Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Peter's Perspective - The Passover Lamb (Sunday)

Jesus' body had been taken down and buried in the grave of a secret disciple, Joseph of Arimathea.  I spent the Sabbath with John, Mary, and several other disciples in a house just outside the city.  It was now Sunday morning, the first day of the week, and John and I sat on the doorstep of the house in the predawn light, quietly discussing the departed Messiah.

John looked up to the distant hills, where the shepherds were already bringing their sheep out to pasture.  "He said He was the Good Shepherd who laid His life down for His sheep."

"How could a shepherd lay his life down as if he was a sheep himself?  Jesus was slaughtered like a passover lamb!"

"He is God, Peter.  Anyone who has heard Him knows it.  Do you remember during the Feast of Dedication, when He said, 'I and the Father are one'?  He said He was giving us eternal life, and that we would never be taken from Him."

"But He has been snatched from us," I said flatly.

John simply looked into the sun and said nothing.  I could tell that he was trying to hold back the emotions of  grief from the way his jaw was working.

He finally looked at me, and said, "When He sent us out, He said, 'not even a sparrow falls to the ground apart from your Father.'"  Unshed tears glistened in his eyes and I looked away as the rest of the Jesus' words from that parting speech came to my mind, and pierced my guilty heart.

"Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven... he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me."

As we sat there in silence, a figure were seen running down the road toward the house.  As it drew nearer, I saw that it was Mary of Magdala.  She was weeping and out of breath, but she conveyed her message between sobbing gasps.  "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him!"  John and I immediately stood and rushed to the tomb the way she had come, leaving her to catch her breath.  John reached the place of the opened tomb first, and stood looking in.  I quickly caught up and rushed inside.  I was startled to see the linen wrappings neatly folded, and the face-cloth rolled up beside them.  We did not know what to make of this, but returned to the house to tell the other disciples what we had seen.  Mary had again left to mourn at the tomb, but she was seen not long afterward, racing up the road toward the house.  I stepped out to receive her, but instead of sorrow, her face radiated with joy.  "I have seen the Lord!"

Later that evening, we were still reeling with the news of Jesus' appearance to Mary.  All of the disciples kept asking Mary questions like, "Are you sure it was Him?" and "What did He look like?".  We had locked the doors in fear that the Jewish leaders would arrest us if they heard that we were spreading tales of a resurrection.  Even we did not fully believe it.

The meal was almost finished when a man appeared in our midst.  I almost fell from my chair when I saw that it was Jesus.  We all worshiped Him, and praised God, overcome by joy and amazement.  He reproached us for our lack of belief, showing us His hands and side that were pierced.  "The scriptures have said that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem."  He asked for a piece of fish, and He ate in in front of us, proving that He was indeed alive.

Alive!  Truly alive!  My joy was suddenly stripped from me as I realized that I could never serve Him in the same way again.  I looked down at the table as the others exalted the living Lord.

"Peter."  It was His voice!  So commanding, and yet filled with infinite kindness.  "Peter, do you still not believe?"

He caught the attention of the gathering with a glance, and began to teach us.  "What does the Passover lamb represent?"

John answered, "It was the ransom of the first born in Egypt."

"Yes.  It is a sign of coming redemption of all who are atoned for by its blood.  I am the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.  Peter, do you believe?"

Oh Lord, help me believe!  I was overcome by the sense of my own guilt and shame before Him, and covered my face helplessly with my hands.  "Peter," He whispered, putting His hand on my shoulder.

"Forgive me," I said brokenly.

"By these wounds, you are healed." He again held his wounded hands out to me.  "What the blood of goats and sheep could not take away, My blood has washed clean."  At these words, it was as if my heart was flooded with light.  Something had changed inside of me, and I knew that I would never be the same.  No longer was I bound to my own strength, but filled with the very power of God.  He had wiped away the former things which bound me to sin and unbelief.

"Peter, you will be my witness to proclaim repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  Just as you have been forgiven, My death is a ransom for all who will look to Me."

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