When I was about 8 or 9 years old, the Sunday School classes at my church decided that for Easter we were going to make a little mini-movie about the resurrection. We had the whole thing set up on a large lawn outside the classrooms. Our classroom was to be the ‘upper room’ where the disciples were cowering after Jesus’ execution, and across the lawn, placed against the bushes bordering the edge, we had set up a big foam rock acting as the stone sealing his tomb, complete with Roman soldiers standing guard.
I was cast as Peter, a Major Award for a young kid to be sure! I got to be THE disciple, the leader of them all, the guy who Jesus said would be the Rock of his church! Imagine my excitement and pride at being tapped for such an important role!
Now our teacher, who was directing the action, wanted to make sure we were as accurate as possible, and so she noted to me that John’s account mentions specifically that John outran Peter and got there first as they raced to the tomb to see for themselves that it was indeed empty. “Make sure you let him get there ahead of you,” she said.
“Very good,” I thought, my future thespian’s instincts already kicking in. Be true to the script–you got it. And so we started the performance–the women bringing Jesus’ body to the tomb, the Roman soldiers standing guard, the angel appearing and scattering the soldiers, Jesus Himself emerging from the cast-aside stone–alive! triumphant! exiting stage left!
And then it was my turn. Here I was, acting out one of the most exciting scenes in history–being one of the first people ever to find a man raised from the dead! I played my part with aplomb, squeezing every ounce of incredulity and ‘could it be true?’ hope-against-hope that I could muster as I ran the short fifty feet from Upper Room to empty tomb.
There was only one problem:
I was a much faster runner than the kid playing John.
That wouldn’t normally be a problem, except we hadn’t rehearsed that bit, and so I didn’t realize this potentially earth-shattering, Bible-rewriting fact until the cameras were rolling. Now, the average kid–the normal kid–experiencing this situation would simply slow down his gait and let John catch up and overtake him. But I was no ordinary child, oh no. It would be blasphemy to slow down! It wouldn’t be true to the essence of Peter, who was always the most passionate and impulsive of all Jesus’ disciples. No, Peter would definitely be running full-tilt to get to the stone. And so, thinking quickly (it wasn’t a very long run to the tomb, after all), I did the only thing I could in order to stay true to my character without destroying the credibility of the Bible:
I tripped myself. On purpose.
Like I said…not a normal kid. I think we still have it on video somewhere; I recall watching it again maybe 15 years ago or so and having a good laugh at remembering that story.
But hey, you never know. John doesn’t tell exactly how he got there before Peter. Maybe the real John was faster than Peter….or maybe Peter did trip on the way, skinning his knees (or getting grass stains on his robes, as happened to me) and greatly embarrassing himself. Can you imagine the scene years later, John writing his gospel on the isle of Patmos, and receiving an IM from Peter: “Hey John? Remember that time when I totally tripped as we were running to Jesus’ grave? Uhh yeah…would you mind leaving that part out? kthxbai.” And maybe, oh just maybe, I was actually the first kid in 2000 years to rediscover yet another lost mystery of the Bible…
Coming up: an awkward transition which will clumsily answer the question on everybody’s mind: “Why in the world did he tell me this embarrassing, yet ultimately endearing (right? right?), story?” Stick around to find out!
Truth poorly defended loses not its truthfulness
Falsehood aptly defended loses not it’s falsity.
<—Part One! Part Three—>