The Reading: John 20:1-10
“… then (John) saw and believed.” (v.8) RSV
Peter and John arrive at the tomb. The women had told them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” (v.2). They have to run to check it out; they have no anticipation that Jesus has risen from the dead. On their arrival John pauses outside seeing that the stone has been taken away from the entrance, and peers in – the grave clothes are still there. Hmm. Peter comes after and blunders straight in. He also saw the evidence that the body of Jesus had not been stolen, but he couldn’t work it out beyond that. Finally John goes in and “saw and believed” (v.8).
The words that John uses for “saw” are most significant. When John arrived first he saw (or, looked). The Greek word, blepo, simply means the ability to see with the eyes. He has no particular thoughts or understanding. Peter then goes in and theorises, theoreo; he scratches his head and thinks, but comes to no conclusions or insight. Finally John goes in and “sees”, hodeo.
The light dawns and he understands the significance of the grave clothes. Jesus’ body has not been stolen, but has dematerialised through them and risen to new life. God gives the faith to John that is able to understand and believe, even though he may not be able to explain.
Within a few decades there would be no eye witnesses left. Future generations would only have the written testimony of those first witnesses. They will have the scriptures. John records how “they did not yet know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (v.9). Nowadays we do have those scriptures, and they are sufficient to believe. Yes, Jesus has risen from the dead, and as a result everything has changed.
Thank you Lord for the scriptures which bear witness to your glorious resurrection. May your Spirit confirm their truth to me. Amen.
- Did John see himself as a witness?
2. Did Peter see himself as a witness?