Easter was an amazing experience here at TVCOG. We witnessed 10 people following the Lord in baptism. Twelve to thirteen people stood to make some kind of spiritual commitment after the message. We had a record 817 in attendance, and the music and worship time was high praise at its best. Lots of extra folks come around to celebrate the empty tomb which is undoubtedly the greatest miracle of all-time! But often, after the big celebration, many scatter, and we don’t see them until the next big holiday. And several sort of go back to “life as usual” without allowing the impact of the Resurrection to change their every day life. We have celebrated the resurrection, but have we really embraced it? We have acknowledged it, but have we been shaped by it?
I want to look with you this morning at the response of Peter to the Resurrection of Jesus. We’re going to move through three Scripture passages, and I am going to draw three conclusions with you. I want to give you those conclusions ahead of time today so that you can see where the message is headed. Here they are:
When you embrace the Resurrection it is no longer life as usual.
When you embrace the Resurrection your faith moves to the streets.
When you embrace the Resurrection you no longer fear the opinion of others.
In John 21, after the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we read that Peter announced to the disciples that he was going back out to fish. There is a sense that even though Jesus was victorious, even though He was raised from the dead, that Peter’s failure, his denial of Jesus would bench him. Instead of embracing Jesus’ victory as his victory as well, he either saw himself as disqualified or he didn’t understand how the Resurrection of Jesus could propel him forward. Now, mind you, Jesus had already appeared to the disciples. Peter had seen him at least twice before, but for some reason, Jesus’ resurrection didn’t seem to be something with personal implications for Peter. Instead of seeking to live a Resurrection life, Peter sought to live a regular life. So, Peter tried to go back to what he knew. He tried to go back to life as usual. A former fisherman, he returned to fishing.
In John chapter 21 we read that Peter announced he was going fishing and some of the other disciples said they were going with him. The fished all night but caught nothing. Interesting because something similar had happened to Peter in Luke 5. I wonder if he was having
deja-vu. Jesus appeared to them for at least the third time and told them to try the right side of the boat. They didn’t recognize Him at first. They did as He instructed them to do, and miraculously, there were so many fish in their nets they were unable to haul them in. At that point, Peter recognized it was Jesus who had given the instruction.
Jesus was reminding Peter that He was who He had always been, the God of miracles. He was reminding Peter of the day he had called him to be a disciple. He had called him away from the monotonous, away from the routine, away from the ordinary and into the realm of miracles. Peter had experienced the Resurrected Lord before this episode. Jesus had already appeared to the disciples two other times. This was the third time He had met with them since the Resurrection. Verse 14 tells us it is so. So it wasn’t as if Peter hadn’t been convinced that the tomb was empty. He knew that, but Peter didn’t understand that an empty tomb meant a full spiritual life for him every day!
We can’t really fault Peter, right? Many of us have been there. We’ve had a spiritual high and been keenly aware of the power of the Resurrection only to slip back into the comfortable, the routine, the ordinary. Jesus has proven Himself to us, and we are right there with our faith, so sure of our calling and living convinced until the next month or the next week or the next day. It’s so easy to slip from spiritual high points into the every day grind.
We pick up the story again in verse 7 of John 21:7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.
When Peter got to talk to Jesus, Jesus reminded him that life as a disciple can never be life as usual. When Jesus called him, he called him to leave the ordinary and to become someone who did the same things Jesus had done. Peter had been called not to be a fisherman, but to become a fisher of men. Jesus reminded Peter that devotion to Jesus involved more than belief. Believing in the resurrection is one thing. Becoming what Christ calls you to become is quite another.
Too many people have an encounter with the Resurrected Lord, only to go back to doing what feels comfortable, to what seems natural. Too many Christians are living impacted on Sunday and distracted on Monday. Where are you today? Can you say you embrace the Resurrection every day or is it an Easter thing or a once-in-a-while thing?
Peter had been used to having Jesus with him every day in a physical way. Out of sight had become out of mind. Peter had forgotten why he had followed Jesus in the first place. Has that ever happened to you? Sometimes a crisis leads us to Jesus. There is a health scare, we are grieving a loss, we are dealing with relational stress, and so, we turn to Jesus. We experience His Resurrection power. Whatever barrier there is between God and us is rolled away, and we have a Resurrection of our hope, a Resurrection of our faith, a Resurrection of our joy. But once our “need” is met, we forget that our greatest need is to have an ongoing, personal relationship with Jesus. We saw him in the moment of crisis, but do we look for the Resurrected Lord in our every day life?
Jesus reminded Peter why he had been called.
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Well, following the Resurrected Jesus was going to be different from following the Pre-crucifixion Jesus because Jesus was about to ascend into heaven. The Holy Spirit would be sent to fill and empower believers so that Jesus’ authority and His power could be theirs every day. It was going to be far from business as usual. Peter embraced the Resurrection. He embraced the change in relationship. He embraced his call to step up for Christ. In Jesus’ physical absence, Peter would be one of many who would step up to speak for Jesus. Whatever Peter had seen and experienced to this point, he hadn’t seen anything yet!
Peter’s life also shows us that when you embrace the Resurrection your faith moves to the streets. The disciples, along with other Christ-followers, were all together in one place. Suddenly, there was a loud sound, like the blowing of a violent wind that came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:2
You will remember that when Jesus was baptized and was anointed by the Holy Spirit in Luke 3, the Holy Spirit came in a gentle way. The Holy Spirit came down as a dove and rested on Jesus to anoint Him for His earthly ministry. It was sort of a quiet empowering. But on the Day of Pentecost, it was loud! It was violently loud! The roaring sound was concentrated in the room where the disciples were gathered. It was like a freight train. It was epic. The disciples heard the sound of Pentecost in a dramatic way, and that hearing, that experience cause others to hear something they had never heard before.
There were tons of people gathered in Jerusalem. Acts 2 says they were from every nation under heaven. They were in town for the Pentecost Festival.
6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
Notice something here, the sound the disciples heard was the sound of a violent wind. That sound, however, got translated to those who were in town for Pentecost. They didn’t hear the wind, but they heard the Word of God in their own native language. The way the disciples had been invaded by the Holy Spirit enabled them to invade the streets of Jerusalem with the Word of God.
Verse 14 tells us Peter got up to preach. He explained that what they were experiencing was the fulfillment of prophecy spoken hundreds of years earlier. Jesus’ Resurrection was proclaimed by Peter with such authority, such clarity, such holy boldness that 3000 people got saved! That was one giant candle-lighting moment for sure! I want to point out that Peter’s sermon wasn’t a little devotion. It was a long message. It took them from Old Testament Scripture right through to why Jesus had come.
Peter had embraced the Resurrection. How do I know? I know because he realized that the Resurrection was a must-experience for everyone. I know because he didn’t keep silent when people had questions about what they were hearing. I know because he challenged every listener to repent and be baptized. He made a point to say that the Resurrection and Holy Spirit filling were for everyone in verse 39. Peter knew that the law with its rules and regulations and sacrifices and limitations could never save people. He knew they needed a personal resurrection, a heart change, a life change, a purpose change. The 3000 who were saved weren’t in the same prayer meeting that Peter and the other disciples were in. They were in the streets.
Tom Mercer writes, “Years ago, I heard an incredible story about a guy who, while walking through an intersection in a large city, noticed a police officer directing traffic in the middle of the street. As he walked by, the man sensed the Holy Spirit prompting him to go up to the officer and tell him that God loved him. The man dismissed the impulse and kept walking. Haunted by the continued sense that he had been disobedient to the Spirit, he finally walked back to that intersection, up to the officer, and said, “Excuse me, Officer, but God just told me to tell you that He loves you.” Tears began to trickle down from under the cop’s mirrored sunglasses. Traffic stopped. With a broken voice, the officer said, “I prayed to God for the first time in a long time last night and told Him that, if He was real, the least He could do was to send someone to tell me that He was there for me.” Within a matter of minutes, the officer called for backup and then prayed to receive Christ right there on that street corner.
I believe there is a world of people out there who are waiting to experience all the Resurrection has to offer them. They just need someone to tell them what’s up!
A Resurrection Life is a “Show and Tell and Go and Tell” life! The word to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrected Jesus appeared to her was “Go and tell.” The Resurrection of Jesus was a public event. People came and saw the empty tomb. People experienced the dramatic earthquake when he rose and removal of the stone. People saw the Resurrected Lord. It was and is supposed to be a public event.
People need to hear about the Resurrection in their native tongue. What I mean by that is, you and I need to be talking to non-believers. You have the ability to connect with and reach people in ways that I never will. You speak other languages than I speak. Some of you speak “teenager-ease.” Some of you speak “old-geezer-ease.” Some of you speak “down-and-out-ease.” Some of you speak “Prodigal-son-ease.” Some of you speak the language of pain and hardship that others you know can hear and understand. Let folks know how the Resurrection is changing and challenging you. Let people know how the Resurrection has called you into a new way of living life.
Everything Jesus did, He did so that we would have an example to follow. Resurrection life has no limitation. It fears nothing. It overcomes everything. That is how we are to live in front of unbelievers.
Peter went on to show us that not only was he embracing a supernatural, extraordinary life and not only was he willing to take his faith to the streets, but he was willing to be bold when it wasn’t popular, when it was risky. He wasn’t going to be afraid of other people when it came to his proclamation of the Resurrection.
In Acts 4 Peter and John were actually put in jail BECAUSE they were proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead (vs 2). The Resurrection message landed them in jail! Isn’t that ironic? The experience that freed Jesus brought Peter jail time. But as a result, verse 4 says that many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. That is amazing! The Resurrection life has tremendous power.
When questioned before the rulers, elders and teachers of the law, Peter didn’t back down. Here it is beginning in verse 7: 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone’. 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
What I want you to see is that Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered their question and included the Resurrection in his answer. He just worked it right in. He was asked by what power or name he had healed a crippled man. He wasn’t asked anything about the Resurrection. He just steered the conversation. He saw it as an opportunity, and in answering the question, he gave them more than they asked for. He gave them the Resurrection story! I think he was so committed to Resurrection life that they could have asked him where the best place to eat was in Jerusalem, and they wouldn’t have gotten away without hearing about the Resurrection!
The rulers were astonished. They knew the miracle Peter and John had done couldn’t be denied. They didn’t know what to do with them. So, they had a meeting to discuss it. Hear the account from verse 16 and following: 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
News flash! You can’t stop the Resurrection and you can’t stop people who choose to live the Resurrection life!
18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” They wouldn’t be swayed. They wouldn’t be deterred. They weren’t backing down. When you live a Resurrection Life there is no backtracking. There is no backing down. When Jesus ran out of that grave, you ran out with Him, and nothing and no one will keep you down, just like nothing and no one could keep Jesus down.
The rulers had to let Peter out of jail. They threatened him, but they let him go. It didn’t matter what people said to Peter. It didn’t matter what they thought of him. It didn’t matter what personal cost he had to pay. He had chosen the Resurrected Life, and he wasn’t going to exchange it for some ordinary existence.
Are you living the Resurrected Life? Here is what I know. A Resurrection can only follow a death. You can only be raised to the kind of life Jesus lived and the kind of life Jesus desires for you to have if you will die to your current way of living. If you are in one day and out the next, you have to die to that. If you are only open to talking about Jesus to a point or only when you know you are in the majority or only when you are in church, you have to die to that. If you allow pressure from other people to deter you from talking about the Risen Lord, you have to die to that.
And if you are still what the Bible calls “Dead in your trespasses and sins” because you haven’t accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, it is time to die to that. You can only have the grave clothes of sin taken off of you if you will lay your life down. There will be no Resurrection into eternal life without taking that step. Only Jesus can remove your sin. You can’t do it through your own goodness or self-effort. Dying to sin and being made alive in Jesus is the best possible life because Resurrection changes everything. It makes you a new person from the inside out. It places you as a Brother or Sister in the Family of God. It gives you a pathway to God and gives you access to the power of the Holy Spirit, something I wouldn’t ever want to live without.
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. Luke 9:23-24
To embrace the Resurrection you have to be willing to die. Die to sin. Die to the opinion of others. Die to your expectations of how life with Jesus should look. Jesus went all-out for us. Can go all-in with Him?
Let’s not just embrace Jesus. Let’s embrace the call and power of the Resurrection today!