Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial
31 Then Jesus said to them, “This very night all of you will run away and leave me, for the scripture says, ‘God will kill the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I am raised to life, I will go to Galilee ahead of you.”
33 Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “I will never leave you, even though all the rest do!”
34 Jesus said to Peter, “I tell you that before the rooster crows tonight, you will say three times that you do not know me.”
35 Peter answered, “I will never say that, even if I have to die with you!”
And all the other disciples said the same thing.
Jesus Has Risen
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.
2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
So, Easter Sunday, (Alleluia), What happens?
The women go to the tomb and there sits an angel (just sitting there; waiting) who tells them “Jesus the Nazarene isn’t here”
Here they were all worried about even getting into the tomb, and their reality is the stone has already been rolled away and an angel awaits them. Jesus isn’t there at all, and they are told to go and tell the other disciples and Peter that they are to go back to Galilee. The women leave but they are so frightened they don’t tell anyone what they saw (and hadn’t seen).
That’s one ending there are others even within the Mark tradition: one in which Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene who then goes and tells the other disciples who do not believe her; one manuscript has the women “reporting to those around Peter”, with no mention of disbelief. Some endings have Jesus appearing, rebuking them for their disbelief and sending them out.
It’s interesting, isn’t it; this singling out of Peter. Peter who vehemently on at the supper on Passover denies he could or would ever deny Jesus, who explicitly says he would die with Jesus if he had to.
Yep, that same Peter who a little later when Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane can’t stay awake. After Jesus is arrested and taken to the Temple to meet with the High Priests, teachers of the law and elders (the Sanhedrin and Scribes ), Peter follows and stays in the courtyard with the guards warming himself at their fire.
Peter is concerned, he wants to know what is happening with Jesus, he hasn’t run away and hidden himself- yet. When things start getting dicey though, when the accusations begin to mount up, when…
The high priest tore Jesus’ clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?”
he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned Jesus as worthy of death.Then some began to spit at him;
they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!”
And the guards took him and beat him. (Mark 16:63-65)
Peter is still there, he is still a witness to all that is happening, then…
While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest
came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said,
and went out into the entryway.
When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around,
“This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it.
After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them,
for you are a Galilean.”
Peter began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man
you’re talking about.”
Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered
the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown
me three times.” And he broke down and wept. (Mark 16:66-72)
This is the same Peter who is singled out from all of the other disciples for the women to go and tell about the empty tomb. The same Peter who in the alternate ending has the disciples gathered around him.
What to do with these two sides of Simon Peter, Cephas, the rock upon which the church is built? What do we do with a Jesus who is not in the tomb but risen?
I think they come together in this moment, they are what we call really human, what it is to be human. What it is to disappoint ourselves and others, what it is to forgive ourselves and others because that is the example we have here.
Peter denying Jesus (even with a foretelling) must have disappointed Jesus in his hour of need, but with the empty tomb Jesus makes sure that the good news of new hope, the good news of new life, the resurrection of forgiveness is announced to all the disciples, and especially, especially to Peter.
The tomb springs with second chances. The empty tomb, is God’s answer to the crucified Christ (hence the angel as indicative of the presence of God), resurrection is the answer to
a Roman Empire imperialistic action (the crucifixion) meant to subdue and discourage hope.
So where do we fit in? Where does our world fit in when all this happened 2,000 years ago?
I don’t think we are very different from Peter and the disciples and the women going to the tomb that Easter morning. And I don’t think the world we live has changed significantly from the time of Imperial Rome.
But I believe in the resurrection hope that Jesus’ Good News is Good News to and for us. I believe in redemption, that we are all capable of change, living giving, love giving change. That we all need to forgive ourselves and others and that we all need forgiveness; we need to be liberated from all the things that keep from us from being the loving, compassionate human beings God created us to be. God who knows us by name and cares for us.
And, I believe we make a difference in the world, as Christians. We have the example of the resurrection, which makes a difference to how the disciples and followers of Jesus, live out their lives and their faith in the teachings of Jesus the Christ. Peter and the rest of the disciples don’t go back to their old day jobs., they become preachers and teachers and healers, spreading the Good news to people who sorely needed to hear some Good News in and for their lives.
We live in a world dominated by powers not that much different from Rome, we can see it most vividly in the aggression by Russia against the Ukraine but our world is always under siege. Territory, resources, money, power dominate the world stage even as many work for peace, equity and climate change. Our earth groans and people suffer (not so different from 1st century Judah) our Good News is that the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross is not the whole story, that’s not the end of the story, there another story going on and it is filled with hope and peace and joy.
The resurrection is what Peter lived into, his denials of Jesus were not the end of his story, his mistakes did not define him, the resurrection allowed Peter to see and live into a future where Simon Peter, Cephas, indeed becomes a rock upon which the Way of Jesus is founded.
Thanks be to God. Amen