“Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead”—(John 20:8-9 NRSV).
Just as Jesus predicted, it happened. The story wasn’t over. In fact, it was just beginning. On that first Easter Sunday, “while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb” (John 20:1).
I don’t know about you, but like Mary Magdalene, I would have assumed someone had stolen the body. John tells us she immediately ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple—the one whom Jesus loved—and told them Jesus’ body was missing.
While Peter and the other disciple raced toward the tomb together, I wonder what they were thinking. Were they ready to begin a massive hunt for the body? Were they ready to fight whoever had removed Jesus’ remains? While we don’t know these answers, we know the other disciple—whom we believe is John—outran Peter, arriving at the tomb first. When he bent down to look in the tomb, he saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in.
I often wonder why this disciple didn’t enter the tomb. Was he afraid? Was he waiting on Peter?
When Simon Peter arrived, he went into the tomb. He, too, saw the linen wrappings and the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. I wonder what Peter thought upon entering the tomb. Was he as perplexed as Mary and the other disciple?
John continues his gospel telling us that “the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes” (John 20:8-9).
Mary Magdalene, however, remained, where she had a conversation with the risen Jesus. Notice—the men left. Maybe it’s because most men seek action. Not knowing or understanding, they didn’t just stand around. They left. Were they formulating a plan as they returned home? Were they eager to meet with the other disciples and get their take on the situation?
Jesus instructed Mary to announce to the disciples, “I am ascending to my Father and your father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17). When she announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord” and then revealed the things he told her, do you wonder if they understood?
Pastor and author Eugene H. Peterson said, “It is not easy to convey a sense of wonder, let alone resurrection wonder, to another. It’s the very nature of wonder to catch us off guard, to circumvent expectations and assumptions. Wonder can’t be packaged, and it can’t be worked up. It requires some sense of being there and some sense of engagement.”
The beauty of the Easter message is a symbol of hope, renewal and new life—and we’re invited to be a part of it.
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