Saturday, March 26, 2016

Luke 24:1-12: Peter's Faith

In first-century Jewish culture a woman’s testimony was not believable. However, God uses these described women, the humble and discredited among society, to first witness and carry the news of Jesus’ Resurrection to the apostles. Upon hearing the women’s testimony, the men are doubtful: “But the apostles thought that what the women said was nonsense, and they did not believe them” (11). Peter, however, is prompted to investigate the report of the empty tomb. Peter runs to the tomb, which indicates his excitement at the prospect of Christ’s Resurrection. After all, Peter was with Christ on Mount Tabor during the Transfiguration.  Peter, also, was one of Jesus’ closest friends, learning daily at the feet of the Master. Peter would have recalled Jesus’ teaching regarding his rising three days after his death. At a run, Peter arrives and, in amazement, witnesses the empty tomb and the abandoned burial linen.

At this stage in his discipleship, Peter is much like many of us.  He is doubtful and must see evidence of Jesus with his own eyes. His faith, at this point, is still in its developmental stages.  Peter has recently denied Jesus three times. And although he is sorrowful regarding this denial (see Luke 22:62), Peter has yet to reconcile with Jesus, telling Jesus three times that he loves him (see John 21:15-19). Therefore, Peter’s amazement, or affirmation of belief, is not after the eyewitness report in Luke 24:9, but only after he has made the dash to the tomb to see for himself. We know from Scripture that Jesus several times talks about the necessity of his Passion (see Luke 18:31-33), each time in the presence of Peter. In those discussions, Jesus mentions his rising after three days.  Why does Peter doubt it, then, when he hears the eyewitness testimony from the women he knew were close to Jesus?

Faith, at times, can be challenging for me as it is here for Peter.  But Peter’s struggle gives me hope. If Peter, the prime disciple and eventual leader of Christ’s church can be a doubtful, self-confessed sinner, then there is hope for me. There is hope for us all. For Peter never gave up, and although he got it wrong many times throughout Scripture, he kept coming back to Jesus, seeking him out, and reconciling with him through a contrite heart.