I was reading 1 Corinthians last night and was struck by the following verses:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.” 1 Cor 15:3-5
Remember Peter? As one of Jesus’ disciples, he had listened to Jesus’ teachings and saw him perform many miracles. Peter had walked on water, witnessed the Transfiguration, and claimed he would follow Jesus to death. Yet when Jesus was captured and put on trial, Peter vehemently denied his relationship with him three times just as the Lord had predicted.
“Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Luke 20:60-62
From there the Lord was crucified and Peter was left to his own thoughts. I can’t even imagine what Peter must have felt for those days following the crucifixion. At this point he looks like a complete failure. When the “going got tough”, Peter folded.
But look at what happened according to 1 Corinthians. The Lord appeared to Peter alone before appearing to the rest. We know that all of the disciples had scattered like sheep during Jesus’ capture, but it was Peter who openly denied the Lord and was confronted with his own failure by the rooster’s crow (and Jesus’ gaze). If anyone needed face-time with the Risen Lord, it surely was Peter. And that is what he got.
We don’t know what the Jesus said to Peter when he appeared to him, but we know that Peter went from cowardly denier to bold proclaimer. In the second chapter of Acts it is Peter that addresses the crowd with the truth of Jesus’ crucifixion and converts 3000 to “the way”. Peter’s failure was no obstacle to God.
And so it is for us. We have a Savior who is willing to meet with us personally, even when we have failed him. He can lift us back up and continue to use us despite our failures. How lucky we are to serve such a loving and merciful Lord!