Station #7 of the Resurrection Story

Station #7 of the Resurrection Story

Station #7 ….. Peter and John See the Empty Tomb

Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. Stooping to look in, he saw pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself. Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed. No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home.  (John 20:3-10)

Worth a Thousand Words: Disciples Peter and John running to the tomb, Burnand

A Reflection:

So she ran and told Peter and the young man John, and they ran too – the only time in the Bible, I think, when three people all run in the same story – and they come to the tomb, puffing and blowing but with their hearts pounding because they have no idea whether this  news is good or bad or  just totally bizarre. They don’t have a game plan for this. If you come to Jerusalem following a Messiah and he gets caught and killed, your best plan is to hide for a few days and then sneak out of town while you still can before the authorities come after you as well. You don’t want to be running around inspecting tombs in the half-light of early dawn on the first day of the week, the beginning of the working week, when people would soon be up and about their business after the Sabbath.

The point is this: the resurrection of Jesus was totally unexpected, and remains, in our world today, totally unexpected. It’s a shock, an insult to our worldviews – not just to our modern worldview, though modernists like to imagine they are the first people in history to notice that dead people stay dead. But Easter is supposed to be a surprise, supposed to get us up early and running about when other people are still asleep. That is the foundation of the church, of Christian faith, of Christian life and hope and love and laughter and witness. Easter is not just unlikely, it’s impossible, but it happened. Easter isn’t just difficult to believe, it is unbelievable, because it doesn’t fit into any other categories.

To believe in the Easter gospel is to have your mind and your heart torn open in quite a new way so that the new day can come flooding in despite the fact that you thought it was time to go to bed, and so that you can be set off running to see what it’s all about. There’s no time to lose. Easter is about running when you thought you’d still be sleeping. It’s about believing what you thought you’d never imagine. It’s about living in a way you’d never have dreamed possible. It’s about Jesus returning from the dead and launching a new creation in which all is forgiven, all is remade, all is reborn.

So there’s plenty to do, plenty of running to and fro in the excitement of the Easter morning. But at the heart of it all there is the still center, the moment of wonder and awe, the moment when Peter and John come into the tomb and discover not only that the body of Jesus has disappeared but that the grave-clothes have been carefully put aside, indicating that the body has not merely been resuscitated but transformed. Let us then celebrate God’s victory over death itself, and commit ourselves once more to follow him into the new day.  (N. T. Wright, an Easter sermon on April, 2009)

Resurrection, Present Tense:

This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God – ‘Jesus is my Master’ – embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it.  (Romans 10:9-10)