A Coward, a Skeptic, a Zealot and the Resurrection

by Carey Bryant

“He appeared to Cephas…Then he appeared to James…Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

In one of our earliest sources for the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3-8), Paul claimed that Jesus appeared to Peter (Cephas), James and Paul himself. In the New Testament, we read that each of these men were very different people before the resurrection. Peter talked a big game but often acted in a cowardly manner. James was skeptical of his brother’s claims from the beginning. Paul was zealous in his attacks on the early Christians.

But all three of these men were radically changed after they experienced the risen Jesus. Let’s look at each person before and after the resurrection.

Peter the Coward

Peter was a very ambitious disciple. He did and said several good things, including walking on water and recognizing that Jesus was the Christ and God’s Son (Matt. 16:16). But of course, we know that Peter was far from perfect. When walking on the water, he never made it all the way to Jesus. Instead, he began to focus on the storm around him and began to sink. Jesus caught him just in time and rebuked him:

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:22-33).

Jesus later revealed to Peter that he would deny him three times. Peter scoffed at such an accusation. But when Peter was approached by three individuals who recognized him, he denied his relationship with Jesus each time:

“Woman, I do not know him.”

“Man, I am not” [one of Jesus’ followers].

“Man, I do not know what you are talking about.”

When Jesus needed him the most, Peter was too afraid to do anything.

Peter the Bold

When we see Peter again in the book of Acts, he is an entirely different person…

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A Coward, a Skeptic, a Zealot and the Resurrection