Read the passage in its entirety first, then read again in the verse-to-verse form.
Read Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 text
A prophetic Passover psalm of thanks and praise foretells Christ’s victory and resurrection Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 verse-by-verse
Read John 20:1-18 text
Disciples discover an open, empty tomb with two angels present and then Mary Magdalene hears Jesus and holds Him John 20:1-18 verse-by-verse
Read Acts 10:34-43 text
Peter relates his story of Jesus to a Gentile household as one who stood by the Cross and the empty tomb Acts 10:34-43 verse-by-verse
Read Colossians 3:1-4 text
New life in Christ is about dying to independence, gaining a new mindset and above all, growing in Him Colossians 3:1-4 verse-by-verse
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 — Christ’s victory and resurrection foretold
A prophetic Passover psalm of thanks and praise
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever. 2 Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”
“Give thanks…” – this Passover psalm was probably sung by Jesus on the night before His death.
14 The LORD is my strength and my defence; He has become my salvation.
“My strength and my defence” – Moses’ words, Exodus 15:2 and Isaiah 12:2.
15-16 Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The LORD’S right hand has done mighty things! The LORD’S right hand is lifted high; the LORD’S right hand has done mighty things!”
“The Lord… has done mighty things” – shouts and declarations of victory, in the camp – and prophetically, in heaven.
17-18 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done. The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death.
“I will not die but live” – the experience of deliverance
19-20 Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter.
“Gate of the Lord” – like a procession through the double eastern gates of the Temple, an allusion to heaven. Jesus declared Himself the gate to salvation, John 10:9 and these words, echoing Psalm 24, show the perfect King of glory to be the only One who can enter the gates of the Lord of His own accord.
21 I will give You thanks, for You answered me; You have become my salvation.
22-23 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes.
“Cornerstone” – the finest dressed stones were kept to set out the line and level of walls. Used in the OT of the Lord calling a true and submitted leader into a new work.
• For further study, see Isaiah 28:14-17; Zechariah 10:3-5 and also Mark 12:1-12. Paul taught the new work of God as the “new temple” where believers are “living stones” built around Jesus the cornerstone, Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:4-8.
24 The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
More familiar as “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” A powerful praise declaration, especially as speaking of the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This Passover psalm has so many allusions to Christ’s death being a victory, the means of salvation and the “gate” by which others can enter into salvation, it undergirds what we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday. Every line here speaks of Christ’s monumental achievement, from rejection by men to reserved selection by heaven, and its significance: the experience of God’s love for us, His strength, His gift of righteousness by which we can enter into salvation, thanksgiving – and joy. Christian faith is characterised by joy; joy comes from faith in Jesus.
Do others see in us, the joy of knowing Jesus?
John 20:1-18 — Mary Magdalene hears Jesus and holds Him
Disciples discover an open, empty tomb and two angels
1-2 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!”
“First day ” – Sunday, which the first believers set aside to remember the resurrection, Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:2.
“While it was still dark” – she left home, arriving just after sunrise, Mark 16:2.
“Removed” – the circular stone, a metre across, requiring several people to roll it aside.
3-5 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.
“The other disciple” – author of this gospel John refers to himself obliquely, John 13:23.
6-7 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.
Cloth… lying in its place” – or folded. No grave robber would have removed the (expensive) linen cloths and left them neatly. A sign to the disciples of intentional ‘undressing’.
8-10 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
“The other disciple… saw and believed” – up to this point they had no expectation of what they now encountered. Their knowledge of the resurrection came through what they “saw and believed” which they later related to Scripture.
11-13 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put Him.”
“Why are you crying” – not the right response, as Mary was about to discover.
14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realise that it was Jesus.
“Did not realise” – people were sometimes prevented from recognising Jesus at first after He was risen. There are hints that His appearance, in resurrection body, was a bit different – like the encounter on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:13-35.
• For further study, read John 21:4; Matthew 28:17; Luke 24:16, 37.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking He was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.”
“Thinking He was the gardener” – in the half light and through tears she did not see what she did not expect.
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to My brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’ ”
“I have not yet ascended” – Mary did not want to lose Jesus again and probably thought He would resume the former way of life. Like the others, she had yet to grasp the different reality of Jesus’ resurrected appearances, and then ascension.
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that He had said these things to her.
“Mary… went…with the news” – in Jewish culture a woman could not give witness in court. Mary, a woman healed from a broken life, had seen, heard and touched Jesus, and was now the bearer of the news to the others. No Jew of that time would make up such a story.
This story defies logic at every turn. The series of events were so surprising that it was recorded by sources of the time not sympathetic to Christians.
The stone that could not be moved, on a site under guard, Matthew 27:65-66, the neatly left grave wrappings, the dialogue with the angels, the physical contact with the risen Lord and the extraordinary choice of messenger – not to mention the raising to life of someone who had been proven to be dead on the Cross, John 19:33-34. There is too much here that we cannot rationalise.
The alternative is to accept that supernatural happenings point to a God far beyond human comprehension. To not understand is the right response, and to believe what we do not fully understand, is called faith.
Acts 10: 34-43 — Peter relates his story of Jesus to a Gentile household
34-35 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right.
“Does not show favouritism” – no partiality to Jewish ethnicity or a person’s station in life or religious standing. Every kind of person has the same welcome and the test for all is the sincerity of their believing and submitting to God. Peter has put in his own words the commission Christ gave the disciples before departing, Matthew 28:19-20.
36-38 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached — how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him.
“The message… sent to the people of Israel” – first, but never to be restricted to them, as “Lord of all” emphasises. “The good news of peace” and “Lord of all” are the language of Isaiah 52:7 and 57:19; Cornelius and his household were always to be included.
• For further study, see John 3:16; Luke 2:30-32, 24:47; Acts 1:8; Romans 1:16-17.
39-40 “We are witnesses of everything He did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed Him by hanging Him on a cross, but God raised Him from the dead on the third day and caused Him to be seen.
“We are witnesses” – Peter and the other disciples were with Jesus from the beginning, and saw the extraordinary events of His death and resurrection for themselves.
41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen — by us who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.
“Seen…by witnesses whom God had already chosen” – after His resurrection, Jesus showed Himself to believers, 1 Cor. 15:5-8, and ate with them, showing that He had been resurrected bodily, Luke 24:42-43; John 21:12-15.
42-43 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the One whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”
“He is the One” – based on their own observation, vv.39-41, the apostles could proclaim Jesus Christ the One foretold by the prophets, and believing in Him as the sole qualification for forgiveness of sins.
• For further study, the whole plan of the Scriptures focuses on Christ, Luke 24:25-27, 44-47; John 5:39.
If the resurrection of Christ is extraordinary and without parallel, then the idea of Gentiles serving the occupying forces becoming believers in the fullness of the Holy Spirit was unthinkable – until it happened. It goes against the grain that God should favour people who, to us, do not qualify. It offends the religious mind, but primes us to the different values that prevail in His kingdom.
How naturally can you talk about who Jesus is and what He has done for you?
Believers die to their independence and gain a new mindset
Colossians 3:1-4 — New life in Christ means growing in Him
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
“Above, where Christ is” – false teachers were turning the Way of Jesus into a religion of following temporal things, like Judaism.
2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
“Not on earthly things” – true spirituality is not about man-made rules but seeking a deeper relationship with Christ, Philippians 3:10, seeking His kingdom, Matt. 6:33 and living a life worthy of His name, Col. 1:10, 2:6.
3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
“Hidden with Christ in God” – language from the Psalms and Isaiah expressing security and hope from having a new nature which comes from a new identity imparted in the new birth; good works and service flow as a result of this.
4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
“Appear with Him in glory” – at His second coming, Rev. 19:11-13, 15-16.
Living in the knowledge of the resurrection of Christ is a call to live for Him, not in a dry memorial sense, but in active, growing partnership. Too easily this can degenerate into ritual and observance; partnership is all about relationship, a relationship in which we have given our sin-marred lives to Jesus.
The whole of the Bible, God’s revelation of Himself, turns on Christ’s victory by dying on the Cross and then His Resurrection to rule and reign eternally. But the perspectives are different, before and after the discovery of the empty tomb. Everything changes at this point. And everything in our lives changes, once we grasp the significance of it.
The only part we played in this was to help put Jesus in the Cross — our sin adding to the burden He carried. There is no good work or religious effort that could reduce that debt. We could only, as it were, watch as He paid the price for us as a suffering human but selfless and sinless sacrifice.
The Jesus we hear about now is not just a historical person, the miracle working Galilean. He is the One who has shown Himself to be Saviour and has conquered death and disempowered all the devil’s strategies. But more than that, we can know Him! Like Cornelius and his household, any of us, wherever we come from, whatever our position in life, can believe and choose to know Him personally. That decision is life-changing, and the big difference is being able to live differently as His Spirit changes us from within.
Which is the point of Paul’s reminder in his letter: “You have been raised with Christ — your life hidden in His.” This is the Good News — new life in Jesus.
Lord Jesus, as we especially focus on the discovery that Mary made — that You are alive! – help us to grasp more fully the magnitude of what you have done for us. And help us to live in it with joy, helping others to find that You are real. Amen.