On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
St. John was competitive. His competitive Spirit rings throughout Scripture and his rivalry with St. Peter for Jesus’ attention was obvious, if not down-right overt. In John’s Gospel, that author takes full-advantage of this competitive-edge while writing his Gospel to remind us all that he was the Apostle that Jesus loved, that he was the only Apostle who witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion at Calvary first-hand, and how he was the first of the Apostles to make it to the empty tomb. In fact, John states in this Gospel Passage alone that he was the disciple “whom Jesus loved”, that he “ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first” and, then (after Peter ‘came-in-second’ and went into the empty tomb), that he “also went in” (almost allowing St. Peter to enter first) with a final emphasis to remind readers that he was still” the one who had arrived at the tomb first”. And, St. John even used his Mother to get a competitive advantage over the other Apostles. Remember Matthew 20:20-21 when, “the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and knelt down to make a request of Him. ‘What do you want?’ He inquired. She answered, ‘Declare that in Your kingdom one of these two sons of mine may sit at Your right hand, and the other at Your left.’? Almost like an Olympic medal ceremony showcasing the gold, silver, and bronze medalists!? Peter was so concerned about John that he actually asked Jesus what was going to happen to John down the road (after being forgiven by the resurrected Lord three times and learning of his own future death by crucifixion). Again, John takes his authority in his own Gospel (John 21:21) to remind us all of how Peter had “turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them”; and, that “He was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper to ask, “Lord, who is going to betray You?”; thus noting again another reminder that Jesus loved John and that Jesus allowed John to lay his head upon His breast!? The Gospel continues with, “When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain until I return, what is that to you? You follow Me!” While the Apostles all loved Jesus and each other, there was definitely a little healthy competition going on. But, isn’t it fair to admit that, while we’re all wanting everyone to run a good race here in this world in our collective efforts to get back Home to Heaven, we all want to do the best that we can individually, too? Even if it isn’t perfect or a new world record? Even it’s a silver or bronze medal? Olympic athletes train vigorously for most of the early part of their lives and the medal winners are usually separated by less than tenths of a second!? So, like the Apostles and Olympic athletes, we must run our hardest; train the longest; work-out the toughest…hitting the gym, the track, the weights, etc. (from a Spiritual-perspective). We must read our Bibles, pray even more, and immerse ourselves ever more-deeply in Him. We must desperately-love God and others and finish this race with our engines smoking, our tires melting, and our bodies rattling. And, like St. Paul, be able to say that we were able to “fight the good fight of faith” and to “lay hold on eternal life”. (1 Timothy 6:12)