The Guilt After Easter – by Brady Tarr
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.“ (Acts 4:12)
“Just to be clear, Jesus did not experience any form of guilt after he rose from the dead. He was perfect, holy, and above reproach in everything that He did, thought, or said throughout his whole life even during His crucifixion.
Peter on the other hand, probably did struggle with guilt for a period of time after the resurrection of Christ. Among Jesus’ 12 disciples, Peter was the boldest most outspoken disciple, but out of a fear of man he did what he vowed he would never do and denied Christ three times.
After Peter’s third denial, the rooster crowed just as Jesus said it would. When Peter heard the rooster crow, the Bible says that he “broke down and wept.” Peter was instantly convicted of his sin which brought him to tears. He knew that his sin was a result of his wicked heart which was driven by his self-interest. Peter realized the he feared man more than he feared God and this brought him a great sorrow. As a believer in Christ, Peter’s great sin resulted in a great sorrow that God designed to lead him to repent (2 Cor. 7:9-11).
After Jesus rose from the dead, how did He respond to Peter after he had denied him? Well, we can better understand Jesus’ initial response to Peter’s denial when we look at the messenger of God (not Jesus) dressed in white who Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James found in the empty tomb where Jesus had been buried. Undoubtedly, Christ had ordained that the messenger in white meet the women and give them instruction about why the tomb was empty.
Look with me at what it says in Mark 16:6-7, “And he said to them (Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James), “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” Yes, the messenger that Jesus had left to instruct the women told them to go tell his disciples AND Peter that he had raised from the dead. Peter was a disciple of Christ so why did Jesus want to make sure his messenger specified for the faithful women to tell Peter?
The Bible does not say why, but I think Jesus wanted to make sure that the repentant Peter knew that he was forgiven for his great sin and was still one of His sheep. Christ did not forsake Peter. This is a powerful example of the love and forgiveness of Christ toward those whom He has already claimed as his own by giving them the gifts of faith and repentance. Everyone who genuinely repents of their sin and puts their faith in Jesus Christ has been given eternal life by God and cannot lose their salvation (1 John 5:11-12). At the moment of a person’s genuine trust in Christ, forgiveness of sin takes place and this person’s salvation is guaranteed because it is an unchangeable work of God not a work of man (Eph. 2:8-9).
In light of what I mention above, we must not be naive because just because someone says that he/she has faith in Christ and might go to church does not mean they actually have genuinely repented of their sin and put their faith in Christ. But, Peter’s sin does remind us of the reality that Christians still sin. When we do sin, we must confess our sin for what it is – rebellion against God – and turn from our sin. Peter responded to the conviction of his soul, repented, and did not continue in his sin, but faithfully (not perfectly) followed Christ the rest of his life.
Some evidence of Peter’s faithfulness to Jesus can be found in the book of Acts. For example in Acts 1:14, Peter was one of many who were devoting themselves to prayer after Christ has ascended into heaven. In Acts 2:22-41 and Acts 3:17-21, Peter boldly proclaims the gospel of repentance and faith in Christ. In Acts 4:8-12, Peter again boldly proclaims that there is no other name, but the name of Jesus, by which men can be saved.
We know that Peter persevered to the end of his life as a bold witness of Christ. Origen recounts that Peter asked his persecutors to crucify him upside down because he felt himself to be unworthy to be put to death in the same manner as his Jesus. May the way Peter responded to the conviction of his sin be an example to us all because when he sinned, he repented and turned away from his sin trusting in the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. As He did toward Peter, God truly displays his amazing grace toward us! I want to leave us all with some questions to think about today.
1. Ultimately, in light of the fact that all sin is rebellion against God, are we any different than Peter in denying Christ when we sin?
2. Peter’s heart was soft and responsive when he was convicted of his sin… Is your heart soft or hard when your conscience convicts you of your sin?
3. Does your sin against God make you sorrowful to the point of repentance?
4. Do you pray for God to soften your heart and reveal the ways in which you sin against him to you?
5. Do you fight the guilt of past sin by reminding yourself of the gospel and the forgiveness of sin that is a result of genuine faith and repentance?
6. Do you do good things in an attempt to earn your salvation or do you pursue doing good things out of joy because you have already been saved through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-10)?
7. Does your life overwhelmingly reflect the fact that you are a Christian by the way you live your life, fight against your sin, serve others, repent and turn from your sin, etc. or is there very little evidence (fruit) in your life that you are a Christian?
8. Are you praying for strength and for God to give you a faithfulness to him when persecution (in whatever form it occurs) comes since the Bible guarantees that it will in 2 Timothy 3:12 “All who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
9. Do you pray for the persecuted Christians around the world?
10. Are you praying for the Lord to give you boldness to share the gospel with your clients, friends, family, and strangers that you meet?
As I have written these questions, I have thought about my own answers to them and have been convicted of areas that I need the Lord’s help in improving. I trust that the same will happen to you. Let’s pray for each other in the weeks to come. Blessings to you all!
Recommended Sermon by John Piper
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