As we approach Easter, many of us will be meditating on the Gospel stories of that period of time. The other day I stumbled upon the glorious morning when Mary went to the tomb brokenhearted. Through her tears, she didn’t recognize the man in the garden in till His beloved voice spoke her name,
How could this be? It couldn’t be—but it was.
“Rabbi,” she said, incredulously.
And Jesus sent her on her way with this first post-resurrection evangelistic assignment: “Go tell the disciples . . . and Peter …” that He had risen.
And Peter. Why “And Peter?”
Peter was a disciple. In fact he had been one of the leaders of the twelve, the first to call Him Messiah: the Anointed One, the King for Whom Israel longed. (Only immediately thereafter to be called ‘Satan’ when the Lord rebuked him for his clumsy attempts to avert the cross.)
Why did Jesus say “and Peter?”
This little phrase has been marked many Bibles in my fifty year journey with Christ. It is one of my favorite little phrases, because I, too, am a Peter. I have denied Christ countless times: I’ve spoken too quickly, too thoughtlessly, too mindlessly, or I have not spoken at all, remaining silent in the name of keeping the peace, avoiding an argument, not offending.
I have known the shame of going over the incident in my mind again and again, weeping that I had denied my Lord, sure that I had caused Him pain, wondering if He, too, would turn His back on me.
And then that little phrases flashes into my mind: “And Peter.”
“Tell my disciples . . . and Peter.”
And I know He knows my frame. He knows before the cock crows each day what I will say and do, and He hastens to assure me—not that it’s all right—but that He knew all along, and He still wants to make sure I know the Good News.
He is risen. And because He is risen, my sin is removed and in His Name, in the power of His Spirit, even my shadow can heal the sick. I can preach to thousands, travel to Rome, be crucified there.
I marvel at His love that reaches out to us in our most miserable times, when we are convicted of our sin and aware we are the worst of sinners, He reaches out to us in compassion. He remembers to tell us especially. He knows our unworthiness. He knows we are ashamed to lift our eyes to him. We have yelled at the precious babies He has given us. We not loved the husbands He chose for us. We have spoken unkind words, cruel words, and our thoughts—they’ve been even worse.
But we believe. Oh how desperately we believe, and we can remember another of His sayings to His disciples, this time to Thomas, who hadn’t seen His first appearance. Once again He knows our shame: though He was not visible, He knows Thomas said “Unless I see Him, I won’t believe.”
So He invites Thomas to come, reach your finger, look, reach your hand in My side. Then He adds those marvelous words “. . . because you have seen Me, you believe. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
We are that blessed company, we have not seen and yet believed, and I can hear Him say: Tell my disciples and Charlotte.”