We begin our study near the end of Mark. Up to this point, much has been said about Peter. Peter failed to tread water, control his temper, and stand up for Jesus. And when you think about it, we’re not really that hard on Peter because we can all identify with him. We’re just like him. We've all blown it. Many times. And it does our heart good to see one of the closest friends of Jesus, one of the pillars of the faith, one of the authors of the Bible (for crying out loud!), in his “humanness” making mistakes, and then being forgiven. But there’s a verse in this passage that reminds us of something just as amazing as the forgiveness of Peter, and when we read it, you'll see what I mean.
Jesus had been crucified on Friday, and in the evening, His body was anointed by two brave Jewish leaders, Joseph and Nicodemus. Now, it’s early on Sunday morning, and we find three women followers of Jesus bringing burial spices to the tomb. When they get there, we know what they found. The stone rolled aside and the tomb empty. Well, almost empty. Jesus was gone, and “a young man clothed in white,” an angel, was sitting in the tomb. How shocked they must've been. What an incredible surprise. But equally incredible were the words of the angel. And in comes our “amazing reminder.” It’s a portion of a verse – actually only two words – but two words that one man will never forget.
Now go and give this message to His disciples, including Peter: Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died! Mark 16:7
Two words… including Peter. Why did God have the angel single out Peter? He was one of the disciples. Why waste angelic breath on unnecessary words? Maybe because God knew it was necessary. And He wanted us to know it too. Up until this point, the failures of Peter remind us of ourselves and that God’s forgiveness is freely given. But I believe this verse turns the corner. We don't focus anymore on our sins and God's forgiveness. No. This verse says nothing about us, and everything about Him. Our wants have taken a back seat now, leaving the driving love of Jesus in complete control. To be forgiven when we blow it is one thing. But to be invited, once again, into total intimacy is quite another. And that's just what Jesus was offering to Peter.
In his book, The Sacred Romance, author John Eldredge wrote that,
God created us for intimacy with Him. When we turned our back on Him, He promised to come for us... We don't have to get God to love us by doing something right – even loving Him. Because His love for us is not based on what we've done, but who we are: His beloved.
Could it be that Almighty God not only wants to give us another chance to be good, but another chance to be near Him? Could He love us so much that to come back to Him isn't enough? Does He want us to come close to Him as well?
In order to answer that question, put your name in that verse. Including Peter could've also said including Ann. God not only wants to forgive us, He wants to love us with no strings attached to our past. That kind of love comes only from the heart of God.
And that's the kind of love He has for you.
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