Summary: The same resurrection power that enabled Peter to be the man he wanted to be is available to us.
Many of you are probably familiar with a so-called documentary titled “the Lost Tomb of Jesus” which aired on the Discovery Channel in early March. This film was produced by James Cameron, the director of the movie “Titanic” and Simcha Jacobovici, a controversial producer and director of documentary films. Using the work of statisticians, archaeologists, historians, and DNA experts, Jacobovici claims that the bones of Jesus, his mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, and some other relatives were entombed in ten ossuaries found in a cave in Jerusalem in 1980.
If those claims are in fact true, then we’re all wasting our time here this morning. Because if those are really the bones of Jesus, it means that He did not rise from the grave. And if Jesus did not rise from the grave, there is no Easter and our faith is futile. Even the Bible tells us that is the case. In his first letter to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote these words:
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:17 (NIV)
Now I could spend a lot of time sharing with you historical information and scientific data that would prove that the resurrection did indeed occur and that the claims made by Jacobovic and Cameron are based on false assumptions and bad science and are patently false. That kind of information does exist and is actually quite abundant.
But I normally like to take a slightly different approach to Easter. I want to go beyond just looking at the fact of the resurrection and to see what difference that fact really makes to you and to me as we gather here together at Dove Mountain Park on this beautiful Easter morning. And in order to do that, I usually focus on the life of one of the followers of Jesus Christ who had his or her life radically transformed by the resurrection. If you were with us last year, you may remember that we looked at the account of Jesus calling out Mary’s name in the garden outside the empty tomb. We saw that when Jesus called Mary’s name, He confirmed the resurrection, created a new relationship and called for her response. And as a result, Mary’s life and our lives were radically changed.
This morning, I’d like to take a few minutes to look at another life that was transformed by the resurrection – the life of Peter. Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with Peter. Although he was a pretty impetuous guy, I really believe that deep down inside Peter wanted to follow Jesus with all his heart. But time after time we see Peter being unable to act in a manner that was consistent with his words and his expressed desires. But, as we’ll see this morning, the resurrection changed all that.
HOW THE RESURRRECTION TRANSFORMED PETER
Peter, along with James and John had the privilege of many intimate encounters with Jesus that even the other nine apostles didn’t get to experience. For instance, only the three of them were allowed into the room when Jesus raised the daughter of the synagogue ruler back to life. And only the three were present at the transfiguration. And yet, even with the privilege of spending three years of his life with Jesus, we find that Peter, in spite of his best intentions, just couldn’t be the man he wanted to be. At least not until after the resurrection.
I’m going to focus on just four events in the life of Jesus that demonstrate the power of the resurrection to transform Peter into the man he wanted to be.
1. It turned his distraction into confidence
One evening Jesus sent his disciples across the lake while he stayed on the shore to pray by himself for a while. During the night, as the storm came up, Jesus came walking across the water to the boat. And I think most of us are pretty familiar with what Peter did next:
"Lord, if it’s you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Matthew 14:28-30 (NIV)
Although Peter wanted to be confident and bold, he got distracted by the wind and the waves. And as soon as he got distracted he began to sink and all his confidence immediately sunk as well.
I think a lot of us can relate to Peter. I know we’d like to be bold for God - we would like to be so confident that we would be able to do great things for Him. But we become distracted by so many different things. The winds of our culture constantly try to blow us away from what we know is right and true. And the waves of living life – our families, our jobs, our friends, even our church – are constantly carrying us away from God as well. And without the resurrection, we’d be just like Peter – we’d be helpless to battle those winds and waves.