It’s only two words, so it’s easy to miss. But the power in them is immeasurable.
Mark 16:7: [The angel said to the women] "But go, tell his disciples, and Peter, that he [Jesus] is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you."
“And Peter.” It’s like Peter heard, “Make absolutely sure you get this news to Peter specifically. Yes, tell everyone else, but especially tell Peter.” So why was Simon Peter singled out with this individual and personal distinction? Because it was exactly what Peter needed to begin restoration after denying the Christ he had loved and proclaimed.
We know the story. All four gospels record it. After the arrest of Jesus, every disciple fled from the scene, and in the crowds and chaos near the courts that followed, Peter denied every attempt others made to try to connect him to this Jesus of Nazareth criminal. Peter lied through his teeth to save his own skin.
But his denial was exposed the moment it was committed. Luke 22:61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times."
How many of us have lived a lifetime of regret because the final exchange we had with a loved one was filled with pain or bitter words? Peter had just vehemently renounced all association with Jesus – this Man who had changed his name from Simon (meaning follower) to Peter (meaning rock); this Man who had blessed him for acknowledging that He was indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God; this Man with whom he’d walked on water – Peter had sworn he didn’t even know this Man. He’d exclaimed, “I am not one of them!” And the grieved and knowing glance that immediately followed between Jesus and Peter was the last face-to-face interaction recorded in scripture for the two of them before Christ’s death.
Peter isn’t recorded as being present at the foot of the cross, but the news of the torture and crucifixion had certainly reached his ears. In Peter’s reality, his Lord was dead, all hope of kingdom as well as any hope of un-saying what he had said was extinguished. He did eventually find his way back to the other disciples, probably to mourn and grieve with those who had also loved Jesus. Certainly Peter’s grief must have been much greater than what the other disciples felt.
Until the angel’s words relayed to the women at the empty tomb. “But go, tell his disciples, and Peter.”
Luke 24 tells us the women who had found the empty tomb had rushed back to share what they had seen and heard. (The angel spoke to the women) 6 “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” 8 And they remembered His words, 9 and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. 11 But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.
Notice who then responds to the news with action:
Luke 24:12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.”
Luke 24:34: "The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon!"
After his resurrection, Jesus also met one on one with Peter before appearing to the other disciples. (1 Corinthians 15:5). This face-to-face interaction was the first exchange between Peter and his Lord since his shameful denial, and scripture gives no detail about this exchange. But imagine for a moment Peter’s heart when he sees the Jesus he’s been grieving for three days, certain that he would carry his regret for a lifetime. What must Peter have felt, realizing he no longer had to carry that regret? Was it similar to the overwhelming acceptance felt by the prodigal son as his father joyfully placed the robe and ring upon him after racing down the lane at his return? Guilty, but forgiven. Was it similar to the feeling an unfaithful husband might feel returning to the home where his wife waits with open, forgiving arms? Deserving of the worst, but receiving the best. Perhaps it was similar to the feeling a disgraced young daughter must feel after choosing to end a pregnancy as she returns home to collapse into the tender embrace of her loving daddy. Broken and ashamed, but reconnected to relationship.
We don’t know exactly. But Peter must have experienced all of these. Guilty, but forgiven. Deserving the worst, receiving the best. Broken, ashamed, but reconnected. Restored.
The Lord knew exactly what Peter needed to begin repairing the brokenness. And this same Jesus knows exactly what each of us needs as well, for every single part of us that grieves. It doesn’t matter what the source of your grief is, whether it’s your own willful sin or shameful choices, or if you grieve the choices of others that created brokenness within you. Regardless of the origin, Jesus beckons you to restoration in Him. He sends his angels ahead of you, to tell you by name that he’s on his way to meet you.
Let Him meet you in your brokenness and give you exactly what you need to be restored.
For more insight into the restoration of Peter, read the inspiration for this post: MacLaren’s Exposition (commentary), “Love’s triumph over sin”. biblehub.com/commentaries/mark/16-7.htm