Summary: The hope that Jesus has to offer us is “living” or “eternal” hope. Our hope doesn’t stop at the grave because our lives don’t stop at the grave, amen?
He called me “Peter” … His “Rock.” Some “rock” I turned out to be. How many times did He try to warn us? As recently as two weeks ago, He tried to explain to us what would happen when we reached Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. What He said would happen was just too horrible to believe … that He would be falsely accused … have to go through a joke of a trial … be handed over to the Romans by the Temple leaders. He tried to prepare us for His death.
Lord knows how I tried to live up to the name that He had given me. I swore to Him that I would never leave nor forsake Him … that I would be there for Him no matter what happened. I guess it’s easy to be courageous … to speak brave words … when danger is a theory. But it wasn’t some theory and the chance to prove my loyalty came much, much quicker than I expected … not that it would have made any difference when the Temple guards and Roman soldiers came.
I’m only human … and He knew that. He told me that when trouble came I wouldn’t be there, that I wouldn’t be able to keep my promise … and He was right. I didn’t stand with Him … I hung back. When asked if I was with Him, the “Rock” crumbled … just like He said I would.
Everything He said came true. He was betrayed, falsely accused of the worse kind of blasphemy. The Temple leaders beat Him and then handed Him over to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, and demanded that he order this falsely accused blasphemer to be crucified … threatened to notify the Emperor when he balked.
They killed Him just like He said they would.
And yet … miracle of miracles … here He was sitting in front of us eating a piece of fish … alive!
It was … well … how can I describe what I … what all of us … were thinking and feeling at that moment. What words could capture the joy, the confusion, the fear that was swirling around in my head … in my heart?
He was dead. He had been dead for three days … sealed in a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers … and yet, here He was … sitting in front of us … calmly eating a piece of fish!
And as we watched … not knowing what to think or how to feel or how to react … Jesus spoke … and a glimmer of hope pierced the darkness of our hearts and souls. “Why are you frightened?” He asked, “and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet … see that it is I myself. Touch me and see, for a ghost does not have flesh and blood as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:38-39).
Yes … what He was saying was true but totally incomprehensible. Mary and John and some of the women had seen Him take His last breathe … watched as His body was taken down and placed in a tomb. They watched as the Roman soldiers rolled the stone over the entrance of the tomb and sealed it … a tomb that was now empty. We thought someone had stolen His body but here He was … as alive as any one of us hiding in that room … asking us why we were so frightened, why our hearts were filled with fear and doubt … showing us the holes in His hands and feet … the wound in His side. There was no doubt that it was Him … but how? We could see Him … we could touch Him … but our minds couldn’t believe what our eyes were seeing.
As He spoke, my heart began to burn within me. “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you … that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).
And then … like a flash of lightening … it all came back to me … how the Messiah was to suffer and die and on the third day rise from the dead … how He would send His Holy Spirit so that repentance and the forgiveness of sin would be proclaimed in His name to all nations and all people … beginning, it would seem, right here in this little room in Jerusalem … which is why I, Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, can write to you and tell you about the living hope and the inheritance that we will all receive because of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection … and that news not only changed the “Rock,” forever … that news not only changed the world forever … it changed me, Gordon Pike, forever … it changed my life forever because I now know … like Peter and like countless other millions and billions of Christian brothers and sisters around me and those who have gone before … that I now have the promise of forever … and that truth has forever changed how I see life and how I live my life today.