They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant. (Mark 9:10)
But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. (Matt 26:35)
Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside ans wept bitterly. (Matt 27:74-75)
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matt 16:16 – 18)
On this rock?
This rock was shattered. This Peter had done what he solemnly declared he never would, the thing he had thought impossible. Jesus had given him a new name, ‘Petra’ meaning ‘rock,’ and chosen him to lead the disciples and build his church. Instead, he had denied Jesus three times and proven to himself that he was nothing but a craven coward.
True, the other disciples had also pledged to die with Jesus, and none of them had made good on that vow. But Peter, that passionate man of action, knew in his broken heart that he above all the others had denied his Lord, and in doing it, denied his own integrity. So as the disciples huddled together in grief, confusion and fear, Peter was surely in his own private hell of self-loathing.
None of them had understood what Jesus meant when he talked about “rising from the dead.” The death part was all too plain. Any hope they might have had that He would be be revitalized after being taken down from the cross had vanished into the tomb and been sealed there with Him.
But when the women went to wrap Jesus’ body in spices, they found that tomb empty of death. instead, there was a messenger of hope inside, one with an incredible revelation. Jesus was alive! The women were to tell His disciples and Peter that Jesus was going ahead of them to Galilee.
And Peter. Especially Peter. The Peter who no longer felt worthy to be called a disciple, or even a man. This singling out meant that though Peter might have counted himself out, Jesus still counted him in. Later, in a face-to-face encounter on a lakeshore, Jesus would restore and recommission Peter as the chosen shepherd of His sheep. In the process, Jesus reassembled that shattered rock into a man who would never again deny his Lord, but spend the rest of his life testifying to His saving power.
And Peter. Every time I come to these words, I hear a word that is restorative for me. When I fail in my good intentions, Jesus doesn’t count me out. When I know I’ve let Him down, He doesn’t let me go. He is going ahead of me. He still has plans for me, work for me to do, and in me to do. There will still be times for us to share together. My stumbles aren’t the end; His compassions are new every morning. Every sunrise is a reminder that His Son has also risen. Each new day is a fresh opportunity to commune with Him, be guided by Him, be strengthened in Him, and rejoice that His disciples still include me.
At those times when I’m feeling most like a failure, He sends me this word through His Word: “Tell the disciples and Connie . . .”