At some point in our lives, we all want a fresh start. We wish we could get a do over and fix our mistakes. Or we wish we could undo the harmful effects of our actions.
Peter understood the need for a fresh start. With all his bravado, Peter failed repeatedly. There was the time when, in the midst of a storm, Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and called out “Lord if it’s you, then tell me to come to you on the water!” Jesus called back “Come!” Peter got out of the boat onto the water and started to walk, but he became afraid of the waves and began to sink. (Matthew 14:22-33) Imagine the humiliation.
Later, at the Last Supper, Peter boldly blustered, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” But Jesus sadly predicted that Peter would deny Jesus three times that very night. (Luke 22:33-34) And so it came to pass, that while Jesus was being interrogated in Caiaphas’ house, Peter was in the outer courtyard denying any association with his Master. As soon as the third denial left his lips, the rooster crowed, and Peter remembered Jesus’ words. He left and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62)
Much later, after Peter had received the instruction from God to receive Gentiles as part of the church (Acts 10:1-48), he blew it yet again. This time it was in Antioch, where Peter was bowing to church political pressure to exclude Gentiles from the fellowship. This time Paul called him out on it (Galatians 2:11-21). Oh the shame he must’ve felt for his hypocrisy.
I imagine that all the disciples, after their failure to stand by Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, wanted a fresh start. Certainly after the shock and horror and agony of Golgotha, the disciples yearned for a fresh start.
The empty tomb is the greatest of all fresh starts.
Resurrection. The victory of Christ over sin and death and the grave. Yes, dark forces still work in us, but they have lost their lasting power over us. Yes, we still deal with sin in our own lives, and yes we still face a physical death. But the definitive fresh start of Christ’s bodily resurrection gives us strength for each fresh start in our path of sanctification, and it gives us hope for the ultimate fresh start of our own resurrection and life eternal with Christ.
Perhaps you are longing for a fresh start even now? Today is the day. Practice penitence, renew your faith, and joyfully follow Christ. It doesn’t matter how many times you may have faltered or fallen flat on your face, for Christ has an abundant surplus of mercy and grace.
Soli Deo Gloria
This article originally appeared in the April 2015 edition of the Covenant Courier