“But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Mark 16:7
Have you ever felt like Peter? In case your memory needs refreshing, Peter was reclining at the table with Jesus for Passover when Jesus says that everyone will fall away. Peter, presumably with conviction and confidence, says he will never leave Him. But he does, fulfilling the prophetic words of the Lord – denying Him three times before the dawn. So, have you said something brash and boastful and, when it came time to back up your words, did you cave in? I have, and not just once. “I promise; I’ll be there.” “No matter how difficult the work gets, I won’t quit.” What do they say about good intentions?
Read the words spoken by the angel at the empty tomb: “…tell his disciples and Peter….” The Bible records that their eyes locked when Peter was denying the Lord in front of a crowd; it records that Jesus knew what Peter would do before Peter even did it. Yet, the angel makes sure that Peter is included. Knowing what it feels like to mess up I can imagine what Peter was thinking that first Easter: it was too late, sometimes ‘sorry’ isn’t sufficient, I can’t face those who look up to me, I failed. At the bottom of that pit of despair that his own pride had dug, Peter was about to experience one of the greatest demonstrations of grace recorded in the Scriptures. Jesus was waiting for Him in Galilee.
The hope and the joy of Easter is for everyone who has felt like Peter. Jesus conquered the grave for people like Peter, those whose hearts are in the right place but their wills are not. Jesus secured victory over sin for people like Peter, those who speak with conviction and walk with cowardice. Jesus was crucified, died, was buried and rose again so that those of us who are like Peter could experience forgiveness. The hope and joy of Easter is for everyone, because we all have fallen short of God’s glory, making promises we couldn’t keep and commitments we couldn’t complete.
There is more, though, to this story. If Jesus were like me, Peter would have been restored but likely with a demotion. If Jesus were like me, Peter would have needed to rebuild that “trust bank”, earning back the trust he had lost. But Jesus is not like me; Jesus, true to His word, raises up Peter to be the leader of the early church and the spokesperson for the Gospel. Peter preached and thousands believed his message. Peter prayed and people were healed. In spite of his past, or perhaps because of his past, God used Peter in remarkable ways – not as a second-class sinner but as a first-class follower.
There are echoes to Scripture that surpass the mere events. Easter is not merely a day on the Christian calendar, but the source of the ripple effect that changed Peter into a man of faith, changed the lives of countless millions through the last two millennia and changed me. Easter is the supreme reminder that God loves me despite what I’ve done and there is always room at God’s table for one more – even if I say something I might regret later.
Be blessed as you live on this side of the resurrection.