The 2 Questions for Peter are the 2 Questions for Everyone

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened (Luke 24:9-12).

That first resurrection Sunday was a day of all kinds of questions. Perhaps it should not have been; after all, the refrain surrounding Jesus’ rise from the dead was this:

“Just as He told you.”

And He did. He did tell them. He told them all several times, but they weren’t ready to hear it. Or at least not ready to really hear it. And to compound the issue, the lives of all those early disciples had been turned upside down. Hope was lost; followers were scattered; faith was doubt; and the future was, at best, uncertain. Into the fray came a group of women who had visited the tomb and experienced… something. Something for sure – but no one really knew what. At least not yet.

They told tales of rolled away stones. Of angels with miraculous pronouncements. And of a missing body and… yes… a risen Lord. On the one hand, given their emotional state, we can sympathize with those who chalked up the stories to hysteria. Or a fantastical expression of grief. Or of misguided attempts at comfort. Or of just plain nonsense. But then there was Peter.

Peter, who only days before was so brashly confident that He opposed Jesus’ prediction of His betrayal. Peter, who made big promises about his own faithfulness. Peter who had walked on water and seen miracle after miracle and carried away a whole basket full of food that hadn’t been there before.

Peter who had denied Christ over and over again.

This same Peter, perhaps with a glimmer of hope left in his chest, ran to the tomb to see for himself, and what he found there was… confusing. He was left with questions. Surely all kinds of questions. But perhaps we can boil all the questions in Peter’s mind down to two, and perhaps the two questions Peter had when confronted with the resurrection of Jesus are actually the same two questions every single human being still has to answer when they are confronted with the story of Jesus rising from the dead.

Question 1: Is this real?

This is a base level, factual inquiry. Peter had to decide if what he was seeing was real or not. And then, like now, he had to wade through all the possible explanations, no matter how silly they might seem:

  • Did someone steal the body?
  • Did Jesus actually die as we thought he did?
  • Is there some vast conspiracy he was somehow not a part of?

Or is the simplest explanation, no matter how unbelievable it might seem to him, actually the real one – that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead? This is the same question we all have to answer before we go any further. We have to reckon with the fact that either Jesus rose from the dead, or He did not, because literally everything else hangs on the answer to that question. Because wound up in that question is the very identity of Jesus. If He did not rise from the dead, then we cannot really believe anything else that He said either. We cannot trust any of His promises if this one was not also true. But if He did rise from the dead? Well, that then leads to the second question for Peter, and for everyone else.

Question 2: What does this mean for me?

This was not a fact-based question for Peter; it was much more personal than that. Let’s say that Peter did believe that the miraculous had happened and Jesus was alive again. Peter still did not know where that left him. He had abandoned Jesus. Betrayed Him. Failed in the test of his faith. Would this Jesus, now alive again, have a place for Peter? Was there grace for him, though he had fallen so far?

And we have this question in common with Peter as well. If we do accept that Jesus is risen from the dead, then where does that leave us? Because we, too, have failed. Time and time again. We have cast off the rule and reign of Jesus in favor of our own desires, seeking to be kings and queens unto ourselves. Is there grace yet for us? Is there room in His kingdom for us?

And gloriously, the answer to both questions is yes. Yes, Jesus is alive. And yes, there is grace for us. In time, Peter will see the answer clearly. By God’s grace, so will we.

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