That is, generally speaking, if we don't have to rush, we tend not to.
Early in the morning, before it was dark, Mary Magdalene ran back to her friends with this message: "They have taken the Lord. We don't know where they have laid him."
One stone, shifted: the starter pistol to the most dramatic race in human history. Cue "Chariots of Fire."
Are you up before 6:20 a.m., running? Me, neither.
When they find out there is a missing dead body, Peter and the Beloved Disciple are off - gone, like a shot. What were they doing when the Magdalene found them? I'll tell you what they weren't doing: going out with ointment and spices out of love for Jesus. They weren't escorting their fellow disciples, the women, to keep them safe.
I don't even think they were making breakfast. I think they were having a bit of a lie-in.
Don't blame them. I don't bound out of bed when I've had a horrendous weekend. But notice that it's this new thing, this rather unexpected news that gets them up and atheleticizing: a misplaced corpse. Really? What's the big deal? What was once Jesus of Nazareth, after all, won't be more dead if it is put somewhere else, right? And, of course, they weren't all that eager to get up to see a dead body a few minutes ago.
When does God get our attention? When things go bad like he tells us they will? No, then we get overcome by the despair of our broken dreams. When he comes in quiet humility to share time and space with us? No, that's just ordinary and easy to take for granted. It's when things go sideways from what we expected, and Bam! Oh, God, there You are! Forgot about You for a second... a week... a year...
Peter and the Beloved Disciple are zipping through the narrow streets and armoured gates of Jerusalem, over the scrub and under the olive trees outside the city, back to the garden, because this wasn't part of their plan. Jesus died and should stay put - it's easier to grieve that way, when we have a spot in our mind or our garden where we put our cold, dead dreams, to stay put. When someone stirs up what we've laid to rest, it's enough to get us agitated and moving.
I love that the Beloved Disciple outstrips Peter in this grand, empty rush, and I love that he writes it into his Gospel. They were running together - maybe their minds are racing, too. (Of course, if they believed Christ had risen like he had said he would, they would not have rushed to see the grave, not expecting him to be there.) But the Beloved Disciple reaches the tomb first, looks in, sees what evidence is there... and waits.
Often the Beloved Disciple, who ends up living the longest of all Apostles, is portrayed as youthful, while Peter, who already has a mother-in-law, is the rough and crotchety old man. Here, they both have their own impulsivity, running together: the passion of youth reaches Christ's last known address first, but it's the boldness, the blunt entitlement of age, that barges into the space, owning Christ's absence.
Linen wrappings. A rolled up cloth placed to the other side. Grave robbers? Maybe Martha Stewart couldn't leave a robbed grave in a slovenly mess, but most nefarious characters would grab what they came for and scamper, not tidy up. Remember, linen and cloth would be the relative price of a new cellphone. The unschooled fisherman does a Sherlock: Jesus has folded up his PJs. That's what it looks like.
The Beloved - and Fleet-Footed - Disciple now enters the tomb. Sees. Believes. But neither he nor Peter understand that this was always the plan, that all Scripture points to this radical action of God.
They aren't yet open enough. They go home. Back to bed.
Is it any wonder that God must shout so loud, while still whispering so quiet, to get through his love to us? That beyond our hope and within our being lies the grand, flowing, unending, powerful and beautiful love whose only obstacle is our belief he exists.
Easter people, on your marks. The Resurrection signals a mad dash.
St. Peter, the clumsy blunderer, pray for us.
St. John, the awkward twinkle-toes, pray for us.