“They have taken the Lord. They have taken the Lord.”

It was Mary Magdala’s phrase running through his head that kept his feet moving. “It can’t be. It can’t be true,” Peter muttered under his breath.

The two disciples ran as fast as they could, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first.

The moment stopped. His mind stopped processing. The present moment slammed into him.

It was true.

He bent down and saw the burial cloths inside. His knees gave in fear and knelt down. He couldn’t go in.

Simon Peter closed in behind him. His breathing heavy. The stone was rolled away. The guards shields and swords were left behind in a disheveled way. He went in the tomb and saw the burial clothes rolled up on one side. The cloth that had covered his head was rolled up separately on the other end.

John finally entered and stood next to Peter.

“This does not make sense,” he whispered.

“If they took him, why would they peel off the cloth?”

The apostle shook his head.

“Maybe it was one of our own.”

“No,” he muttered as suddenly Peter’s eyes locked in a trance and his body froze. In the heart of his memory he heard Jesus’ voice — his patient, calm tone, “…everything that is written of the Son of man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon, they will scourge him and kill him, and on the third day he will rise” (Luke 18: 31-34).

He did not understand the scripture as he looked around at what he saw and a filial fear filled him.

Peter looked over at John, “We need to leave.”

They ran out of the tomb and back to the sanctuary where the rest of the disciples hid.

(cf John 20:1-9)


It must have been a fear filled event for the first disciples, to encounter an empty tomb on the first day of the week. So much raw emotion and non-stop activity had burst forth in their lives since Jesus shared the last supper with them. Clarity would come over the next few days as Jesus appears to them, speaks to them, and continues to instruct them. Perhaps we can contemplate the emotions of those first disciples. Their fear can be instructional and even somewhat helpful for spiritual growth because Jesus’ resurrection, putting an end to death and opening the doors to eternal life in God the Father, is in every respect humbling knee-bending thought.

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