Peter Wondered John Believed

John arrived at the tomb and stopped. Peter ran up from behind and walked straight in. Seeing the grave cloths folded, he wondered. John was filled with awe as he stepped into the tomb and believed. Do you remember this scene recorded in the gospel of John when the two disciples came to the empty tomb? At first sight of the grave cloths John chose to believe. John believed with a simple sign– a grave cloth. But Peter wondered.
Peter’s wondering may have started with fear and disbelief when Jesus was taken from the garden by force. When the guards grabbed Jesus, Peter stood up ready to fight for who he believed in, but he ended up receiving a rebuke from the one he was trying to fight for. Later in the night questions came to Peter, “Don’t you know this Jesus?”
Peter’s response: “No, I don’t know the man.” Peter was asked three times, and each time he may have had more doubt, wondering if he had really known Jesus at all.
Questions went through the minds of Jesus disciples the next few days. The scene was playing over and over. Un- answered questions would not leave them alone. What were they to think of the last few years?
“No one has ever spoken like him...” “No one has ever loved like he did...” No one has cared for me like he has cared...” Each disciple was remembering the way that he first called him. Had they been taken in by a persuasive speaker? But what about the miracles?
A few days before, Jesus had ridden a donkey into Jerusalem. All the people had been waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” The disciples may have thought they were going to take over the city.
At the Passover meal, perhaps they expected to go over strategy of what was next. They might have thought of a Jewish kingdom with the disciples at the right hand of Jesus the conqueror.
But Jesus had something else in mind. He was very somber when he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.” Peter spoke up and said, “I am ready to die for you.” Jesus asked, “Are you really ready to die for me?” Late into the night Jesus had much to say, but his words weren’t the the strategies that they anticipated. Were they the words of a ruler getting ready to take a city? “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the
time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.”
John 16:1-4
Their hearts were troubled, not knowing what he meant by the words that he spoke. The strategies that Jesus gave were not to conquer cities, but hearts. The words that Jesus used left them confused.
Then late in the night the soldiers rushed in to the garden where they were and with torches and swords they took Jesus to the officials and eventually before the Roman government. This time the crowd in
Jerusalem was shouting, “Take him away! Crucify him!” and, “We have no King but Caesar!” Perhaps days before many of the same people were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,
Blessed is the king of Israel!”
The sentence was made that Jesus would have to die. The disciples could not believe what was happening. Most of them were not even there for his death. Jesus was left by most of his closest friends. The days that followed may have seemed like the longest days. Maybe they needed to get back to life as usual, to try to forget the last few years, to get a new direction for life. Despair and hopelessness set in. The one they had so much hope in was gone.
Early one morning there was pounding at the door. Fear seized the disciples, Peter answered reluctantly, maybe with sword in hand. It was Mary (one of Jesus’ followers), not armed soldiers. She said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know were they have put him.”
Fear struck Peter and John as they ran to the tomb. Why would the soldiers take the body of a dead man? John stopped at the entrance, and Peter walked straight in. The burial cloths were folded. Who would steal a body and fold the grave cloths and leave them?
John walked in and saw and believed. The burial clothes were a sign John chose to believe, but Peter wondered. Later that morning Jesus appeared to Mary and she believed. Mary ran to tell the disciples that
she had seen Jesus, that he was alive, but they were confused by her words, being filled with doubt.
Then Jesus appeared to the disciples like this: “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he
showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord”... “Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve disciples, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was
with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:19 & 20 & 24-29
Sometimes we choose that we are going to dig in our heels and not believe and other times we passively “just wonder”. Both of these can end in unbelief. Many times we are waiting for a sign, a sign that that says, “Believe!” We can choose to wonder at all the signs, or we can choose to believe.
At the first sign we can choose to believe in Jesus, at the first sign we can choose to believe what he has spoken. At the first sign we can choose to believe in his goodness and his faithfulness. Belief is a choice.
If God is calling you, choose this day to believe. If you have turned away and he is calling you back, make a choice to believe. If God has spoken to you about life, family, marriage, or whatever else, just choose to believe what he has spoken. Belief is a choice. Choose to believe.
“For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor,
now is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2
“How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him.” 1 Kings 18:21
This is meant to be a remembrance of the gospel of John, chapter 12-20