John 20:4-9 "So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. 5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead."
This morning I chose to read about the resurrection during my time of personal devotion. I am aware that the resurrection of Jesus did not take place on Easter, but just the same it is a good time to think of the resurrection since so many people are thinking about the resurrection at this time.
As I was looking at the story, I was struck by how the people coming to the tomb had varied experiences.
Mary Magdalene went to the tomb before dawn, saw that the stone had been taken away, ran to Peter and John, and told them that the body of Jesus had been taken away.
Peter and John then ran together to see for themselves. John outran Peter, came to the tomb first, stooped down and peered within, saw the linens lying there, but did not enter.
Peter arrived, entered the tomb, saw the linens and the handkerchief that had been around Christ's head, the latter being carefully folded and set apart, but no mention is made of his believing.
John followed Peter in, saw what Peter saw, and believed!
Then the two men departed to their homes, soberly pondering the empty tomb because they "did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead."
Mary returned, stood outside the tomb weeping, and finally stooped down and looked into the tomb. In her case, she saw two angels sitting at the head and at the feet of where Jesus' body had formerly lain.
The angels questioned why she was weeping, to which she responded, "Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him."
Turning around she saw a man standing there that she supposed was the gardener—it was actually Jesus, but she did not recognize Him—who spoke to her: "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Not realizing this was Jesus, she asked for information on the whereabouts of the body so that she could go and take Him away. What she was going to do when she found and obtained the body we are not informed, but she was going to find His body and take care of it somehow—perhaps she knew of an available tomb.
Then Jesus said her name: "Mary!" Instantly she knew it was her loved Master, and she exclaimed "Rabboni"—Teacher. We can imagine the great joy that filled her heart!
Jesus then instructed her to not cling to Him because He needed to ascend to His Father and Her Father, His God and Her God.
Needless to say, Mary had quite the story to tell when she later found the disciples.
Mary went early, saw the stone had been rolled away and went to tell the others. I wonder what she might have seen had she peered within?
Peter and John went running together, and John, who arrived first, could have been the one to enter, see all the linens and believe from the start. But he looked from the outside and from that limited view did not come to believe.
Peter being Peter, went right in, took it all in, but apparently did not believe immediately even though he had entered.
John eventually followed Peter in, saw, and believed!
Mary, still mourning and longing to find Jesus, returned, looked into the tomb, and was rewarded with seeing two angels—angels that might have been present when Peter and John came running, but for whatever reason, were invisible to them.
Mary was not only rewarded with seeing the angels, but she would soon find herself talking with her beloved Master.
Why did Mary see angels and talk with Jesus and not the two men?
Was it varying expectations? Was it varying levels of faith? Was it varying levels of love? Did the earlier sacrifice of Mary in anointing Jesus a factor?
I am curious to know your answer?
What are you expecting when you think about the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus?
Are you looking at the story expecting to find a miracle and the message of a risen saviour? Are you thinking about the victory and power that is available to you through Jesus who is advocating on your behalf in the heavenly sanctuary?
Or do you dwell on his death and the seeming impotence of your personal life?