Descend into the Tomb

By: Pastor Jarren Rogers

It’s the Easter morning miracle.

In the book of John, Mary Magdalene finds the tomb empty and the stone rolled away. Fearing that Christ’s body has been stolen, she runs to tell Peter and the other disciple (we never learn which disciple this is. He is always relayed as “the other disciple” or the “beloved disciple”). Upon hearing the news, Peter and the other disciple race for the tomb.

The other disciple beats Peter to the tomb and Scripture makes it explicit that he did not go inside. Instead, he peers through the threshold, finding the tomb empty apart from the strips of linen lying on the ground. 

A few moments later, Peter rushes past him and heads inside. He sees a bit more than the other disciple, not only finding the linens but also the cloth that was wrapped around Jesus’ head. 

Then, seeming to finally gain the courage, “the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside” (John 20:8). It was only upon finally entering the tomb that he “saw and believed” (v. 8).

The writer of John makes it clear: the other disciple did not believe Christ had risen until he entered the tomb. 

Just peering into the darkness of Jesus’ resting place wasn’t enough. He needed to step into the tomb–position himself in it, surround himself in the darkness, feel the coolness of death, smell the scent of decomposition–in order to believe that Christ conquered it all. 

We, like the other disciple, cannot stand outside the tomb. We must not grow content with simply peering inside. Our tendency is to circumvent the tombs that crop up over the course of our lives. We do everything can to prevent and deny seasons of darkness, disappointment, and suffering.

But it’s in the tomb that faith grows teeth. When we descend into the cold, quiet house of death we find there is nothing left to hope in but the power of the resurrection. It’s when our feet are planted on the rough ground of the grave and we are inspecting the empty linens of our life that we have no choice but to lay everything down–our pride, our idols, everything that’s failed us.

When our life seems like we are standing in an empty tomb the only things left to do is to see and believe, to find hope in the resurrection and the God who has overcome the grave. 

Do not stand outside of the tomb and simply peer inside. Descend into your disappointments and hopelessness. Gather into the place of your suffering and failure. Go into the tomb seeking God, because it’s in the darkness and desperation of life that He meets us.

And He brings life.

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