Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 8, 2012

a resurrection race?

He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!

What an amazing day we find ourselves in the midst of.  It’s resurrection day!  The day that serves as the cornerstone of the Christian faith, for we serve a risen Savior!

We have walked the path of holy week, and my desire was to write my way through it with an entirely open mind.  A basic roadmap in hand of what I expected to find each day, but a sincere prayer that it would be a week of surprise and substance.  He has answered that prayer in such a deep and meaningful way.  Along the way, I have noticed unfamiliar details that led to very familiar applications.  I have also seen very familiar scenes that have resulted in completely unfamiliar resonance.  I have come to treasure the entirety of Lent as a proper advent to the story of God’s redemptive plan for all humanity: a perfect lamb, a cross, and an empty tomb.  And this “final” week as a proper crescendo to the climax of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The power and significance of resurrection day is unmistakable and is quite known to me.  But as I studied, something I had not noticed before lept off the page.  My study found me in the gospel of John.  I love the book of John.  Expecting to study and then write about the truth and power of the resurrection, it took only a couple of verses to experience some disillusionment with this writer that I love.  Allow me to share it with you, and hopefully, make a meaningful and relevant application for our lives today.

In chapter 20 of John’s gospel we see Mary arriving at Jesus’ tomb early in the morning.  She finds his body gone and runs to tell the others.  She arrives at Peter and John first and tells them the news.  John writes in verses 3-4 …

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over

Wait, wait … back up a second.  Did you hear what John just said?  Yes, I know he and Peter started running after hearing the news from Mary.  Who wouldn’t have?  But do you hear John’s commentary on what apparently was a race?!  In the second sentence of verse three, John shares the apparently critical detail that he beat Peter to the tomb.  He is the faster runner, and he got there first.  Ok, that sounds a little vain.  But alright, maybe we should cut John a little slack and just chalk that up to him pointing out what really happened.  No vanity, just fair and balanced reporting.  Well, that might be Ok if you stopped reading at verse 4.  But let’s read on at verse 6, shall we …

Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and

Ok, wait.  Did he just point out again that he beat Peter to the tomb?  ”Then Simon Peter, who was behind him …”  Oh, no he didn’t!  Oh, yes he did, and he isn’t finished.  Read verse 8 …

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.

There it is again!  ”… the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first …”  Ok John, what’s the deal?!

This might seem like a pretty harsh rebuke of John, but let’s look back at a couple of the other gospel books and maybe pick up on a broader pattern that applies to more than just John.  In Luke 9:46 we find all of the disciples in the middle of a debate …

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.

And in Mark 10:35-37, two of the disciples make a bold request …

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

I guess these disciples weren’t picked because they were perfect.  And you know what? Neither were we.  These few passages of scripture are a great reminder that we can be in the middle of God’s work and be weak in the flesh.  John’s boasting was on his way to Jesus’ tomb, and James and John’s brash request was immediately after Jesus had explained to the disciples that they were heading to Jerusalem where he would be betrayed, turned over to the chief priests, condemned to death, mocked, spit on, killed, and three days later he would rise.  Now pay attention to the words at the end of John’s account of him and Peter racing to find an empty tomb …

(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)  John 20:9

Huh?!  Wait, weren’t they with Jesus when he detailed all that was going to happen, including rising three days later?!  They certainly were, but apparently they were also a little too preoccupied with the questions of greatest and right and left hand.

The real message of Easter is that Christ took the full weight of our sin, chose the cross road, and paid the penalty in our place.  He fulfilled everything he said he would do, including conquering death by rising and returning to his Father.  But as I learned very vividly this week, there are plenty of other lessons which are key to our spiritual lives that were taught and demonstrated by Jesus during his “last” week on earth.

I have learned so much during my intentional walk through this week, and I am so thankful to those who have walked it with me.  He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!!

And by the way, that real message of Easter I just mentioned … it’s for everyone!  It’s certainly not just for those who already believe and already know most of the stories I have been talking about this week.  If you don’t know Jesus, we would love to talk with you and share the good news that is the reason for this season of Easter.  Click here to send us an email.


  1. I have enjoyed the walk. I have been blessed by the walk. I have been encouraged by the walk. All because “He is risen!”

    Thanks Mark, going along on the journey,

    Jerry 🙂

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