It was a long night, even for an experienced commercial fisherman like Simon Peter. He felt exhausted. It was only an hour or two from dawn and he was operating on only an hour or so of uncomfortable sleep in the garden before Jesus woke him and the others. Peter wasn’t only physically tired, but he was even more so emotionally drained. He felt confused, angry, and afraid.
As he sat by a fire, in the yard of Caiaphas’ home, trying to keep warm against the cold black night, his mind kept replaying a conversation he had with Jesus earlier. Peter thought he was proving his resolve to live by his earlier words to Jesus, “all of these men might be offend because of you, but I will never be offended.” But he couldn’t help but wonder, “Did Jesus know this was coming? Why would he walk right into that traitor’s trap? Why wouldn’t Jesus fight?”
“I felt like such a fool, Peter thought. I almost killed that man to defend my king, and Jesus healed him right before he surrendered himself. Why? Why give up? What kind of king surrenders himself without a fight?!” As Peter’s confusion and anger swirled within him, he tried not to make eye contact with anyone pulling his hood a little lower onto his face trying to conceal his identity. He was afraid someone might recognize him as one of Jesus’ men.
Then, while Peter was trying to peer through the doorway of Ciaphas’ house to see what was happening with Jesus inside, someone noticed him. “Hey”, said a large figure with his finger pointed at Peter. “I know you. You almost killed my little brother, Malchus!” “No, I’m sorry about your brother, but you’ve got the wrong guy”, Peter replied angrily. “Aren’t you one of Jesus’ disciples?” the man interrogated as he continued to approach Peter. Another man who had been sitting next to Peter said, “Ya, he is, this guy has a Galilean accent.” “No, *&#@, I don’t know what your talking about. I don’t even know this Jesus guy.”
As soon as the words of denial rolled off Peter’s tongue the rooster crowed. his eyes widened, and he glanced inside the house because in that moment, he remembered Jesus’ words to him, “you are going to deny me tonight three times before the rooster’s crow.” As Peter was looking into the house, Jesus was looking right at him.
That split second when his eyes met Jesus’ felt like an eternity to Peter as his self image had shattered like a piece of glass into a million broken pieces. He turned away from Jesus’ face feeling nothing but self-pity. His eyes filled with tears and his shoulders felt heavy, his throat burned, his heart sank, and his face went blank. The men who were arguing with Peter had no idea what they just saw as Peter began to make his way slowly to the exit. The men looked at each other a little confused. Then, just as Peter had reached the exit one man shouted, “We’ll come for you later Galilean!”
As soon as Peter was out of their sight he ran. Peter ran as fast as his legs would take him to nowhere. He wasn’t running from anyone but from himself. Eventually he felt too tired to go on running so he leaned up against a lonely tree and began to weep uncontrollably. Peter completely broke down. He doubled over in emotional pain as he slid down his lonely tree to a seated position under it’s branches as the sunlight began to kiss the hill behind him.
After a long while, Peter couldn’t cry anymore. He was completely spent, and he fell asleep a completely broken man. Hours later he began to wake and for a few moments hoped it had all been a bad dream, but the nightmare had only begun.
He felt sick, his head was pounding, and his hands were trembling. He slowly made his way to Jerusalem. The city was buzzing with the news that Jesus had been on trial earlier that morning and was condemned to be crucified at Golgotha. Peter swallowed hard, trying to hold back tears, and walked toward the place of crucifixion.
When Peter got close enough to see Jesus’ figure hanging in the distance, he broke down again. Peter felt like he was somehow responsible because he denied his King. As he slowly collected himself, he made his way toward the crowd. With tears in his eyes, he looked for his brother and any of the other disciples.
He found Phillip but they could hardly speak to one another. Peter asked, “do you know where Andrew is?” Phillip pointed Peter in the direction he saw Andrew last. After a few minutes of searching, he found his brother in the crowd with his head down and palms open, silently praying for a miracle.
Peter turned his brother around and they embraced. Peter and Andrew said nothing, but stood side by side in horror of the reality right in front of them. Jesus was slowly dying in agony as the crowd carried on as if Jesus had been a villain. Didn’t these people remember who Jesus was and what He had done for so many?
As they stood there, about midday, the sky went black. For the next three hours, the day became physically dark as if night had fallen. Fear gripped the hearts of the crowd. It was terrifyingly obvious that this was not natural. Mothers and fathers began collecting their children to find shelter. No one knew what really was happening, but everyone knew this was somehow connected to Jesus as he hung dying. Peter and Andrew wondered, could this be the miracle that Andrew was praying for?
Then after three hours of darkness, Jesus cried out, as loud as a dying man could, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Peter and Andrew could not understand those words.
The darkness had come and gone. Peter, Andrew, and a few of the other disciples hopelessly decided to leave the scene of the crucifixion. They were all haunted by what they just seen and heard. They thought, did God really forsake His Son? They gathered back in the upper room, where they had Jesus’ last supper the night before. They had no where else to go.
They felt as lost and hopeless as any man had ever felt before. News eventually reached them that Jesus did die and a rich man named Joseph was granted the right to bury Jesus’ dead body. At least Jesus was laid to rest in a respectful place Peter thought. The broken hearted eleven stayed in the upper room for the next three days trying to stay out of the public’s eye during the Passover.
The morning after Passover was finished it was the first day of the week and a few women went to the grave site of Jesus with supplies to better complete the embalming process of their fallen Messiah, but when they arrived at the tomb, Jesus’ body was gone and an angel declared Jesus was alive! “Go and tell Peter and the other disciples”, the angel commanded them.
When the story of those women reached Peter and John, the two disciples raced to Jesus’ grave site and found the tomb open and empty. It was just like the women said they found it. Peter walked inside to see more closely and the two men noticed the grave clothes were in one pile and then the napkin that should have been laid on Jesus’ face was folded where his head would have been. What happened here? Could it be true? is Jesus really alive? Peter and John looked at each other but said nothing for several minutes. They were not sure what to think, but they both felt that small glimmer of hope rising up inside themselves.
Later that night, while all the disciples were gather together and talking about the last few weeks. “Could this be real?” they thought. There was some anticipation building because of the mystery of the empty tomb. Then Jesus suddenly appeared behind them and said, “Peace be unto you”. The disciples hearts burst with joy. Jesus was alive! The disciples turned to see, their living King and cheered, “Jesus!”. It was a moment unlike any before or after in this world. All the pain that Peter felt in the past 3 days was over. Peter’s broken heart had been mended in a moment of time. This was Jesus’ greatest miracle. The disciples had seen Jesus heal the lame, make the blind to see and the deaf to hear, but Peter had just experienced healing of his own broken heart.
Peter’s King was Jesus, the conquerer of death and the healer of hearts. Has your heart been broken like Peter? Gaze upon the Resurrected Jesus and let your confusion, anger, and fear melt away in the light of his beauty and grace.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.