Resurrection not Resuscitation



Poor Peter.  He’s so impulsive, sometimes so prideful.  The one who tries to walk on water.  The one who claimed he would never deny Jesus, only to deny Him 3 times within the very same night.
Poor Peter.  Hand picked by Jesus to be the first leader of his church.  Poor Peter, the inept bumbling figure who just happened to preach the first Christian sermon on the day of Pentecost, bringing three thousand people into salvation in one day.
 
We look at Peter, and we identify with him.  After all, we screw it up all the time too.  We come to Christ, get “saved”, listen to the songs, give the praise, ask the forgiveness and mercy.  Then we go right back out and do it all again.  We might not go back to being active in our addictions and habits we once had (or maybe we do).  But we go home, lose our tempers, scream at our wives, husbands and children.  We look at certain people with a judgmental eye, thinking how they are so screwed up.  We go to work and put in half an effort expecting a full paycheck.  So, we like to see how the Lord used Peter because it shows us we can all be used powerfully by God in spite of all our weaknesses and failures.   
Except we see the Lords use of Peter in the wrong way.  I think He uses Peter not in spite of his massive failures and shortcomings, but because of them.  Peter, more than any other apostle, more than any other follower, laid himself bare before the Lord, humiliated himself before Jesus, everyone else there, and before us to this very day.  
Let’s start in John 21, the very last chapter of that beautiful Gospel, after the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  Jesus is sharing breakfast with seven disciples when asks this of Peter – When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.   Do you love me?  Then feed my sheep.  I think it’s not an accident that Jesus asks not once, not twice, but three times, mirroring the three times Peter had denied knowing Jesus on the night leading to His crucifixion.   We see that as Peter’s greatest failure, it may have ultimately been his very salvation.  Jesus is gently reminding Peter of his failure as He personally commissions him to lead His church.  Jesus reminds Peter because this is where Peter is finally broken, laid bare before Jesus.  Luke tells us – “But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:60-62‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  God had looked straight into his eyes and seen his soul laid bare.  No more bravado, no more image management, Peter had nothing left to do but go out and weep bitterly.
 
Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.   Right after Jesus tells Peter to feed His sheep, He says this to him.   John goes on to tell us Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.   We know that came to be true as well, Peter was ultimately crucified for preaching the Gospel (legend has it Peter insisted on hanging upside down because he felt unworthy of dying as Jesus had).  But I think there’s something more here.  He’s just given Peter the keys to the kingdom, then he’s telling him he will be led by someone else somewhere he does not want to go.  Remember, this is the same Peter who was not going to allow Jesus to wash his feet – He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!    I know, Jesus was his Lord and teacher.  But this is saying something much deeper.  Peter was prideful, just like we are prideful.  He was all about serving others, being out front, wanting to do great things.  And that’s all well and very good.  But – Peter had a problem in being served.  There is something within Peter, something within most of us, where we don’t like to be the one being served.  We don’t want to put our hands up and let somebody else know, hey, everything is not ok.  I need help!!  We don’t want to send the burger back in the restaurant because there’s a problem with it.  We don’t want to ask for help when the key won’t work.  We don’t want to call for help when we’re all alone and now we’re tempted to fall back into old habits we long ago told ourselves we had licked.  We think we are being humble in these things, not wanting to be a burden, when really it’s our very pride keeping us from being humble enough to be served.  
Most of us would love to lead the feet washing service, right?  We can feel God with us as we wash others feet, in that act of giving service.  But we are very uncomfortable having our feet washed, very uncomfortable in being served.
 
Think for a minute about the end of a persons life.  At the end of our lives, we become completely subservient to others.  We oftentimes get to the point where we can do nothing for ourselves.  Most of us dread this time, but I think most of those who go through it come to peace with it.  They find peace during this time of being dressed by others, being led by others where we don’t want to go.  
If we live long enough, it is likely we will all come to this point.  And in this point, most of us will find peace.  Peace in allowing someone to know us so intimately, to be laid so bare.  Peace in knowing we are on our way to our own resurrection.  
 
We seem to forget that we ate baptized into Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  We come to Jesus, ask Him into our hearts and lives, but hang on to parts of ourselves.  We want to keep doing it our way.  I think this partly what Jesus meant when He said “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:25‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  When we accept Christ into our lives, we are brand new creations.   If we give up our lives, we find our lives.  Here is where we need the do not resuscitate order, like we have at the end of our physical lives.  We need resurrection, rebirth.  
Peter finally comes to this point in the garden after Jesus looks into his soul at Gethsemane.  Up until that point, Peter was just like most of us.  We come to Christ, but we choose resuscitation over resurrection.  We clean ourselves up, get the outside spic and span, but never die to ourselves and submit to eat Christ wants to do with us.  We don’t want to allow ourselves to be fully seen, fully known in he way Jesus saw Peter in the garden.
 
We worry about what people think and how we are perceived.  We try to hide those things we feel might disqualify us from serving others.  But, we just don’t understand that those things which we think disqualify us are actually what qualifies us for service in the upside down economy of Christ.  The number one thing in the kingdom of God is love.  Peter had been forgiven much by Christ in his new commission.  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.   He who is forgiven much loves much, right??  It was his failures which brought Peter to the point where he could finally submit himself to what Jesus had planned for Him, the point where he could finally love as Jesus loved.  Three weeks later, he would preach at Pentecost.  How many people there had heard the story of him denying Jesus?  I bet plenty.  But he no longer cared what those people thought.  All that mattered was going where he was led, fulfilling his purpose in the kingdom of God, and he brought three thousand people to salvation that day, despite the things people might have been saying.

Peter had finally chosen resurrection over resuscitation.

Which will you choose?

 



“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!””
‭‭John‬ ‭21:15-19‬ ‭NIV‬‬
http://bible.com/111/jhn.21.15-19.niv

“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!””
‭‭John‬ ‭13:6-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭7:47‬ ‭NIV‬‬

John Lewis

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6 thoughts on “Resurrection not Resuscitation

  1. Our church has been doing messages about the life of Peter. This was a very timely post for me. Whenever the Lord brings things to me in pairs or triplets even, I pay attention. Thank you for all that you put into your wonderful posts.
    We have been given the privilege to love people and share the message of Christ’s love with them. I want to bold for Christ—no matter what people think.
    Blessings to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What you wrote about coming to terms with being disabled is especially insightful. My recovery from double-bypass surgery was one of the most peaceful, calming experiences of my adult life. I was so weak for awhile that I started sliding over to one side in the pew one Sunday. I hadn’t the strength to sit upright! Imagine the peace when we are in God’s complete, eternal care!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As Americans we love the image of “rugged individualist”. I can do it all on my own, I don’t need any help. One of the best things that can happen us for us to lose that sense of individualism. We are taught that pride from a young age, but it’s only through giving up that pride and submitting to the lordship if Christ that we can have full communion with Him and our brothers and sisters.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That was good, John. I agree that Peter is easy for us to identify with, but oh, how he laid himself bare before his Lord. He did ultimately trust Jesus enough to get out of the boat to walk on the water. No other did. Would we trust even that much? I only hope. I love this post. It forces us to be introspective, and we should.

    Liked by 1 person

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