By Mike Holm, Pastor of Calvary Chapel, 17538 Livingston Ave., Lutz.
Have you ever gone for a walk way off the beaten path into some winding woods? Have you ever done it with a genuine ornithologist (i.e., bird watcher)? That experience would probably make most of us feel our eyesight would be something comparable to Stevie Wonder’s during a solar eclipse.
Because while our gaze would likely mainly be focused fearfully on the earth below (to avoid a repeat of the near face plant of a half mile back), our bird watcher friend would be joyously peering around 180 degrees with the piercing gaze of an American bald eagle.
Imagine as he enthusiastically points to a 90’ Grevillea Robusta tree (silver oak, stay with me now) and says, “Wow! Did you see that? A striated pardalote! Beautiful specimen! Look! Quick! Look!”
And as you risk your life and lift your eyes off the path to peer at the focus of his excitement, frustration floods in quickly, because all you see is leaves and branches. Lots of leaves. Lots of branches.
For many, the wonder of the resurrection is like that. The marvel of the matter is missed because the look is just a glancing one. No intent to peer in. No careful observation. And that’s exactly how it started for one of Jesus’ closest disciples.
“Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.
Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb, and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also, and he saw and believed.” (John 20:1-8/parenthesis and underlines added)
Three Kinds of “Looks” Into the Empty Tomb
The Easter Glance
John was younger and faster then Peter. He let us know he could outrun Peter in a foot race. But though he got to the tomb first, John didn’t actually enter. He only bent down and “looked” (Greek, blepo) in. This word implies a glance. A quick look. By giving the empty tomb only a blepo look, John missed a lot. By not being more observant, he thought no further then what the women had said. Somebody’s taken him!
The Easter Examination
But when Peter arrived (panting like happens when you’re not in your 20’s anymore!) he did not stop at the opening, but went right in. When he did, he gave the area a kind of look that required a different word to be used (Greek, theoreo). His look is the look of careful observation and scrutiny, the look of the ornithologist to the trees in search of birds. The look of the biologist through a microscope to see his tissue samples. The look of the astronomer through his telescope to peer at the moons of Venus.
Here’s what Peter saw that John didn’t. The garments were lying just as if he were still in them. His head cloth was rolled up in a manner that was like unto how it would have been on him, and separated from his body. Huh?! Who robs graves and leaves the clothes! And if, for some weird reason, they did, who would take the time to lay them out much as they were when wrapped about the deceased?
Giving Easter a Second Look
As John was outside waiting for Peter, something hit him. “Wait. Did I see…?” So he went in with Peter. This time, his look was far more intense, and a third Greek word for “see” is used–horao. It means “to take heed, to perceive.” When he did this, he believed!
How carefully have you looked at this matter? Have you, like former atheist and investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune,
Lee Strobel, done your homework? When he only gave a glance at the story of Easter, he couldn’t see the truth. But he went past blepo looks to theoreo and horao looks and believed! There’s an old adage—you see what you look at. Don’t see evidence for a risen Christ? One thing’s for sure, you aren’t looking closely enough! If you need a closer look, watch The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel at a theater near you this Easter season! Might not it be time in your life to give Easter a second look?
You are invited to our services every Sunday at 10:15. Hope to see you soon!