A Resurrection Story
A Resurrection Story
by Lonnie Lane
It wasn’t just that all their hopes and dreams died when He did, but such supernatural things took place when He died. John had been the only one of the disciples who could bear being with Him, watching Him die as he kept watch at the foot of His cross with His mother, Miryam. As Yeshua’s head dropped to His chest in the finality of death, the darkness which had been growing overhead now blanketed the entire city of Jerusalem.
Frightening as this darkness was, it didn’t compare to the screeching groan of the earth itself as an earthquake shook the foundations of the city immediately after Yeshua Himself uttered a loud cry as life left His body (Mark 15:37, 38). The shaking caused the Temple itself to tremble, resulting in that which no one had ever expected — the more than one foot thick woven curtain which hid the Presence of God in the Holy of Holies split from top to bottom, exposing the Ark behind the curtain. No one dared to enter the Holy of Holies except the high priest once a year on Yom Kippor, the day of atonement, the holiest day of the year when the high priest would offer a blood sacrifice for the nation. Even then the high priest, if he were found unclean in God’s sight, would never come out of there alive on that day. For that reason a rope was tied to his ankle so they could pull him out should the bells on his gown stop talking as he ministered to Adonai, for then they would know he had not found favor with the Lord and he was dead.
Now the unthinkable had happened. The Holy of Holies was exposed! What would become of anyone who would enter even that area of the Temple? How were they to rectify the situation? What did this mean? But that dilemma was one for the Sanhedrin and the high priest to solve, not for the disciples. They had other concerns. They were each responding to the tragedy of Yeshua’s death according to their own basic characters. Tragedy does that; it brings out the best or the worst in all of us.
Joseph of Arimathea, an influential and wealthy follower of Yeshua, was able to obtain an audience with Pilot and asked if he could have the body of Yeshua as he wished to give Him a proper burial in a tomb which had been purchased for his own burial one day. It was granted and those who loved Him, took His limp and lifeless body from the wretched execution stake, wrapped Him in grave cloths and laid Him on a slab in the tomb.
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Fear stamped around them, hissing hopelessness at the hiding disciples. Huddled together in the upper room they shared their grief, their fears and their questions. All except for Peter, who, for once, was silent. How could this happen, they asked each other. How could one so powerful become so weak? How could one with words that confounded even the most articulate of the P’rushim (Pharisees) have nothing to say in His own defense? They’d never defeated Him before, why now? What happened? And what was to become of them? What were they to do with their lives now? They’d been so changed, they could never be the same. They couldn’t just go back to life as it was, could they? Besides, if they crucified Yeshua, what would the leaders do to His followers? As they talked, another dialog was going on in the room.
Peter, crouched in a darkened corner, was agonizing with shame as he berated himself. He told me. He told me I’d deny Him. Coward. I’m such a coward. Oh, I had big dreams. I’d lay down my life for Him. “Anything, Lord,” I told Him. But I expected He’d rise to the occasion and show them all who He really was, that He was really the Messiah and that He would reign as King. I was brave enough when I thought He was a winner. But where was I for the man I called my friend when He wasn’t wining? How could I abandon Him like that, and deny I even knew Him? What kind of man am I? I betrayed the only man I’ve ever considered really righteous. All my boasting empty words, a net with great holes in it. Was I following Him because of who He was…or because of what I thought I would eventually get out of it? …oh God, please help me.
An unwilling groan of pain escaped from his throat adding to his shame. He threw a quick glance around the room to see if anyone else heard him but they all seemed too absorbed in their own anguish to notice. If only I could tell Him I’m sorry. If only…. But Peter knew it was hopeless. He was gone. Dead. Peter wrapped his arms more tightly around himself and turned his face even further into the dark corner.
Just then, a loud bang attacked the door causing them all to freeze with fear. Then the voice of Miryam from Magdala shouted, “Open the door. Open up. I’ve seen Him. I’ve seen Him. He’s alive!” Quickly they opened the door lest she attract the attention of the neighbors. She was flushed and excited as she repeated the declaration: “He’s alive, I tell you. He’s alive.”
“Miryam, sit down. You’ve been through too much,” they told her as they tried to calm her. “We saw Him. He was dead. I was there when they took Him down from the cross. I carried Him in my own arms. Dead is dead. I know dead when I see it. Miryam, He’s gone. It’s over….” As Peter listened from the darkened corner his heart began to beat faster and faster. Could it be? He raised others from the dead. Is it possible? As he stood to his feet his eyes met John’s and immediately in silent agreement they both made for the door, running all the way to Joseph’s tomb.
It was true. His body was not there. Only the grave cloths had remained. What did this mean? Where then was He? Was He really alive as Miryam said? Back in the upper room, they went over and over the things He’d said to them trying to make sense out of it all, when all at once He appeared before them. He didn’t walk in the door. He was just suddenly there! At first they were all in shock, which was replaced with joy within moments even though they had trouble actually believing He was there, in front of them, alive! Peter, overwhelmed at seeing Him, wanted so much to wrap his arms around Him, to look into His eyes once again, and to ask Him so many questions. But his shame kept him on the outskirts of the group. He watched every move Yeshua made and drew into himself every word He said, like one who loves but is afraid to approach the loved one for fear of being rejected. Peter watched, horrified at the ugly wounds as Yeshua reached out His pierced hands. I’m the one that deserves that wound, not Him, Peter told himself.
He tried to focus on Yeshua’s words as He gently rebuked them for their unbelief. But then, in the same voice that He’d sent them out just a few short years ago to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons…” (Matthew 10:8), He was telling them now to go again and declare the Kingdom of God to all the world, (Mark 16:15) immersing people in the waters of Mikveh (baptism) in His name (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; 8:12, 16; 10:48; 19:5). They were to make disciples just as they were His disciples. At that, guilt rose up within Peter at his failure to be a faithful disciple. How ever could I be one who could fulfill what He’s saying, Peter accused himself. He told us we’d be fishers of men, but I’ve disqualified myself from serving Him by my betrayal of Him, the very thing I thought I’d never do. Despite his joy at seeing the Lord alive — more alive than He’d ever been — Peter knew his own weakness of character would keep him from ever being able to join the others in fulfilling Yeshua’s present command to them.
Days went by. Not knowing what else to do, Peter remained with them. The disciples were awed and excited. They chattered noisily about what they would be doing, how they would do it, what it all meant. Peter pretended to be enthusiastic with them and they pretended not to notice his sullenness. John, acutely aware of his friend’s despair, kept one eye on Peter as they made their plans. Unable to endure their joy one moment longer, Peter abruptly announced, “I’m going fishing.”
“I’ll go with you,” said John with feigned enthusiasm, unwilling to allow Peter to go off by himself in his present state of mind, knowing what had taken place when Peter denied knowing the Lord. The others decided it would do them good to get out on the sea again for a while after being cooped up in the city for so long. So they made their way to the Galilee and their boats.
It was almost dawn and they’d caught not one fish between them. The catch matched Peter’s sense of his own self-worth: Empty! Sitting in the boat, bobbing with the gentle waves, nets in the water, the rocking motion kept cadence with Peter’s thoughts. If only, if only I could see Him alone. Just us. If only, I could tell Him, how sorry I am. I hurt Him, I know it. When He needed a friend, I betrayed Him. He knew it….The look that He gave me. I’ll never forget it…. I’ll never escape it…. Oh wretched man that I am. Will I never be free of this pain?
A voice from the shore interrupted his excruciating reverie, someone asking about their catch then said, “Throw the nets over the right hand side of the boat and you’ll find a catch!” (John 21:6). Something about the voice was familiar. Just as he remembered hearing similar words from Yeshua several years ago, in the beginning, John cried out, “It’s the Lord!” Peter’s eyes scanned the shore for the lone figure standing on the beach, then grabbed his tunic and yanked it over his head as he threw himself in the water, swimming as hard as he could for shore. He had to get alone with the Lord, this was his one chance. Lungs burning and muscles near failure, he swam the distance until he reached the shallow water. Staggering across the pebble strewn shore he threw himself at the feet of Yeshua.
He lay there for a few moments not knowing which was greater, the pain in his lungs or the pain in his heart. Opening his eyes, his gaze fell upon the puncture wounds in Yeshua’s feet that matched the ones in His hands He’d shown to Thomas. Peter was too overwhelmed to speak. Yeshua stood quietly waiting for him to process what he was seeing, then gently laid His hand upon Peter’s heaving shoulder. At the touch of His hand, with more of a whimper than a word, Peter was finally able to say, “Lord, I’m so sorry. Forgive me.” He could no longer hold back the deep emotion which gripped him and he began to cry deep wracking sobs of release. After a few moments, when his anguish was exhausted, Yeshua raised him up to his knees. Looking full into Peter’s eyes, His hands upon his shoulders, Yeshua said, “You are forgiven, Simon.” Peter searched the face of the Lord as a peace such as he’d never known before began to flood his entire being. He looked deeply and gratefully into the eyes of His Lord.
“Now go help the others bring in the catch,” Yeshua said with a smile. At the Lord’s word, Peter ran toward the others to join them in the work they had to do.
Whatever our failure, whatever our shame, Yeshua waits for us on the shores of redemption to bring us release. Look into His eyes with the eyes of your heart and receive what He died to bring you to — Himself!
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2009.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.