According to John 20, on that first Easter morning when Mary Magdalene starts for Jesus’ tomb, she has no idea that she will meet with a miracle. She thinks she is going to complete the embalming process that had been abandoned on Friday, because of the Sabbath. But instead of finding Jesus’ body, she discovers the stone rolled away. She runs to tell the disciples, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter and John run to find out what’s going on.
Now, at the point where Mary tells them about Jesus’ disappearance, John the gospel writer refers to himself not by name, but as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Yet, by the time he reaches the tomb he simply calls himself, “the other disciple.” You might think this is modesty, since he reaches the tomb before Peter did—John just doesn’t want to brag that he’s the faster runner. But there’s an element of shame in the way John refers to himself. Perhaps he regrets his inaction. He reaches the tomb first, but instead of going in he reluctantly waits outside. Stooping to look into the tomb, he peeks into the tomb long enough to allow his eyes to adjust to the darkness. In the gloom, he sees the linen burial cloths lying there, but is hesitant to enter in. On the other hand, Peter demonstrates his usual boldness by plunging into the tomb’s dark mouth as soon as he arrives. He doesn’t wait to allow his eyes adjust, but blindly rushes in to see the miracle. Only after Peter has gone into the tomb does John enter in and believe.
Peter and John represent two different kinds of Christians. There are those whose who, though they are “the beloved,” yet are reluctant to venture into the unknown. Tentatively they stand at the door of faith, looking in yet not fully experiencing all that God has for them. Then there are those who plunge headlong into the darkness—those who can say, “We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5.7).” Abandoning all caution, they take leap into the darkness, no matter what lies ahead.
The church needs both kinds of believers. John may be embarrassed about his hesitancy, yet perhaps it’s because John was already there, and had already looked in, that Peter has the boldness to run into a dark tomb without looking. Peter needs John’s settled spirit in order to give him the courage to act boldly. Then, John needs Peter’s courage in order to know that it’s safe to enter into the tomb and see what God had done. The point is that both eventually do enter in, and both believe.
Are you a John, or a Peter? Are you more comfortable waiting, observing, and considering before you act? Or are you the kind who forges ahead into new things, often acting before you consider the consequences? Both play a part in the story of the resurrection. The church needs its pioneers, and it needs those with settled spirits. The important thing is that you enter in. Enter in, and experience the risen Savior. Then help others to enter into relationship with Him as well. In this way, the message of the resurrection is spread throughout the world.