Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Other Disciple

I spent Easter back in my local hospital.  Good Friday was my worst day!  I remember the surgeon bending over me while I was prostrated on the hospital bed after a dreadful night, saying 'Well it's Good Friday today and we are going to try and get you on your feet by Sunday - you should rise on that day, if you'll pardon any blasphemy!'  Of course I did as there was none, just one more reminder that I was not where I want to be - in the pulpit at Easter.

When Easter day came I was feeling better, but still so sad to celebrate that wonderful day in hospital.  I read the account by John of his race to the tomb of Jesus that first Sunday morning.  He says that he outran Peter, arrived at the tomb first.  But he didn't go in, instead he lingered at the door, peeping in while impetuous Peter rushed past him.  For reasons of his own John called himself 'the other disciple' and I began to wonder why, and why he held back while others were hurtling headlong into this miracle.

John was close to Jesus, one of the inner gang of 3, Peter James and John.  He knew that Jesus loved him - he sometimes called himself 'the disciple whom Jesus loved'.  Yet, at that critical moment, he hesitated and held back.  Here's why:
  1. He Realised the Implications.  He knew that if what the women had reported was true his life would never be the same again.
  2. He Hesitated to Commit.  Don't we all sometimes?  I know I do.  A lot of people today are in relationships where they are afraid to commit.  They fear a solemn covenant like marriage.  Or they can't face the idea of giving up their old way of life.
  3. He Understood What the Final Outcome of all this would be.  He knew that if he committed and went in, he faced a life of ridicule by his friends and maybe his family. There would be persecution by those who would say he was mad.  (He did end his life in a hard labour colony).  But above all that, he realised that if Christ was risen, and had overcome death, then he was about to enter the most marvellous, magical and momentous truth - he too, the other disciple - might live for ever! 
So, with trembling heart and small steps into the dark, the other disciple went in and became the Apostle John. Much later he wrote the words of Revelation 1:17 & 18.  'When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.'

If you are peeping into the kingdom of heaven today, and wondering what you should do, I encourage you to go on in, and become in a very real sense 'an other disciple' today.