It’s Good Friday. Happy Easter Weekend everyone. This is the weekend we celebrate the very reason of our faith. Christ’s whole reason for coming to earth was to live, die, and then resurrect from the grave to give us hope for eternity. As we left off with our last conversation with Peter, we saw the worst moment in Peter’s life, the moment he denied Christ, he had proven himself a liar and a coward. We also looked at the dynamic between Peter and Judas, how Judas gave up to the grief and shame and took his own life. Peter, well, God’s not done with Peter. The gospels don’t mention Peter at all during the trial and crucifixion, and rightly so, because the focus is on CHRIST, and HIS actions, HIS sacrifice. HE is the reason. Peter doesn’t ever write about what he did during those days after he denied Christ and ran, maybe he hid out in the upper room, maybe he followed in the back of the crowd because he was curious and desperate to see how Christ was, yet to embarrassed and humiliated to let himself be seen by the other disciples. I’ve been there, I totally get where Peter’s at right now. I’ve been at the point where I realized I had done some stupid things or said some stupid things and been too embarrassed to reach out, to hurt by what I had done and afraid of being judged by others to reach out to those that cared. I’m only guessing that’s what Peter’s feeling and I’m probably projecting my feelings of how I would have handled myself in the same situation, but I’m probably close. This weekend is all about Grace. The Grace that CHRIST gave by offering HIMSELF on the cross and by not staying dead, but defeating death so that we may have life. The grace that Peter realized and probably started to understand as he ran back to the tomb.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Can you imagine the moment? Peter, John, and the rest of the disciples are in the upper room. It’s been an emotional 24-48 hours. They had gone from triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Thursday and the Passover Feast, Friday was Jesus’s betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion, Saturday was the Sabbath, and now it’s Sunday, the beginning of the new week and realization and probably disillusion is setting in. Three of the women who followed Christ, Mary Magdelene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, the mother of James and John go out to the grave to prepare the body of Jesus. Because it had been Passover and the Sabbath had been approaching, the body had been hastily taken from the cross and placed in a borrowed tomb, so the women were going to go and finish the burial rituals. I can imagine their anxiety as they’re walking to the tomb, they don’t know what to expect, they know that there were guards at the tomb so they probably don’t know what kind of reception they’re going to get. Will the guards harass them? What kind of condition will Jesus’s body be in? Who will roll the stone away? Numerous unknowns are filling their minds, not to mention grief. What do the find when they get there? The stone rolled away….an empty tomb. Not just an empty tomb however. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke write that angels were there as well :
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.7 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.’”
Can you imagine the disciples reaction when the women come running back into the upper room reporting that the tomb was empty, the guards gone, they’ve seen angels? Disbelief, probably even anger, a lot of confusion, they accused the women of being crazy, even hysterical. Peter and John have the same thought though. They have to see it for themselves and bolted out of the room, running flat-out and as quick as they could. They had to see. They both had differing motivations probably. John’s was because Christ had been his best friend, acknowledged by everyone that they were best friends, he had to see for himself. Peter’s was probably part guilt, part hope, he had to see for himself. He had to see because he had so totally screwed up he had to see. Peter was running on desperation and hope. When they get to the tomb they stop at the entrance….well, at least John did. He got there a step ahead of Peter and had to process what he saw. Peter gets there and hesitates only a minute before running into the tomb and seeing nothing but the grave-clothes laying there. John finally steps into the grave, and can you imagine the look on their faces? John probably got it first, he probably finally was able to put it all together, everything that Jesus had said and come to pass and BAM…the realization hit him. It probably took Peter another minute or so, and maybe he took a hint from John’s non verbal cues and then he finally got it. There’s no conversation that happens in the tomb. Jesus doesn’t appear to either on of them yet. Peter and John don’t say anything to each other in the tomb, but there are probably many things said in looks, in tears, in visual cues, and body language. Whole conversations can be had without saying one word, and I bet that happened here. For me, I picture Peter dropping to his knees, holding the grave-clothes and just sobbing in relief because he finally understands. John is probably sitting with his friend Peter, crying because he understands what his friend is feeling and he is overwhelmed with thanks that his best friend isn’t dead. That’s what I want to hold on to this Easter Season. This sight picture of Peter and John in the empty grave, both crying for different reasons, but both crying at the empty grave of their best friend, relieved that HE’s no longer in the tomb, but alive and offers hope and grace to screwed up people who have done stupid things. He offers friendship to misfit fisherman and average guys and gives them hope that their lives can be more than what they believe. The grave is empty, HE’s ALIVE!!! But we’re not done with these conversations with Peter. We may have come full circle in this topic, but this conversation is far from over.