When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened (Luke 24:9-12, NIV).
These women went to the tomb in which Jesus had been buried to mourn and complete the burial rituals that could not be completed because of the Sabbath. What they find is not a sealed and guarded tomb, but wide open (that makes things easier, thank you) and empty (what?!?!); they were not expecting the former and certainly not the later! When they saw the empty tomb they did not jump to the conclusion that Jesus was alive again as He has said He would be. They wondered what was going on. It took a pair of angels to bluntly declare what had happened before they realized what they were seeing. They immediately ran back to where the disciples were staying and told them what they saw.
Peter and the other disciples listen to what these women have to say (which is right in line with what Jesus told them would happen) and respond with disbelief because it sounded like nonsense! Nevertheless, Peter goes back to the tomb and finds that the women has been telling the truth about what they found.
What is amazing is that Peter who heard from Jesus that He was going to suffer and die and rise again after three days over and over,
who had seen Jesus do miracle after miracle,
who had walked on water,
who had seem Jesus transfigured and standing with Moses and Elijah,
who had seen raise their friend Lazarus from the dead just a few weeks earlier,
still doesn’t quite buy it; he is left wondering what was going on.
The Father had just done the most amazing of miracles in raising Jesus from the dead. There was proof of the empty tomb, the folded wrappings with no body in them, and testimony of three women (who the Peter and the disciples knew well) who saw all this and to whom angels had confirmed that Jesus was alive. All this with scripture’s testimony and Jesus’ own prediction of events should have led to a slam dunk “I could have had a V-8” recognition of the truth of the resurrection.
But it didn’t.
The reality is that it is possible for God to be working in an amazing, real, and miraculous way right in front of you, even right inside you, that you don’t see. It is possible for God to be doing something that is plain-as-day to others, and even has the attestation of angels, that is totally missed by you, and any evidence shown to you seems unbelievable and even “nonsense.”
When people say, “I will believe when I see that table over there levitate in the name of Jesus,” don’t you believe them! Even if that table did levitate, it wouldn’t change a thing. They will immediately look for reasons not to believe what they just saw. That is the reality that Jesus was getting at in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man when He says in Luke 16:31 (NIV), If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.
I don’t know about you but I find much comfort in this passage. Peter did not believe the testimony and evidence of people he knew and trusted—which should have been enough. But just because Peter didn’t see it right away didn’t mean he never would. It is comforting because this is the same Peter to whom Jesus said he would use to build His Church (Matthew 16:18), and that doesn’t change after this event.
Jesus’ commitment to Peter was not based in his performance. It wasn’t based on his ability to understand what Scripture taught. It wasn’t based on his ability to connect the dots. It was (and is) based in the grace of the cross and the resurrection. Grace, and the faith to see and accept it, are not rewards but gifts. And that is very, very good news; because the same is true for you and me, and I’ll be honest…there are days when I think my own lousy performance and lack of faith gives Peter a run for the money.