I love the story of Peter.
I love his close proximity with Christ, his sincere genuineness at wanting to walk with and honor Jesus and his severe shortcomings when he fails to do so. I love his seeming aloofness, the comic relief he provides to the Transfiguration scene. I am relieved by his brazen pride. I am struck by his authentic heart, his camaraderie with Christ. I am heartbroken at the devastation of his decisions. I am empathic when he sees the fullness of what he has done. I am drawn by his desire to want to run. I am moved at what he chooses instead. I am mesmerized at what the resurrection did for Peter.
I love Peter. I resonate with Peter. I connect with Peter.
During Jesus' most desperate time, Peter betrayed him three times. Three times. As Christ was being tried and arrested and mocked, Peter looked people in the eye and claimed to have no affiliation with Christ whatsoever. So blatant. Whatever motivated Peter in these moments, it drove him to choose things he would regret almost instantly. And when the rooster crows, Peter wept bitterly.
One of my favorite verses is Luke 24:12. Christ has been crucified, dead, gone, buried. The disciples are no doubt in hiding - shocked, grieved, confused. Peter is one of them. Maybe he felt weird and out of place? Did he still feel the weight of his betrayal of Christ? Did he feel shame? Did he feel identified by it, or that other people looked at him differently because of it? Did he feel embarrassed? It must have all been so disorienting.
Then Mary and Mary Magdalene come running in and announce that JESUS IS ALIVE. They have been to the tomb, they have seen that it is empty. Jesus is not there! I can just imagine that maybe there was initial shock and silence, then a burst of exclamation and excitement, disbelief and awe.
Peter, though, Peter rose and ran.
He ran towards the empty tomb.
Luke 24:12 says that Peter stooped and looked in and "saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened."
I love how lifelike these verses are, how human of a picture they paint. I love words like "rose" and "ran" and "stooped" and "marveled." Like Peter was just a normal guy who made some mistakes and who needed to see if what they said about a risen Christ was true.
I think Peter ran to the tomb wondering, could this be? And the empty tomb said this is even better than you could imagine. I think Peter walked away wondering, this could be!
The resurrection made sense of it all. The resurrection gave Peter clarity, a hope, forgiveness. The resurrection said you're not defined by this, by what you have done. You have been set free. The resurrection said that shame has lost its power and its sting. Rise, marvel, move forward.
Peter became the founder, the rock, of the early Church. He became known for his courage and kindness, his strong mindedness and boldness. He became a leader for Christians, a voice to a community of believers. He is remembered for his great faith. The resurrection changed him.
It doesn't get any better than that.
His story moves me in more ways than I could say.
An example of what the best news can do.