I never gave post-resurrection appearances the credit they deserve. But today was my first experience with a Beth Moore Bible study on James. Jesus appeared to him, and others. The focus in the study was on James – but Peter caught my attention.
There is no account on Peter’s interaction with Jesus during that appearance between just the two of them. No one knows what was said or done. Moore suggested this was purposeful; Jesus protecting His beloved disciple and spiritual brother, because by this time Peter must have felt shame. Moore went on to discuss James further but a part of my mind was still with Peter. Peter was the one who denied his Redeemer, friend, and the lover of his soul! He betrayed Jesus, his best friend, as that friend and holy GOD was being murdered. Peter pretended as if all that had happened between them – the blind healed, the boy revived to life, water turned into wine, the fig tree withering, the calling from a fisherman’s life – as if all that Jesus had knit into Peter’s heart, had never existed. If anyone should feel like a dirt mite, it would be Peter. But then Jesus came back to life and breath. Then (as Moore said) He selected those who needed to see Him most, and He spoke to them and changed them more than before.
Imagine, just a little, those moments.
Maybe Peter was in his house, head in his hands, and thinking about what Mary Magdalene had said. “Jesus is alive!! I SAW Him. He SPOKE to me!”
Maybe along with incredulity Peter felt a longing to see His face again, then, fear. “He’s not going to see me. He knows…He knows what I’ve done. I denied Him now He denies me.”
Peter might have convinced himself that he didn’t care. He didn’t need to see Jesus. Hours passed. Numbness crept in. But then, maybe, as Peter slumped against the wall in a darkened room wondering what had he really done, Jesus came. (I Corinthians 15:5)
Maybe Peter was just at the pinnacle of misery. Maybe he talked to himself. “I’ll carry this guilt for life. I should.” Maybe he was too stricken to say anything at all. Maybe he was trying to hide himself from God.
But Jesus came.
What did Jesus say? How many tears did Peter weep? How tenderly and lovingly did Jesus reach out His hand, and bestow forgiveness? Mercy? Grace? How did Peter keep his heart from bursting? That evening when the disciples were gathered together and Jesus appeared (I Corinthians 15:5, John 20), Peter could look upon his Savior with joy. That’s the kind of God who loves you and me.
And Jesus didn’t parade Peter’s guilt in front of a crowd or glare at him over everyone’s heads. He didn’t turn away or strike Peter dead, or tell him to carry a burden in his hands as heavy as the one that used to be in his heart.
Maybe Peter never told a soul what Jesus said when He came to him, just when he needed to remember the mercy of a Redeemer. When everyone asked, Peter could have just smiled, or laughed aloud with joy at remembering those moments. Maybe Jesus told the other disciples that Peter had been forgiven, wiped clean of any wrong, and repaired to peace beyond this earth. That’s the kind of Jesus who loves you and me. Maybe there were a hundred other things.
Or maybe Jesus caught Peter’s eye from the front of the room – and smiled.