"From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!' But He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of things of God, but the things of men.'" Matthew 16:21-23
"Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, 'The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.' And they were exceedingly sorrowful." Matthew 17:22-23
"Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, 'Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.'" Matthew 20:17-19
The disciples followed Jesus. They saw Him heal. They saw Him do miracles of all kinds. They sat under His teaching. They walked with Him. The shared meals together. Three times here in Matthew, Jesus, shares His death is coming. He too shares He will rise again on the third day. Three times. Did they not believe? Did they forget? In all the circumstances and fear surrounding them, did they forget His words? Where were they all when it happened? Where did they all go after? On Thursday everyone stood together with Jesus. Well, at least all those who believed. On Friday, things began to change. People began leaving His side. In fear they ran. In fear had they all forgotten all that He had taught them.
It was the chief priests and pharisees who remembered. They remembered the words of Jesus. Did they believe? They go to, Pilate, and share their concerns. Listen as they share. "On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, 'Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver, said, 'After three days I will rise.' Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first.'" Pilate said to them, 'You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.' So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard." Matthew 27:62-66 Here they are calling, Jesus, the deceiver. But is that what they really thought? Why have the stone? Why have a guard? Sure, they were wondering if His disciples would try to come and steal His body, but they didn't have to. Jesus did what He said He would do. I think somewhere in their minds they too knew. They knew and were fearful of the truth in His words.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are getting ready to go to the tomb. What must they be thinking? They had watched their Savior be crucified. They watched in horror. As they enter the tomb the stone is rolled away. The guards are not standing. There is an angel, but no Jesus. Matthew 28:1-15 The angel tells them the, Lord, has risen. He is already on His way to Galilee. You are going to see Him. They ran from that tomb rejoicing. Can you see them? Can you just hear the joy in their voices? Jesus did what He said He was going to do. No stone could hold Him back. No guard could keep Him. Not even death could keep our Savior down. No guard was going to admit they fell asleep. Death would surely come. There was no logical explanation. After His resurrection many saw Him. They rejoiced.
The disciples saw, Jesus, as He entered Galilee. He appeared before them. Some believed, but some also doubted. Then, Jesus, gives the great commission. He speaks and says, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20
In the midst of my circumstances and fear how many times to I forget His promises? How many times to I forget that nothing could hold Jesus down? Christ did what He said He would do. Where is my faith? When times get tough and I am staring fear in the face where is my faith? Either I believe or I don't?
Jesus had to ask, Peter, three times, "Do you love Me?" Peter denied Him three times. Matthew 26:69-75 It is over breakfast by the sea that Jesus confronts Peter. In John 21:15-19 Jesus asks Peter three times if he loved Him. I love this. Peter is humbled before his Savior. Peter goes on to live for Jesus, sharing the gospel message. He never again forgets the love of Christ. He never again has to be asked, "Do you love Me?" Peter finally got it!!
How many times does Jesus ask me, "Daughter, do you love Me?" I don't want to forget. I want to see. I want to get it. Really get it. I don't want to live a life just knowing the name of Jesus. For me, that isn't enough. I want a personal relationship with Him. I want to talk with Him and hear His voice. I want to share with others all He has done, is doing, and will do in my life. It is either me or Him. It can't be about both. The less of me the more of Him shines through.
Sure, it's easy for us to wonder, "Where were all those cowards on that day? Where were they after?" Where are we? What are we doing? We should be living in such a way that others see something different in us. We shouldn't look like the world, but in fact we do. We try to fit in with this world so much and in reality the more world there is in us the less of Jesus there is. We allow our fear to get the best of us. When it comes down to our faith, are we sharing the gospel every chance we get or are we cowards hiding out waiting for someone else to do it?
Peter was used of God greatly. First he was humbled. Peter had to really get it before he could go out and preach it. He really had to believe it. Do you? Do I? Each time I allow a chance to share pass by I betray Him. The tomb is empty, friends. It is empty! The stone has been rolled away. Jesus is risen. He did what He said He would do. The question remains, "Will we?" We say we love Him. We say we will live for Him. Will we? Do we? It's easy to say the words, but it is the action that matters.
Why do I doubt? Why do I allow fear to tremble in my bones? Nothing can hold me back as long as Christ is standing in the gap for me. His blood was shed for me. He has the scars to prove it. What do I have? His Word. His love. His truth. He did what He said He would do. What more do we need? Jesus gave us ALL He had. The next time we are doubting. The next time circumstances make us shutter. May we remember, He did what He said He would do. Why would He do any less now? We have much to rejoice in today.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4