I have to believe that in John’s account of the resurrection (John 20:1-18), the mention of him getting to the tomb first involves something more than just letting us know that he was faster than Simon Peter. That sounds petty to me, and the Scriptures are never petty. They are, however, inspired and intentional. There is a reason John mentions it. Maybe it is to show us that his eagerness to get to the tomb, was followed by a hesitation to go in. Simon Peter may have been a little less eager to arrive at the tomb; he certainly would’ve had good reason to be. Or, then again, he may have, indeed, just have been slower, who knows? But once he arrived on the scene, he went right in. And then there’s Mary, who stood outside the tomb weeping; still convinced that someone had stolen the body, rather than believing that Jesus had risen from the dead. She, like Thomas later on, was unable to “believe” until she encountered the Risen Jesus outside the tomb.
So whether it was John in his eager hesitation, or Peter in his reluctant boldness, or Mary in her weeping confusion, or Thomas in his doubting demandingness, Jesus met them all exactly where they were. And that is a beautiful thing. They were all different. Each had processed his life and his death a little differently. Each carried different ideas and wounds and baggage and hopes and dreams to that tomb on the first Easter morning. Thus, Jesus showed up to each of them in exactly the way they needed him to. John needed to see to believe, Thomas needed to feel to believe, and Mary needed to hear Jesus tenderly calling her name in order to believe.
What about you? Where do you find yourself on this Easer morning? Where do you see yourself in the story? What do you carry with (or within) you to the empty tomb? What is it going to take for you to really “believe,” again and anew? Whatever it is, Jesus wants to meet you there. Because he is risen, and he wants you to be as well.