Sunday, February 19, 2012

John 20 9 to 18

9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him.
14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Key Observation:
Mary does not recognize her Lord at first.

Mary is the second believer to recognize the resurrection of the Lord. But she does not recognize her Lord, and I find myself wondering why. It is not to be the last time in which my Lord appears before His disciples and is not recognized. This lack of recognition provides a dilemma—how is it that His own believers do not recognize Him? I can think of a few answers to why this might be so:
1) They were not expecting the resurrection—that is, they did not expect to see a dead man walking.
2) Scripture tells me that his visage was marred—I recall the severe beating which the Roman guards gave Him. Such a beating would have permanently disfigured Him, and recognition may not have been easy. There is no evidence that His body did not explicitly show the results of this beating; evidently the nail holes were still in his palms for Thomas to see
3) Jesus may deliberately have changed His appearance to begin a conversation that would lead to realization of who He was
4) Similarly, if His visage was marred, he may have had His face covered, or stayed in the shadows, making His features obscured.

Interestingly, McGee does not entertain the probability of His visage being so marred that a friend would not recognize Him. I wonder if my experiences on working for many years on Skid Row are not making me think this. I do recall many of my friends being jumped and beaten, and by the time I saw them, they were difficult to recognize, in some cases causing brutal disfigurement. Says McGee of this passage: “How much is the glorified body changed? I don’t know, but I don’t think the change is so great that this accounts for her lack of recognition of Jesus. I believe that Mary is absolutely single-minded in her grief. Although she sees two angels, this doesn’t seem to draw her attention in any particular way. They ask a question, not because they don’t know the answer, but because they are trying to arouse some evidence of faith in Mary. She is single-minded in her answer. He is still dead, and the probable answer is that the body has been stolen, as Mary reasons it out. She does not expect to see Christ alive; and, in her unbelief, she does not recognize Him.”

Interestingly, McGee feels that John and Peter both recognized the resurrection had taken place. McGee feels that Peter also recognized the meaning of the left behind burial clothes; I am not sure that I can see that in the Scripture. Only John seemed to instantly recognize what had happened, and I think Peter’s running to the tomb was his reaction to Mary’s account that someone had stolen the body. I would argue that Peter’s character tended to show brash actions, often with little forethought. I think at this point that Peter was still reacting to events and had not yet processed them. It was probably not until later that Peter recognized what had happened.

The next passage I wonder about is where Jesus tells Mary to touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to the Father. McGee has some wonderful speculation about this passage: “He says to her, “for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” This is the reason she should not hold on to Him. So apparently He did ascend to His Father before the appearance to the disciples in the house. I believe that the Lord Jesus presented His blood at the throne of God and that His blood turned the judgment seat into the mercy seat which it is today. That blood was shed for your sin and for my sin. I think the blood will be there throughout all eternity as an eternal testimony of the price He paid for us.”"

Which leads me to wonder, will the Lord always have the nail holes in His hands? I wonder if we will not always see the marring of His visage. Or perhaps not, the Scripture is not clear on this point. I do find it wonderful that Jesus makes it plain that He is going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. Because of His resurrection, I have stepped into a shared eternity at the feet of my Lord. What could be better than that?

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 104201-104203). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.

McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 104190-104194). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.

And Can It Be?
1. And can it be that I should gain
An int'rest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God shouldst die for me?

2. He left His Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race!
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For, O my God, it found out me.

3. Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night.
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray:
I woke the dungeon flamed with light!
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

4. No condemnation now I dread:
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!

Lyrics: Charles Wesley

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