146: Peter, John and Mary
Mary of Magdala had hurried back to the city quickly to bring the disciples the horrible news that Jesus' grave had been violated. She went to Peter and John in despair and cried out, "They have taken the Lord out of His tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."
The news came as a terrible shock to the two disciples. They set out for the garden in a great hurry, with Mary following them. They took a different route from the one that the women took to return to the city. Therefore they did not meet them on the way.
The closer they got to Joseph's garden, the more uneasy they became. They quickened their pace, and then began to run.
John was younger than Peter and reached the grave before him. He bent over and looked into the tomb. His heart was pounding.
The sun was higher now, and it was much lighter in the tomb. John could clearly see the cloths in which Jesus' body had been wrapped. He didn't know quite what to do, and so he stood at the opening of the tomb looking in.
Peter approached. He was panting, but he did not hesitate. He went right into the tomb. John followed him.
They stood together by the place where Jesus had lain. The clothes were still there. Strangely enough, the cloth that had covered Jesus' head was not lying loose with the others but had been carefully rolled up.
Would robbers first remove the cloths from the body and then take the extra time to roll up the cloth that covered the head? It didn't make sense.
Peter shook his head and did not know what to think. He was uneasy as he left the tomb and hurried back to the city. But John, who followed behind more slowly, thinking as he walked, suddenly looked up toward the sky in joy. A happy suspicion filled his heart, a suspicion that quickly became a certainty. He remembered that Jesus had said He would arise from the grave. Now he believed.
There was jubilation in his heart. "The Master's body has not been taken away," he said to himself. "The Lord has risen from the grave!" He hurried to catch up to Peter and tell him this glorious news.
Mary of Magdala stayed behind in the garden. She stood by the tomb weeping. Then she bent over to go inside.
She saw two men sitting by the grave in white clothes. One sat at the head end of the niche where Jesus' body had lain, and one at the foot end. She did not ask herself what those men were doing there. She was so upset that she couldn't even think straight.
She heard one of them ask, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
She sobbed as she answered, "Because my Lord has been taken away, and I do not know where you have laid Him."
Then she turned around and saw another man standing behind her. It was Jesus Himself, but she did not recognize Him through her tears.
Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?"
Mary was so upset that she didn't even recognize the voice. She thought the man who asked her the question was the groundskeeper. She cried out, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you put Him, and I'll go get Him." She turned away without even waiting for an answer.
Then Jesus spoke a single word to her. He addressed her as only He could. He said, "Mary!"
A deep thrill of joy ran through Mary's body.
"Rabboni!" she cried out. "Teacher!"
She hurried over to Him to take hold of Him so that she would never be separated from Him again. But Jesus could not stay with her the way He had stayed with His disciples earlier. He had arisen from the grave with a heavenly, glorified body, and God was expecting Him.
Therefore He said to her in a friendly way, "Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to My brothers and tell them that I am going up to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God."
After these words Jesus suddenly disappeared. Full of joy, Mary hurried off to find the disciples and bring them the glorious news. "He lives!" she cried out. "I have seen Him!" She told them what He had said.
The disciples shook their heads sadly and shrugged their shoulders with a sigh. They did not believe Mary. They would have loved to believe her, but they didn't dare. What a horrible disappointment it would be if she had imagined it all!
That same day Jesus appeared to one of the eleven disciples who had been with Him from the very beginning. Which of the eleven received this great privilege? The one who regarded himself as the least and most sinful of them all, the one who asked himself in deep shame if he could even count himself one of the disciples anymore—Peter, the disciple who had denied his Master three times.
No one else was present when Peter encountered Jesus, and no one knows what words were spoken. But this much is certain: Jesus received His unfaithful disciple in love and forgave everything. Their relationship was completely restored.
When Peter went back to the other disciples and told them that he had seen the Lord, there was such joy and deep happiness written all over him that the other disciples could not doubt any longer. When Peter proclaimed it, they believed. Their Master had risen from the dead!
Their sadness turned into joy. They stayed together that evening in a house in Jerusalem. They could not talk enough with each other about the great miracle.
Now a fiery desire burned within them. They wanted to see Jesus too!