The book of John, in my estimation, is one of the most incredible books in the entire Bible. This book is more to me than just another Gospel or just another book in the Bible, this book literally changed my life! It’s one of those almost indescribable moments where God has seemingly removed the veil from my eyes and allowed me a glimpse into His majesty. John emphasizes to his readers who Jesus really is; he refers to Jesus as the I Am seven times! John even went as far as to rearrange the sequence of miracles to expound a bigger revelation. The first 2 miracles John records are the marriage of Cana, and the cleansing of the temple. From the beginning of his book John proves the purpose of Jesus ministry, he is more concerned about relationship (marriage) than he is about fixing broken religion (temple). 90 percent of this book is unique only to John, this book doesn’t line up with the other Gospels at all. However, in all the glorious revelations in that book; of all the splendid insight into Johns world as the Disciple whom Jesus loved I find one particular verse captivating. A verse for the most part is often overlooked or simply ignored as irrelevant. This seemingly unimportant passage actually contains a principle for Christians to follow if we want to make it in the rapture.
The passage is found in John 20, after Jesus has been crucified. The scene of chapter 20 begins very somberly, as Mary, the sister of Lazarus, is at the tomb where Jesus had been laid; and she’s weeping. Suddenly through the vast darkness surrounding her she sees something that appears at first as a nightmare. The stone which had served as the covering of that tomb has been rolled away! Surely someone has stolen His body! So Mary does the only thing she knows how to do, she finds Peter and John (who never mentions his own name in his book). And in verse number 4 we find this passage…
“Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple (John), and came to the sepulcher. So they ran both together: and the other disciple (John) did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher.”
I’ll be honest, the first time i noticed this text… I laughed! I mean it looks as if John is taking a shot at Peter! But as I began to uncover the revelation of this text I knew the ramifications this could have for my life. Many scholars and Theologians would agree that John was much younger than Peter, and they simply attest this particular passage to mean that over the course of this journey Peter simply met father time. John being more youthful and energetic was able to withstand the grueling jog better and approach the tomb first. I do know that John was probably younger, I do agree that John had an easier time running than did Peter, but I can NOT believe this was the result of anything physical.
When we look at both of these men we see two pillars of the Apostolic movement. Both apart of the original 12, both destined to play key roles in the future success of the church. But John is the only one of the who never allowed his circumstances to distract him or persuade him to give up! Peter gave in to the peer pressure, Peter rejected God just to save his own skin. Can you even imagine the guilt and the weight you would feel after such an egregious sin as that? This is why I believe this race to the tomb to be an illustration of all of our lives. Because John’s ability to run faster than Peter, and reach his destination quicker has nothing to do with physical ability! John outrunning Peter points to the clarity of mind in which he ran. I am of the opinion that Peter was weighted down by guilt and condemnation causing him to drag behind. The cold reality is most of us can relate to him! It seems every one else is progressing along just fine, and we’re stuck in the middle of the road bogged down by mistakes and failures.
Is it a coincidence that the writer of Hebrews tells us that in order to be successful in living for God, we must “lay aside every weight and sin which doth so easily beset us”? Because it is only through shedding that unnecessary weight do we have the liberty to “run with patience the race that is set before us”. How many of us are trying to “run this race” like Peter did; so weighted down by mistakes and failures, so weighted down by guilt and condemnation that his own mind became a snare to him. After all it was Peter Jesus addressed in Matthew 16:23, as Peter objected to the will of God Jesus got offended… “Get thee behind me Satan, for thou art an offense unto me,for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those things that be of man”… That word savourest is a Greek word meaning thought pattern. Jesus wasn’t literally calling Peter Satan, he was rather referring to the state of his mind as having been influenced by Satan. Peter showed us that anytime we allow our minds to more in tune with the things of this world than the things of God, we are in danger of being influenced by the devil! That night in the garden, as accusations rang out from every corner…the weakness of Peter’s mentality was discovered. He did not have the mental makeup to withstand that trial because Peter couldn’t get his mind off of himself!
Perhaps that’s the reason the Apostle Paul admonished the church of Philippi to “…let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” What was that mind that Jesus had? Paul told us a few verse earlier…
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
This is significant because Paul is letting us know that it was Jesus who decided to make himself of no reputation, and it was Jesus who decided that he would take on the form of a servant, the lowest form of humanity; and it was Jesus who decided that he would humble himself and become obedient unto death! Understand how incredible a statement that is… Jesus is God; as God, the Psalmist declared, he has to humble himself to behold the things of heaven and of the earth! Yet with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance, Hebrews tells us in essence He made himself a little lower than the angels. And he humbled himself to the lowest degree possible by become obedient unto death. That single act of humility gave His name power and authority!
“Wherefore, God hath also highly exalted Him, and given Him a name that is above every name…”
Jesus name was exalted because Jesus humbled Himself! Why do you think Peter wrote these words in 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time”! Peter finally got it! If Jesus Christ would humble himself to die for me… the least I can do is humble myself to live for him! And when i submit my life to His , and humble myself under His mighty hand, He will exalt me in due time!
I know this is a lengthy blog, but I wanted to share with you a principle that has changed my life and my ministry. I’m learning to guard my mind from any weight, regardless of size or significance; and I’ve learned the value of humility and obedience. If you will apply this principle to your life, you will be amazed at the liberty you will have to run this race!