20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. 2 So she *ran and *came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” 3 So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. 4 The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; 5 and stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. 6 And so Simon Peter also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.
I want to recap a little what John is saying here. I think it is too easy to get caught up in “bible language” and not understand the setting. On Sunday, Mary Magdalene went to visit the tomb and saw it was open with no body inside. She went to tell two of Jesus’ closest followers (who she knew would care), Peter and John (the author of this book). They took of running to check it out. John ran faster than Peter but when they got there, John stalled at the opening of the tomb and Peter went in; John followed.
So why does John pay special attention to the “linen wrappings”? Well, Mary’s report was that someone stole Jesus’ corpse from the tomb. However, the linens that His body was wrapped in were neatly folded and placed where the body was lying. If someone stole the body, why would they take the time to do this? I always pictured Jesus getting up and taking of His pajamas and folding them neatly before exiting the tomb.
We must remember that this account of the event is told from John’s perspective. The other three accounts are told from Mary’s point of view and accounts more specifically her experience. They went down to deliver spices for the body and the tomb had been rolled away. An angel appears and tells them that Jesus has risen and she flees to tell the disciples, first finding Peter (and obviously John with him) and Peter rushes to the tomb to see what she is talking about.
Imagine the chaos this created in their minds. They just had a terrible weekend. This amazing teacher they had been following, who changed their lives, was tortured and murdered right in front of them. All the while they are supposed to be celebrating God’s deliverance in the Passover ceremony; and now they discover that someone has robbed Jesus’ grave! Note what John says in verse 9. Even though their world seems to continually be getting “rocked” this week, God is still in control.
How often do we forget the things we read or study? How long after a Sunday sermon do we stop acting upon what we have learned? We read 3 whole chapters in John just before Jesus’ death where He sat with the disciples and explained to them everything that will come to pass: His death, burial, and resurrection. These guys were not just His closest followers, John and Peter were part of His most intimate inner circle! Surely they would know what all this meant! In just a few days, they forgot everything He told them. What does this mean for us? God’s sovereignty is not dependent upon our memory or actions.
I see this as a good case for faith. What I mean is that even the smartest of humans cannot know and remember everything. Additionally, it is not necessary to know and remember everything. The one thing we must continue to remember and know is that God is in control. I mentioned in my last post that as we put our trust in God, we get to experience His faithfulness. It is times like the one we read here that we have the opportunity to trust God the most. When the world continues to hammer us with difficulty and despair, we can trust that the Lord has it all taken care of. From their perspective, Jesus’ disciples didn’t even know what to think, let alone react to what they had just experienced. However, we know the bigger story, that Jesus was alive, well, and walking around looking for them!
If we accept the sovereignty of God, His all encompassing love for us, and the fact that He wants only the best for us, then we will find ourselves in the most peaceful mindset we have ever experienced. Troubles will certainly come in this world, but we have nothing to worry about or fear.