Standing here in the street while Mary (Magdalene) talks to John it’s obvious I’m an outsider. A complete outsider. A week ago I was on the inside, knew as much as any of Jesus’ friends, more than some. Not today. I’m not worthy of it. My “i do not know the man” ruined everything. I’ve wished a thousand times I could take those words back. I should have just stood up, scowled at that first servant girl who said something – and left. Gone back to the inn and my wife. Now my wife is the only one I have, I guess. She’s being good about it. She and John. He’s a true friend, no doubt about it. But I’ve not seen the others. Don’t really want to. I don’t know what they’d say and they probably wouldn’t know what to say. Hold on, John’s motioning me closer.
What? (I am SO uncomfortable right now)
John: You need to hear this.
Peter (me): Hear what?
Mary: I was just telling John, I went to the tomb this morning. It’s empty.
M: I’m serious! A man dressed in pure white told me not to look there for Jesus, that He’s risen from the dead!
P: Mary. Stop. I’m not in the mood for-
M: And then this other man came up to me and struck up a conversation, I thought it was the groundskeeper so was just being -you know- polite and he said my name.
M: So?! He knew me! It was Jesus!
P: Mary. Please. (I hate when people play games with me, trying to draw me out or something – I don’t play)
J: Hear her out, man.
P: <sigh> go on
M: He’s on His way to Galilee! He wants to meet us there!
P: He’s dead, Mary. You’re seeing thi-
M: He is NOT! He’s alive! He said “Go tell the disciples – and Peter”
M: Yes! (she put her hand on my arm to make sure I heard her) – and Peter. He mentioned you by name.
I took a deep breath. If you’re toying with me, so help me, I’ll….. I don’t know what I’d do, actually. Man I hate this. I looked over at John.
P: You believe her? (John nodded) Okay, Mary – this would be day four. He called Lazarus back after four days and it was not pretty. How’d he look? (I still didn’t believe her)
M: Different. Kinda… oh-i-don’t-know … other-worldly. But it was Him. His voice wasn’t tired – not at all. I almost didn’t recognize Him when He said my name, but when I looked up and His eyes were looking right at me – I knew. Peter isn’t this WONderful?! C’mon! you just HAVE to go with us!
P: But I –
J: I think we should, Pete.
P: Tell me the truth, Mary. He said my name? Mine?
M: Yes (she was smiling so big. It was hard for her to stand still, she was so excited, and it wasn’t because it was chilly out here – though it was. She couldn’t wait to get going) He said -to me- tell the disciples and Peter. I’m telling you the truth! John, you believe me, don’t you?
J: I think so. Yes, I believe you.
P: The tomb’s empty? (I wasn’t sure. I wanted to believe her but you gotta admit, this is a stretch. He did say this would happen, though. I remember Him saying so.)
M: Empty! We went inside, Mary – (James’ mom) and me. The gentleman sitting there dressed in white told us not to look for the living among the dead. Scared us to DEATH! (she smiled) Almost.
P: Tell you what. If it was empty when you were there – and this is real – it will still be empty when I go see for myself. True?
P: John? Be my witness?
J: You’re on.
P: If you’re right, Mary, and I pray you are, not hallucinating or sleep-walking, I’ll thank you – later.
I took a step. Then another. John was still talking to Mary.
P: Comin, John?
J: Be right with you.
He gave her a hug. I was walking already. He joined me and we walked in silence. This was a lot to deal with all of a sudden.
Our pace quickened a little at the corner. The sound of our feet on the cobblestones started to say “what if she’s right? what if she’s right?” and we walked a little further. Jerusalem is quite a bit bigger than Capernaum (my home town) but I know my way around.
I glanced over at John. Recognition passed between us and we picked it up a little more. The cadence changed a little. I found wanted to believe. Really I did “gotta see this. gotta see this.”
When we got close enough I could see the cemetery entrance I grabbed my robe, tucked it into my belt and started to run. “please be gone. please be gone. Oh dear teacher PLEASE be gone!” My thoughts screamed into the morning twilight. “Please be gone when I get there!”
John passed me, but I couldn’t run any faster. My lungs were gasping for air, my legs complaining, my chest heaving to seize my next breath. “Man I’ve got to lose some weight. I’ve gone soft since I quit fishing. Jesus, please be gone when I get there!” My spirit begged for Mary to be right.
The stone was off the the side, I could see that now. John stopped at the entrance, stooped down and looked in. When I caught up to him I slipped past ” ‘Scuse me” and into the little cavern. My eyes adjusted to the dim light and found the cloth Joseph of Arimathea had used… lying right there.
It’s all I could manage for a minute or two. Just “empty”. The thoughts and memories raced through my mind in rapid succession. Finally I managed to say at least something.
P: He folded the face cloth. Isn’t that just like Him?
John smiled. It was.
J: Just like.
P: Did she say Galilee? He’s headed for Galilee?
J: She did. As in – home.
I was careful not to bump my head as I stepped back outside and into the crisp morning air. My heart was racing like a frightened little bird’s. Only I didn’t feel afraid. I was excited! Just plain excited!
P: I need to stop by the inn, pick up the wife and check out, and we are outta here, friend. We are Outta here! I can’t believe this! He did it! He’s alive! Glory be to God on high, He DID it! You wanna travel with us?
I couldn’t help but notice my old self was back. Just like that. … and Peter. He said “and Peter.” My Lord isn’t holding any of this against me!! UNreal!!
P: Okay, stop by where we’re staying once you check out, we’ll meet you in the lobby and go from there.
J: Sounds like a plan to me!
Silent tears were streaming down his face. This guy, the disciple Jesus loved, such a tender heart, but what a man. I wrapped a fisherman hug around his shoulders a minute. He began to sob. But this was a different kind of sobbing than mine a few nights ago not far from here. His was relief. Love. Joy. I shared them with him for a minute. Then I pushed him back so he was at arm’s length, my hands strong on his shoulders.
P: How you doin’?
It was my turn. He grinned from ear to ear.
J: Never better.
P: Me either. Thanks for hanging in there with me the last couple days, man.
J: No prob’ Pete
P: Let’s go.
We turned and headed back where we started from. The click of our feet on the cobblestones beneath us whispered with every step
“He did it… He is Risen… He did it… He is Risen… He did it… He is Risen… Hallelujah!”
We — are going home to Capernaum! Jesus is waiting for us there!
In This Series:
- St Peter and Holy Week – Intro
- Peter, Self-Reliance and Overconfidence
- Peter’s Collapse
- Peter’s Shame
- Peter’s Relief
- Peter’s Resolve
- Peter’s Forgiveness
- Peter – The Tender and Understanding (forthcoming)