Many scholars understand that the Gospel According to Mark is strongly influenced by the life testimony of the apostle Peter. Just as Luke was a companion of Paul, so Mark had a great deal of time with Peter to record for us his accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus.
The connection to Peter in Mark gives us a beautiful story of the grace of Christ. In Mark 14, we saw the well-known story of Peter denying that he ever knew Jesus. At the last supper, Peter swore that he would never, ever leave Jesus, no matter what happened. When faced with the prospect of being exposed as a follower of Jesus, however, Peter denied ever knowing him, even to the point of cursing himself as a proof.
How bitterly must Peter have regretted his failure? How many times, when Peter would hear a rooster crow, did he feel again the guilt for looking a servant girl in the eye and swearing never to have followed Jesus? How deeply must this all have hurt?
So, it is beautiful to see what Mark records to us that the Lord had the angel say to the women at the empty tomb after the resurrection of Jesus.
Mark 16:6-7 – 6 And he 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. 7 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.”
The angel tells the women that Jesus is alive. That, of course, is eternity-changing. The angel sends the women back to tell the disciples which makes sense. But notice that the angel specifically tells the ladies to communicate the resurrection to Peter. The very same disciple who denied ever knowing Jesus is singled out to get the news of the resurrection.
Why? Why would Peter be mentioned here? I believe it is a lovely picture of grace. Peter had gone as low as he could go. He knew he had failed. And right here, the angel lets us know that God has not written him off. Why tell Peter? Peter needs to know that Jesus is alive. Peter needs to know that Jesus finished the work. Peter needs to know that Jesus has grace, even for a sinner like him.
Can you imagine what it must have been like for Peter, now older and a leader in the church, to have told Mark this story? How must Peter’s eyes have filled with tears of regret as he talked about his flat denial of the Savior? How must his voice have sounded when he told Mark, “and Peter, the angel said that the message was for me too?”
How much of your past do you live under? How many past failures still eat at your soul? If you are under the grace of God in Christ, you might want to see how wonderfully free was the grace God gave Peter. Peter denied Jesus , and yet the Lord sent him a personal note about his resurrection. If God can forgive and use Peter, God can forgive and use us. Yes, we must repent and believe. No, we cannot stay in our sin. But we must take heart and rejoice that grace can cover our pasts so that we can be useful to the Savior.