Read John 20:1-10
The pain of the events leading up to the mock trial, the insanity of Jewish leaders and the crowd they mustered, Pilate’s capitulation, and the soldier’s mechanical actions that led to the death of their beloved. Three years went by in a flash. Now He was dead and buried.
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. John 20:1
To make matters worse, someone had the audacity to steal the body. He was gone. The guards had their story, not covered by John probably because it was irrelevant! No one truly expected this to happen. Seriously, if we didn’t know the story, we would not skip over these verses so quickly. John’s account is so brief we can easily miss the magnitude of the moment.
Mary’s reaction is highlighted by John. She didn’t need to investigate, she needed help.
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 20:2
Peter and John are together, probably with the other disciples. I can only imagine that Peter spent hours grieving with his brothers in Christ. I’m sure he told them about his denials and the ominous, echoing rooster that tortured his mind. His brothers consoled him, at least in my mind. They were together and the women that supported their ministry knew it.
Peter and John take off running for the tomb. I have no idea how far, but apparently John was the better runner! He got to the gravesite first, but Peter didn’t stop when he arrived.
Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. John 20:6-7
His heart was beating wildly in his chest, Peter wasn’t going to stop. He was no longer afraid of what people would say. Jesus was dead, anyway, so it really didn’t matter. What could they do to him now? John finally stepped into the tomb as well. Confused. Perhaps angry. I think they were drained. Knees weak. Breathing was difficult.
In hindsight John adds this parenthetical comment:
(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) John 20:9
What else could they do?
the disciples went back to where they were staying. John 20:10
Yes, I know there’s much more to the story, but for this moment may I suggest we pause and slip into Peter and John’s sandals and meditate. Let the emotions of this moment make a mark in my heart, O Lord.
I know I can’t bear the pain they felt, nor would I really want to if somehow I could, but I do want to sense the weight of the moment. If I could, then perhaps my heart would truly break for those who are far from Christ. If I could look into the faces of the eleven men and a number of women that filled that small space, maybe then I would be able to hear Your voice. Perhaps even my heart would break for the least, the lost, and the lonely.
It’s cold outside. I know people are sleeping on the ground. You know people sleeping behind dumpsters. Sure, they’ve made mistakes, battle mental giants and perhaps addictions, but they are people.
Perhaps worse, it’s cold inside. Hearts of stone that need to melt. Warm our hearts O Lord, and show us what we should do next. Please be patient as I stumble and fall, still chasing demons that haunt me from the past, failures that I hold onto. One by one, show me how to wrestle them to the ground, then release them to You.
The tomb is empty. What happens next was impossible.