2Peter 1:16 “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty”.
It has been 7 weeks since, over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Hundreds of people around Jerusalem are reporting seeing Jesus alive. But something incredible has happened to His 11 disciples.
If Jesus’s influence over His small band of followers was so great that they believed He was the Messiah, how do you explain their courage to proclaim Him as Messiah after watching Him put to death and then buried? No one goes to their own death willingly for a belief that is false. You see, the Messiah is not supposed to die.
In his article ‘Why the Resurrection Matters to Christians,’ Jimmy Wallace explains: “The New Testament describes a remarkable and enduring transformation of 11 of Jesus’s disciples. These frightened, defeated cowards after Jesus’s crucifixion soon became bold preachers and, in some cases, martyrs. They grew courageous enough to stand against hostile Jews and Romans, even in the face of torture and martyrdom.
Such transformation deserves an adequate explanation. Human character and conduct do not change easily or often. Because they fled and denied knowing Jesus after he was arrested, their courage under persecution is even more astonishing. They attributed the strength of their newfound character to their personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus. In His resurrection, the apostles found their reason to live – and die.”
We must explain how the Jesus’s disciples went from cowards after He was put to death to bold proclaimers of a dead Messiah. Our verse this week highlights Peter. We can trace his transformation in 3 stages: 1) he was with Jesus, 2) Jesus was arrested and crucified, and 3) after the tomb was discovered empty.
Stage 1 = When Peter is with Jesus In Matthew 14: 22-32, the disciples are on the Sea of Galilee, while Jesus is on the mountain praying. Their boat is in a storm and they can’t get to Capernaum. Suddenly, they see Jesus walking on the water, and they were scared (they thought it was a ghost) – but not Peter. Peter cries, “Is that You, Lord?” Jesus answers, “It is I.” Peter asks, “Can I come?” Jesus said, “Come.” Why didn’t Peter just wait until Jesus reached the boat? He probably thought, “Jesus is over there, I am over here. I must go over there.” It never entered Peter’s mind that he can’t walk on water. When he saw Jesus, his desire was to BE WITH HIM. But once he got on the waves, he looked down and thought, “What am I doing here?” He started sinking, but the Lord lifted him up. The Point: When he is WITH JESUS, Peter did the miraculous.
Stage 2 = Jesus is arrested and crucified In Matthew 26: 69-75, the religious leaders arrest Jesus. Peter doesn’t go with Jesus but follows behind “at a distance,” staying outside near a campfire with the locals. He is now separated from Jesus. Two servants identify him as a follower of Jesus. Both times he denies knowing Jesus, each time his voice rising in defiance to the accusation. On the 3rd time, everyone around the fire accuses him as being a follower of the Lord. Now, he starts swearing oaths that he doesn’t know Jesus. The Point: when he is SEPARATED FROM JESUS, he is a failure. Apart from Christ, he is a coward.
To make things even more embarrassing, in Mark 16:1-13 Peter is in hiding with the other disciples. He fears for his life. Only the women are brave enough to go to Jesus’ tomb (the men are hiding). In verse 7, the angel specifically tells Mary Magdalene to tell PETER that He is risen. But when she tells them, they all (including Peter) refuse to believe her. The Point: when Peter believes JESUS IS DEAD, he is afraid and faithless.
Stage 3 = After the Tomb is discovered Empty In Acts 2:14-41 and Acts 3:1-26, Peter is boldly preaching in public on trusting in the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only means by which they might be saved. In his first speech in Acts 2, 3,000 listeners in the audience surrender their lives to Christ. After his second speech in Acts 3 on the resurrection of Christ, in Acts 4 Peter (along with John) is arrested by the religious establishment. But not before another 5,000 also confess Christ as their Lord and Savior. When they asked Peter by what authority they were doing these things, here’s Peter’s answer: “Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him I stand here before you whole” (Acts 4:10). The Point: Peter SAW JESUS ALIVE AGAIN. He now knew he was no longer alone – Peter knew Jesus rose from the dead and is back with Him. Peter was again bold.
What about today? How bold are we? Peter believed because he saw Christ with his own eyes. Jesus has something to say about us, though: “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Be bold. The evidence is overwhelming – He is risen.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance _ Article #504