Summary: A Sermon set to the seeker.
The Cross of Second Chances
Imagine the last time that you were able to have a second chance. When was it? Maybe it was the time when you burnt the dinner, perhaps it was the time when you forgot to pay the late fee for a video or book that you had rented, or maybe it was when you last came to the foot of the cross and asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins.
That is where second chances, or forgiveness, as we commonly call it starts. Think about it, where do you go when you do something wrong, when you need someone to listen to you, or you just need someone to reassure you saying that “It is okay.” It starts at the foot of Jesus’ cross.
Peter understood this; he had royally screwed up; he had betrayed not only himself, but also the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He had betrayed himself by denying Christ three times. All the times that he had said that he would never do such a thing were leading to the moment that he would. The times that he had confessed that Jesus was Messiah were leading to the time that he would deny even knowing him.
Assuming he never could be forgiven for this denial, Peter became depressed. What he didn’t understand was the fact that Christ had already forgiven him, right on the cross of second chances.
When was the last time that you were given that second chance, when was it? For me, it was just the other night. I had been struggling with a problem in my life. I went into my room and prayed, I said:
“God please help me, you know that I can’t handle this situation on my own. I need you; I need the Lord most high to set me free. Forgive me, and set me on the path of righteousness. Amen.”
I told God that I needed him to give me a second chance, a chance to change, and like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve, it came with a price. The spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future visiting was his price paid; my price paid was the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross. I prayed for God to take me, mold me, and shape me into what he wanted me to be. I have learned in my short ministry and life, that God hears those prayers and acts on them almost immediately.
Paul had his debt paid along with the rest of us on the cross of second chances. Our scripture passage today tells us that. Listen to it in The Living Bible; Paul says in I Corinthians 15, starting in verse 9:
9For I am the least of all the apostles, and I am not worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted the church of God.
10But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor to me—and not without results.
Paul understood that it was not by his doing that he had been changed. It was by the grace of God and the time Jesus spent on the cross of second chances.
As for Peter, Max Lucado puts it this way in his book, No Wonder They Call Him the Savior; Lucado speaks of Mark 16:7:
“But go, tell the disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.”
If I might paraphrase the words, “Don’t stay here, go tell the disciples,” a pause, then a smile, “and especially tell Peter, that he is going before you to Galilee.”
What a line. It’s as if all of Heaven had watched Peter fall—and it’s as if all of Heaven wanted to help him back up again. “Be sure and tell Peter that he’s not left out. Tell him that one failure doesn’t make a flop.”
No wonder they call it the cross of second chances.”
Do you have problems believing that you can have a second chance?
Ask Peter how he felt.
“One moment he felt lower than a snake’s belly and the next moment he was the high hog at the trough. Even the angels wanted this distraught netcaster to know that it wasn’t over. The message came loud and clear from the celestial Throne Room through the divine courier. “Be sure and tell Peter that he gets to bat again.”
“It’s not every day that you get a second chance. Peter must have known that. The next time he saw Jesus, he got so excited that he barely got his britches on before he jumped into the cold water of the Sea of Galilee. It was also enough, so they say, for the backwoods Galilean to carry the gospel of the second chance all the way to Rome where they killed him. If you’ve ever wondered what would cause a man to be crucified upside down, maybe now you know.”