A sermon expounding
Preached in the Protestant
Reformed Church of Byron Center, Michigan
On Easter Sunday
In the Year of Our Lord
By: Prof. Robert D.
Professor of Practical Theology
Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary
Byron Center Protestant Reformed Church
Byron Center MI 49315
NOT AFRAID! HE IS RISEN! HE IS NOT HERE! SEE THE PLACE WHERE THEY LAID HIM!
Those women that morning were numb with
fear and amazement. They
arose early that first day
of the week in order to seek Jesus of Nazareth who
was crucified. Grief
filled their hearts. So much had
happened they can hardly comprehend it all.
But of one thing they are sure: Jesus is dead;
his body is lying in Joseph's tomb. They
die on that terrible cross. They witnessed the piercing
of his side, and standing afar off, they saw Joseph and
Nicodemus tenderly carry his
body to the tomb.
Jesus is dead...never to return. Their hopes are dashed. Quietly in the early dawn they make their
way to the tomb to anoint his dead body. One thing
concerns them, and they are discussing the matter:
who shall roll away the stone from the door? As they
approach, they see that the stone was rolled away!
what? Then they see a young man clothed
white, an angel we learn from the other accounts.
This is the resurrection gospel. He is risen. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus
who was crucified. But you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus who was
crucified. But you are looking in the wrong
place. He is not here. He is risen. Look at the
place where they laid him. The grave
clothes are there, but Jesus is not. Do
not be afraid. There's nothing to fear
anymore. He was crucified for your sins. You are forgiven and life everlasting with God
Tell his disciples and Peter. Be sure to tell Peter. Peter, who denied his Lord,
needs to know that he is risen according to his own
word. He especially who had fallen into
the depths of sin having denied his Lord must be comforted. Peter
needs the assurance of the resurrection gospel, that all his sins are forgiven
through the blood of the Lord he denied. Peter must
know that he has nothing to fear because Jesus is not
here, but is risen to life everlasting.
It is to that comforting word of the risen
that we shall listen today. It is the word of Christ the
angel speaks to Peter and to all of his own who
sorrow over their sins.
This is a word of reminder as is evident
the last part of the text,”
...as He said unto you.” This
takes us back to the night of Jesus' betrayal (Mark
14). At that time Jesus
told the disciples of his impending death and suffering at the hands of sinful
men. The Savior
warned them, “all ye shall be
offended because of me this night, for it is written, I
will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock
shall be scattered.”
Moreover, the Lord singled out Peter for special
attention, "Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to sift
you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee that thy faith
fail not." Very seriously the Lord
meant to warn Peter of a severe temptation he is about to encounter. Satan is going to attack you, Peter, but I have
prayed for you. All of you, Jesus said, are going to be offended, but after I
am risen again I will go before you into Galilee.
But Peter didn't heed the warning! Instead
began to boast, "Though all men shall be offended
because of thee, yet will I never be offended." Then
said, "Peter before the cock crows, you will
deny me three times." Still refusing the warning Peter
says, "Though I should die with thee, yet will I not
Thus Peter had distinguished himself from
rest of the disciples. It's true they all had the same
attitude, but Peter separates himself above the
others. Even though
the whole world is offended and
only am left, I will not be offended, Peter had
boasted. He flatly
contradicted the word of the Savior,
"I will never deny thee.”
And, he seals it all with these
written words: "I am ready to go with thee into prison
and into death."
You don't have to suffer and die for
me. You don't have
to pray for me. I will never deny
Oh how deeply Peter fell from this boasting! Jesus
was betrayed and brought before the
High Priest; Peter followed
afar off, entered the
and was warming himself near the fire
when a young lady asked, "Aren't you one of his
disciples? Peter denied
Jesus. Twice more he
denied his Lord; the third time cursing and swearing,
he said, "I know not the man."
In the hour of his Master's humiliating
Peter denies him. A shameful, cowardly denial it was,
not before the overpowering forces of the enemy, nor
did it come after a hard and bitter struggle to remain
faithful. At the first
question of a young girl, Peter
denied his Lord.
Peter had distinguished himself again! First
by his proud boasting and refusal to take seriously the
warning. Now by shamefully denying his
Savior and swearing that he
had and wanted no part
Now comes the message of the risen Lord
through the angel and the women, "Tell my disciples,
How that must have cut Peter to the heart reminding
him of that awful night of denial. No,
Peter had not forgotten. Jesus saw to
that. Even while Peter denies, Jesus
continued to pray that his faith fail not. That prayer of Christ worked to save the miserable
disciple from the destruction into which he would cast himself. And so Peter
had gone out and wept the bitter tears of repentance. We can readily understand that the following
two days had brought him no peace.
Jesus was crucified, dead, and
buried. And all Peter has left is his
terrible denial. He must have been
plagued, at the point of despair. His
sin was continually before him.
Tell my disciples...and Peter. Now the Lord
distinguishes him. And Peter, he needs to know too,
he denied me.
That's the first message of the
resurrection gospel. Before
anything else the gospel always
reminds us of our sins. And just as with Peter, the
gospel comes to us personally. It doesn't come to us
to tell us all about how others sin and deny the Lord.
It says to you and it says to
me, YOU are the sinner.
can be no resurrection joy apart from sorrow
over our sins. The
gospel reminds us first of our sins; our denials, our backslidings and
shortcomings. It does so to drive us to
our knees in godly sorrow and repentance. This is what is says to us this morning.
And, if you do not know the
sorrow of sin and repentance, you will never know the joy of the resurrection
But the gospel doesn't stop at this point.
never leaves us in the hopelessness of despair. The gospel reminds the disciple of his
miserable unfaithfulness. But it also
carries the message of the infinite love of God which is in Christ Jesus the
THE LOVE OF GOD! That's the resurrection
gospel. And that love
is always first. First not only in time,
that too, God loved us before the foundations of the world. But his love is first as to its nature and
always first in relation to our love for God. The root and the power of our love for God is
his own love. He doesn't love us because
we love him. He doesn't love us because
he foresaw that we would love him. Freely, sovereignly,
for his own name's sake God loved us.
This certainly means--and how Peter can
testify to this--that our love is never more than a
faint reflection of his own sovereign love in us.
Indeed! Herein is love, NOT that we loved God, but
that he loved us.
How wonderful that love of God is! It is the
love that sent Jesus to be the covering for our sins.
It's the love that seeks until
it finds us, the love that works by irresistible grace until it makes us
beloved children. God's love never
Thank God for that! We need not look down
on Peter as he denies his Lord. We do it too, a
thousand times over, in far easier circumstances. Do we fearlessly confess Jesus' name or are we
silent? Is it not a denial of the Lord
when we neglect his word preached in the church? When our lives are consumed with a striving
for the perishing pleasures and treasures of this world; are we not denying
Jesus? In these and countless more ways
we're saying in effect, "I don't know Jesus of Nazareth."
would we be if our love had to be first
before Jesus could love us? We'd be in the depths of
despair! There would be
no Easter joy. Thank God
for the gospel of his love. It's what Peter needed. It's
what we need as well!
What a wonderful message the women must
bring! Tell my
disciples and Peter. Tell my disciples to
be sure! But
also be sure to tell Peter of the
resurrection. Had the
message simply been to the
disciples, Peter may well have concluded that it
wasn't for him. Now
there's no doubt. "And Peter."
denied me; Peter has no worth or merit. But
Jesus remembered, and Jesus
does not fail. Arising
from the dead, the Lord instructs the angel, tell my
disciples and be sure to give Peter my love. He
What a marvelous word of comfort. And, how we need it. There are times in our lives when our sins
appear so great, our transgression so deliberate, our
failures so numerous; times when we wouldn't dare
include ourselves in the company of the redeemed. In those terrible moments we ask, how can the
Lord love a wretch like me?
The comfort of the resurrection gospel is
not meant just for Peter. It's for every
one of us burdened under the guilt of our sin. It's for every sorrowing soul this morning. Jesus says, tell them!
What comfort there is for Peter! Notice, Jesus doesn't call him Simon, but
Peter. Though by nature you deny me, by
grace you are Peter, the rock!
And the message is, the Lord is risen. Tell
them and tell Peter I am alive forever. Sin and death
are swallowed up in the victory of the resurrection.
Tell them, and Peter, and all
of God's sorrowing children today. There's no more sin, no more sorrow,
no more death. There's only life! I am risen and I am the resurrection and the life. He that
believes in me though he were dead, yet shall he live.
And he that lives and believes in me
shall never die!