. This was not the same ascension as the event 40 days later. Jesus’ resurrection prepared Him and qualified Him to fulfill the wave-sheaf offering, but He did not actually fulfill that prophecy until He ascended to present Himself to the Father as the living Son of God.

One of the laws of Sonship is found in Exodus 22:29, 30,

29 You shall not delay the offering from your harvest and your vintage. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. 30 You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.

The law of Sonship says that the firstborn must be presented to God “on the eighth day.” This law has multiple applications for both man and beast. From the prophetic perspective, the barley was to be waved “on the day after the Sabbath” (Lev. 23:11), i.e., on the eighth day of the week.

For this reason, the early church writers tell us that Jesus was raised from the dead on the eighth day. However, more specifically, it was His ascension and presentation to the Father that fulfilled the wave-sheaf offering. Hence, His resurrection (regardless of the hour in which He was raised) only qualified Him to fulfill the wave-sheaf offering at the third hour of the eighth day. Those who focus all of their attention on the hour of His resurrection are missing the point.

Mary seems to have been the first to encounter Jesus after His resurrection. She wanted to touch Him, but He told her not to do so. It was yet early in the morning, and the priest had not yet waved the sheaf of barley in the temple. Jesus had to wait until the proper moment to ascend, and the priest unwittingly established the timing of His ascension and presentation to the Father.

Later that evening, after He had ascended and returned, the disciples were allowed to touch Him, for at that point, mortal men would not render the offering unclean. According to the law, anyone touching a dead body was to remain unclean for a full seven days (Num. 19:11).

On a deeper level, mortals are continuously in contact with the dead—their own mortal bodies. Hence, if Mary had been allowed to touch Jesus before His presentation, she would have rendered Him unclean and ineligible to fulfill the wave-sheaf offering.

So Mary was sent to the disciples with a new message of ascension, whereas the two angels gave the other women the message of His resurrection (Matt. 28:7). The angels also told the women to tell the disciples, “He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him” (Matt. 28:7).

More Appearances

Most of the disciples did not leave Jerusalem immediately, but Luke and Cleopas left the city to return to their home a few miles north in Emmaus (Luke 24:18). That afternoon, as they walked, Jesus joined them and fellowshipped with them. But they did not recognize Him until He broke bread with them at their destination. He disappeared before their eyes, and they immediately returned to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples of their encounter (Luke 24:33).

There they learned that Jesus had already appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34), and while they were telling their story, Jesus suddenly appeared to all of the disciples in the house (Luke 24:36). Although the promised Galilee visitation had not yet occurred, Jesus appeared to most of His disciples that first day in Jerusalem.

John 20:19, 20 says,

19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

This probably occurred shortly before sundown, because sundown would have marked the start of the second day of the week. Jesus came unexpectedly and said, “Shalom.” Luke, an eyewitness, gives a longer account in Luke 24:36-49. He tells us that by requesting something to eat, Jesus proved to the disciples that He was not a ghost (or spirit).

The Holy Spirit Given

John 20:21-23 then tells us more of what Jesus told the disciples on that occasion.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

This pre-Pentecostal infilling of the Holy Spirit occurred on the first evening after His resurrection. Jesus said that the Father had sent Him—probably speaking of His return after ascending earlier that day. Thus, Jesus commissioned His disciples, turning them into apostles, giving them authority as judges in the earth.

Jesus would again speak of this new authority when He later met with them in Galilee, according to Matt. 28:16-20. Still more would be said while they were sitting at the table sometime before His final ascension (Mark 16:14-18).