After Jesus was crucified and died, Joseph of Arimathea, [being disciples of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews] asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. So he came and took the body of Jesus . (John 19:38)
Wait a minute! Joseph of Arimathea would have had to go to the Praetorium where Pilate was. He needed to get special permission just to talk to Pilate. He suddenly got bold!
And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. (John 19:39)
Nicodemus started off timid also. But now he had boldness to be seen in public, caring for Jesus’ body. Carrying, or wheeling 100 pounds worth of ointments was quite a public scene.
Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day for the tomb was nearby. (John 19:40-42)
It was getting late in the day. People needed to prepare for the Sabbath. Joseph of Arimathea had a tomb nearby, so they decided to put Jesus’ body there so that they would not be handling a dead body on the Sabbath. Of course, this was Joseph of A’s tomb, so Jesus would have to be moved at some point.
After the Sabbath was over:
Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then 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.” (John 20:1-2)
She knew He was going to be moved somewhere else, but she did not know where. She went to the tomb while it was still dark, so she would not miss out on seeing where they were going to put His body.
Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there, yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
When Lazarus was raised from the dead, he was still in his grave clothes. The people standing by had to unwrap him and unbind Him. When Jesus rose from the dead, He did not need the grave clothes anymore. Jesus left them behind, and even folded the handkerchief that had been around His head.
Peter and John saw it, but then went home. Meanwhile Mary is not so satisfied with the situation.
But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” (John 20:11-13)
Mary wants to see the body of Jesus. Where have they physically moved Him to?
Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him and I will take Him away.” (John 20:14-15)
She didn’t recognize Jesus immediately. (We do the same thing; let’s not be too hard on Mary.) Also, how was she going to take Him away by herself? Or maybe she hadn’t thought that far ahead? Or she knew she could depend on the disciples to help her, since they were going to have to put His body in another grave. She knew he couldn’t stay in Joseph’s grave.
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
Now her eyes are open and she knows it’s Jesus.
She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.”
Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that He had spoken these things to her. (John 20:16-18)
According to this passage in John, Mary Magdalene was the first person Jesus spoke to after He rose from the dead. What an honor! Here is a woman who had been an extreme sinner, out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons, yet she is the one who was close by, and the one He chose to reveal Himself to first.
Although the tomb was meant to be temporary, they thought they would have to move Jesus’ body to another grave. But no; death could not hold Him!