Summary: Sense the excitement of the Easter story in Peter and how it can be ours too.
Our Symbol of Living Hope
by Andrew Chan, PBC, Vancouver, BC
Do the dead rise up and walk again?
Easter took all of Jesus’ friends by surprise. None expected that He would be alive once again. He had before his death warned them numerous times that he must die and then be raised from the dead. But they missed it. As John recorded in 20:9 “for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” But can you blame them? Who would have guess that dead can rise and walk again? Absurd? How can that be real? Even if Christ said, He must meant it in some sort of mystical spiritual sense. Real bodily resurrection? Come on… sell me a some swamp land in Florida. Can’t fool me…
Nothing seems so permanent as death, isn’t it? Do dead people rise and walk again? Maybe some of you heard of Pam Barrett who is now writing a book about her near-death experience. But she was not dead three days, 3 whole days … not like Jesus. Even her experience is called near death, not actually dead yet. Have you seen, especially one who is dead as a door nail and already buried, not still on warm on the operating table, for 3 days…
Harry Houdini, some of you may know who he is. Greatest escape artist, perhaps, in history. Fantastic illusions, chained, handcuffed, locked in trunks dumped into rivers, always managed to escape. But when appendicitis struck him in 1926, Harry Houdini the great master of escape, could not struggle free from the chains of death.
Death is inescapable, not one can escape it. All will die, from the richest to poorest, greatest to the least, super celebrity to the unknown guy on the street, every person who has ever lived died. Every founder of every religion in the world, died except, one unique individual, the Son of God, Jesus, He rose from the dead.
That Easter event became the very center of all the disciples’ life and thinking. This is the hope the lived by, the message they preached, the message they gladly die for because Christ has escape death, no, not just escape but conquer it and therefore brought new hope. If Regis Philbin would ask Is death your final answer, you can say with confidence no death is not the final answer, Jesus is! This is the hope I live by and this is the hope that keeps me preaching!
That was also what got Peter excited? Noticed it?
A. Have you noticed the excitement?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy he as given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (v.3, NRSV)
Imagine the feelings he must have had when he composed those words. No one says what He did, without emotion!
Can you imagine,well, try to imagine, the scene, as Peter sat in one corner of a room, the great leader of the church, thinking of an opening to a letter he’s writing. And he’s thinking, and it is burning in heart, how can he make this letter capture the excitement he’s feeling of experiencing the risen Jesus.
For Peter the resurrection was fantastic
a. His betrayal of Jesus
Remember those dark hours before the first Easter morn
spokesman for the disciples, he had been with Jesus all through his ministry years, left his life of commercial fishing and followed him,
Imagine what he would say to Jesus about his ordeal
“Then when he really needed me, I Peter, who loudmouth, bold confession of my faith and loyalty - I let him down. Denied being a follower. Denied that I knew him…
Been through storms and shipwreck, worked all night with huge teeming nets, yet couldn’t look at a servant girl in the eye and confess my faith."
b. His complete collapse under pressure
3 times denial. Bible 3 x emphasis! He really blew it, really denied. Can you put self in Peter’s shoes -“I feel sick when I think of it and all the while he was getting ready to die for me. You can imagine how I felt about his execution.”
Pinned hopes on him now dead. But worse, bitter shame guilt,
c. The resurrected Jesus forgave him
Then imagine how felt when women who went to tomb to preserve body with spices came back with the awesome news that his body was gone… Angels gave instructions to tell disicples and Peter…and Peter (Mk.16:7) Singled out to be told… He must have felt a sense of rising from the dead, deadness of his triple denials, and Peter…Still part of the group, Jesus still wanted to meet him, and others in Galilee. Peter’s world was changed…