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23. OUTSIDE THE EMPTY TOMB (John 20:11-18)

BACKGROUND: The leader should read Luke 8:1-3, which tells us something about the past of Mary Magdalene. Mary, unlike the disciples, stood by the cross to the bitter end and even witnessed Jesus’ burial (Matth.27:61). The word "rabboni" (verse 16) appears only twice in the gospels. It has a stronger meaning than "rabbi" (teacher).
  1. What do you think Mary’s life was like while she was possessed by seven evil spirits. (What was each day like, how were her personal relationships, what about the “fits” that the evil spirits caused…?)
    • How do you think things were for Mary Magdalene during the years she traveled around the country with Jesus?
    • What kind of love did Mary have for Jesus? Look at the terms she used about him (verses 13,16,18).
  2. What does it show us about Mary that she stood by the cross until the bitter end, and even watched Jesus’ burial?
    • How do you think Mary had spent those two nights and one day after Jesus had died?
  3. Why didn’t Mary want to leave the grave even though it was empty (verse 11)?
    • Why was it so devastating for Mary that she couldn’t see the dead body of Jesus and touch it any more?
  4. Why didn’t Mary seem to be surprised at all to see two angels in the grave? Think of various explanations (verse 12-13).
  5. Why didn’t Mary recognize Jesus when seeing him and talking to him – think of various explanations (verse 14).
    • Has it ever happened to you that Jesus was near to you in your grief, but you didn’t recognize him? If it has, in what circumstances?
  6. Why did both the angels and Jesus ask Mary why she was crying – they must have known the answer already?
    • Why does Jesus want you to tell him the reason for your tears, something he already knows anyway?
    • Do you think Mary’s tears were in vain? Give your reasons.
    • How can we know if our tears are in vain or not?
  7. What made Mary finally recognize Jesus (verses 15-16)?
  8. Why didn’t Jesus want Mary to be carried away by her feelings (verse 17)?
    • What can we learn from the behavior in this situation of Jesus as a man?
  9. Women were not accepted as witnesses in courts at that time. Why did Jesus appear first to a woman, expressly making her the first witness of the resurrection?
    • Jesus was not bound by the unfair rules of his society, for example chauvinism or the strict regulations concerning the Sabbath, and yet he didn’t make Mary his twelfth apostle after Judas. Why, do you think?
  10. How do you think the resurrection of Jesus changed the rest of Mary’s life?
    • What hope does the resurrection of Jesus bring to the rest of your life?

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