AND when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. (Mark 16:1-7)
Peter was what we might call today a man of machismo. He was a rough and ready fisherman, and proud of his profession. He was also a faithful disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ from the moment of his calling by the shores of the Galilean Sea. 18 ¶And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-19) You will note that Peter followed without question from that time forth.
On the night of His betrayal, the Lord spoke lovingly to His disciples concerning His coming passion. But one the disciples, PETER, would not hear of it! Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. (Matthew 26:31-35)
At the moment of the kiss of Judas in the Garden, Peter was yet bold and courageous. It was Peter who severed the ear of the servant of the High Priest: Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (Matthew 18:10-11) Could any deny this act on Peter’s part required great courage in the face of such an armed host? So, what happened later to Peter?
HEN took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. 57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. 59 And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilæan. 60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
Why did Peter’s courage fail him at this critical hour? I believe it was because, for the first time as a disciple, Peter was separated from Christ. He had great courage as long as Christ was by his side, but that courage faded when he stood alone in the courtyard of the High Priest. How shamed and sorrowful was Peter when Jesus turned and looked him in the eyes confirming the very words Jesus had prophesied concerning Peter! Peter we are told went out and wept bitterly. The Lord was aware of Peter’s sorrow and repentance – even from the grave! It is for this reason that the Angel of the Garden Tomb spoke these words in our leading text above from Mark: But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
I believe it was for this reason Peter understood what Christ had prophesied concerning His resurrection. Remember, when the women told the disciples of all they had seen at the open tomb, Peter ran to see and knew that which had transpired: Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass. (Luke 24:12)
Perhaps we, too, should run to Christ even now in love and faith.