March 2022 : Forgiveness in Christ - Mark 16.7
'But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' - Mark 16 v 7
At the end of Mark's gospel, there is a sentence that would be easy to skip over, blink and you'll miss it. After the the crucifixion on the third day, the women go to the tomb and are alarmed to discover that there is an angel there and the stone to the entrance of the tomb had been rolled away. The angel tells them the glorious, good news that Jesus is risen from the dead. He is no longer here. Obviously they are not to keep this good news to themselves, they are to go and tell the others. The angel says, 'But go, tell his disciples and Peter.' Did you notice the phrasing? Why does he specifically say Peter?
If you read back in Mark's gospel, and the other gospels for that matter we see Peter's darkest moment. Peter had claimed that he would never deny the Lord Jesus and would die for him if necessary (v 26 – 31). Yet despite this bold claim, he later did that very thing and denied Jesus three times because a servant girl recognised him. Peter had followed Jesus and his captors to the trial. In fact Peter was so close that Luke records the excruciating moment when the cock crowed and, 'the Lord turned and looked at Peter' ( 22 v 61). Peter remembered that Christ had said he would deny him before the cock crowed. Mark says he, 'went out and wept bitterly.' Imagine the shame that Peter felt at this moment. Despite all of his claims to give himself for his Lord, he had denied and failed him.
I believe this is why the angel mentions Peter by name. He would have felt that he could never be forgiven by Christ for this. He was beyond the pail. He did not deserve God's grace. Yet here is this extra assurance, specific to him. Christ is risen and there is grace for all. Even for those who have denied him and walked away from him. That doesn't have to be the end of their story. Of course we know this was not the end for Peter. First of all there is that beautiful moment on the beach when Jesus asks Peter three times, 'Do you love me?' Peter answers, 'Lord you know that I love you.,' (John 21). Peter is restored.
Peter is not only restored but also commissioned. He is an apostle and is sent to preach the gospel to all nations. He becomes the leader of the early Church. The denying man in the courtyard becomes the spirit filled preacher of Pentecost. This did not make him perfect of course (see Galatians 2 v 11-14). Yet God used him mightily and loved him dearly.
Today you may need that reminder of God's grace and God's love for you. None of us are beyond the grace and forgiveness of Jesus. It doesn't matter what we have done. His saving work, his life, death and resurrection are all that is needed to wipe our sins away. If you are far from him, come back today and seek his forgiveness. This is not the end of your story, Jesus loves you, Jesus wants to work in you and through you. Peter eventually did give his life for Christ as Jesus said he would ( John 21 v 15 – 19). Then he entered into the presence of his saviour. May each of us be assured of his grace and love for us today.