[#pictureLent] Easter Sunday: Running to Jesus

By David Allen
Chaplain, Bethune-Cookman University

First, read John 20:1-9

It has been a while since I've taken New Testament studies in seminary, but I vividly recall my professor teaching us how to read scriptures closely and clearly. We were taught to investigate and examine a biblical passage and pay close attention to how and when a word, mood or feeling re-occurred.

In the narrative story of the Empty Tomb, John has placed significant emphasis on a particular action that occurs more than three times. His emphasis stresses, what Forrest Gump did, to escape the health challenges of early childhood. It also accents what Jessie Owens did to win Olympic medals. Mary, Peter and the beloved disciple all participated in running to or from the tomb where Jesus was. The word “run” is actually implied 5 times within 9 verses.

What’s happening? What’s going on in this setting that has provoked a sense of urgency prompting a race to the tomb? Why are they running, and not walking? After all, Jesus just recently uttered the words “it is finished.

Mary went to the tomb before day break and recognized that the stone was removed from Jesus’ tomb. She then ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple saying “they have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him.” Peter and the other disciple began running to investigate her story. Though the other disciple outran Peter in the footrace to the tomb, Peter was first to actually enter into the tomb. They found the strips of linen and the burial cloths folded up, that were around Jesus’s body and head.

A question worth pondering is, in what situations do we or will we run? People in general run when they don’t want to miss an opportunity or an experience. Others run when something is important and worth being on time for, such as a flight, a doctor’s visit or dentist appointment that charges late fees, a date night with our spouse or when we want to get away from work, or home. Health conscious people run to remain fit, and to burn calories. Marathon runners, run for the experience of competing to reach the finish line.

But why are Mary, Peter and the beloved disciple running? What truth does this foot race to an empty tomb yield for you and how are you running to tell others about it? Is the resurrection of Jesus Christ worth your sprint? Is Jesus worth running after? Are his teachings and commands worth running towards?

Nothing can, nor should stop us from running to Jesus. Even in his death, his message, love and the hope he gives remains alive and well.

Prayer: Lord, we thank you for the gift of an empty tomb. Teach us to know the things in life we’re to run toward, and the purposes that are worth our sprint. Pace us along this journey of faith, to behold your truths and share them with others we encounter. Amen.

Discussion Questions

  1. Is Jesus worth your sprint?
  2. As Mary ran to Peter and the other disciple, who are you running towards to share the good news that Jesus has risen with?
  3. In what ways are you running after the risen Christ?