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"The Stone of Despair at Easter" (posted April 1, 2018)
"The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!"
- Luke 24:34
He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
- 1 Corinthians 15:5
The apostle Peter (also called Simon and Cephas) was perhaps the most despondent of all the disciples of Jesus after the crucifixion. Far from defending Him, Peter had denied even knowing Him! And after his third denial, there was that final knowing glance from Jesus Himself (Luke 22:54-62). Peter had walked away, weeping bitterly, and now that look would be the last memory he would ever have of his Master.
On Sunday morning a message came from some of the women: The body of Jesus is gone! Everyone dismissed the story, but Peter went to see for himself. The empty tomb only added to his confusion, since no one remembered that Jesus had promised to rise to life.
But something monumental happened during the next few hours. The Lord Himself appeared to Peter! It was a private meeting, and we have no record of what was said. What grief and repentance must have poured from Peter's lips! What tenderness must have flowed from Jesus' heart. The Great Shepherd had come to restore Peter's soul.
Paul's summary of these events in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 is very significant: "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures... He was buried... He rose again the third day... He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve." Skeptics like to claim that Jesus' resurrection is a tradition that developed over decades. But Paul's letter predates any of the gospels, and his summary is from a Christian creed that developed in the mid-30s A.D., only three to five years after Jesus' death. There is every reason to accept the resurrection as an early and essential Christian belief.
For Peter, this was more than a creed. Despair over his personal failures instantly rolled away in the presence of a living, powerful, and gracious Savior.