I wanted to take some time to write with you about an Easter story that doesn’t get talked about much. Most everyone knows that Jesus died on Good Friday, and rose on Easter Sunday; but what about the disciples that had to wait? What were they feeling?
Peter was with Jesus everywhere He went, and Peter reminds me a bit of myself; always asking questions, and always seeking the answer. Specifically, take a look at Matthew 14:26. The disciples were on a boat, and Jesus was not with them as He was finishing praying. He walked on water out to the boat, and the disciples thought it was a ghost at first! Jesus said to them, “Take courage, it is I! Don’t be afraid.” Peter then asked Jesus, “If its you Lord, tell me to come to you on the water.” We know how the rest of the story goes – Peter begins to realize he’s walking on water, and starts to sink. He called out to Jesus “Lord, save me!”, and Jesus grabbed him by the hand and said, “You of little faith, why do you doubt?”
If we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can do anything. But what about that feeling of losing someone? What did Peter feel on Good Friday?
Imagine this with me, lets take a walk back through some history. Your best friend and teacher of three years has just been condemned to death. You and I both know He’s innocent, but our teacher continues to tell us this is what must happen. Lets put you and I in Peters place as we walk through this story. Before all this takes places, he brings you and the other followers to a garden to pray. At this point, you are so scared and not sure whats next. Even though you’re terrified, and Jesus asked you to stay watch and pray. He comes back not once, but twice, and finds you sleeping. Our best friend, teacher, Lord, Savior, is crying out to God. We know Jesus is fully man and fully God, but here we see how real He is with the disciples. Imagine Jesus telling you and me, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38), but yet you and I are so exhausted, that we keep falling asleep.
The second time Jesus wakes us up, Judas shows up with the crowd to arrest Jesus. As the men stepped forward to arrest Jesus, we feel such overwhelming emotion, that we grab a sword of one of the guards, and cut off his ear (Matthew 26:51). Why let the emotions take control? I’m sure you know how it feels to be flooded with emotion; and then you just act on a first instinct. We see in Luke’s account of the arrest, that Jesus then heals the mans ear (Luke 22:51). Even after we acted out in anger, Jesus performs another miracle and heals the mans ear. Everyone sees this, but they still want Him to die.
Jesus then says that all this must take place to fulfill the prophecies, and then the very next words amaze me….”Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled”. We ran away from someone who asked us to keep watch and pray; someone who saved us from the waves, someone who showed us Grace and the Truth. As we ran away, we ran just far enough away to not be seen by the crowds. At this point, we’re approached three times asking if we were with Jesus. All three times, we say no! We just cut off someones ear in defense of Jesus, but now we’re saying we don’t know Him? I know we’re terrified, but saying that we don’t know Him at all?
After denying it three times, the rooster crowed, and now you remember what Jesus told you – “…Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times” (Mt. 26:75) How would you feel after this? I can guarantee you my next reaction would be the same as Peters – “And he went outside and wept bitterly” I emphasized bitterly because the author of Matthew used that word, and it is translated the same across most english translations. He didn’t just weep, he wept bitterly. He cried out with such sadness. Have you ever cried like that? Just cried out with screams that you no longer care who is around? His cry was one of sadness, regret, anger, you name it.
Peter is not again mentioned by name until the resurrection. Continue to place yourself in Peters place in the story we just went through. Now three days later, you are sitting in a room. Everyone is sad, depressed, and isn’t sure whats next in life. We just witnessed our best friend nailed to a cross, and watched him die. For those of us in Emergency Services, we’ve seen people die before, but its helpful when we don’t have a direct association with them. Imagine you’re on standby at an event, and your best friend is dying right in front of you, but you can’t do anything. Our best friend and teacher of three years now breathes His last, and is placed in a tomb. Do we just sit and wait? If so, wait for what? Jesus said the Son of Man will rise again. but was it really three days?
Imagine us followers of Jesus in a locked room three days later. You could probably cut the tension and emotion in that room with a knife. John says the door was locked “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19) All of a sudden, Mary Magdalene busts through the door, shouting “I have seen the Lord!” And she tells the story of the empty tomb. Now my heart has to be pumping if I was Peter. The man I denied three times is now alive? What are His first words to me going to be? What will He think? Millions of thoughts running through my head at this point. All of a sudden, Jesus appeared and stood among all of us. His first words? “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19)
Peace be with you! Not what were you thinking? He didn’t ask why did you do that? Peace. You see, even in the midst of life, we can run away from Jesus and all that He has for us. Sometimes we decide to take things into our own hands and say “I can handle it!” We all know thats crazy, and I can tell you first hand, its crazy to try life on your own. When we feel discouraged, and are afraid that Jesus won’t love us after everything we’ve done; remember His first words to you and me after that story of betrayal – “Peace be with you”
Remember, Jesus rose and conquered death to give us a relationship with God! If you have any questions about starting or continuing a relationship with Jesus, please don’t hesitate to email me at bvizzi@Brotherswithoutborders.org . Have a great Easter everyone!