Peter was filled withremorse. There was so much he could have done but did not do. Would he ever be forgiven for his lapses?
He sat with this head bowed. He was filled with remorse. “How could things go so wrong?” he thought to himself. He had been an ordinary fisherman… just one among the many others you would find on the shores of the lake.
Nothing special about him, actually he was not even good at his job! There had been so many nights when he had returned home with no fish. But from among all the fishermen, Jesus had come and called out to him. He was the chosen one. He was the one singled out for special attention.
So many lapses
Jesus had given him a new name — Peter, and he had said “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…” How unworthy of that trust he was.
He thought of the watch he had been asked to maintain at the Garden of Gethsemane and he was filled with shame. The one time Jesus had asked something of him and he had fallen asleep.
Then there was the incident with the maid. He had denied any knowledge of Jesus not once, but three times. When the cock crowed the third time, he remembered how Jesus had predicted that he, Peter would deny him, and he had broken down and cried.
The very thought of that night brought tears to his eyes. Jesus had been his friend, his teacher, his companion… and he had failed him in every way.
He was not in a mood to talk to the other disciples. They were all in the same state as he was. They were shocked at the cruelty and hatred that had been shown when Jesus was accused and brought to trial. They were subdued when they remembered how calmly Jesus had accepted everything. He did not get angry, he did not argue, he did not raise his voice. He simply accepted every indignity that was heaped on him.
Peter remembered how the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the hall and stripped him and made him wear a scarlet robe and a crown of thorns, and gave him a reed to hold and they mocked him by bowing and saying “Hail King of the Jews!” The disciples had been helpless. Jesus bore it all, even when they spat on him and took the reed from his hand and beat him with it.
When he hung on the Cross at Calvary, tired and hungry, wounded and in pain his prayer was for his persecutors. In his most intense moment of pain he cried out “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. After Jesus had been crucified they took his garments and divided it among themselves.
Peter could not forgive himself for letting Jesus down. He had known him and moved with him and listened to him and yet, he had not known how to act and how to behave. He felt so bereft and alone. He felt as if his world had come crashing down. He remembered that last minute when Jesus gave up his spirit. Darkness filled the land and the curtain in the temple was rent in two. Jesus’ cry was heard by all, and everyone who heard him said, “Certainly, this was a righteous man”.
He did not go and claim Jesus’ body. It was Joseph of Arimathea who did that. Wrapped in a clean cloth Joseph laid the body in a new tomb, and had rolled a big stone to block the entrance.
Peter shook himself out of his reverie. This was the third morning since that day. He must visit the sepulchre where Jesus lay, he thought. His heart was heavy and troubled, but he got up to get ready to visit the sepulchre.
Just then he heard a commotion in the courtyard. He went out to enquire. He found Mary Magdalene and the other Mary in a very excited state. They could barely express themselves. Their faces were flushed as they talked and laughed and cried. It was quite a while later when he was able to get some sense out their chatter.
Bit by bit he began to piece together their story. It being the third day, they had gone to the sepulchre early in the morning. They were surprised to find that the stone at the entrance had been rolled away. They were just wondering what could have happened, when they saw a young man clothed in white, sitting there. They were frightened. But the man said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
Peter could not believe what he heard. He was overjoyed. Even though he had not done what was expected of him, Jesus still remembered and loved him. Throwing off his dark garment of despair, he clothed himself in joy and hope for he knew that all would be well.