After observing the Sabbath, Jesus’ friends now come to the tomb to grieve. The women find the stone rolled away and run back to tell the disciples. James and John run to the tomb to see what is going on. John uses this narrative to encourage people to believe in Jesus as the Messiah.
A huge mistake
From a human perspective John makes a huge mistake. The first witnesses to the resurrection are women. Not only that, but the woman who told him was Mary Magdalene, a woman of questionable reputation before she met Jesus. In John’s day the status of women was very, very low; so low in fact that they were not allowed to testify in court as witnesses. However, this proves the very point John is making.
From a liar’s perspective, John made a mistake. However, John’s complete transparency bolsters his credibility. No one at that day would turn to the testimony of women, much less a woman like Mary Magdalene, unless they were simply telling the truth. John is only “making a mistake” if he is intentionally seeking to deceive people. John is simply relaying facts as they are; he is not seeking to twist the story in his favor.
No confirmation bias
Along the same lines, John makes a shocking admission; he and the rest of the disciples were ignorant of what the Bible taught. No one seeking to deceive people would openly discuss their ignorance; they would seek to hide it in order to boost their credibility. No one founding a new religion would begin by claiming ignorance of the Scriptures. John though is simply being completely transparent and honest.
“Confirmation bias” is when an individual seeks “facts” to support the conclusion they have already arrived at. Many people take “prophecies” and predictions and twist events to confirm what they already believe. John does not do this. He does not believe in the resurrection. He is not looking for the resurrection. In fact everything he knew about the Messiah told him that Jesus was not the Messiah because He died.
What changed John’s mind
John is here conveying how he came to believe in the resurrection. It did not begin with his great faith or understanding of Scripture. He initially believed in the resurrection because of what he actually witnessed and experienced. He saw an empty tomb with the grave clothes lying exactly where Jesus’ body was laid to rest. This proves that Jesus’ body was not stolen. Grave robbers would have left the body, not the clothes and spices. It also proves that Jesus did not revive and escape. Jesus would have taken the grave clothes with Him. The only explanation was that Jesus had risen from the dead.
The truth of Scripture
John then makes an amazing statement; he declares that he believed in the resurrection because of what he experienced because he had not yet fully understood the Scripture. Most people would say that they believed even though they had not seen Jesus in the flesh. However, John knows that human’s perception of reality is not always true. Our senses can deceive us. His true faith rests not in his experience but what he learned in Scripture. As an eyewitness to the resurrection, John declares that the Scripture should be believed even above his own testimony.
In 2 Peter, Peter makes the same argument. He declares that Scripture is more reliable than his own eyewitness testimony. Although John’s testimony is true, we can truly believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection because of God’s Word.
Will you believe in Jesus Christ? Will you trust in your own experiences are the Word of God?