Were there any witnesses?

That’s the kind of question you might ask at a crime scene. Oh man, that just made me think of the safety films we had to watch at the phone company. A company vehicle waits for the train to go by and then pushes the accelerator hard unaware that a train is coming on the second set of tracks. Blam! The next question was, did you as a driver get out of your  vehicle and ask for witnesses.

Alright it wasn’t exactly like that but there was a demand placed upon us as drivers to get witnesses because everybody out there was going to look at the large corporation as having deep pockets and  the story will quickly change and it will be your fault.

Wait a minute. The disciples did not put Jesus on that cross; how could anyone possibly say that it was their fault? It is an odd world we live in. One where wrong has now become right, if it is not solidly that way the fine citizens our nations are trying to make it so. Consider the demand that the same chief priests that put Jesus on the cross made of Pilate now that Jesus was dead. They demanded that Pilate put a guard at the tomb because those scoundrels talked about him rising from the dead after three days and we do not want them stealing the body and making false claims that it happened that way.

There would  be only one good way to combat false claims, witnesses.

I presented the earlier post with a focus on Mary Magdalene. I believe she is secondary to the theme, but John has given her a status almost on a level with Peter. Peter was a father of the early church; did Mary Magdalene carry that kind of importance or weight? Not that I know of. Why then is Mary focused on here?

I can conjecture, based on knowledge, that Jesus, at a time when women were as useful as cattle, raised them up, showed them respect, and given a golden opportunity to condemn one, (This occurred one Sabbath as he was teaching a crowd that gathered around him in the outer court of the temple.) he diverted those that accused her, forgave her, and sent her on her way.

John 20:2 NASB 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.”

This is another place where John tells only what he needs the reader to understand, and here he focuses on Peter by not mentioning her name again.

I suspect that John cared deeply for Peter. After three years you are either like family or you cannot stand the sight of each other, and John was keenly aware of how the events of the last week have affected Peter.

John’s gospel, written to the Jewish community of believers, by most accounts almost 90 years after Jesus death, did not focus on the negative impact Jesus death had on Peter, but on Peter’s importance. Anyone studying John’s gospel has seen Peter’s struggles. In fact all the disciples struggled. As much as we want to believe that the thoughts in their heads were filled with sunshine and flowers they were not. One of the prominent examples of this is when Thomas challenges Jesus with what he sees as utter foolishness.

John 11:14-16 NASB  So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,  (15)  and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.”  (16)  Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”

To give Peter the prominence here is notable and may have had a deeper meaning to the early Jewish church.

Mark’s gospel does not show Mary Magdalene running with determination to find Peter, but being instructed to do so they fled in bewildered and seemed to say nothing to anyone for a time. You can read one version and walk away satisfied that you have all the answers in the world; at least for the moment. If I only read John’s version then many of the characters get to leave their super hero capes on. But the reality is, they were human.

Mark 16:1-7 NIV When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. (2) Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb (3) and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” (4) But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. (5) As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. (6) “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. (7) But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'” Mark 16:8 NASB They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

The fact that the gospels vary in retelling the story merely demonstrates how others interpreted it, or how it affected them. It is said that Mark’s gospel was conveyed to him by Peter. Considering that Mark’s gospel had been written before John’s, and John may have read it, does that diminish what transpired?

The point is that there were verifiable witnesses, a central focus of John’s gospel.

Ask yourself a question. Given the comparisons of the gospels and that no one indicated Mark was there; how would he have known any of this?

Introduction to Mark’s gospel. Written between 50 and 65 AD

“…. the writer of it was not one of the twelve apostles, but an evangelist; the same with John Mark, or John, whose surname was Mark: John was his Hebrew name, and Mark his Gentile name, Act_12:12, and was Barnabas’s sister’s son, Col_4:10, his mother’s name was Mary, Act_12:12. The Apostle Peter calls him his son, 1Pe_5:13, if he is the same; and he is thought to have wrote his Gospel from him (a), and by his order, and which was afterwards examined and approved by him (b) it is said to have been wrote originally in Latin, or in the Roman tongue: so say the Arabic and Persic versions at the beginning of it, and the Syriac version says the same at the end: but of this there is no evidence, any more, nor so much, as of Matthew’s writing his Gospel in Hebrew. The old Latin copy of this, is a version from the Greek; it is most likely that it was originally written in Greek, as the rest of the New Testament.” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Mark wrote to a community that needed to be reminded that God heard prayers and would work through their witness and faith; they also needed to be reminded that this might cost them their lives in persecution. Finally, they could be reminded through the failure of the disciples in Mark that if they had not yet achieved the radical lifestyle their Lord’s words demanded, he would still work with them patiently to help them get to that level of commitment.” (The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener)

I add this because I keep hearing  it in my head. Those that record history tend to show a favorable spin to the one that pays them. You can see some of this as you dip into Josephus or Tacitus’ recollections of Jewish interactions with Rome. Mark’s gospel may have carried a favorable spin toward Peter. Strangely John’s gospel refers to himself often as, “that other disciple whom Jesus loved.” But here in John 20 there is a heavy focus on Peter, which makes a tremendous amount of sense, and Mary Magdalene, a person whose name we all recognize but hardly pay attention to until she comes to the tomb. Suddenly John brings her to the forefront. (It might be safer to say the Holy Spirit for some reason has brought her to the forefront. Why is that?)

If you stumbled onto this page and do not know this Jesus of Nazareth who rose from the dead, you can. Ask him to make himself real to you. Accept him as the ruler over your heart and he will come. He promises us a restored life in eternity with Him. It is not difficult. The difficulty comes when others see a change in you and ask you what happened. Many of you will be under the penalty of death for doing something so bold. God will give you courage to open your mouth. I say this because should you ask him to make himself real to you the dream will be vivid and you will recognize him immediately. Your life will not be the same after the man in white comes to you. (Many of you have already seen him. There are those around you that know this man. He will lead you to those who can explain even more.

This life that I have in Jesus Christ is real.

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2 Responses to Were there any witnesses?

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