Summary: After Jesus rose from the dead, He forgave Peter for denying Him three times. When Peter received that forgiveness, he was empowered to fulfill his commission. There is Power in Forgiveness - when we receiveing it and when we give it!
The Power of Forgiveness
Scripture: Matt. 10:28-33; 26:31-35, 69-75; John 21:15-19
Last week I shared with you why we need to keep the resurrection on the front burner in our minds. The reason for this is what happened after the resurrection – the power that those who believed in Christ received in order to do what He needed them to do. They received the power to go forth and spread the gospel, knowing that it could cost them their lives. They did not seek to be accepted by the world, but to share with the world Jesus Christ – His death and His resurrection. I shared with you that one of the first things Jesus did when He met with His disciples was to take them back to the Scriptures that prophesied about Him so that they would understand why He had to die and be resurrected. Their understanding of Scripture equipped them with the faith they needed to complete His work without giving up or giving in to the religious leaders who attempted to shut them down. This faith, at least for one of the disciples, was powered by forgiveness. This morning I will be talking with you on the subject of “The Power of Forgiveness.”
To set the stage, I want to take you to Matthew chapter 10. Matthew 10:28-33 say, “And fear not them who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31Fear not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows. 32Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father Who is in heaven. 33But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father Who is in heaven.” If you read the whole chapter of Matthew chapter ten, you will see that when Jesus sent His disciples out to the lost sheep of Israel, He gave them a warning. He spoke of what would happen then, but especially what would happen in their future, after He was resurrected. He told them how they would be treated – how one brother would turn on (report) his brother leading him to be put to death. He spoke about how they would be taken before the religious leaders and beaten because of Him. He gave them this warning and told them not to fear man who could only kill the body, but to fear God Who could destroy both the soul and body in hell. Then we get to verse thirty-two. In verse thirty-two Jesus said that whoever confesses Him before men that person would He confess before His Father in heaven. Likewise, and this is important, whoever denied Him before men, the same would He deny before His Father in heaven. Let me rephrase what Jesus said. He says, “If you refuse to admit that you know Me and that you are one of mine, I will have no choice but to do the same before My Father in heaven. I would have to say I don’t know you and that you not are one with Us.” If Jesus has no relationship with us, there is no way we can spend eternity in heaven with Him. Now, with this backdrop in mind, let’s look at someone who did just this – someone who denied Christ.
In the twenty-sixth chapter of Matthew, Jesus is sharing with His disciples what is about to happen. His heart is heavy when He tells them that they would deny Him – that they would abandon Him. Let’s pick the story up at verse thirty-one. Matthew 26:31-35 says, “Then said Jesus unto them, ‘All you shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, ‘I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.’ 33Peter answered and said unto Him, ‘Though all men shall be offended because of You, yet will I never be offended.’ 34Jesus said unto him, ‘Verily I say unto you, that this night, before the cock crows, you shall deny Me three times.’ 35Peter said unto him, ‘Though I should die with You, yet will I not deny You.’ Likewise also said all the disciples.” I am sure when Peter and the other disciples made this confession they believed it with all of their hearts. But we know that each of them did exactly what Jesus said they would do. When He was arrested, they scattered. But Peter did more than just run away. When he was questioned, he said that he was not one of Jesus disciples. Let’s continue with verse sixty-nine.