"They left the tomb and broke the news of all this to the Eleven and the rest. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women kept telling these things to the apostles, but the apostles didn't believe a word of it; thought they were making it up. "But Peter jumped to his feet and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look in and saw a few grave clothes, that's all. He walked away puzzled, shaking his head." Luke 24:9-13 (The Message).
Poor Peter! His mind must have been in torment. Put yourself in his shoes. A few days before, he had said something to a few strangers that would change his life forever. In the heat of a terrifying moment, unprepared because he would not heed his Master's warning, he had vehemently denied the one to whom he had pledged lifelong loyalty, and whom he had recognised and confessed as the Messiah.
And now He was dead. He would never have the opportunity to express his sorrow and regret for what he had done. The look in Jesus' eyes when He had caught Peter's eye as the cock crowed, would haunt him forever. The anguish in his heart was unbearable. He had not slept since then. He was afraid to close his eyes because of the flashbacks of all the horrifying scenes of that day.
And now the women come with a story that He was not in the tomb. Something about the stone rolled from the entrance; about shining men inside the tomb; about their incomprehensible words - "He's not here. He has risen!” about grave clothes left as though the body had simply evaporated! It all sounded like fairy stories to him but how he yearned that it would be true.
He wanted to believe them. He wanted to wake up and find that it was all a bad dream. He joined the others in pooh-poohing their story; (after all, they were only women, and women were not permitted to testify in a court of law. They were discredited as unreliable witnesses), but in his heart of hearts he wanted it to be true.
He couldn't just sit there, wishing and hoping. He had to find out for himself what had happened. Had the authorities removed Jesus' body to stop any rumours of a resurrection? Had Joseph taken Him for burial to an unknown tomb?
What Peter saw was just as puzzling to him as it was to the women. They had told the truth. The tomb was open. The body was missing. There were no angels, but the grave clothes were not just lying in a heap as though tossed aside by a careless grave robber. If someone had stolen His body, why would they have left the shroud? None of it made sense to Peter. He walked away in a daze, his heart as heavy as lead.
With masterful brushstrokes, Luke paints a picture of mystery and intrigue. Jesus was not there. Everything pointed to a very unusual event, but where was He? The women saw the tomb and the grave clothes and the angels, but no Jesus. Peter saw the tomb and the grave clothes but no Jesus?
Only one thing could change this mysterious situation - Jesus Himself! But He did not show up. He left them to stew in their confusion and unbelief for a while. They had to come to terms with the situation before He could reveal Himself to them and convince them that He was alive so that every other word He spoke would be embedded in their souls and shape their lives forever, and compel them to testify that He had risen from the dead.
The success of His mission to earth stands on this one fact - He was crucified but He is alive. We can trust Him and stake our lives on Him and what He told us because He beat death and He is here now with His offer of eternal life for those who stake their lives on him.
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