Series: Characters at a Crucifixion
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
April 4, 1999
Peter, and his brother Andrew, were fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. One day Jesus came and said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” So, Peter and Andrew left their nets, their boat, their father - and followed Jesus.
For the next three years Peter would follow Jesus all over Judea - and Samaria - being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Peter witnessed first hand the miracles of Jesus - learned from His teaching - went wherever Jesus went - over dusty roads - walking - talking - listening - learning.
Peter went with James and John - up onto the mountain with Jesus - and watched His transfiguration - saw Moses and Elijah speaking with Jesus - and heard the voice of God declare, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; hear Him!”
It was Peter - in the middle of a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee - who got out of the boat and walked on the water towards Jesus. It was Peter who first said of Jesus, “You are the Christ.” You are God - the Messiah - our Savior.
Peter’s faith in Jesus was so firm that Jesus gave him the nickname - Rock.
Peter boasted, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away. Even if I must die with You, I will not deny You. I am ready to go to prison and to death!” (Matthew 26:33,35)
Peter went with James and John and Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane - to pray on the night Jesus was betrayed. And while Jesus was praying - prostrate on the ground - blood coming from His body like sweat - 3 times Peter fell asleep.
When Jesus was arrested, Peter - in a great act of bravado - takes his sword and cuts off the right ear of the High Priest’s slave - Malchus.
And then Peter - after Jesus is arrested - 3 times Peter denies that he ever knew or was associated with Jesus.
Peter’s whole world comes crashing down around Him. What did Peter feel - the fear for His own life - the agony of his denial - the despair of seeing Jesus tried, sentenced, and put to death. Its over and there is no hope - only emptiness and agony.
There are times when we feel like Peter.
Recently I’ve been receiving emails from Haig and Vula - with Macedonian Outreach. Emails from people inside Macedonia and Yugoslavia. I want to share a portion of two of them.
This one is from Skopje, Macedonia: “If you drive 6-7 miles outside Skopje, you can hear the guns going off in Serbia. Sometimes is hard bombing, sometimes just few shots. One wonders what will happen if a stray shell hits some of the NATO barracks at our border - a war? It is really scary to see and hear helicopters fly over Skopje, day and night. All in all, the country is bracing itself for the worst. This is worse threat for us than Bosnia was, as far as we are concerned.”
And this from Macedonia: “Things could not be any worse around here. It is very hard and dangerous around here. I have a family near Belgrade. My aunt lives there and we have been trying to contact with them, but I suppose that the telephone lines are out. I was thinking these days, that I am a college student of 19 years and what do I care mostly at this moment? It is not the college or the boyfriend or the friends. But my country and the fear of war. The school is out, I do not know until when, and what I am doing right now is just praying.”
There are times in our lives when we do hit bottom. We struggle to see any hope - or a way out. Most of us cover all this up pretty well. But there is a part of us even we refuse to look at.
Sins that we can’t forgive ourselves for. Anger and bitterness that we hold onto. Mistakes that we’ve made. Vices that seemingly control us. Chronic illness.
One last email - from a pastor in Yugoslavia - asking people to pray for spiritual victory: “Satan is defeated at Calvary Cross, Christ is the Conqueror, we are the conquerors with Him. Raise your voice loudly unto the Lord our God, He reigns and let the people and all world leaders tremble.”
In Mark 16 we read: When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint Jesus. And very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”
And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.
These were women who had watched the crucifixion - Jesus’ death and burial - living in despair - they wanted to do something - but had no idea what they could do. And suddenly there was no despair - only the reality of the resurrection.
And he - this angel - said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. But go, and tell His disciples and Peter, He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He said to you.” (Mark 16:1-7)
Go tell His disciples - and Peter - especially Peter - that Jesus is alive and is on His way to Galilee - to Peter’s home.
What would it have been like to be there when Peter first saw Jesus after His resurrection - to see the love and forgiveness in Jesus’ eyes. To be in that room when Peter first saw Jesus - His resurrected Lord - and all the doubt and despair and confusion melted away.
Martin Luther once said, "No one has ever fallen so grievously that he may not rise again. Conversely, no one stands so firmly that he may not fall. If Peter fell, I too may fall. If Peter rose again, I too may rise again."The message of the resurrection is hope and life and healing - and God’s love. No matter where we’ve been - the sins of our past - no matter the circumstances of our lives - the despair - the struggles - because Jesus is alive we know that our lives can be restored and that God really does love us.