Sunday, February 12, 2012


The account of the resurrection of Christ, as recorded in John 20 is probably a very well read scripture... but as I went over it again recently, a new thought occurred to me (new to me anyway).

Here we have a real OMG moment, and it brings vastly differing results to three people...

In the story, we have three characters, Mary Magdalene, Peter and John. They are very different people who all have a common experience, they are all witness to the open tomb of their Lord, yet their reactions are vastly different. For those who want it, here is the account from John's gospel:
 1 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. 2 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!”
 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
 11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
 13 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.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
 15 He asked her, “Woman, 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.”
 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
   She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 
So, first up, we'll look at John, who was known as 'the disciple whom Jesus loved'. Here was a follower who's faith in Jesus was unflinching, built not on logic, persuasion or rhetoric, but love. He enters the opened tomb, sees the grave clothes neatly folded up, and immediately believes! He doesn't need to be led through the steps of what Jesus said and did to come to a conclusion, he understands straight away that Jesus is alive.

Next we have the much maligned Peter, a man who is at this point full of self-loathing, recrimination and has lost belief in himself. He is at such a low point mentally and emotionally that he has given up on himself as a follower of Jesus, and soon decides to throw it all in and go back to fishing as a living. He looks into the tomb, sees exactly what John has seen, and gets,... nothing. 

It won't be for another week before Peter has to face his 'demons', when Jesus gently re-validates him, and restores him strength and leadership through a showing of love and forgiveness.

Mary, who's back-story with Jesus has led her to a deep and abiding love for him as a man and her Lord, is devastated at the 'desecration' of the empty tomb. When she looks in, after Peter and John have run off to tell their story, she sees a new thing - two angels are now in the tomb, and she then encounters Jesus himself outside the tomb. Jesus gave her all she needed to give her the joy she would feel, just one word - he called her by her name. Mary needed that personal, close and intimate encounter to bring her into the truth.

The over-riding point I got from all this is, Jesus knows us intimately, knows how we think, knows what we believe, knows our strengths and our weaknesses. And he deals with us in just the way that heals.

Peter needed the time to think, to reach the depths and strip away his self-reliance, before he would accept a life of relying completely on Jesus. John simply needed to see a small thing to understand the larger picture, he already had built a relationship with Jesus out of love, the one true foundation for faith. Mary received from Jesus that direct personal encounter, a recognition of herself as a person, not just a part of the crowd.

Jesus knows just what you need to bring everything into perspective, to open your eyes, your heart and your mind. Of course, you won't get it if you're sitting on the couch not looking... have you run to the tomb and confronted a Jesus that is no longer dead and buried?


  1. Well written Greg. I love your what God has reviled to you. I also like when Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves Him. The word used in this situation by Peter was philia which means more friendship than love as we understand it. He is admitting this time that maybe his love wasn't as deep as he once boasted. We can get trapped into this too. Jesus then responds as Jesus would, handing him responsibility of looking after his flock even after Peter made what would have felt like the biggest mistake of his life. Jesus shows us again an example of His grace and love for us. Peter was remorseful and it took this to put his life on the line after that but it was a kind of blessing in disguise in a way. He was pretty determined to give his life after that.

  2. yes, it was great to see that even when we give up on ourselves God knows we can get back on course


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