As news of the resurrection began to move throughout the land, people had mixed emotions. Some wickedly desired to hide it. Some eagerly desired to tell it. And others, like Peter, desperately wanted to see it.
The following is an account taken from Matthew 28:11-15, Mark 16:8, 10-11, Luke 24:9-11, and John 20:18. The following events have been placed in chronological order.
Among those who wanted to hide the resurrection were the chief priests who hired the Roman guards to stand watch at the tomb. Failing to keep the tomb secure—and thereby losing the body—the guards reported to the priests. (Reporting to Pilate would have meant their death.) They were seeking a more sympathetic audience.
The chief priests consulted with the elders about the guards’ account of events. Probably in denial of the facts and blinded by their own sin, they bribed the soldiers to lie. “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’” The Jewish authorities wanted to hide it.
Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene and the women who had visited the tomb and spoken with the risen Jesus were too afraid to let the public know. They went straight to the disciples as commanded. They relayed all that had happened at the tomb: the angelic appearances and the conversations with Jesus. “I have seen the Lord,” Mary said. The women wanted to tell it.
The report fell on disbelief. None of the disciples thought Jesus would rise again. They had either forgotten or mistaken what the Lord had taught them about this. They had no hope concerning it, no faith in it, and so they gave no credit to what He said concerning His resurrection.
Peter, however, rushed back to the tomb. Maybe there was a hint of hope that the women were telling the truth. Surely, he wanted it to be true. The gospels don’t record much about this visit, but maybe Peter was asking God along the way, “May I see the Lord?” So he ran to the tomb and looked inside yet again. He only saw the linens.
Reflecting back to this day, Paul wrote Peter was the first disciple to see the risen Christ. And, according to the events in the gospels, the disciples gathered later that night to discuss Jesus’ appearance, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” (even before His next appearance on the road to Emmaus).
Although we can’t be dogmatic about this, it is likely that Peter ran into Jesus in the garden outside of the tomb after he looked in one more time, just as Mary and the women did earlier that day.
If the disciples wanted to cover up a hoax, they might have believed news of the resurrection the first time around. But no, even the disciples disbelieved the resurrection of their Lord—and they were actually told it would happen by Him. God proves Himself time and time again—even to overthrow our disbelief.
Paul could affirm this. When he was on mission to persecute God’s people, Jesus knocked him to the ground and he believed. Jesus overcomes our disbelief. Not even it is too strong for His sovereign will.
Even today, some people will seek to conceal the risen Christ. Others will seek to tell it. And yet others will be seeking evidence to substantiate a desire to believe. If you had been seeking at one time and run into the first group, would you have believed?
In the Scripture, we can find, know, and see Jesus (Lk. 24:27). Search for Him there and ask God, as Peter might have, “May I see the Lord?” For in His word, the living Christ can be seen.