Gospel of John 20 – The Empty Tomb

1Early 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. 2So 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!”

From bad to worse. First he had been crucified and now it seems his tomb had been desecrated! “They have taken the Lord…we don’t know where they put him!”

Dead men don’t move themselves. Dead men don’t remove their burial clothes. Dead men don’t leave tombs. But alive men do!

Mary went to get Peter and John. The last time Mary was with John was at the foot of the cross and now she sends him running to the tomb only to him there was no mistaking what happened to the body. “They” had nothing to do with it. Jesus was alive! Don’t you wonder if John’s mind went back to the last time he saw grave clothes off a formerly dead person was back in Bethany when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Unlike the others, John didn’t have to first see the risen Lord for the puzzle pieces to fall into place. He knew then and there that Jesus was alive. When Jesus said that if he was lifted up he would draw all men to himself (John 12:32) he was not speaking only of his crucifixion, which is the immediate parallel we draw when we hear the language of being lifted up. The cross is not very attractive. But Jesus was speaking simultaneously of being lifted up from death and the grave. The resurrection is the drawing force of Christ because in being raised from the dead he eliminated any and all obstacles that could keep mankind from having the same new kind of life,

14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. – Ephesians 2:14-18


About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

4 Responses to Gospel of John 20 – The Empty Tomb

  1. John says:


    You wrote: “Don’t you wonder if John’s mind went back to the last time he saw grave clothes off a formerly dead person was back in Bethany when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Unlike the others, John didn’t have to first see the risen Lord for the puzzle pieces to fall into place.”

    But the rest of the apostles and disciples of Jesus that also saw the grave clothes taken off of Lazarus would have been similarly affected, no? And there is nothing in scripture that would give anyone reason to believe that seeing the grave clothes removed from Lazarus would have had a unique effect on John and only John — as opposed to say Peter or Philip or James or any of the other apostles.

    When the Bible urges the readers of scripture to “prove all things” it was not suggesting that they should look to the traditions of men as their standard of truth but, rather (in accord with Ps. 118:8), that they should look to scripture and trust the authority of God’s word — not the traditions which men add to it. And these words are true: “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Pr. 30:5-6), so one is always better off conforming their hypothesis to the scriptures rather than the other way around. Therefore, I hope you will be willing to receive the following note of biblical correction.

    You obviously think that John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved” but here you are misled by the traditions of men because the truth is that there is not a single verse that would justify teaching that John was the unnamed “other disciple, whom Jesus loved” (the unnamed man who wrote the fourth gospel) and that is why non-Bible sources must ALWAYS be used to sell the John tradition. While non-Bible sources may say that John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, what happens when one subjects that claim to biblical scrutiny, will it hold up? No it will not because two things are true:

    1: No one can cite a single verse of scripture that would justify promoting the idea that the unnamed “disciple whom Jesus loved” was anybody named John — not the Apostle John, nor any other John. Moreover, the reason that this cannot be done is that no such verse exists, which is the reason that no such verse is ever cited by those who put forth the unbiblical John tradition.

    2: The facts in the plain text of scripture can prove that WHOEVER the unnamed “other disciple, whom Jesus loved” was he could not have been John — because that idea forces the Bible to contradict itself, which the Bible cannot do if it is true. (A presentation of the biblical evidence on this topic is available at BelovedDiscipleBibleStudy.com).

    Two good rules of respect for the authority of God’s word: A) One should not be presenting an idea AS IF IT WERE BIBLICAL if they cannot cite a single verse that would justify teaching that idea – and – B) If the facts in the plain text of scripture prove that an idea is false, then those who love the truth will reject that false idea — no matter how many people believe it, no matter how loud some may shout it, no matter if a big-wig so-and-so believes it, no matter how long the false idea has been around, etc.

    One can surely find a NON-Bible source to cite if they want to justify their belief in the idea that the unnamed “other disciple whom Jesus loved” was John. But what no one has ever done is cite a single verse that would justify teaching that the unnamed “disciple whom Jesus loved” was John — not those who originated the unbiblical John idea and not those who repeat their error to this day.

    Unlike John, who repeatedly identified himself by name in the Book of Revelation, we can see that the unnamed “other disciple, whom Jesus loved” repeatedly used cryptic terms to conceal his identity, even though we see that he included himself in the text at key moments in the ministry of Jesus.

    The fact is that the John tradition is simply a case of mistaken identity. This, for example, explains why Jesus’ transfiguration, his prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his raising of the daughter of Jairus are NOT in the fourth gospel. Only three disciples were present at each of these events and John was one of them. Thus John was able to give eyewitness testimony when it came to these key incidents and yet there is no mention of these events in the fourth gospel, because the author, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, was not John. And the missing ‘John testimony’ is just the tip of the iceberg.

    • mattdabbs says:


      I had a look at your site and you have obviously put a lot of study in on this one. I appreciate your love for God and your respect for God’s Word.

      At the same time I find it ironic that you say we should only speak from scripture and not speculate and yet your work is chocked full of speculation and I would say even more speculation (I can site many if you like) than is required to conclude that John is indeed the beloved disciple. I say that lovingly and I hope you take it as such. I don’t have a dog in this fight and don’t have anything important hanging on the identity of the beloved disciple…whether it was Peter or John or Lazarus or someone else isn’t that important to me. And it really shouldn’t be because he didn’t even see fit to tell us who he is.

      Continue your study and keep your zeal for the truth and for the Word of God. God bless,


  2. Jerry Starling says:


    Good response to John above! I have often wondered if every one of the twelve could have described himself as “the disciple whom He loved.” I’m sure each of them felt His love in very special ways – even Judas!

    I answered a question about the significance of the napkin that had been around his head being “folded neatly” <a href="http://committedtotruth.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/question-re-the-grave-clothes-in-jesus-tomb/"here that you might find interesting.

    God bless!

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