When was the last time you ran somewhere? I don’t mean lace up your trainers, set your stopwatch, and run to the end of the block and back. Not running for mileage, not for calories, not even for mental health — but just because you couldn’t wait to get there, wherever you were going.
The apostle John ran somewhere. In today’s lectionary reading he writes, “The two were running together, but the other disciple [John] outran Peter and reached the tomb first” (John 20:4). Having received news of the empty tomb from Mary Magdalene, John and Peter immediately left to see for themselves. But why include this detail about how fast he ran? The fact that they “were running” conveys their urgency — why such detail?
I can almost read John like an excited kid: Did you see how fast I ran? Kids don’t need to be told not to run; in their eagerness to move faster than a walk, they’re often told not to. Running, for them, is painless and pleasurable: a natural movement to a desirable goal.
Eventually, though, we stop running. Who can say when, but at some point youth becomes age. Joint aches and muscle soreness supplant painlessness. What’s worse, we hardly run somewhere, if we can help it. We run in circles for fitness (an unattainable nowhere, really), or to avoid being late for our next meeting. I don’t deny the existence of the runner’s high — that excitement just to be running, even if in circles. But maybe runner’s high is a reminder that once we ran just because we were excited. Now a process of decay turns what was once play into work.
But John is running. He is experiencing a resurrection in himself, new youth bursting forth into a sprint, exuberantly recorded, “the other disciple outran Peter.” John’s running reminds us that Easter is a celebration of rebirth, of life joyfully casting off decay. As Christ is alive, and “in him we live and move” (Acts 17:28), so John runs, like a child, just because he is excited.
He is alive! And so are we.
Joseph McDonough is a senior in Kirkland studying Philosophy and Russian