Two words. So much truth can be packed into two words.
In Mark 16 Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to Jesus tomb to care for his body after a hasty burial. Of course we know what they found when they arrived. Nothing. Well, no body at least. They did find something, or rather someone.
An angel met them, and his message was clear and miraculous.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he told them. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been resurrected! He is not here! See the place where they put Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there just as He told you.’”
We are far too comfortable with the message that a dead man became alive. It should unsettle and amaze us still. But that is not the part of the passage that caught my attention when I read it recently. What grabbed me were these two little words: “and Peter.”
Go tell His disciples and Peter.
If I recall Peter was a disciple, quite a noticeable one, in fact. So why did the angel make special note of him? Why did Jesus want Peter called out so?
Because at that time it is a dead certainty that Peter did not feel like a disciple. He felt like he had failed Jesus because he had failed him. Just a few verses earlier Peter had loudly denounced the name of Christ even as Jesus was being condemned to death. He had distanced himself from Jesus to save his own skin in the hour of Jesus greatest need. He had failed his Lord after promising to never fail. In calling out Peter Jesus was claiming him as friend and follower.
Peter’s guilt and shame would likely have kept him from going to Galilee. How could he? He had failed. But “and Peter” is a promise and an offer of forgiveness. Jesus is calling him to come, telling him he is welcome, showing him the purpose and power of the cross on which He just died.
“And Peter” should bellow at us from the pages of our Bibles too, for we are more like Peter than we like to admit. We are deniers and cursers, ashamed of Jesus. We deny Him in our apathy, our attitudes, our fears, our failures. Too often our guilt keeps from Christ’s presence just as Peter’s would have kept him away. So Jesus summons us, by name.
He did not die in vain. He did not die to save you in concept. He died to save you in reality, to draw you to himself, to call you to come meet him and know that your denials are forgiven. They were erased by his blood, washed away, gone, abolished, and if you follow him you are a disciple and friend.
Jesus hid the gospel in the first words he shared with his followers. He snuck in His message of forgiveness. He folded in His call to obedience and discipleship. He showed the power of the cross with two little words. Those words were a message to Peter, the other disciples, and anyone else who feels unworthy of following Jesus too.