The Characters of Easter (Day 9)
We don’t know where Peter went after his denial. He isn’t present, like John and Jesus’ mother Mary, at the foot of the cross while Jesus died. But we know he likely didn’t go back home.
What we do know is that the next couple of days must have been Peter’s most difficult. Broken by his behavior the night of Jesus’ arrest and unsure of what the future looks like, Peter was staring into an abyss of uncertainty. The King he assumed would set up the kingdom of God and overthrow the Romans was decomposing in a borrowed tomb.
Unless, of course, He wasn’t.
Peter’s Sunday-morning misery was punctuated by a sudden visit from a breathless group of women led by Mary Magdalene and Mary, Jesus’ mother. They could barely get the words out. What they said seemed crazy. No, actually it was crazy. The body of Jesus, gone? This was impossible. The tomb was guarded with tight Roman security. A heavy stone sealed the entrance. Oh, and there is this little detail that dead bodies don’t just rise again. But the women were serious. And they carried a word especially for Peter. Mark records a scene at the tomb where a man dressed in a white robe urges Mary, “Tell the disciples and Peter” (Mark 16:7).
And Peter. These two words had Peter rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and sprinting toward the cave where Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy benefactor, paid to bury Jesus. When Peter arrived, he saw what the women had just seen: an empty hole, a rolled-away stone, and, most telling, Jesus’ folded grave clothes.
Peter’s story climaxes in a scene John paints: an event on the beach that matches, almost perfectly, the description Luke gives us at the beginning of Peter’s journey with Jesus. It’s no mistake, no coincidence that the Master bookends His three years with Peter with the same miracle: a fruitless day of fishing, a reluctant toss of the nets to humor Jesus, and a boatload of fish.
Christ is still seeking out fishers of men, the kind of leaders who walk with a limp. Here we see God’s unmatched, one-way love. We fail Him, but He doesn’t fail us. We forget Him, but He doesn’t forget us. We pursue other loves, but He is faithful.