"Far more can be mended than you know."
It's still Eastertide, so I'm still talking about Peter.
On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark. She saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she went running to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said to them, “They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him!”
At that, Peter and the other disciple went out, heading for the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and got to the tomb first. Stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then, following him, Simon Peter also came. He entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. The wrapping that had been on his head was not lying with the linen cloths but was folded up in a separate place by itself. The other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, then also went in, saw, and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.1
When it was evening on that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because they feared the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
Having said this, he showed them his hands and his side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.2
(Jesus to Peter at the Last Supper, after Jesus foretells Peter’s betrayal)
“I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”3
What does this story tell me about Jesus?
Jesus is confident of the ultimate issue and speaks of the time when you have turned again, or, as Rieu puts it, 'once you have retraced your steps.’ For that time, Peter is given the command, strengthen the brethren.
—Leon Morris’ commentary on Luke
[Jesus] is never disgusted. He never says that… anyone is too lost to be found. Even in situations where there seem to be no grounds for human hope, he will not agree that hope is gone beyond recall. Wreckage may be written into the logic of the world, but he will not agree that it is all there is. He says, more can be mended than you fear. Far more can be mended than you know
—Francis Spufford, Unapologetic
How does this passage help me make sense of my own story?
This opening scene marks in my mind the beginning of Peter retracing his steps. The man who failed spectacularly in following Jesus is the first to see the tomb empty (followed by the only apostle who remained with Jesus until his death). Far more can be mended than we know—including our most spectacular muck ups— because Jesus holds the power of resurrection.
A few observations that I’ve been turning over in my mind.
Peter and John race to the tomb, and though John outpaces him, Peter is the first to enter the tomb, then John follows. I love that small detail heavy with meaning.
“You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.”
And yet, what Peter and John witness confuses them. They saw and believed, but they did not understand. I take comfort that it didn’t all make sense right away.
Jesus appears to the disciples (including Peter) and offers them peace. Remember that they had messed up, abandoning Jesus in his death. Even now, they are huddled in fear of the Jews. And frankly, from where I sit, they should have been huddled in shame because they turned on God who loved them them.
And yet—and yet—Jesus doesn’t meet them—doesn’t greet Peter—with condemnation. In their fear, he finds them and gives them his peace, shows his scarred body, and the disciples rejoice.
The bride eyes not her garment,
but her dear bridegroom's face;
I will not gaze at glory,
but on my King of grace;
not at the crown he gifteth,
but on his piercèd hand:
the Lamb is all the glory
of Emmanuel's land.