... and Peter... and you...

Mark 16:7 “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.”

Hopefully you have heard a point like this at some time in your life: “Jesus is personal. He cares about you individually. If you were the only person on earth Jesus would have died just for you.”

I believe that most of you have more faith and are less cynical than myself, but for a long time I could not comprehend the truth expressed in those sentiments. I believed myself to be too sinful to be noticed or cared for by an almighty Savior.

So how did I respond? I chose to attempt to earn God’s favor. I bought into this idea that my “good” behavior could convince God I was worthy of His good graces.
I am sure by now most of you are correcting me with what you know of God’s grace. Isn’t it interesting how we can convey the truth to other people but cannot convince our hearts of what we already know to be true?

I have met so many people that have fallen prey to the same mindset as my younger self. They know that Jesus came to save them, regardless of their short comings and sin, yet when it comes to accepting it they struggle to embrace this truth. So, they slave away attempting to earn the greatest gift ever given not realizing that they will never be able to complete enough work to deserve it.

Why do we end up captive to these thoughts? It is because we have believed a lie. This lie tells us that we are the exception to God’s offer of forgiveness and grace. It feeds our heart and mind with evidence by playing each and every sin constantly on repeat. When we think that we might walk in freedom, we see that episode of our most egregious sin which forces us to remain chained to the wall of our past.

There was a man who lived about two thousand years ago who “wrote the book” on being held captive by your past. His name was Peter.

If you are not familiar with Peter, please allow me to introduce you.

Peter was one of Jesus’ twelve apostles. He was a fisherman who left everything he had to learn from Jesus. Peter was an eager young man who often opened his mouth merely to insert his foot. Still he loved Jesus deeply and yearned to know more about the Kingdom of God. No matter what Jesus asked of His disciples, Peter was willing to do it (you may know him as the one who walked on water with Jesus). Peter witnessed the miracles Jesus performed on earth. He was destined to build the New Testament church. Overall, Peter was passionate about God and His work.

How is it that a man such as this lived chained to his past?

What did He have to regret or be ashamed of?

Well, if you read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, you’ll find Peter standing in a court yard 
during one of His trials. The people were angry and becoming more aggressive towards this man, Jesus, and his ministry. Three different times Peter was identified as one of Christ’s followers and at each occasion Peter denied even knowing Jesus.

Following the third denial Peter leaves the scene of Jesus’ trial. He was completely overcome with regret. We know from the story that Peter repented of his betrayal, but he was held captive by it. Peter would not allow himself to walk in the freedom offered by Jesus. How could he? Peter wasn’t there when Jesus took His last breath on the cross. He denied Jesus when he thought it might cost him his life. He didn’t deserve forgiveness.

Have you ever had these thoughts? Do you still have them?

Peter had them. Peter believed himself unworthy of God’s grace.

However, we know from the account that Peter would become the leader of the New Testament church and have the honor of leading thousands to salvation in Jesus.

So what happened to create such a change in Peter’s demeanor?

The Resurrection happened.

In Mark 16, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and a person named Salome went to anoint the body of Jesus. This was a part of Jewish burial customs. When they arrived they encountered a young man, wearing white, who told them that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, He had risen! Then he instructs them to do this: “Go, tell His disciples and Peter…”

Did you catch that?

“Go, tell His disciples and Peter…”

Peter. The one who denied Him, was the one mentioned by name.

You see, Jesus is personal. He is relational.

He knew that Peter was being tormented by his past decisions and Jesus longed to free Him. Jesus specifically wanted Peter to know that He had risen and freedom had been purchased on the cross and forgiveness won!

For those of us who, like Peter, do not believe we are worthy of forgiveness and grace, allow me to take the weight off your shoulders by informing you that you are not worthy of God’s grace.

No one is.

That is why it is a gift – tremendously precious. We cannot earn it. We do not deserve it. Yet, it was purchased for us.

Jesus did not die so that we could remain haunted by our past sins. He came to forgive the murderer, adulterer, liar, glutton, gossip, thief, sexually immoral, idolater, proud, self-indulgent, etc.

He came to free us.

Therefore, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your one and only Savior and Lord, believed that He is the Christ, God’s own Son, and confessed openly that you are a sinner in need of grace; then you are free. Because “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36).”

I urge you friends, do not be like me. Do not waste years attempting to earn salvation or God’s good graces. Simply open up your hands, your heart, and accept it.

Why?

Because God wants to write a new story in your life and your past is not included.
Our past motivates us but does not define us. The blood of Jesus does that.
Peter was not the same after denying Christ. His fervor to share the Gospel increased. He never wanted to deny Jesus again. So instead, he shared the message of Christ everywhere that he went until the day he was put to death.

Let your past do the same. Do not repeat that portion of your story again but allow it to be your motive for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that others may walk in freedom.
These two things I leave you with:

 1)      If you do not know Jesus, He wants you to know that He is risen and purchased your salvation at the cross. I am here to tell you that He is alive and offers the gift of freedom to you. Jesus does not want you to live in sin but freedom. And it’s easier than it sounds. Simply accept that he is Savior, believe Jesus is the Son of God, and confess that you are a sinner. With that, you are free.


      2)      If you know Jesus, but are chained to you past, today you must make the decision to believe in the power of the cross. Your freedom was purchased there. There is no need for you to attempt to earn it. He gives freely. Simply accept. Why? So that you can live the story He has written for you. 

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