Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
Go Your Way, Tell His Disciples and Peter
by Gerrit Vos
"...Tell his disciples and Peter!"b
Tell his disciples and Peter!
Thus the angel had commissioned the women, when they had come to perform a last service upon the body of their beloved Lord, but found the grave where He had been laid vacated.
And thus, it is evident, the angel had spoken to the amazed woman, not on his own authority, but as they were enjoined by the risen victor over death. Clearly, his first thought, as He awoke from the sleep of death and issued forth from the rock hewn sepulcher, had been of His disciples, and the memory of His disciples had fixed His mind with special distinction upon Peter. And so He had ordered: “When the first visitors approach my vacated sepulcher, let them tell my disciples...and Peter, that I have risen!”
And no doubt these women visitors, still amazed and little understanding the full significance of that blessed morning, had carried the message most literally and reported how the “young man” that was sitting in the empty grave had enjoined upon them to tell His disciples...and Peter! And years afterward that marvelous distinction still stands out boldly before the consciousness of the disciple, thus singled out; and he must have impressed it upon Mark, the author of the second gospel narrative: When thou writest in order the things Jesus began both to do and to teach, forget not to record that first blessed message from the risen Savior: Tell His disciples and Peter!
What a distinction!
How simple, yet how pregnant with significance!
How it must have cut Peter to the quick, to be thus distinguished from the rest of the disciples!
Did it not really imply that he was considered outside of the circle of those that were worthy still to be called disciples of Jesus the Christ?
And was, from this viewpoint, Peter not worthy of the distinction?
Oh, how he had distinguished himself, indeed!
He had plainly separated himself from the rest of the disciples, first of all by his self-confident boast. How the Lord had warned, “Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” And again: “All ye shall be offended.” And lastly: “Thou shalt deny me thrice!” But Peter had given no heed. Boldly, strong in self-confident courage, he had contradicted the Lord. “Lord,” thus he had boasted, “I am ready to go with Thee into prison and into death.” He had exalted himself openly above all the rest of the disciples when he had maintained: “Though all should be offended, I shall never be offended!” He had cast the last warning to the wind by the boastful exclamation: “Though I should die with Thee, I shall never deny Thee!” Thus he had distinguished himself by boasting! And as high as had been the imaginary rock of his self-confidence, so awfully deep had become the precipice of his fall!
For, also by a most shameful and cowardly denial, Peter had distinguished himself from the disciples! In the dark hour of his master’s humiliating trial he had forsaken Him, denied that he ever knew Him, sworn with an oath that he would have nothing to do with Jesus of Nazareth! Not before overwhelming forces of the enemy, and after a desperate attempt to remain faithful to the end, but before a simple damsel and upon the very first inquiry as to his relationship to Jesus of Nazareth had Peter denied his master and abjured his part with the Lord of glory!
And now? Tell his disciples...and Peter!
No, Peter had not forgotten his sin! Deeply wounded was his heart because of his shameful denial. Even in that dark night of his fall the Lord had not forsaken him. He had continued to pray for the disciple that his faith fail not. That prayer, the single look of wounded love the Savior had cast upon him, the crowing of the cock according to the word of the master—these all had worked to save the disciple from the abyss of destruction into which he would cast himself. And he had gone out of the court of the high priest’s palace to weep bitterly in heartfelt sorrow and true penitence. And the following days had brought him no rest. Miserable he had been and his sin was continually before him. He had not forgotten!
Yet, the first message of the risen Lord must have cut into that heart wound still more deeply: “Tell my disciples...and Peter!”
Thus is the gospel of salvation.
It cuts before it heals!
My disciples...and Peter!
What a distinction! A distinction not only reminding the wretched disciple of his fall and miserable faithlessness, but also carrying a message of infinite love!
God's love is always first!
Not only is it first in time, seeing He loved us from before the foundation of the world. Surely, that too is true. He loved us in His everlasting good pleasure.
But it is first in nature, it is always first in relation to our love of Him. The root, the infinite source of our love it is. For He does not love us because we loved Him. Neither did He choose to love us because we loved Him. Neither did He choose to love us because He foresaw that we would love Him, but freely, sovereignly, for His own Name's sake. We love because He loves first. Our love is rooted in His love, is never more than a reflection of His infinite love, a return of the beam of light it pleases Him to send forth into our hearts. It is never our love but His that is first in character, in nature, in principle
That is why His love remains, is immutable, can stand alone!
Tell My disciples...and Peter!
It was the message of which Peter had need!
The message of immutable, living, seeking, saving, forgiving love!
As far as Peter's manifestation was concerned, the relation between the Savior and himself had been broken forever. He had severed all bonds of fellowship. Most emphatically had he expressed it, had he declared it under oath and repeated it till the third time that he was none of His!
And there was shame, self-condemnation, darkness, unspeakable sorrow in his heart!
Had not the Lord declared: he that denieth me, shall be denied by Me? And what, if that word is to be applied to him, who had in strongest terms repeatedly denied Him in the dark night of His suffering?
The message of the women carries to him the love of Jesus! To the disciples, yes, but also distinctly to Peter! Had the message been merely for the disciples the wretched Peter might have concluded still that it was not for him, seeing he had excluded himself from their fellowship. But now there could be no doubt. The Lord remembered him, thought of him as soon as He opened His eyes from the sleep of death, remembering him distinctly, remembered him in love, and realizing the need of His wretched disciple had emphasized: My disciples...and Peter, do not forget to bring him my love!
How easily can we realize the need of this distinctive message of the Savior in the soul of His wretched disciple!
Who does not know the times when one's sins seem so numerous, one's unfaithfulness so great, one's transgression so deliberate, that he would exclude himself from the communion of those that love the Lord Jesus Christ, that he dare not deem himself worthy to be called a disciple any more, that the rich promises of the gospel he dare not apply to himself?
Times when we would fain have the Lord single us out, call us by name, assure us individually, personally, directly, that He still loves?
That distinctive message is here!
Tell my disciples....
How the Lord took care to convey His love to His wandering sheep in the few words of the message!
It is Peter now, not Simon.
What a comfort for the disciple even in the choice of that name! Well he knew that the Lord chose His words not carelessly, but so that each syllable carried its own meaning. Deeply he felt how the Lord had intentionally mentioned his new name, the name that denoted not what he was of himself, in his own strength, but what he had become and could only be through the grace of his Lord. The rock!
Just as carefully the Lord had called him by his old name, not many hours before this morning of the resurrection, when all that was of Peter had been hid behind his empty boast and all that was of the old
Simon had revealed itself: Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to sift you as wheat! ....
And Simon had fallen into the abyss of shame and sin!
Would that earlier word of Christ now still be true! Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church? ....
Tell Peter! Those were the very words of the Savior! And they carried to the heart of the sorrowful disciple a world of comfort and cheer. So, then, the Lord would still consider him the rock. Though all that he was by nature had sunken in the mire of sin and faithlessness, though sinful Simon had openly and emphatically belied the glorious confession that once graced his lips: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” though according to his old name he was not worthy to be called a disciple anymore and he had broken all bonds of fellowship with the master he loved; yet he was still the rock, still he stood, still the powerful grace of the Savior upheld him. Still he was Peter!
Tell him what?
The grave is empty. The Lord is risen. Tell my disciples...and Peter, that I live and that all that is implied in the blessed message of the resurrection is wholly for them, for them all, for Peter!
No, even now, on this beautiful morning of eternal gladness and joy of salvation, the disciples would not and could not fully comprehend what oceans of heavenly joy were opened up before them in that glorious message. The Lord is risen! He is not in the grave! He is not dead but He liveth! It is the message that spells the victory of the cross, the righteousness of Zion and her redemption, the swallowing up of all the dark night of sin and transgression, of death and hell.
It is the message of our justification, of complete forgiveness and adoption!
It is the beginning of eternal joy, the first fruits of an entire harvest of redeemed of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord!
A great light has arisen! A light of righteousness and holiness and wisdom and complete redemption!
Tell them all, that their sins are forgiven, however great, however numerous, however shameful they be! The bloody tree and its blood blotted out Peter's denial, swallowed up all the dark sin of those whom the Father loved before the world's foundation!
Let the message go forth! Let it gladden still the hearts of all that are bowed down.
The Lord is risen! Zion, thy righteousness shines forth as the morning!
Tell His disciples!
The Rev. Gerrit Vos was born in Sassenheim, the Netherlands on November 1, 1894. He received instruction in the Protestant Reformed Seminary and was ordained into the ministry in September 1927. He served churches in Sioux Center, Iowa (1927-1929); Hudsonville, Michigan (1929-1932) and again in 1948-1966. He was pastor at Redlands, California (1932-1943) and in Edgerton, Minnesota (1943-1948). He was very eloquent in preaching and extremely descriptive in his writings. Three books of his meditations have been printed by the Men's Society of the Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church and later reprinted by the Reformed Book Outlet of Hudsonville, Michigan. He retired in 1966 and he died in Hudsonville, Michigan on July 23, 1968.