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Risen on the third day

English > Fields of Research > Biblical Theology

P. Rüst (2007), an investigation of the evidence for Jesus' resurrection given in John's account, 7 p.;
http://www.aneste.ch/files/HeIsRisen.pdf
Translated from the German original, P. Rüst (2006), "Auferstanden am dritten Tag", Predigt Flüehli, Schwarzenburg (Schweiz), 7 S.

And, bending down to the side,
he sees the lying-there linen-bandages,
however, he did not go in.


Now comes Simon Peter also, following him,
and went into the tomb;
and looks at the linen-bandages lying-there,


and the sudarium,
which was on his head,
not between the linen-bandages lying-there,
but - out of the way - wrapped up
onto one place.

(John 20:5-7)

Contents:

1. The empty tomb
2. Drawing up the facts of the case
3. The linen bandages
4. Linen bandages lying there?
5. Separate linen bandages?
6. The sudarium or burial shroud

7. The fact of the resurrection
8. The reaction of the disciples
9. By faith alone
10. The reactions of the enemies
11. God's restraint
12. He has risen indeed!

- Early in the morning after the passover sabbath, Mary Magdalene discovers that the heavy stone has been rolled away from the entrance of the tomb, into which the body of Jesus had been laid. She runs and tells Peter and John that they have taken away the Lord. Immediately, the two of them run to the tomb and realize at once that Jesus must have risen, although they still don't understand it. John's report of the findings is terse and precise. What has happened?

- Three times, John mentions the linen bandages, which he saw even before entering the tomb. They are not sheets, but bandages, which had been used to bind up the body. The body could not have been removed from them without untying or cutting them. And three times, the bandages are qualified as "being there". Why doesn't it say something like "laid"? The first "being there" is emphasized by standing in front of the noun, indirectly confirmed by a manuscript, in which a copier corrected a part of the sentence he had missed before, but erroneously shifted down, so that the unusual front-standing was lost.

- John saw immediately that there were several separate bandages. The resin mix used for binding up the body for burial had stiffened the bandages, such that they were now standing on the stone bench as individual loops. Although John had expected that the body was'nt there any more, this view gave him quite a shock, so that first, "however", he did not go in.

- Then Peter went in and saw, in addition to the bandages, the sudarium, which John had seen when they took Jesus from the cross, laying the sheet on his head and covering his whole body, with half of the sheet in front and the other half between his back and the stem of the cross. A few individual bandages only were then used to bind up the body together with the spices in the shroud. Now, the bandages remained unchanged where they had been, but the shroud was somehow removed from the stiffened bandages, wrapped up and laid aside. This state of affairs made it obvious to the disciples that Jesus had risen bodily in a supernatural way.

- Therefore ("now"), they went home, as there was nothing more to find. Peter "admired the result". He was not wondering what had happened, as this was now clear to him. Was he looking at the result of the event, namely the shroud in his hands? The Turin shroud would fit this interpretation, but it is probably a later forgery. Biblically, relics are suspect, anyhow. A divine sign will disappear after the believers addressed have seen it. Hiskia had to destroy Moses' bronze serpent when they started worshipping it. The risen Christ offered the "unbelieving" Thomas the hand-felt proof of his resurrection, but now Thomas realized the futility of what he had asked for, as now his faith was solidly based on a person-to-person loving relationship with the Son of God standing before him.

- Neither Jews nor Romans denied that the tomb was empty. But they didn't find the body. The visual proof of the standing bandage loops had to be destroyed and the guards bribed, so that the lie of the stolen body could be perpetrated. The Jews knew of some temporary resuscitations and expected a general resurrection at the final judgment. And the Gentiles believed in some heroes having been deified, but just as souls without bodies. To all, it was completely unexpected that a really dead one should now rise bodily from the dead.

- The only sign which Jesus had promised to give the unbelieving Jews referred to his resurrection. Could it have consisted of the standing bandage loops? All divine signs are somehow hidden, for God wants to avoid imposing himself, even in a merely logical way, because he respects the personhood of every human being.

- Why is the empty tomb important? For the christian faith, the historical factuality of Jesus' bodily resurrection is of paramount importance. If he were not risen, our faith would be empty, and we would remain in our sins. By his raising Jesus, God confirms that he has accepted his death on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for our salvation.

Eberhard Auer, "Die Urkunde der Auferstehung Jesu" (Wuppertal: Brockhaus Verlag, 1959)
Eberhard Auer, "Der dritte Tag" (Metzingen, Württemberg: Ernst Franz Verlag, 1970)
The illustrations in the text are from "Der dritte Tag"

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