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Daily Reading: 26th February 2016

John 20.1-2

1 Now, on the first day of the week while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, and she saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.

2 Then she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, saying to them: “They took the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put Him”.

It was not unsurprising that Mary would visit the tomb where Jesus had been laid. It was the Jewish custom for relatives and loved ones to visit the tomb of those who had died.

W Barclay informs us that this would have been done for three days, but no longer, since after three days the decaying body would be too disfigured. The belief was that the spirit of the dead person would hover around the tomb for the first three days, but would depart because of the body being unrecognizable.

In the light of this we can probably assume that Mary visiting the tomb with the other women was the first of a few planned visits during these three days. It is also probable that the disciples may have considered visiting the tomb, although fear of being arrested by the Jews may have caused them not to do so.

We know from Mark’s gospel that this was their first visit, since they wondered how they were going to roll away the stone that was at the entrance to the tomb.

And they were saying to themselves: “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” – Mark 16.36.

We also know from Matthew’s gospel that the Roman authorities had put a seal on the stone:

[65] Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.”

[66] So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it – Matthew 27.65-66 (NLT).

Mary and the other women would have been aware of the earthquake, but they appear not to have thought that it would have removed the stone from the entrance to the tomb. This may be because they thought the seal would have withstood the effects of the earthquake.

Mary and the other women arrived at the tomb and were completely taken by surprise to see that the stone had been rolled away, and that the body of Jesus was nowhere to be found.

We can only imagine that fear would have gripped them. They did not yet understand the power of God.

Fear may have this effect on us, causing us not to see the awesomeness of God to break through the circumstances we find ourselves is.

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