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. 2 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.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes. – John 20:1-10
Several years ago I attended a conference together with some other members of the church I served. The speaker was laying out a series of principles and ideas that really caught my attention. It came at a time when I needed to clarify and redefine my approach to ministry. It was a kairos (see below) moment. Sometimes the synapses fire quickly in my brain. I get it. I see the connections. I understand the implications.
Other times, however, I don’t get it. I can’t see the lines connecting the dots. I am puzzled, out of context, and struggling to understand what works or doesn’t, and how it all fits together.
It seems the disciples were in that second mode early on the first Easter. Upon seeing the open and empty tomb the disciples simply go home. What else are they to do? How are they to deal with this sudden and dramatic change of reality? Jesus had died a horrible death on a Roman cross. He had been buried in a borrowed tomb. But now that tomb was empty. John reports that he saw and believed and says nothing about Peter – except that they both did not understand the Scripture that he must rise from the dead.
Then they go home. Seems to me that they didn’t know how to live in that new reality. Seems to me that they had to let it sink in. Seems to me that they didn’t know what to do other than go home.
We may sometimes be in a place of confusion, lack of clarity, misunderstanding, and doubt. We may not know what to do in a given situation. The light has not gone on for us. This is the good news in this and every situation: Jesus has risen from the dead. Whether or not we understand it, know it, believe it, can figure out what to do in light of it, Jesus has risen. He has conquered the devil. He has overcome death. He is alive. He will show up. He will clarify our thinking. He will set an agenda. He will define our calling.
I may not always get it quickly. It may need to sink in. But Jesus is alive. He has saved us. We are his. Let’s let that soak in.
The New Testament and Old Testament describes significant moments in time as “kairos” moments. At the time of Jesus, there were two common words to denote time in the ancient Greek language: kairos and chronos. Kairos is used to highlight an extremely significant event in time, while chronos, from which the world chronology is related, describes a span of time—boring waiting in line sort of time.