“because he was teaching his followers. He said to them, “The Son of Man will be handed over to people, and they will kill him. After three days, he will rise from the dead.””
Mark 9:31 NCV
“Early on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb while it was still dark. When she saw that the large stone had been moved away from the tomb, she ran to Simon Peter and the follower whom Jesus loved. Mary said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him.” So Peter and the other follower started for the tomb. They were both running, but the other follower ran faster than Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and looked in and saw the strips of linen cloth lying there, but he did not go in. Then following him, Simon Peter arrived and went into the tomb and saw the strips of linen lying there. He also saw the cloth that had been around Jesus’ head, which was folded up and laid in a different place from the strips of linen. Then the other follower, who had reached the tomb first, also went in. He saw and believed. (They did not yet understand from the Scriptures that Jesus must rise from the dead.)”
John 20:1-9 NCV
It was a mystery. Where was Jesus’ body? As of yet no one had actually seen it. There were clues lying all around, but no body. The horrors of Jesus’ arrest, trial, beating, and ultimately His crucifixion had veiled their thoughts from His promise to rise again.
The women had gone to the tomb out of love and devotion, but they were just wondering who would roll the stone away. They had no idea the stone had been rolled away by an Angel. They didn’t even know Pontius Pilate had sealed it and set guards before it. Mary saw the stone rolled away first. She didn’t pause to investigate further for as soon as she saw the stone she turned to go to Peter and John. She just assumed grave robbers had come and stolen Jesus’ body.
Simon Peter and John were safely tucked away in some house. They weren’t looking for Jesus’ body though He had told them plainly that He would rise again in three days. Give Peter and John credit though for running into the boiling cauldron of the enemy. Three days before Peter denied even knowing the Lord, but now he was running to Jesus’ tomb.
Each of their thoughts were eclipsed for now because of the storm clouds of sorrow veiling their hearts. But soon the light would begin to dawn on each friend of Jesus.
Checking out the clues
John arrived first and simply glanced in cautiously remaining outside the tomb. Impulsive Peter went all the way into the tomb. (Of course he would.) Peter went to the grave clothes and investigated them for himself. Then John when in, and when he got close to the grave clothes, he comprehended their true meaning. The clothes were lying on the stone bench. There was no evidence of violence or crime. They lay there like an empty cocoon because Jesus’ body had passed right through them. The head cloth carefully rolled and lying by itself. Grave robbers would not have taken the time to carefully unwrap the dead body. With all the spices and the myrhh and aloe oils soothed onto Jesus’ wounds the cloth would have stuck and been hard to pull away. Like Sherlock Holmes, John began adding up the evidence. Resurrection’s truth was beginning to dawn.
At some earlier point in their friendship with the Lord, Jesus had promised He would rise again after three days.
Lest we be too hard on those first followers of Jesus, we have to remember the horrors of the past several days. They were hiding from those who killed their Messiah.
The women walking to the tomb forgot the promise. They were focused on the task at hand. They wanted to anoint Jesus’ body with more frankincense and myrhh so death and decay wouldn’t consume it so quickly.
Mary Magdalene forgot. She thought grave robbers had come and stolen the body.
Peter and James forgot. Luke 24:11 says they thought the women’s story sounded like nonsense.
I dare say aren’t we in the same boat.
A bad report from the doctor and we forget God’s promise to bless and not to curse.
A job lost and we forget God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.
We also tend to let the storm of life eclipse the great love of our God.
But He leaves us clues everyday that He is always near. We have them written down in this thing we call the Bible.
We can see them in our grandson’s smiles.
We can hear them in our child’s laughter.
It may be a slow dawning but a dawning none the less.
It may be the steps of faith Peter and John took. Simply glancing up, then carefully observing, and then the rainbow breaks through and His promise is written in the skies
“Never again will the floodwaters destroy life.”