In the week before the very first “Easter,” the disciple known as Peter revealed the true  intentions of his heart to the man that he left everything for. In the Gospel of John, as Jesus is  just beginning a three-chapter sermon with his 12 disciples on what’s going to happen to Him  as the week goes on, and why (see John 14, 15 & 16), Peter finds the truth too hard to believe.  

It’s at the end of Chapter 13 of John when Jesus tells the disciples he will be leaving  soon (John 13:33), and more importantly, he says, “where I am going you cannot come.” It  must have been startling to those 12 men who had been following Jesus for 3 years or so to  then hear Him say that they cannot follow Him anymore. As a consolation, sort of, Jesus tells  them “but you will follow later.” (John 13:36) 

I’m not so sure if that appeased any of the disciples, but we can be sure that it didn’t  satisfy Peter. Peter ranted, somewhat like a 6-year-old might, telling Jesus in response, “Lord,  why can’t I follow you now?” And then, in the emotional state he found himself in at the time,  he blurted out how he really felt about Jesus. “I will lay down my life for you.”  

I’m absolutely sure that’s what Peter wanted to believe about himself. He, of all the  disciples, would be the one to openly announce that to Jesus’s face. But it wasn’t the truth;  and Jesus knew it wasn’t the truth. At least not yet. In that moment, it was wishful thinking, at  best. Peter wished he was the one disciple, at that time, who could prove his love and  dedication to Jesus was beyond question. I can see how Jesus, in that moment, loved him just  for that desire. 

But Jesus also questioned Peter. “Will you really lay down your life for me?” Can you  imagine, Jesus calling to you by name, and asking you to your face, “Will you really lay down  your life for me?” My hunch is we would say exactly what Peter said. Of course, Lord Jesus, I  am ready and willing to die for you right now!” But, would we mean it?  

If so, let’s be clear about this life you say you would be willing to give away for Jesus.  The truth is, Jesus is not asking you for just your physical life. He is asking for much more than  that; your eternal life. The whole enchilada! Not just your earthly existence while spending  time on earth, but the whole kit and caboodle. What Jesus is really asking for is that your spirit  and soul belong to Him, by allowing him to take residence in your heart.  

Now, if you do that, you may find yourself one day in a position of having to give your  physical life for Jesus, but that is not His point. The eternal spirited self that God placed within  you at creation is the very “life” that Jesus wants.  

When you hear things like: Jesus gave His life for you and you should do the same for  him; Jesus says we must die to our self first, and then be born anew; and, Jesus teaches that a  true friend is one willing to lay down his life for another, it’s imperative to understand what  “life” means for Jesus. Life, for Him, is not limited to human life on earth, but is infinite and  eternal in His Father’s presence.  

Well, I think you already know Jesus’s response as to whether Peter is serious about  giving his life for him. He prophesizes to Peter, saying “Very truly I tell you, before the rooster  crows, you will disown me three times.” (John 13:38) Hint: whenever Jesus says, “Very truly,”  it’s always the truth. Bigger Hint: whenever Jesus speaks, it’s always the truth!  

Soon after, Peter fulfills the prophecy and denies Jesus three times before morning  comes. He says things like: I don’t know who he is; and I’ve never been with him; and I am NOT  one of his disciples. 

Wow! That seemed pretty easy, didn’t it? From full “willing to die for you” commitment,  to complete and total denial in a matter of hours. I bet we can imagine just how easy that  would be!  

BUT … that was Peter before Easter. That was during a time when the disciples,  including Peter, were still coming to an understanding of who Jesus really was. A rabbi? A  king? A “messiah? Actually, yes … all those things. But one thing much more important. Jesus  was God with us … Emmanuel. Peter and the disciples had not yet grasped the full  understanding of what that truth meant.  

And … neither have we. To do that, takes a lifetime, and beyond. But we can begin anytime. Especially, this Sunday … the 2,021st Easter. You see, Easter is about encountering the  true Spirit of the living God, a gift that came to us directly from Jesus the Son. All of it … God.  

On Easter morning, Peter runs to the tomb of Jesus and finds it empty. I’m sure he  realized in that moment, that a rabbi, or a king, or a “messiah” cannot rise from the dead and  walk out of a tomb. But God can. Oh My God! Jesus is God!  

After that encounter with the empty tomb, and then the direct encounters with the  risen Christ, Peter had finally fulfilled his wish. Indeed, Peter would give the rest of his life to  Jesus, serving Him for the rest of his earthly life.  

Never again would Peter deny Jesus. He never again said “I don’t know Jesus.” He never  again claimed he had never been with Jesus. And he never again denied that he was one of the  disciples of Jesus. His life was changed forever, and he accomplished his goal of giving his life  away for Jesus by living it for Jesus!  

Could this be the Easter that you make the same leap that Peter made at the first  Easter? We all have good intentions. But Easter is about a lot more than good intentions, as  Peter found out.  

So, what about you? The life that Jesus wants from you is the very same life that God  gave to you. Jesus was there when you were created, and He will be there when you leave  here. But it’s your life on earth that matters most to God today, because that’s the life when  you get to choose. So, I ask you: Do you know who Jesus really is? Do you want or claim to be  His disciple? Do you never want to be without Him? If so … tell Him on Sunday. Then your  Easter could be just as life-changing as Peter’s first Easter was for him. It’s for you to choose. 

Happy Easter to All!  

<>< Pastor Bob