He Saw and Believed: The Disciples Run to the Empty Tomb


Praise be to you, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In your great mercy you have given us new birth into a living hope
     through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! (1 Pet. 1:3)

I receive your Holy Spirit, the Resurrection-Spirit-of-life within me,
     and I attune myself to your work of awakening hearts, including my own,
     to experience your transforming love.

In Jesus’s name I come, amen.

John 20:2–8

So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

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 and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.


In the beginning verses of John 20, everyone is running.

It seems that resurrection, the truest meaning of awakening, has a way of getting people moving.

Peter and “the one Jesus loved” (the way John will name himself in the Gospel) are running.

They’ve received Easter news, and they must see for themselves.

Then, in one of what might be considered the funniest literary moments in the Gospels, the writer of the Gospel, John, proceeds to make what initially seems like an unimportant point.

1. He and Peter began running at the same time (v. 3)
2. He outran Peter (v. 4)
3. Peter came along behind him (v. 6)
4. He had reached the tomb first (v. 8)

We may one day know why John wrote the story this way, but for now we can laugh at the humor of it all.

John is faster.

He got there first.

But let’s note this before we go on: arriving first was important to the disciple Jesus loved.

In heaven, I want to be the first to run to Jesus! No one has ever loved me like he has. I want to be the first!

In v. 8, we come to the point of our story.

“He [the one Jesus loved] saw and believed.”

From bewilderment to belief—that is the route Jesus takes us to experience the resurrection life he offers.

Take a moment to remember the hour you first believed the resurrection was true. (Does a verse from “Amazing Grace” come to mind as you read that sentence?)

Can you bring that sense of awe, desire, love, overwhelming thankfulness and trust, into this moment once again?

John’s heart, so attuned to Jesus’s love for him, was a ready receptor for belief in the impossible.

New Testament scholar N. T. Wright puts it this way:

Then comes the moment. The younger man, the beloved disciple, goes into the tomb after Peter. And the idea they had to that point about what must have happened—someone taking the body away, but unwrapping it first—looks stupid and irrelevant. Something quite new surges up in the young disciple, a wild delight at God’s creative power. He remembers the moment ever afterwards. A different sensation. A bit like falling in love; a bit like sunrise; a bit like the sound of rain after a long drought. A bit like faith (N. T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part 2, p. 141–42).

John was quick to believe, because love had paved the way.

To experience the love of God for one’s soul is not an optional addition to an otherwise cerebral or intellectual life of faith. It is absolutely essential we experience the love of God for us—and it is the inheritance of the saints to know it like Paul did, and so many of our sisters and brothers throughout history.

Hear these words from Romans 8:38–39:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38–39)

And these from Galatians 2:20:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)

The path from bewilderment to belief is paved by love, and the love of God delivered to us by the resurrected Lord is in you and with you right now as your Easter inheritance.


Risen Lord of the Beloved Heart, we want to be quick to believe, slow to doubt, quick to trust, and slow to despair. By the Spirit of resurrection within us, your Spirit Lord Jesus, call us from our grave clothes into fullness of trust in this one life you give us to live. In Jesus’s name, amen.


In what ways did the love of God for you pave the way for you to believe him and trust him in circumstances beyond your control? What could you do as the Easter season begins to nurture your awareness of his love for you?

For the Awakening,
Dan Wilt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. God’s love for me was revealed through circumstances in my life that brought me from being a nominal Christian, who had been claimed by God in the waters of baptism as an infant to a more mature believer, who now is fully committed to Christ in His mission to advance the kingdom of God. My love for God in response to His love for me is nurtured as I submit to the Spirit’s leading in my life.

  2. It’s not how fast we run to Jesus, but that we do!
    But we should be quick to His feet because we don’t know what the day brings.

    James 4:14
    Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

    But we know who brings the day!

    Staying 💪’n Christ

  3. Our chaotic culture is colapsing all around us and desperately crying out for help in the confusion of its spiritual lostness. It’s now time for Christians to cultivate, embrace, and demonstrate the continual awareness of the presence of the risen Jesus Christ.

    Flee the inner emptiness of trying to entomb the living Jesus in intellect or in religious ceremony. His resurrection can neither be rationally explained nor institutionalized, but the inner stirring of awe produced by the awareness of His supernatural presence can be an ongoing experience within human hearts that will humbly open up to and consciously abide in His presentday reality.

    The risen Jesus wants to release ever flowing inner rivers of spiritually uplifting power and hope in and through His presentday followers. See for yourself!

    Refuse to quench His Spirit. Keep the stone rolled away from your heart and in full surrender ever embrace and obey His contemporary presence!

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