Easter Morning - The disciples at the tomb


The disciples Peter and John running to the tomb on the morning of the Resurrection, a painting by Eugène Burnand

In the Easter story, in the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb first, on the Sunday morning. She sees that the stone has been rolled away from where it was sealing Jesus's tomb, and that Jesus's body is not there. She runs back with the news, meeting Peter and John on her way.

John and Peter run to the tomb to see for themselves. John arrives first, and looks in, but doesn't go in. Peter arrives, and goes on into the tomb, looking around, seeing the graveclothes and the napkin. The John enters, too, and sees it all, and believes, too, that the Lord has been resurrected.

There are three kinds of "seeing" that are involved in this story - and they are the three kinds, or stages, of seeing that we need to go through. In the Greek text - the original language of the New Testament - there are three separate words used for these kinds of seeing. Here's the Greek text, along with a very literal (Young's Literal) transation into English:

4 and the two were running together, and the other disciple did run forward more quickly than Peter, and came first to the tomb,
4 ἔτρεχον δὲ οἱ δύο ὁμοῦ· καὶ ὁ ἄλλος μαθητὴς προέδραμεν τάχιον τοῦ Πέτρου καὶ ἦλθεν πρῶτος εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον,

5 and having stooped down, seeth the linen clothes lying, yet, indeed, he entered not.
5 καὶ παρακύψας βλέπει κείμενα τὰ ὀθόνια, οὐ μέντοι εἰσῆλθεν.

βλέπει is one kind of seeing. It's an eager, first to arrive, quick assessment kind of seeing.

6 Simon Peter, therefore, cometh, following him, and he entered into the tomb, and beholdeth the linen clothes lying,
6 ἔρχεται οὖν καὶ Σίμων Πέτρος ἀκολουθῶν αὐτῷ, καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον· καὶ θεωρεῖ τὰ ὀθόνια κείμενα,

θεωρεῖ is the Greek word for a second kind of seeing - a more analytical, considering, careful studying.

7 and the napkin that was upon his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but apart, having been folded up, in one place;
7 καὶ τὸ σουδάριον, ὃ ἦν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ, οὐ μετὰ τῶν ὀθονίων κείμενον ἀλλὰ χωρὶς ἐντετυλιγμένον εἰς ἕνα τόπον.

8 then, therefore, entered also the other disciple who came first unto the tomb, and he saw, and did believe;
8 τότε οὖν εἰσῆλθεν καὶ ὁ ἄλλος μαθητὴς ὁ ἐλθὼν πρῶτος εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ εἶδεν καὶ ἐπίστευσεν·

Here, the word εἶδεν describes a third kind of seeing; one that is deeper, and sees a whole thing, and that comes before real belief.

We need to make this progression too, in our spiritual growth - from the first eagerness to see, followed by a deeper, more careful studying and assessing, and then by reaching a deeper level of insight, understanding, and belief, or faith.