Posted by: pmarkrobb | March 27, 2016

resurrection race?

He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!

What an amazing day to which we have awoken!  It’s resurrection day!  The day which completes God’s plan of redemption and serves as the cornerstone of the Christian faith … for we serve a risen Savior!

The power and significance of resurrection day is unmistakable and quite known to me.  In my early studies of the biblical narrative, however, something previously unnoticed lept off the page.  I found it while reading the resurrection account in the gospel of John.  I LOVE John’s gospel … I really love the book of John.  However, it took only a couple of verses to experience some disillusionment with this writer whom I love.  Allow me to share it with you, and, hopefully, make a meaningful and relevant application for our lives today.

In chapter twenty of John’s gospel, we see Mary arriving at Jesus’ tomb early in the morning.  She discovers His body is gone and runs to tell the others.  She sees Peter and John first and frantically tells them the news.  John writes in verses three and four …

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 immediately after hearing the news from Mary.  Who wouldn’t have?  But do you hear John’s commentary on what I guess we’re supposed to believe 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 got there first.  Okay, that sounds a little vain.  But alright, maybe we should cut John a little slack and chalk it up to him pointing out what really happened.  No vanity, just fair and balanced reporting.  Well, that might be okay if you stopped reading at verse four, but let’s jump to verse six, shall we …

Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and …

Okay, wait.  Did John 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 eight …

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”  Okay John, what’s the deal?!

This might seem like a harsh rebuke of John, but let’s look at a couple of other gospel passages to see a broader pattern which 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 chosen because they were perfect (or humble).  And you know what? Neither were we.  These scripture passages are great reminders that we can be in the middle of God’s work and be weak in the flesh.  John’s boasting happened on his way to Jesus’ tomb.  James and John’s brash request came immediately after Jesus had explained to the disciples 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 rise from the dead.  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 just 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 who was the greatest and would sit at Jesus’ right and left hand.

The real truth and power of this day is not found in lessons learned from a race.  Today, God’s redemptive plan found perfect completion.  Christ took on the full weight of our sin, chose the cross road, and died in our place.  But death did not have the final say.  Jesus fulfilled everything He (and the prophets) said he would do, including conquering death by rising and returning to his Father.  Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Up from the grave He arose … He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!!

8_resurrection day_resurrection race


  1. “Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior. He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!”

    I, like Peter, am late in “arriving at the tomb” of your Holy Week Resurrection Post. 🙂 But, still enjoyed it! Thanks!

    “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28

    “Doing”, sandwiched between His presence, power and provision – Grace! 🙂

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