Peter failed in spectacular fashion. He bragged he would stand with Jesus even if everyone else fled. He fell asleep in the Garden. He assaulted the servant of the High Priest. Though he was warned about it in advance, he went ahead and denied Christ three times.
Here’s a question to everyone who has ever failed: Why did Jesus put the man’s severed ear back on? (Luke 22:51). We know Peter had taken a sword and had cut it off. We know why. We can also guess that Jesus healed Malchus’ ear out of compassion. But there is something way deeper going on here. What does that have to do with anyone who ever failed? Everything.
The day after Jesus died wouldn’t have hurt Peter so much if Peter didn’t love Jesus so much. That he had abandoned Christ began to torment him. It could have devastated him for the rest of his life. But right at this point, he doesn’t believe there is a rest of his life.
The day after Jesus died is Peter’s day to hide like a hunted animal. A day to let it sink in that there is nothing left to live for. He was a hair’s breadth away from the fate of Judas Iscariot. Worst of all, he lost his destiny.
Destiny is a mysterious thing. The same force that can inspire a man to greatness can—in his failure—torture him. The pain level depends on the size of the destiny. In the case of Peter, it was massive.
Peter was minding his own business when Jesus interrupted his whole life. Fishing all night, Peter had caught nothing. His hands are red and sore from handling the heavy nets. Every muscle aches. He has nothing to show for a brutal night at sea.
The strange Teacher says, “Let your nets down again for a catch.” Peter halfheartedly does as he is asked. The enormous catch terrifies him. He begs Jesus to keep his distance, “I am a sinful man.”
That’s when he heard the words about his destiny. “Follow Me and I will make you a fisher of men.” Then, once more, the day after Jesus has died, Peter is just a fisherman again. It sticks in his throat to say it.
They say that regret is the cancer of life—if so, on this terrible day, Peter is terminal. He could have prayed Psalm 69: 1 “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. 2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. 3 I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God. 4 Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; they are mighty who would destroy me…”
“I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing” simply means that in the quicksand of despair, nothing that used to help you snap out of it works now. All of your comfort is gone. There is nothing to grab to save you. You will sink until you vanish.
Now it’s dawn on Sunday. Peter can’t know that at that moment, an angel is talking about him. Mark 16: 7 “But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said 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.” Wouldn’t you love to have seen Peter’s face when they told him the angel’s message?
So why did Jesus put the ear back on? He knew Peter’s destiny, and Peter couldn’t be in prison on the day of Pentecost. Jesus knew his destiny. He knows yours.
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 day 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!
Easter is not an inspirational analogy. It is not an anecdote preached in a wispy voice reminding us “the long winter will gave way to spring.” That’s like talking about the atomic bomb as if it were a disposable lighter.
Our programs do not make Easter better. The world can get better entertainment in many other places, under many other banners. The idea that organizational or stage dazzle can improve the Gospel is pure foolishness.
Easter is not polite. It won’t be ushered into the harmless category of other religious holidays.
On this day of all days, we must remember what separates the claims of Jesus from all religions on earth.
The difference is laid out in Acts 17: 31 “For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
The difference is…He has given proof. The resurrection of Jesus is an imposing, unmatched event. It didn’t just happen…it is happening. Its evidence won’t go away. Its power never dissipated. Its blast radius has yet to be measured.
Opposition only increases its power. The more man tries to bury news of the Resurrection, the more it spreads. Just when the enemies of the Cross feel secure in debunking Easter, some new wrinkle is found, pushing atheism back to square one.
The Resurrection rips away your excuses. God has set a day of judgement…a day where everyone reading this, yea every descendant of Adam will stand before God to be judged. He will do it with JUSTICE.
To do it with justice—to justify such a day, God would first commit an act—an act so undeniable it destroys every excuse for rejecting Christ.
Gospel preachers should never apologize at Easter. They should proclaim. The proof demands it! It calls for all who hear to repent on the spot. There is nothing to mull over or go home and think about.
The difference is the proof and the proof is the difference.
THE MOST ENCOURAGING SECRET
By Mario Murillo
The Resurrection of Jesus was the greatest display of power the universe has ever known; even greater than the alleged “big bang” that birthed the universe.
Satan never recovered from that blast. Stripped of power, desperate and delusional, he lurches forward using smoke and mirrors to lie to believers. And there is one thing about the Resurrection of Christ that He must hide at all cost:
Satan wants you to think of the Resurrection as a past event that you honor when it is should be more like a wall socket that you plug into and use the current of its power to defeat the horrors of your daily life. He quakes at the thought that you would see that the Resurrection is an ongoing explosion of victory.
Here is your verse: “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.
Right now you may be facing the fight of your life. It may be the devastating loss of a job, a home, self-respect, or even a loved one. You may feel your heart failing and your body withering from the warfare. It is time for action, but not just any action. It is time to find power over your enemy and the storm you are facing. It is time to apply the power of the Resurrection to your personal crisis.
How do we apply the power of the Resurrection to the devastating warfare of our daily life? Let’s ask the first human being who ever did it: Mary Magdalene.
It is one thing to live in despair and poverty and not know anything different but it is quite another kind of hell to have known relief from demon possession and shame and embrace abundance only to be cast back into the gutter of life. That was Mary’s world on Easter morning.
His words of life embedded themselves in the deepest part of her soul. They were beyond real to her. When life threw “the facts” at her, His word was in her soul and so the facts no longer counted. But Now that He was dead why should she keep going?
She had every right to lay there and try to sleep off her unspeakable disappointment. But something entered her room. It woke her up and gave her the strangest notion. She would get up and go to the one place that would verify her hopelessness: the tomb.
“Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”-John 20:1.
Mary Magdalene felt utterly lost when she went to the tomb, but she went anyway. She did not know who would roll away the stone for her, but she went anyway. Her actions were not based on the facts as she knew them but on the glorious automatic pilot of her faith. If you and I could have interviewed that amazing woman that morning we might have heard these words: “Yes, I saw Him die, yes, I know He is in a tomb, yes I know this is crazy but I am going anyway!”
Satan is throwing the identical garbage at you that he threw at Mary. That is why you can expect the identical victory. There seemed to be nothing good about Good Friday. Lucifer hijacked the Cross for his own ends. In all of the confusion, the disciples forgot that Jesus said this would happen. The Cross was a divine event that ignited power and hope for all men. Satan made it look like it was a horrifying, humiliating end for all of the disciples.
That same Spirit that woke Mary up and sent her to the glorious discovery that Jesus was alive is within you. It is the same Spirit that will make you get up one more time and go after your reward and fight for what you love. He empowers you to dust off your dream, shake off the cobwebs of modern thinking, and storm toward victory with clear direction.
Right now you stare at the sputtering rubble that was once your dream and torture yourself with speculation: “How could this have happened?” That question will paralyze you. You may want to sit and cry or worse, lie down and die.
Mary did not get out of bed because she saw through the lie, but because power, resurrection power made her feel direction and inexplicable hope. I am not asking you to understand all that has happened to you, I am asking you to surrender to that power and watch it carry you to the victory you cannot even imagine now.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27
How is His peace different? Philippians 4:7 Explains: “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
This was the peace that arrived after the Resurrection. A sense of comfort and hope that would clothe you even before the facts and the outcome supported the peace.
If the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is in you then it will give you life, life to get up and try again, life to trust God even before you know why tragedy struck, life to feel hope before the miracle arrives.
Confess it! It’s the same Spirit! The same Spirit that resurrected Christ’s lifeless body will infuse my weary body with life. Life will enter my soul and renew it to a just cause. Life will enter my shattered dreams and raise me up to a tomorrow that seems unimaginable right now. Life is coming, and not just any life but resurrection life. You will live again, you will love again, and you will ride on the waves and finish strong on your appointed shore! Hallelujah, Jesus is alive!!!
We are only three days away from a historic gathering in Concord California. On Sunday afternoon, the Contra Costa Room of the Crowne Plaza will be transformed into a temple of the Holy Spirit and a river of healing and saving power. The prayers of many soldiers of faith have bombarded heaven. Cell phones, social networks, street teams, church services and schools are abuzz with the news that Living Proof will be given to the East Bay Area. If at all possible make your plans to join us. Bring someone who needs to be healed or needs to see the proof of Jesus Christ’s power today.