Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw the stone, which is very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Three women show up, three days after Jesus’ death and are shocked to find an angel instead of Jesus’ body. The women were planning on anointing Jesus’ body with oil but now have received a message with a mission. The message is for Jesus’ disciples and one additional person, Peter.
Peter is my favorite of the disciples because the guy messes up a lot. He screws up a lot, and he fails a lot. Even though he messes up, he has a wonderful relationship with Jesus. When Peter falls, Jesus helps him back up.
When we make a mess, Jesus makes a message.
You might not know this, but Simon Peter started off as a doubter. One day, Jesus is preaching to the crowds in Peter’s boat and afterward says, “Why don’t we go out into the deep water? Why don’t you throw your net on the other side? Let’s get you some fish.” Simon Peter is like, “With all due respect, how about you teach the Bible and let me do the fishing, okay? I’m the fisherman around here. I was out here all night, and I didn’t catch anything. I’m kind of embarrassed about it. I just want to go home.” Even though Simon Peter doubted, he threw his net on the other side of the boat. To Simon Peter’s surprise, the nets filled up with fish. There were so many fish that the boat was about to capsize. The Bible says he’s scared and falls down at Jesus’s feet. Simon Peter tells Jesus, “You really are the Lord! I’m a sinner. Please get away from me.” Jesus responds, “No, I don’t want you too far from me. I want you to follow me, and I’ll make you fishers of men.”
There’s another boat story where the disciples are on a boat at night and see what they think is a ghost walking on water. Instead of it being a ghost, they realized that it was Jesus. Peter tells Jesus he also wants to come out and walk on water. Jesus says, “Come on out.” Peter jumps out of the boat and makes it about 11 seconds before sinks. Actually, the Bible says he starts drowning. Jesus saves him from drowning and puts him back in the boat. I respect Peter. None of the other guys were brave enough to get out of the boat; he was the only one.
One of the worst screw-ups he ever made was on the night that Jesus was captured. The soldiers had tied up Jesus and were going to lead him away to a mock trial. Peter just jumps out from behind a bush with a sword and cuts someone’s ear off. Jesus had to find the ear and put it back on.
We see Peter screw up, and then God takes him back. Then he messes up again, and God takes him back again. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m Peter. That’s my story, too. I have lots of things I’ve done wrong and regrets in my life. I’ve done things that have hurt the people I care about and me. What drives me crazy is when I hear a celebrity say, “I just live my life with no regrets.” What kind of philosophy is that? Are you telling me if you had a time machine, you wouldn’t go back in time? Don’t you regret that you dated that person? Took that job? Used that substance? Acted out in anger? We all have regrets, which is why we can relate to Peter so well.
God is not only there for us when we make mistakes,
but He sees those mistakes coming and loves us anyway.
The gospel is not that your life is going to be perfect. The gospel is that life will be really hard, yet God will be with you every step of the way. He knows we will make mistakes, but he’s got a plan for those mistakes. God has a plan for our sins; it’s called the death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God. That’s the plan. It’s not that we’re not going to make mistakes. It’s what you are going to do with the mistakes.
In John 13, there is a beautiful story of Jesus having his last supper with his disciples. Jesus demonstrates what it means to love others by washing their feet. At this dinner, Jesus tells them he’s going to rise from the dead, but they do not believe him. One thing that really bothers all of them is when he lets them know that one of them will betray him. We know that Jesus was talking about Judas, but Peter thinks it’s him. Peter stands up and says, “No, never! I will never betray you. I am willing to lay down my life with you.” Jesus looks at him and says, “Simon Peter, I love you. But I’ve got some bad news for you. In a few hours, you will not only deny me once, twice but three times before the rooster crows. I want you to know I’m gonna love you anyways. I saw it coming.” Jesus could have stopped Judas from betraying him. He could have stopped Peter from denying him. But Jesus is not interested in stopping Peter from sinning. He’s not trying to prevent his failure from happening.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
He didn’t say, “I’ll pray for you that you don’t mess up.” He says, “Not only do I know you’re going to screw up again. I’m giving you instructions for what to do after you screw up.” It’s not changing the way I look at you or the way I talk about that. I’m always gonna see you as the best version of yourself because I see you the way God sees you. Aren’t you grateful that God doesn’t see our screw-ups but sees us through the blood of Jesus?
Jesus is less concerned with your failure and more concerned with what you will do after you screw up.
Will you run from Him, or will you run to Him? Jesus knew Peter was going to mess up, but He wanted to make sure that Peter returned to strengthen the brothers afterward.
Following the last supper, Jesus went away to pray and was captured willingly. The Romans teamed up with the religious leaders to kill him, but they’ve got to put him on trial first. Jesus was tied up with his hands behind his back. They beat him up, punched him, ripped out his beard, got black eyes, and he was probably missing a tooth. While Jesus was blindfolded, they punched him and asked him to prophesy who hit him. When reading this, we might think that Jesus was alone at this moment, without anyone he cared about around him. But actually, Peter is in the courtyard about 30 feet away from Jesus. People walk up to Peter and talk to him while he tries to fit in with the crowd. Someone says, “Hey, aren’t you the guy who was with Jesus earlier?” Peter said, “No, it wasn’t me. I don’t know that guy!” The next guy walks up, “No, no, I think I saw you earlier with him.” Again Peter denies it by saying, “No, I don’t know that guy.” Peter is scared because the same people who are about to kill Jesus could kill him. So fear and anxiety wash over him. When we are afraid is when we usually make the biggest mistakes. If we are honest, fear is the root of most of our mistakes. So the last person comes up to Peter and says, “Hey, no, you’re the guy! I recognize your Galilean accent.” And Peter yells out something so awful. He says, “May God bring down curses on me. If I know a man like that.” This has to be the worst moment of his life. Not only is Jesus his rabbi, his Messiah, but He’s left everything to follow him. He spent day and night with him for three years. There’s nobody he loves more than Jesus. And here he is saying, “May God curse me I knew him.” Right then, a rooster crows.
The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word that Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Jesus is over there being tortured and turns to look at Peter in the darkest, ugliest, worst, most regrettable moment of his life. Peter makes eye contact with the one that he’s betraying. Peter then runs away in deep anguish while crying.
In Mark 16, we read that when the women arrived at Jesus’ tomb, an angel was there instead of Jesus. The angel said, “Go tell the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee. Go tell the disciples and Peter.” You can imagine that at that point, Peter wasn’t feeling like a disciple anymore. He had betrayed him. He had denied Jesus. He thought he had hit the point of no return when Jesus needed him most. He might have been replaying in his mind that night when he was calling down curses on himself for even being associated with Jesus. Jesus saw it all and, at that moment, made eye contact with them.
If Jesus were to look at you today, what would the look be on his face? Try to say a little prayer to Him in your heart. What’s he look like to you? If you want to picture God, picture Jesus. Colossians 1:15 says, “Jesus is the visible picture of the invisible God.” When I have asked people to describe how they see the look on Jesus’ face, most people say they picture him as angry or disappointed. People feel like they can’t pray or talk to God because He’s mad at them. They have too much guilt to see any other face on Jesus.
The youngest of my three kids is my sweet little girl. She is the princess and delight of our family, except for one time. She was around four years old when we were putting her to bed one evening. I noticed her Barbie Dream House was a little further out than usual. As I went to slide the Dream House back against the wall, we discovered a nasty stain on the carpet. Maria looks at our daughter and asks, “How did this stain get here?” Kendall said, “I don’t know. I don’t know how the stain got there.” We remembered that Kendall loves making her slime, and the stain looked exactly like the slime she had made. Maria asks again, “Are you sure you don’t know how the stain got here?” Kendall thinks for a second and says, “Can you believe Santa Claus came into our room and put that on the carpet?” I told her, “Hey, I know Santa Claus and know for a fact that he did not put that there. Trust me.”
I’m not saying that when God looks at us in our sin, He thinks it’s cute. Come on, sin is awful. It’s called sin because it hurts other people. It hurts us so much that Jesus had to die for our sins. That’s how bad it is. But I can tell you that he still sees us like a father when he looks at us, even in our sins. When I saw my daughter hiding the stain, it hit me that she felt guilty. I know exactly what she’s doing because that’s what I do when I’m guilty. Somewhere along the way, I trained myself to just fake it and act like everything was okay. Just put on a front and have all the secret guilt and sin in my life and act like everything’s okay all the time. I take the guilt, and I hold it. I take the regrets and bury them. Then I have this sin and pretend like I don’t have it.
I don’t know the look on Jesus’ face when he saw Peter, but Peter ran. Peter took off, and the angels later had to say, “Go tell the disciples and Peter.” We don’t find Peter back with the disciples; instead, he’s back fishing. He’s disqualified himself and has given up. The Bible says he’s been fishing all night and hasn’t caught anything. So I’m pretty sure he feels awful about himself. He’s probably thinking, “I suck at being a disciple. I suck at being a fisherman. I’m awful. I’m worthless.” While he’s out fishing, it says a man shows up on the shore, and it’s Jesus. Peter can’t tell it’s Jesus because he’s 100 yards away. Jesus calls out to him and says, “How’s the catch? Try throwing your net on the other side.” Peter’s having a deja-vu moment and throws his net over. Suddenly, the fish start coming in and filling up the net. Peters recognizes that the mysterious man on the shore is Jesus. He’s back, and he’s risen! The Bible says he takes off his shirt, jumps in the water, and swims 100 yards all the way to the shore. I can only imagine what’s he thinking. The last time he saw Jesus, he saw a look on his face. At his darkest and ugliest moment, that look on his face was what he was remembering. It was a look that wasn’t pushing him away, but it was a look that was still bringing him in.
If you’re carrying guilt and regret over the things that you’ve done:
- You’re not the only one.
- There’s a Savior who has an answer for that. Jesus says don’t hold your sin to yourself.
- Don’t waste the pain. Give Jesus your sin. Let Him take it.
Peter shows up on the shore to find that Jesus has made breakfast for him. I’m imagining that Jesus was walking with Peter and the conversation goes like this:
Jesus: You know, we’ve been boys for a long time. Hey, do you love me?”
Peter: Yes, you’re my guy. You know that! You’re my God.
Jesus: Do you love me?
Jesus: I believe you, but let’s just do this three times. Just for kicks. Do you love me?
Jesus: You denied me three times. But you just reaffirmed your love for me three times. I’m good. You’re good?
Peter: Yes, I’m good.
Jesus: Good! Let’s get over it. Let’s go. Let’s go back and strengthen our brothers. Let’s do what you’re called to do.
Jesus isn’t standing over you today, disappointed or guilt-tripping. You are angry at yourself. Before you give Him your past mistakes, are you willing to give him your future life or not? Are you going to hang on to your sin? Or are you going to put it on the cross? Because that’s what your sin was designed for. There’s a Savior who lived for you, died for you, and rose for you. Are you ready to trust Him?