Peter’s Story (Easter)

Based on John 20:1-18 this has been inspired by the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection and also the following verses in 1 Corinthians 15:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

Let’s listen together to Peter’s story.

I didn’t sleep a wink.  I couldn’t.  I felt so awful.  Sick in the pit of my stomach.  Those words he had said to me kept going round my head.  “Tonight, before the cock crows, you’ll deny you’ve ever known me.”  I couldn’t believe it! Me, Peter, the one he’d nicknamed Rocky, deny Jesus?  I’d never deny Jesus.  Never.  As if I could.  He was the man who had given me purpose.  Life was so exciting when he was around.  I’d made lots of mistakes, but he forgave every one – amazing really. How could I ever deny the man who’d turned my life upside down?  Who’d allowed me to share in the greatest adventure ever? I couldn’t! 

But I did.  Three times.  Swore I didn’t have the faintest idea who he was.  And then he looked at me.  He wasn’t angry; he was reproachful.  Disappointed.  If I’m honest, that’s worse.  I was devastated.  I couldn’t believe I’d let Jesus down.  I’d been so full of it.  So full of good words and good intentions.  But I couldn’t back them up with my actions.  I was so ashamed of myself, I ran out and wept.  Wept like I’ve never wept before.

Friday was even worse.  When Jesus needed his friends most, we deserted him – all of us, except John and some of the women in our group.  It was fear that kept me away.  What if they got me too and treated me the way they treated him? The one place I wanted to be was by Jesus’ side – showing him that he could still depend on me and my support, yet I was too much of a coward.  

So I had to rely on others to keep me posted.  And the news got worse and worse as the day wore on.  First, they told me that he’d been put on trial for blasphemy, that the authorities wanted his blood; then, I heard about the beating, the insults, the scourging; and then they told me he’d been sentenced to death.  Crucifixion.  A death so horrible that Roman citizens are spared such awful treatment.  Finally, I heard the news I thought I would never hear – he’d died.  

Jesus.  The miracle maker.  My hero.  My captain.  My leader. The one who was going to save us all from oppression. Dead.

I was numb.  Devastated.  Didn’t believe it. My hopes were snuffed out with him.  What was I going to do now?  Where would I go?

Did you hear that I actually cut a man’s ear off on Thursday night? One of the party who came to arrest Jesus. The man had it coming, if you asked me, but still, it wasn’t a very clever thing to do.  But Jesus healed him there and then.  That’s the kind of guy he was.  That’s why I couldn’t believe that he’d died.  You see, a man who could heal people in the blink of an eye.  A man who could stop a storm.  A man who could raise the dead.  Well, that sort of man could save himself couldn’t he? He couldn’t be dead?  So, why did he let them do that to him?  Why did he let them kill him?

Saturday dragged on.  I was exhausted, but couldn’t sleep; hungry, but couldn’t stomach anything.  A small number of Jesus’ followers gathered together in secret.  We cried on each other’s shoulders, basically.  I found out from Mary Magdalene where he’d been buried.  A man called Joseph of Arimathea gave up his tomb for Jesus’ body to rest.  I wanted to go there, to be with Jesus one last time, but it was the Sabbath, so we couldn’t go anywhere.  I would have to wait until today to pay my last respects to Jesus.

But then, this morning, something extraordinary happened.  Mary Magdalene came and told me that the stone blocking the entrance had been rolled away.  The tomb was empty.  What? Empty? How was that possible?  She told me to go and see for myself.  So that’s what I did.

I ran to the tomb with John to check it out.  To make sure that the extreme emotion we’d all experienced hadn’t got to Mary’s head too much.  I could not believe it.  She was right – the tomb was empty.  I went straight into the tomb and there were the grave clothes.  But no body.  It had gone.  Where was Jesus? Why was the tomb empty? Who moved the stone?

Could the impossible have happened? Could Jesus be alive? I could scarcely believe it.  It was simply too good to be true.  After all, dead men don’t rise from the dead.  Do they?

Later, things got even more incredible! Mary told me that she’d met with Jesus face to face – that she’d mistaken him for the gardener at first, but then she knew it was him once he’d called her by name.  Perhaps it was true after all.  Maybe Jesus was alive!  Maybe he had defeated death!

You’re not going to believe the next thing that happened!  I met with him face to face!  He appeared right in front of me.  Out of nowhere.  It was really him.  I could see the scars and everything.  At first, all the feelings of shame and guilt came flooding back.  I couldn’t look him straight in the eye – how could I – I’d let him down so badly.  But then he spoke to me.  He reassured me that he forgave me.  That I could start over again.  He told me that I was still Rocky, that I still had a part to play in the great adventure he’s planned for me.  In fact, he told me that there were even more incredible days ahead.  He said that the adventure was only just beginning and that he would walk with me and show me the way!

Suddenly I feel more excited than ever.  I can’t believe that so much has happened in so little time.  I can’t wait to tell the other disciples that I’ve seen Jesus and that he’s alive! Back from the dead.  God is truly at work in amazing ways.  Jesus is alive!  He has risen!  I feel more alive than ever.  If the adventure’s only just begun, then bring it on!

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