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What did the Apostle John see at the tomb?

In John Chapter 20, the Apostle John writes about his own discovery of the resurrected Jesus as he and Peter arrived at the sepulchre. In Verse 5 John writes that he outran Peter and stooped down and looked into the sepulchre, but didn't go in. Peter then arrived and went in. Then, Verse 8, "Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed."

So, John takes two looks into the tomb. With his first look in Verse 5 he saw the linen cloths lying, and then in Verse 8 with the second look, he believed. What was the difference? The English translation uses the same word, "saw". The original Greek word in Verse 5 was "blepo" which means to see as an observer, or be a spectator of something. But, the word translated "saw" in Verse 8 is the Greek word "eido", which means to look on with understanding. The first time he noticed the linens, but the second time he realized exactly what he was looking at, and Verse 8 says that after realizing what he was looking at, he "believed". This is a prime example of 'lost in translation'!

That in and of itself could be explained that he saw the linens, but no body, because the body was missing, and that could only mean that Jesus had been resurrected just as He had told them He would be. BUT, let's go back to Chapter 19. Verses 39 and 40 tell us that Nicodemus brought with him a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, and he and Joseph of Arimathaea soaked the strips of cloth they brought, then wound them around the body of Christ. After 3 days, undisturbed in the tomb, these spices, mixed together, would harden similar to a plaster cast around a broken arm. So, when John looked into the tomb, what he likely saw was a body-shaped cocoon which had once contained the body of Jesus, but was now empty. There was likely a neck-shaped hole at the top where Christ's head had been, and the napkin that had covered His head was in a completely different place.

Seeing all of this, John came to the conclusion that not only was Jesus not in the cocoon, but it was still in one piece. How could Jesus have escaped his wrapped clothing without tearing it apart? His body had been miraculously morphed from the cocoon, and the napkin that covered His head carefully placed in another part of the tomb. He had risen, just as He had told His followers He would!

THAT's when John believed!


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