Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that He must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes. John 20:1-10 Bright Saturday
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
Today we examine the Resurrection as told in the Gospel of John. In John’s account, it appears that Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb alone. Though in verse 2, she uses the word “we”, that “we do not know where they have laid Him.” It would seem that there could have been other women there, with Mary as the spokesperson for the group, or perhaps Mary was there alone. There is no mention of taking spices to the tomb, so we do not know if Mary was going there just to mourn, or to work.
She finds the stone has been taken away from the tomb, though again we are not told how that happened. Mary does not enter the tomb in John’s account, nor does she encounter an angel or a young man. Instead, she runs away and finds Simon Peter and the other Disciple, the one whom Jesus loved (this is John, also called the “beloved Disciple”). We are not told if Mary had to go a great distance to find them, if they were in a house, or if they were near her, also going to the tomb in the darkness.
The reaction of both Disciples is to run towards the tomb, certainly more out of curiosity than confidence. John reaches the tomb but does not go in. Peter comes quickly afterward and goes into the tomb. John waiting for Peter is perhaps deference to Peter’s position as the “rock” of the Apostles. When Peter enters into the tomb, he sees the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been placed over Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. This is significant, because it shows a scene of order. Grave clothes rolled up nicely and folded depicts an orderly scene. Had there been some kind of robbery of the grave, the robbers most certainly wouldn’t have taken the tomb to roll up cloths.
Then John entered the tomb and we are told that he saw and believed. Yet the very next verse points to the Disciples’ lack of understanding of the scriptures. They believe at the moment in the Resurrection, but perhaps not in the context of everything else that had happened. We are told that the Disciples went back to their homes. Later in the day and later in John’s Gospel, we will read about how they gathered behind closed doors.
They who were with Miriam came before dawn, and finding the stone rolled away from the Tomb heard from the Angel “Why do you seek as man among the dead, Him, Who dwells in Light Eternal? Behold the shroud of the grave; make haste and proclaim to the world, that the Lord is risen, putting to death, Death; for He is the Son of God, the Savior of mankind.” (From the Divine Liturgy on Pascha, Trans. by Fr. George Papadeas)
As the Disciples ran to the tomb, let us run to Christ today!
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