1 On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark. She saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she went running to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said to them, “They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him!” 3 At that, Peter and the other disciple went out, heading for the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and got to the tomb first. 5 Stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then, following him, Simon Peter also came. He entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. 7 The wrapping that had been on his head was not lying with the linen cloths but was folded up in a separate place by itself. 8 The other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, then also went in, saw, and believed. 9 For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.
The resurrection, an empty tomb, is an essential part of the gospel message and a key doctrine in the Christian faith. It proves that Jesus is the Son of God! But in today’s passage, the truth of the Resurrection was not immediately understood by even His closest followers. Not unlike today, sometimes it takes time to process truth, even if it is right before our eyes!
It is significant that the first witnesses of the resurrection of Christ were believing women. They had come to show their love for Christ by completing the burial preparations, the anointing of oils and spices. There was concern about rolling back the heavy stone that covered the entrance to the tomb. However, in the early morning when Mary Magdalene arrived, she was shocked to discover the stone was already rolled away. Her first thought was someone had broken into the tomb and stolen the body of her Lord! She turned and ran to tell Peter and the other disciple, John.
Now Peter, being Peter, began to run toward the tomb. However, John arrived first, but he stopped outside and looked in. He saw the grave clothes, empty, still lying in the shape of Jesus’ body. Then here comes Peter, who barges right into the tomb like we would expect him to do. But he is stopped in his tracks as he also sees the linen clothes lying empty. The cloth for the head was carefully rolled and lying by itself. Empty! Just like the tomb! Finally, John entered the tomb, with more reverence, and he looked at the evidence. Scripture says, “He saw and believed.”
When John wrote this account, he used three different Greek words for seeing. In verse 5, the verb simply means “to glance in, to look in.” In verse 6, the word means “to look carefully, to observe.” The word “saw” in verse 8 means “to perceive with intelligent comprehension.” Their Resurrection faith was now dawning!
In the ensuing scriptures Jesus would appear to Mary and the other women. That evening He appeared to Peter and John and the other disciples! And later in verse 29, Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The stone was rolled away, not for Jesus to get out, but for His followers to get in—to see! The stone is still rolled away, and the door is still open for all to come in—to see and believe!
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What do you see with your spiritual eyes when you read this scripture?
- Do you believe?
- We say we believe, but do our actions and responses confirm our belief?
- Scripture is clear and factual. The evidence is there, and it is worth sharing!
Pray that God will strengthen people in our church family that He is leading toward full time cross-cultural missions. Pray for courage and joy in their lives to answer and a willingness to sacrifice in order to obey. Is God moving you to go? [email protected]