from John’s gospel, Chapter 20

Easter morning

I notice John the gospel writer offering four choices for how we can approach the tomb and come to understand the resurrection.

Stone rolled awayEarly on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, ………….. the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed………..Then the disciples returned to their homes.But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, `Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, `They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, `Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, `Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, `Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, `Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher).  Jesus said to her, `Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ‘  Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, `I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

We can stand outside the door, see the stone removed and know there is something worth telling others about.  Mary did this the first time she came to the tomb.

We can hurry to the door, bend down, look in the tomb and see linen, but no body.  The other disciple did this.  He later went in after his friend, saw and believed.

As we arrive, we can run right into the tomb, see and believe.  Peter did this. Then the latter two went home.

Mary’s choice in the second approach seems to require tears.  She bends down, looks inside and sees angels.  She has a conversation with them, apparently through the doorway.  Then she encounters a third person outside the tomb, whom she recognizes, after a time, as Jesus.  She tells the others that she has seen the Lord and relates what he said to her.

How are we led to encounter the resurrection?
•    From the outside of the tomb, where we can know there’s something remarkable?
•    From the doorway, entering and believing when our Friend checks out the scene first?
•    Running in, seeing the evidence and believing?
•    Or in tears and in conversation with angels and the Teacher?

I see that the evangelist accepts all these ways of coming to the tomb.  Any of us are welcome,  whatever our speed of approach and whatever eyes–clear or weeping–we have to see inside.