PETER ON THE DAY JESUS DIED

First, he screamed and he kept screaming until he could scream no more. Then he fell off a cliff into the abyss of broken souls. He crashed with a force that could have moved the earth. Around him lay fragments—the new and hideous replacements of his former self. Shame replaced love. Cowardice replaced faith. Hope was driven out to make room for the mocking predator. Worst of all was the deep despair he felt as he saw his destiny plunge into a black hole of regret.

This all happened the day after Jesus died.

To survive, Peter virtually became a robot. He reverted to fishing. It’s what he was programmed to do. It’s what he knew best. He went through the motions to avoid every feeling, suppressing every emotion.

The difference between Peter and Judas Iscariot is razor thin. The fever of despair and regret raged in Peter every bit as hot as it had in Judas. It drove Judas to suicide. Why not Peter? Why didn’t he do what the other traitor did? It was because Jesus had prayed for him.

Satan told Peter a lie. Peter not only believed that lie, he now embodied it. And, it is the same lie that Satan is telling America right now—the lie that all the important things are gone forever.

Whenever those who hate God and America try to enforce a change, they call it ‘THE NEW NORMAL.’ They sold us on ‘THE NEW NORMAL’ of abortion, same sex marriage, and godless education. Their latest excuse for seizing control is the coronavirus. Something to remember: ‘the new normal’ is always nothing other than the old abnormal.

Peter was tortured by memories. Though he tried to fight it with all his might, it was impossible not to relive those days. Two mistakes haunted him the most. Thinking he could save Jesus, he had taken a sword and had swung it at the head of the high priest’s servant, Malchus, who, fortunately had moved just in time, losing only an ear. But his greatest horror was his discovery that he was a coward, and that he had denied Jesus three times. The rooster was still crowing in his spirit.

The hardest thing for Peter to forget was the day he met Jesus. Peter had been minding his own business when Jesus interrupted his entire life.  After fishing all night, Peter had caught nothing.   His hands were red and sore from handling the heavy nets.  Every muscle ached. He had nothing to show for a brutal night out on the water.

Then the strange Teacher said, “Let your nets down again for a catch.”  Peter half-heartedly did as he was asked, and the catch was so enormous that it terrified him.  He begged Jesus to keep His distance, “I am a sinful man!” Peter cried.

That’s when he heard the words about his destiny.  “Follow Me and I will make you a fisher of men.”

There is no doubt that Peter was convinced that now, after his failure and denial, it was too late. That fact must be clearly understood or you will not get the impact of the lesson I am about to relate.

It’s dawn on Resurrection Sunday.  Peter couldn’t know that at that very moment, an angel was talking about him.  Mark 16:7, “But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that (Jesus) is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He told to you.”  The angel added the words “and Peter.”  Why?  Because God knew Peter would have disqualified himself if the invitation was “for disciples only.”

Peter grabbed the messenger who related this to him and demanded: “Are you certain the angel said my name?!” “Yes, the words were, “Tell the disciples, and Peter.”” At that moment, Peter came back from the dead. He knew he was not rejected. He knew the unmatched glory of a true second chance.

Satan had worked hard to prevent Peter’s apostleship, because he knew this man would shake the gates of hell.  The first shaking came on the Day of Pentecost. The wind and fire of the Holy Spirit’s baptism transformed Peter

The coward, who had denied his Lord three times, was lovingly restored by the resurrected Jesus. He appeared to Peter, giving him three new chances to affirm his love. Jesus even provided a charcoal fire similar to the one near which Peter had experienced failure. Peter was completely transformed. He was now a lion carrying a devastating witness. He roared, “This is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel!”

In the days after Jesus died, evil exerted a crushing blow on the entire city. All the Christians hid in their homes behind locked doors, and it’s like that today. Satan wishes to crush our hopes and dreams. Evil men would sell us the lie that we must adapt to a grim, cold, and dark lesser vision of America, the church, and our futures.

Those who are marked by God are unstoppable. When the doors reopen for America, God will fully restore our destiny.

But there is one miracle that remains to be explored. Cutting off Malchus’ ear haunted Peter. But there was more to it than just healing an ear. Because, my friend, that night Jesus healed more than an ear—knowing the future, Jesus knew Peter must not be sitting on death row on the day of Pentecost. Jesus prayed “permit even this” and reattached the ear, in order to protect Peter’s destiny.

Right now, He is also guarding yours. This pandemic, cannot stop God’s destiny for your life.

Mary Magdalene on the day Jesus died

One of the greatest cruelties—if not the greatest cruelty in history—was done to Mary Magdalene.  She was once sold on the streets. She knew the special insanity of demon possession.  She knew the yawning blackness of total despair.

Jesus rescued her.  Jesus cast out 7 vicious devils—devils she thought would never leave.  Once deemed human garbage she is now redeemed, and rooted into a family of indescribable love.  Things would never be the same.  Her nights of remorse, her days of futility, her shame, her emptiness were all distant memories.

For 3 years, she lived a life she could have never imagined.  Crisscrossing Judea, hanging on Jesus’ every word, weeping gloriously over every miracle.  Each morning she awakened a more powerful and joyous woman of God!  She thought that this would go on forever.

People use the phrase “nothing could be worse…”  They use it before describing something unimaginably terrible.  I will use it this way: Nothing could be worse than to be in hell, and then taste heaven, only to return to hell.

Then on that fateful Friday it all went horribly, horribly wrong.  How could the one who called the dead back to life, and silenced a storm at sea be arrested?  How could one who gave words of exquisite beauty, love and wisdom, be tortured and killed.  No one wanted to save Jesus more than Mary.  No one felt more horror and helplessness than she.

That night, profound hope had given way to even deeper bitterness and disappointment.  If only I had never met him.  If only he had left me to die in the streets.  She slept only after exhaustion became more powerful than sorrow.   Too wounded to go on living.  Maybe too tired to commit suicide.

Mary matters to me today because her testimony is the best one I can think of on this Good Friday in such a dark time.  Mary’s miracle is the one America needs now!  Here’s why…

When the first shafts of Sunday morning light stirred her awake, she dreaded it.  If ever a heart was broken beyond repair—if ever a soul would rage against the approach of hope—if ever a woman just wanted to go back to sleep and never wake up, it was Mary.

That is why she was shocked when she felt an odd energy.  She soon felt an even stranger impulse… to go to the grave of Jesus?  How could she return to the only spot on earth that could open her wound wider?

What overruled her despair?  What fuel is driving her so completely against her common sense and her broken heart?  Paul answers that emphatically! “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”- Romans 8:11

Do you know any therapist capable of rebuilding the ashes and rubble in her soul?  Can any drug, any teaching, any relationship, reassemble her heart the way this gentle but powerful influence could?

We all know about the power of the resurrection.  It was the greatest display of power the universe has ever known; even greater than the alleged “big bang” that birthed the universe. It sent shock waves through the principalities and powers of darkness.  It shattered hell and stripped Satan of the keys of death.  Jesus set the captives free in the bowels of the earth and “led captivity captive.”

But the first burst of resurrection power was much gentler. She was the first human to feel the power of the resurrection.  Her eyes which were red and sore from sobbing are now refreshed and clear.  Her arms which hung limp from heartsick lethargy were now responsive, strong, and full of purpose. She sat up and found hope pumping through her veins. She did not know why!

A notion gently but firmly seizes her.  She was to go to the grave.  She got going!  Washing up, brushing her hair, and quickly getting dressed; all the while the expectancy of some indescribable something is building in her soul.  Before she knows it she is out the door and charging toward her worst fear.  Only she is not afraid.

She found the tomb vacant.  She turned and saw Him whom her soul loved.  Many awesome things happened that Easter but none more wonderful than Mary reunited with her Savior.

In the genetically altered, politically charged, drug addicted, violent purgatory that is America, Mary Magdalene stands as a poignant figure.   She is the best testimony I can think of for our national dreams that have gone up in smoke.  Our culture has wearied itself with perversion…hunted everything natural and replaced it with a disfigured counterfeit… it has marched, protested, boycotted the very color and life out of everything—everything is a cause to take offense.

What happened to Mary is why there is nothing better than the Gospel.  America!  This is what you need!

Mark 16:9, “Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.” HE APPEARED FIRST TO HER!  He never forgot her. He knew she was suffering the most so He healed this precious soul first!