By Steve Bietz
[The angel] said to them, “Do not be alarmed, you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go tell His disciples –and Peter– that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” ‘So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Mark 16:6-8, NKJV
The resurrection of Jesus is the hinge of history. It is the transforming event in the lives of the disciples. How important it was that they hear the good news that “He is risen!”
Thus the command from the angel to the ladies to tell the disciples. The most interesting aspect of that injunction is the addition of “and Peter.”
Here is immediate grace in its most startling form. After all, the last we heard of the disciples in Mark’s Gospel was that they “all forsook Him and fled” (Mark 14:50 RSV). And of Peter that he had cursed and swore that he didn’t know Jesus, after which “he broke down and wept” (verses 71, 72, RSV).
Peter must have gone through utter despair in the three days since he had betrayed Jesus. Significantly, Mark is the only Gospel writer to record Jesus’ special invitation to the fallen Peter. Peter himself collaborated with Mark in the writing of his Gospel. All the other Gospel writers may have neglected the words “and Peter,” but Peter never could. Those two words both shattered his despair and renewed his hope. The Jesus who had urged him to forgive seventy times seven was doing that very thing for His fallen disciple.
Here is grace. Jesus didn’t give Peter what he deserved. On the contrary, He offered him what he didn’t deserve, forgiveness and restoration to apostleship. If the word of grace from the resurrected Lord includes a traitor like Peter, readers of the gospel may rest assured that it includes those of their community who have also failed. And that goes for clergy also. We must never forget who Peter was and what he did. Yet Jesus forgave him.
That is truly “Amazing Grace,” grace that stretches the imagination of even the most generous Christians. Could we do what Jesus did? Or, more pertinently, would we want Jesus to do the same for us were we in Peter’s position? I suspect I don’t need to remind us that we are all like Peter in more ways than we care to admit. But we too can know the resurrection grace that the Lord extended to Peter. You see, we need to realize that “and Peter” means “and Steve,” “and Mary,” “and George,” “and each and every one of us.”
Blue Ridge Christian News covers Burke County, McDowell County, Mitchell County, Yancey County, Madison County, in North Carolina, and Christian news from around the country.