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The Empty Tomb

20 Very early Sunday morning,[a] before sunrise, Mary Magdalene made her way to the tomb. And when she arrived she discovered that the stone that sealed the entrance to the tomb was moved away! So she went running as fast as she could to go tell Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved.[b] She told them, “They’ve taken the Lord’s body from the tomb, and we don’t know where he is!”

Then Peter and the other disciple jumped up and ran to the tomb to go see for themselves. They started out together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.[c] He didn’t enter the tomb, but peeked in, and saw only the linen cloths lying there. Then Peter came behind him and went right into the tomb. He too noticed the linen cloths lying there, but the burial cloth that had been on Jesus’ head had been rolled up and placed separate from the other cloths.

Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first went in, and after one look, he believed![d] For until then they hadn’t understood the Scriptures that prophesied[e] that he was destined to rise from the dead.[f] 10 Puzzled, Peter and the other disciple then left and went back to their homes.

11 Mary arrived back at the tomb, broken and sobbing. She stooped to peer inside, and through her tears 12 she saw two angels in dazzling white robes, sitting where Jesus’ body had been laid—one at the head and one at the feet![g]

13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” they asked.

Mary answered, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid him.”

14 Then she turned around to leave, and there was Jesus standing in front of her, but she didn’t realize that it was him!

15 He said to her, “Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

Mary answered, thinking he was only the gardener, “Sir, if you have taken his body somewhere else, tell me, and I will go and . . .”

16 “Mary,” Jesus interrupted her.

Turning to face him, she said, “Rabboni!” (Aramaic for “My teacher!”)

17 Jesus cautioned her, “Mary, don’t cling to me,[h] for I haven’t yet ascended to God, my Father. And he’s not only my Father and God, but now he’s your Father and your God! Now go to my brothers[i] and tell them what I’ve told you, that I am ascending to my Father—and your Father, to my God—and your God!”

18 Then Mary Magdalene left to inform the disciples of her encounter with Jesus. “I have seen the Lord!” she told them. And she gave them his message.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 That evening,[j] the disciples gathered together, and because they were afraid of reprisals from the Jewish leaders, they had locked the doors. But suddenly Jesus appeared among them and said,[k] “Peace to you!”[l] 20 Then he showed them the wounds of his hands and his side—they were overjoyed to see the Lord with their own eyes!

21 Jesus repeated his greeting, “Peace to you!” And he told them, “Just as the Father has sent me, I’m now sending you.” 22 Then, taking a deep breath, he blew[m] on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.[n] 23 I send you to preach the forgiveness[o] of sins—and people’s sins will be forgiven. But if you don’t proclaim the forgiveness of their sins, they will remain guilty.”[p]

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 One of the twelve wasn’t present when Jesus appeared to them—it was Thomas, whose nickname was “the Twin.” 25 So the disciples informed him, “We have seen the Lord with our own eyes!”

Still unconvinced, Thomas replied, “There’s no way I’m going to believe this unless I personally see the wounds of the nails[q] in his hands, touch them with my finger, and put my hand into the wound of his side where he was pierced!”

26 Then eight days later, Thomas and all the others were in the house together. And even though all the doors were locked, Jesus suddenly stood before them! “Peace to you,” he said.

27 Then, looking into Thomas’ eyes, he said, “Put your finger here in the wounds of my hands. Here—put your hand into my wounded side and see for yourself. Thomas, don’t give in to your doubts any longer, just believe!”

28 Then the words spilled out of his heart—“You are my Lord, and you are my God!”

29 Jesus responded, “Thomas, now that you’ve seen me, you believe. But there are those who have never seen me with their eyes but have believed in me with their hearts, and they will be blessed even more!”

30 Jesus went on to do many more miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not even included in this book. 31 But all that is recorded here is so that you will fully believe[r] that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you will experience eternal life[s] by the power of his name!


  1. 20:1 Or “On the first day of the week.”
  2. 20:2 This was obviously John the apostle, the author of this Gospel.
  3. 20:4 How did John outrun Peter to the tomb? Love will always “outrun” curiosity. Some are simply curious to know Jesus, but we must be those who are passionate to experience his love and power.
  4. 20:8 It was lovers of Jesus that were the first to realize the resurrection of Christ. What did John see that caused him to believe? Perhaps it was the linen burial cloths that had not been unwrapped, but simply were empty. And the cloth that had been wrapped around his head was rolled up and placed aside. Jesus left everything pertaining to the old creation in the tomb, signified by the linen cloths and handkerchief left behind.
  5. 20:9 Some of these prophecies would include Pss. 2:6–8; 16:10; Isa. 53:10–12; Hos. 6:2; Jonah 1:17.
  6. 20:9 As translated from the Aramaic.
  7. 20:12 This becomes a picture of the two golden cherubim engraved on the mercy seat, peering down into the treasures of grace. The empty tomb has become our “mercy seat.”
  8. 20:17 Jesus was telling Mary, “Don’t cling to me in the way you once knew me, now we are one. Cling to me in my ascension, in my glory.” We don’t cling to a memory of Christ, we cling to the majesty in his glory today.
  9. 20:17 This is the first time in John’s Gospel that Jesus called his disciples “brothers.” See Heb. 2:10–12.
  10. 20:19 Or “That Sunday evening.”
  11. 20:19 Or “came and stood among them.”
  12. 20:19 This is the idiomatic equivalent of saying, “Hello, everyone!”
  13. 20:22 The Greek word used here does not appear elsewhere in the New Testament; however, it is the same word found in the Septuagint for when God “breathed” into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life (Gen. 2:7). The beginning of new creation life came from the breath of Jesus. The mighty wind of Acts 2 was for power, the breath Jesus breathed into his disciples in this verse was for life.
  14. 20:22 Or “accept the Sacred Breath.”
  15. 20:23 Or “removal, acquittal.”
  16. 20:23 Or “If you forgive someone for their sins, their sins will be discharged, but if you retain their sins, their sins will be retained.” Jesus was not giving absolute authority to forgive the guilt of sins, for God alone has that right (Mark 2:7), and the apostles at no time assumed that authority. What he gave them, in the context of being his sent ones, was the authority to proclaim the gospel to the nations. If they refused to go and preach the good news, then people would have no opportunity to believe it. See Acts 10:43–44; 13:38.
  17. 20:25 The Aramaic is “the blossom of the nails.” You can imagine a wide nail head that, when struck with a heavy mallet, “blossomed” over the sacred palm of our Lord Jesus. The wound of the nail had imprinted his entire palm. His wounds are like beautiful flowers to the lovers of God.
  18. 20:31 Or “never stop believing.”
  19. 20:31 As translated from the Aramaic.

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