King Returns Part 1 Bible Study

Connie Rainwater

Early 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. So 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!”

– John 20:1-2 (NIV)

From our vantage point in history it is impossible to fully imagine what a tumultuous week this was for Jesus’ followers. Think about all they had witnessed — watching the man they believed would save them arrested, tried, beaten and hanging on a cross.

Now think about Mary’s walk to the tomb “while it was still dark.” Jewish law forbade her from going to the tomb on the Sabbath, which would end at dawn, but clearly she just couldn’t stay away any longer. Upon arriving she encountered a situation she had never anticipated.

Let’s begin by exploring this story in the Gospel of John and our place in God’s story.


Share Your Story

Can you think of a time when Jesus was drawing you to His presence, and you could not stay away?

Can you think of a time when, in responding to Jesus, you faced an unexpected situation?

What was the result of your responding to Him? How did that deepen your relationship with Him?


Hear God’s Story

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) – John 20:3-9 (NIV)


What a curious set of clues left behind in the tomb. Clearly they were not sure what to make of it in the moment, and surely resurrection was not in the realm of possibilities they would have considered.

Read the last two verses again. What is the difference between understanding and believing?

Which has been most important to you as you consider His resurrection and the new life He can give you?

What can you learn about Jesus from the way He had prepared His followers for this moment, even though they didn’t realize it at the time?

What can you learn about God from this story regarding the way His plan will surpass our expectations?


Create a New Story

In this section talk about how you will apply the wisdom you’ve learned from the teaching and Bible study. Then think about practical steps you can take in the coming week to live out what you’ve learned.


The disciples were dealing with death, grief and loss, but Life was about to break through in a way they could never imagine. God could see beyond their grief to the redemption waiting for the world. He could see beyond their fear to the relationship available to them through the sacrifice of His Son. God could see beyond their sense of abandonment to the church about to be birthed. He could see beyond their confusion to the gifts each of them would bring to the Kingdom.

What are you grappling with to understand your journey? How would asking for faith make a difference?

Where can you see God’s faithfulness and purpose in bringing you Life — equipping and preparing you for the difficulties you are presently experiencing? For the gifts you can bring to the Kingdom?

What does this lesson teach you about trusting in God’s grace and goodness — anticipating the things God is working to bring to your life?


Digging Deeper

Read one or more of the parallel passages in the Gospels that tell of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Make note of how each of those involved respond to the events — the disciples, the women, the guards, the Jewish religious leaders, etc.

Matthew 27:57-66, 28:1-15

Luke 24:1-12

Mark 15:42-16:1-8

What are some of the unique things you learned from the different accounts?

Is there a character from the story you identify with most? Why?

How do you think you would have responded to these events?

What opportunities do you have to respond now? In faith, in relationship, in obedience?


Daily Devotionals

Day 1

Read about Mary’s encounter with Jesus in John 20:10-12:

Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.


Something about Mary’s relationship with Jesus is so deeply personal. Perhaps because He had so radically changed her life. Perhaps because he saw her in a way no one else ever had. So when the other disciples returned home, she stayed behind. She couldn’t leave without finding Him. How do you think you would have responded to this situation?


Day 2

Continue reading John 20:13-14:      

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.


Can you think of a time when Jesus was clearly with you, near you, and you did not recognize it? Where are you missing His presence in your life?


Day 3

Continue reading from John 20:15-16:       

“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).


Mary found what she was seeking. She was the first person to see Jesus after His resurrection. How did it change everything when He said her name?

When has Christ called you, letting you see that He knows you intimately?


Day 4

Continue reading from John 20:17:

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”


Mary’s relationship with Jesus was about to change. It needed to change. He had come to make it possible for her to know the living God.

Where might you be limiting your relationship with Jesus by holding onto an old pattern?


Day 5

Continue reading from John 20:18:

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.


Mary was the first eyewitness to the resurrection. What eyewitness testimony could you share with someone who needs to see Jesus?