Summary: This is about John beating Peter in a footrace to the empty tomb, but Peter going in first. t’s about Peter’s courage, and how we need to live courageous lives, following God’s plans for us.
John 20:1-9 – Fools Rush In
Today, as we are continuing our series called He is Risen Indeed, where we have been studying Jesus’ resurrection and what it means to us, we turn our attention to the men of the story. We have studied Jesus’ female disciples, but now we look for inspiration from Jesus’ male disciples. Turn with me to John 20 and we’ll read the 1st 9 verses.
Now, let’s recap what has already happened on that 1st Easter Sunday. The women disciples – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome, and more – have come to the tomb to anoint their leader with burial spices. It turns out that the stock, blocking the entrance to the tomb, has been rolled away. The tomb is not empty, though. There are 2 angels in there, telling the women that Jesus has been raised from the dead.
It’s likely that when John’s gospel says that Mary Magdalene discovered the empty tomb, it’s only because John was focusing on Mary Magdalene specifically. After all, she becomes the 1st one to see Jesus. So even though John only mentions her, he does refer to others in v2: “We don’t know where they have put Him.” We, as in, more than just herself.
So, at this point Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, presumably John, both run to the tomb. The distance between where the disciples were camping out in Jerusalem and the tomb that Jesus was buried in, belonging to the religious aristocrat Joseph of Arimathea, was not very far. And John outran Peter to get to the tomb when the women brought back the news of Jesus’ missing body.
Now, I want to focus this morning on the fact that John beat Peter in a footrace, but Peter went in the tomb first. I think there’s something there that we can hang our hats on, something that will spur us on in our faith.
In my study for today, I found different sermons on John outrunning Peter. Sometimes they rang true with me, and sometimes they didn’t quite seem to fit.
For example, I read one sermon that said John outran Peter because John was younger. That much is probably true. John sat at Jesus’ right hand at the Last Supper. That’s a Jewish tradition, that the youngest at the table sits or reclines next to the leader of the Passover meal. Jesus was the leader or course, so it’s likely true that John was the youngest at the table. Youth won the race that day, beating out the apparently older Peter. But you know, that’s not necessarily true. Youth does not always win a footrace. I don’t think a person can say that John won because he was younger.
Someone else wrote that John beat Peter because John had stronger convictions. John believed that Jesus had risen from the dead sooner than Peter, and his simple faith and beliefs had driven him faster than Peter’s legs had carried him. Well, again I say, I don’t buy it. After all, even if John got there 1st, once he was there, he didn’t rush right into the tomb for a better view of the situation. John peeked his head in, but Peter took it full force and went in. No, John’s stronger convictions don’t sit with me either.