Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
Blam; he saw and believed. The passage doesn’t even say what he believed. It doesn’t need to.
They did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead, but Jesus had mentioned it plenty. Suddenly the light bulb comes on.
So, why were they running? And why did John, having outsprinted Peter, freeze and not go in?
Given that they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead, it’s likely they ran because they were just taking Mary’s words literally and they were worried.
Grave robbing was common back then. As D.A. Carson notes, “The robbing of graves was a crime so sufficiently common that the Emperor Claudius (AD 41–54) eventually ordered capital punishment to be meted out to those convicted of destroying tombs, removing bodies or even displacing the sealing stones.”
But that doesn’t explain John’s freeze-up. He looks in and can see enough to know that Jesus isn’t there, but something stops him from entering. The presence of the cloths also shows that it was not grave robbers. The cloths have value, a body not so much. Robbers who took the time to unwrap everything would surely take the cloths and the spices and leave the body.
Maybe that’s why John stopped. He has learned what he came to learn, and entering a tomb is creepy.
Then Peter shows up and acts just like Peter always acts, barging on in. Once inside Peter sees something striking— the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then John went in also; and he saw and believed. Saw what? What did he see that suddenly made him believe?
There’s only one possible answer—the handkerchief. Seeing the folded-up handkerchief converts John.
Only one person would have taken the time to fold that handkerchief—Jesus.
The light bulb is on. John and Peter know that the greatest miracle of all time has happened. So, what do they do? They go home. That seems nuts. Shouldn’t they go running down the street shouting, “Eureka!”
No. They’re doing the right thing. The Christian thing to do is to pray and wait for instructions. Just jumping up and doing whatever you feel like doing is exactly the wrong thing to do.
These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.