Easter Reflection: The Two at the Tomb
What was it like that first Easter morning? For Peter and John the Beloved, this was a day of discovery and a day of delight.
Begin with Easter faith; that is where it began with the two in the tomb. From that launching pad, the resurrection herald has been heard throughout the centuries and around the world! Just think what He can do in you!
The two men were running through the streets of Jerusalem as fast as their feet could carry them. Having heard the news from Mary of Magdala, they were so startled that they abandoned the other disciples in the Upper Room without saying a word. They had to see for themselves.
John pulled ahead of Peter, shouting something unintelligible as he passed. This son of Zebedee had always been much quicker and more athletic than his counterpart. Peter was not surprised that he was left to himself, panting heavily as he continued past the house of the High Priest, Caiaphas, then into the upper city, racing past Herod’s palace. He finally lost sight of John who had disappeared through the city gate and onto the path toward the tomb.
John wasn’t really thinking about anything. He was simply running, with only the sound of his own hard breathing to keep him company. Reaching the tomb first was not his objective. He would probably wait for Peter when he arrived. For John, the distance between the Upper Room and the tomb was a looming obstacle… an impediment to finding the truth. He just wanted to get to the place where Jesus had been laid as fast as he could.
Rounding an abrupt curve in the path, the dark doorway of the tomb now stood before the one whom Jesus loved. This was not the way he remembered it just after the crucifixion of the Master. He had walked this path to the tomb before. Holding the arm of Mary, John led her solemnly to see the place where they had laid her son.
His body had not yet been completely prepared for burial due to the upcoming Sabbath, yet the two-ton stone that was used to seal the tomb had already been rolled in place. A Roman seal was placed upon it, a warning that the tomb must not be violated.
As he now approached, John noticed that the large stone had been rolled off to the side of the rocky opening. He stopped abruptly and did not enter through the now open door. John stooped to look inside, but could only see a few feet into the cave. Standing almost motionless as a garden statue, he waited for Peter to catch up. John could detect the faint aroma of spices that had been dropped by the women earlier that morning.
Startled by the news they were given, the contents of their linen bags had spilled on the ground. Today was the day when the women were planning to properly embalm the body of the Master. Joseph and Nicodemus had done their best preparing Jesus’ body in the short time left before the Sabbath, but there was much more to do.
Peter now arrived and didn’t even stop to speak with John. In almost a singular motion, he slowed from a run to a jog and then to a slow walk, marching past his fellow disciple and into the shadows of the tomb. His last glance of the Master had taken place just after a cock had crowed. He would never forget the expression on Jesus’ face – a face he had just declared he did not know.
Now, on the first day of the week, the Master’s body was missing. How he wanted to take back every second of the last 24 hours of his life. He wanted once more to hear Jesus’ laugh. He had once been called “a rock,” but today he felt no more significant than a tiny grain of sand.
The air was stale inside to tomb but, surprisingly, there was no stench. Peter was amazed by this. In fact, every few breaths he thought he smelled roses. Squinting in the dim light of a cave, however, he saw no flowers left by those who had wrapped his body days before. Still the fragrance would ambush his senses unexpectedly.
The interior of the cavern appeared black as the night sky over the Sea of Galilee when Peter had approached it in the light of day. When he moved inside, though, his eyes adjusted and the details of the tomb became much clearer. He could now see the stone slab upon which the body had been laid and other details of the grotto.
On top of the rock table he noticed the white burial linens. They were placed as though a body were still present but now lay flat against the stone. “His body could not have been carried away,” Peter thought, “the cloths are still here. It was as if he had just disappeared… vanished… leaving everything else in place.”
Peter then saw the “sudarian” – the face cloth – rolled up neatly at one end of the slab. Stained with blood and other fluids, this cloth had been placed over the face of the Master after he had been taken down from the cross. “Who took the time to fold this,” Peter thought to himself, “and why?”
Just then John walked in and placed his hand on Peter’s shoulder. Startled, he turned, standing face to face with ...
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