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CrossPointe Community Church
P O Box 126
Chippewa Lake, OH 44215
CALL TO WORSHIP
Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.
When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid His body. Now go and tell His disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died.”Mark 16:1-7
Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.John 21:1-17
Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who He was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they replied.
Then He said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.
“Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to His disciples since He had been raised from the dead.
After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love Me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love You.”
“Then feed My lambs,” Jesus told him.
Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love You.”
“Then take care of My sheep,” Jesus said.
A third time He asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love You.”
Jesus said, “Then feed My sheep.
In the various accounts of the resurrection of Jesus that appear in the four gospels, I believe the most personal, the most touching, and the most poignant words can be found in the first gospel we read for today’s Call to Worship from Mark. The phrase is so short that we easily gloss over it without realizing the tremendous significance that it had on that first Easter morning; as well as this day. And it is easily overshadowed by the glorious announcement of the angel about the empty tomb.
As you have probably already surmised, the phrase that I refer to is, “including Peter.” “Now go and tell His disciples, including Peter!” (Mark 16:7).
Including Peter? Why Peter? Why not the disciple Jesus loved, John or James or Andrew or one of the others? Why does Peter get a special mention?
Because 60 hours earlier, it was Peter who said to Jesus, “Jesus, I am ready to die with you.” But a couple of hours after that, when it looked as if he might have to keep that promise, he denied, with loud cursing, he even knew the name of Jesus.
All four gospel writers record the story of Peter’s denial and conclude it by saying that Peter began to weep bitterly. How long he wept is open to speculation. Some suggest that he was still crying when Mary came and made him aware that Jesus had been raised. Whether or not he was still weeping doesn’t really matter, for we know he was still suffering tremendous feelings of guilt and shame.
And that’s why this phrase means so much.
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall. “Andrew, James, John, Bartholomew, Philip, Thomas, I have the most wonderful news. Jesus is no longer in the tomb He has risen just as He said He would, Jesus is alive! His angel told me to tell you this great news! Can you believe it? Jesus is alive! And oh, by the way, Peter, I almost forgot the angel specifically mentioned that I should tell you.”
“What? Really Mary; you’re not kidding me, are you? No, you’re serious; he really said that, be sure to tell me. Despite what I said; after the way I acted when He needed me the most?
“How many times do I have to tell you; the angel said, ‘including Peter?’”
In other words, tell Peter that I am not leaving him out. Tell him that his failure doesn’t make him a flop.
And then, just as the angel promised, a few days later, we have this wonderful encounter on the shore where Jesus erases Peter’s threefold denial with a threefold re-commissioning: “Peter, do you love Me more than these?” (John 21:15).
Three times, Peter responds with, “Yes, Lord you know I love you” (15, 16, 17).
And three times, Jesus re-commissions the one he called to be a fisher of men
“Feed My lambs, take care of My sheep, feed My sheep” (15, 16, 17).
102 years ago Louisa Fletcher published a collection of poems, one of which was, The Land of Beginning Again. The first of six stanzas read as follows:
I wish that there were some wonderful place,
Called the Land of Beginning Again.
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches,
And all of our poor selfish grief,
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door,
And never put on again. 1
The Land of Beginning Again? This little phrase, ‘be sure to tell Peter’ assures us that there is such a place. “Be sure to tell Peter;” what a grace-filled addition!
Not only for Peter but for any professing Christian who has ever denied the Lord Jesus in any way shape or form and who feels as though their denial disqualifies them from serving Christ or even if they feel as though their denial disqualifies them from receiving His grace in the form of forgiveness and/or the sacrament of holy communion.
That’s why I believe that the angel was given this special message for Peter from none other than Jesus Himself. Jesus was always far more interested in comforting the sinner than he was in punishing the sin. Someone once said, “The most precious thing about Jesus is the way in which He trusts us on our field of defeat.”
Thomas A. Edison was working on a crazy contraption called a “light bulb” and it took a whole team of men 24 straight hours to put just one together. The story goes that when Edison was finished with one light bulb, he gave it to a young boy helper, who nervously carried it up the stairs. Step by step he cautiously watched his hands, obviously frightened of dropping such a priceless piece of work.
You’ve probably guessed what happened by now; the poor kid dropped the bulb at the top of the stairs. It took the entire team of men twenty-four more hours to make another bulb. Finally, tired and ready for a break, Edison was ready to have his bulb carried up the stairs. And he gave it to the same young boy who dropped the first one. 2
That’s true forgiveness. Time and again we drop the ball. We fail, we mess things up, we feel like such a failure. But Jesus is always there. He places a hand on our shoulder and says, “Get up, get back in there. Don’t quit, I’m with you, I forgive you.”
Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Church for 36 years was fond of telling the story about Robert Bruce.
In the 14th century, Robert Bruce, of Scotland, was leading his men in a battle to gain independence from England. Near the end of the conflict, the English wanted to capture Bruce to keep him from the Scottish crown. So they put his own bloodhounds on his trail. When the bloodhounds got close, Bruce could hear their baying. His attendant said, “We are done for. They are on your trail, and they will reveal your hiding place.”
Bruce replied, “It’ll be all right.”
Then he headed for a stream that flowed through the forest. He plunged in and waded upstream a short distance. When he came out on the other bank, he was in the depths of the forest. Within minutes, the hounds, tracing their master’s steps, came to the bank. They went no farther. The English soldiers urged them on, but the trail was broken. The stream had carried the scent away. A short time later, the crown of Scotland rested on the head of Robert Bruce. 3
The memory of our sins, prodded on by Satan, can be like those baying dogs.
BUT A STREAM FLOWS RED WITH THE BLOOD OF GOD’S OWN SON!
And when we pass through that stream even the scent of sin is carried away. By grace through faith, we are safe on the other side and take up residence in the Land of Beginning Again.
No sin-hound can touch us. The trail is broken by the precious blood of Christ.
That’s what God in Christ has done for us? A fresh start, a new beginning.
One of the first Christian pilgrims to visit the Holy Land and record her experiences was a woman named Egeria. Little is known about her other than she traveled from northwest Spain in 381 AD and spent three years exploring the Holy Land. On her visit to Galilee, she visited a small church that had been built on a site known as the Place of the Coals because it was there Jesus built the charcoal fire John speaks of. Today, the church is known as The Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter.
This was an important destination for Egeria because it recalled a moment in time that transformed one man’s life and his story had helped her overcome her own failures. As lovely as this little church building is, it is overshadowed by the two statues outside adjacent to the shoreline; a life-size portrayal of Peter, who had now met His Lord on the beach, and towering over Peter stands Jesus both forgiving and re-commissioning this great man of the faith.
Christians who still visit this site sense what Egeria sensed, something momentous transpired there and it speaks not only of Peter but of us as well.
The Land of Beginning Again was discovered on that first Easter by a man who desperately wanted to live there. And the Land of Beginning Again can be discovered today, Right here, right now by anybody who wishes.
You see, my friend, the amazing news is that had Jesus remained in the tomb, Peter’s denial would have remained an albatross around his neck, and ours, forever. But as Jesus left the tomb alive, God was authenticating the work of Christ in providing the forgiveness of sin through His death on the cross; the very forgiveness that Peter, and we, so desperately crave.
Because Jesus is alive Peter, and you and I receive another chance to receive the Lord’s forgiveness and grace and dwell in the Land of Beginning Again.
1 Louisa Fletcher, A Biography
2 James Newton, Uncommon Friends: Life with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel and Charles Lindbergh, 1989, p.22.
3 Erwin Lutzer, Putting Your Past Behind You,
[San Bernardino, California: Here’s Life Publishers, © 1990, p. 42.