Having gone to the tomb and finding it empty the ladies are confronted by an angel who tells them to go and tell the disciples, but John did not tell us that. We need to look at Mark’s gospel which would have been conveyed to him by Peter. Peter had not been there, so how did Peter know all this? Mary (We cannot exclude that the others were there with her.)
What is the report? The tomb is empty; Jesus is gone, and someone who just appeared out of nowhere told us to go tell the disciples.
Do John and Peter analyze all this information, comparing it with the comments that Jesus had made and make some decisive conclusions that motive them to investigate for themselves because they need foundational information for their next sermons?
Get real! What you hear barely registers – you are still in shock. The man that loved you like no one else ever had, and while you stayed by his side he took care of every need you had has died and was buried in that tomb, and now he is gone. You don’t even have a plan; you merely respond and run to the scene.
John 20:3 Moffatt NT So Peter and the other disciple set out for the tomb;
Even though Mark conveys that the ladies ran trembling from the tomb, that does not mean that they, at least Mary Magdalene, did not do what the angel told her. We do not see the angels demanding a hasty conveyance of the message, but the implications are there. Merely to be a character enveloped in the moment would imply that you would run with all haste.
Where did Mary find Peter and John? That is not given to us, but can be assumed. You probably do not just rent out a room for your Passover meal, so this had to be a relative of one of the men and we can assume, to some degree, a disciple.
In time Jesus will tell the followers, all 120 of them, to wait in the upper room. This may have been the same room that they had the passover in, and may well be where they found Peter and John. Distraught, you either run to seclusion or to a familiar place. Having been told Mary ran to the familiar place and found Peter and John there.
As we have worked through John’s gospel it is hard to imagine the despair they felt as Jesus told them that he, the best thing that ever happened to them, was to be brutally murdered (a voluntary act on his part) and taken from them.
I do not think we can accurately imagine how they felt, or what they thought as they heard these words – the tomb is empty, and an angel said, he is not here. Looking at a picture recently coming out of Syria, I see a small boy, approximately 2-3 years old, standing in front of an older man sitting on the ground. They both seem to be in the street. What the boy is looking at we do not know, but he is crying in anguish because horrible people have wantonly slaughtered his mother because she is of a differing religion. Anguish, despair, loss of direction, no sense of purpose, and no idea of what is to happen next. Maybe that is what they felt.
John 20:4 NASB ” The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first;…”
I have heard deeply spiritual sermons that seemed to focus on Peter coming second. We know that Peter was very disappointed by his own actions and you might think that it showed in his lack of enthusiasm in running. Get over it; he ran; John just ran faster.
What were they hoping to see? Perhaps nothing; perhaps they just needed to verify that the tomb, which bordered upon impossible to get into, was empty. Why do we crane our necks, some even stopping to look at the horrid car crash, as they traverse the freeway? What are you hoping to see? Why should these men be so different, except that Jesus was like family with one exception; he gave them hope.
Empty! What does that imply? Back to it’s original state. If grave robbers had come they would not have taken the time to leave grave cloths.
We have a clear indication of what they might have expected.
Matthew 16:21-22 NASB From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. (22) Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.”
Peter even challenged Jesus about it, but this only added to Peter’s disillusionment, and John tells us none of them believed.
If you read the 20th chapter of John you will see that John indicates that after having seen the clothes lying as they were he believed. Belief has such varied depths of understanding to it. I personally know people who have a belief in Jesus, but we are cautioned to look at the fruit that comes off the tree as an indicator. (Don’t judge one bad apple coming off a tree that may be filled with good apples, as an indicator of the health of the tree. Occasionally the tree can become infested. Should you be a horticulturist then you would know to be observant, take action, and stop the infestation that could destroy not only the fruit but the entire tree. Your fast actions can help to maintain that tree for its lifetime. You should also understand that a well maintained tree has its own natural defense system and often includes the nutrient flow. In a pine tree you would call this sap, and in a well watered tree the sap flow is strong enough to inundate the boring beetle or push it back out. Locally, we lost a large quantity of forest due to drought and beetle populations that went out of control. Ordinarily the trees themselves would have been their own defense but rain had been sparse.)
Have you ever heard the sentence, “hindsight is twenty twenty”. It means, looking back I can see clearly what was going on; at the time I could not. John wrote this almost 90 years after Jesus death, and possibly 40 years after Mark wrote his gospel.
You can easily look back and see that when John chose to finally step inside the tomb, and saw the grave clothes, not strewn about hastily but placed in different locations, was the point in time where something changed in him. Suddenly this was becoming real to him. Kind of like my tree story a moment ago there was a point at which God stepped in, did some maintenance work and changed the direction of John’s life.
Many of you have already looked back. Could you see twenty twenty? Did you see your need for Jesus Christ? All it takes is for you admit that you have messed up and that you need him. Ask him into your life. He will take the burden of your sins off you – He did this on that cross so many years ago. He merely has been waiting for you to accept that he did it for you. The moment you do this a new life begins in him, along with the assurance of a life with the Father in eternity.