Easter Stories

Easter 2023  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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What’s your Easter story?

I didn’t really know the Easter story until my first semester of college.
Easter had always been about hidden eggs, Easter bunnies, and ham at my granny’s house.
But in my freshman year of college, came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior of my life and learned that Easter was the day we celebrate His resurrection, the greatest event in human history.
For those of us who have given our lives to Jesus, we all have and Easter story that is rooted in THE Easter story.
It is a story of broken, lost, hopeless, and, ultimately, dead people being raised to New Life.
It is the picture we present in baptism, as we are buried in the water, representing the death of our old selves. And then we burst from the water representing our new life in Christ.
Do you know your Easter story? Do you have and Easter story.

Peter’s Easter Story

The Apostle Peter is almost as well known as Jesus. He is one of the most mentioned followers of Jesus throughout the gospel accounts, is definitely the most vocal, and becomes one of the most prominent leaders of the Church.
He was also one of the first to see Jesus after His resurrection, and though that was definitely a powerful experience, I think Peter would point to another story as his Easter story.
John 21 happens sometime after Jesus’s resurrection. He had revealed Himself to different groups of people and this account would be the third time He came to His disciples.
John 21:1–3 CSB
1 After this, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 “I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter said to them. “We’re coming with you,” they told him. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
This account has a lot of really important context we have to remember in order to see what Jesus is doing.
See Peter had been a fisherman before He met Jesus.
Luke shares that story back in Luke 5 and it happened a lot like what we are reading here.
Peter and his brother Andrew had been fishing all night long and yet they had not caught anything.
Before we start to judge Peter’s skill as a fisherman, we got to give him the benefit of the doubt. There are only 2 accounts of his fishing skills, it just happens Jesus meets him on the bad nights.
Perhaps there’s something to His timing though.
Imagine if Peter and Andrew had met Jesus after a good night of fishing.
Would they have been as willing to listen to Him and follow Him if they had came back to the shore with full nets?
If Jesus could walk on water, calm storms, and heal blind people, He could probably keep fish from swimming into some nets, right?
Kind of gives us a new perspective on the struggles and challenges we often face in life huh?
John 21:4–7 CSB
4 When daybreak came, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not know it was Jesus. 5 “Friends,” Jesus called to them, “you don’t have any fish, do you?” “No,” they answered. 6 “Cast the net on the right side of the boat,” he told them, “and you’ll find some.” So they did, and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish. 7 The disciple, the one Jesus loved, said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tied his outer clothing around him (for he had taken it off) and plunged into the sea.
Jesus has a little fun with the disciples. He calls out to the “Friends, how’s the fishing going? You have any fish?”
They didn’t know it was Jesus, so I can imagine there response probably had a bite to it and maybe a few words under their breath.
Then Jesus tells them to throw their net on the right side of the boat, to which I always think “how could they not know it was Him yet.”
But they don’t, yet. They reluctantly obey and John seems to suggests the nets almost immediately fill up with so many fish they can’t even haul them into the boat.
It is then they realize the man on the shore is Jesus.
So John says Peter put on his clothes and jumped into the water.
When he gets there and the other disciples pull up in the boat with the fish, John points out that Jesus had a charcoal fire there to meet them with fish already on it and invites them to breakfast.
Here’s the next connection point. When was the last time Peter was around a charcoal fire?
As Jesus was being led into court by the Jewish authorities after Judas betrayed Him, Peter was outside the court room, John records:
John 18:15–18 CSB
15 Simon Peter was following Jesus, as was another disciple. That disciple was an acquaintance of the high priest; so he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard. 16 But Peter remained standing outside by the door. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the girl who was the doorkeeper and brought Peter in. 17 Then the servant girl who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” “I am not,” he said. 18 Now the servants and the officials had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold. They were standing there warming themselves, and Peter was standing with them, warming himself.
As Peter stood by that charcoal fire, he was asked three times if he was a follower of the man who was on trial, and in what is likely the lowest moment of Peter’s life, all three times he denies knowing Jesus.
Some time had passed from Peter’s denial and this breakfast on the beach.
I wonder if Peter made the connection? Was he thinking about that night? About Jesus’s eyes looking at him the third time he denies knowing Him?
The shame, the guilt, the remorse must have been weighing on him, but maybe Jesus had just forgot about it, or was just going to let it go.
That is the way many believe God deals with their sin.
He just forgets about it, ignores it, or just brushes it off as no big deal.
But Jesus didn’t come to ignore our sin. He didn’t die because sin is no big deal. And the scars on His hands, feet, and side show clearly that He has not forgotten about our sin.
Maybe Peter wanted to avoid the conversation, most of us would have wanted to as well, but Jesus has a purpose, a mission for this breakfast meeting.

Confrontation and Redemption

John 21:15–17 CSB
15 When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.” “Feed my lambs,” he told him. 16 A second time he asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.” “Shepherd my sheep,” he told him. 17 He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved that he asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” “Feed my sheep,” Jesus said.
The connection isn’t hard to find here is it?
3 denial—> 3 questions.
Do you love me Peter— Do you love me more than fishing? Do you love me more than money? Do you love me more than comfort and security? Do you love me?
Jesus didn’t have to make Peter feel guilty, he already felt the weight of his rejection.
Jesus didn’t come to make us feel guilty. He came to free us from the guilt and condemnation for our sin.
His questions to Peter are invitations.
He is inviting Peter to receive the forgiveness that He has secured for him on the cross.
Peter’s grief in verse 17 isn’t pointed at Jesus, it is him coming to terms with the depth of his sin and the amazing grace and love of his Savior.
In verse 19, Jesus repeats the words He said to Peter that first time He met him fishing in the Sea of Galilee… “Follow me”.
Peter is invited to receive his resurrection story.
Some of the first words Peter writes 30-some year after that breakfast on the beach were about the significance of the resurrection and it tells us something about what we should be looking for in our own Easter Stories:

Every Easter story has two incredible invitations:

1 Peter 1:3 CSB
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
What does Jesus being raised mean for you and for me?
Peter says in this verse it means two very incredible things:


Peter knew hopelessness.
The moments after the rooster crowed, after the third time he denied knowing Jesus, the third time he had turned his back on Jesus in the moment of his greatest need, Peter felt the weight of guilt and shame.
Then hours later, when Jesus breathed His last breath, the hope he had in the man he believed was the promised one, who would make things right in a world gone bad, was gone.
Peter knew hopelessness.
But he also knew what LIVING HOPE was too!
Peter was the first one in the empty tomb that first Easter morning, imagine the joy and the excitement when he found out Jesus was alive, and yet that night still hung over his head, the shame, the guilt...
The reason John 21 is Peter’s Easter story is that is the moment when the reality of the resurrected Christ began a personal, intimate reality to Peter.
Jesus death paid for HIS sin and Jesus’s resurrection gave HIM the opportunity for redemption and hope for eternity.
Have you experienced that living hope?
The resurrection is an invitation to living hope.
It is also an invitation to NEW LIFE.

2) To a NEW LIFE

Jesus asked Peter the same question 3 times and then gives Peter the basically the same command three times “Feed/shepherd my sheep.”
It might sound odd, but what Jesus is doing here redeeming Peter.
Hours before Jesus is arrested in the garden, Peter was ready to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth, to die alongside Him.
But around the fire outside the court yard, Peter seemingly ruined his chances at doing anything for the Lord.
But with each question and each subsequent command, Jesus was giving Peter’s life a new and redeemed purpose.
That is what He desires to do in each of us as well.
Salvation is not just a ticket to heaven to cash in when your body gives out on this earth.
Salvation is an invitation to a new life, with new hope, new joys, new motivations, new plans and purposes, new affections, and new attitudes.
It this your story? Is your Easter story a story of New Life?
Or do you even have an Easter story?
Jackie Hill Perry’s Easter Story:
God knew he wouldn’t get my attention in a church. Churches didn’t care too well for people like me. Me, being a gay girl. A gay girl who knew better than to let my feet take me where I didn’t feel welcomed. So God came to my house. I was having a very “unspiritual” kind of night. The TV was on. The morning was hours away. My thoughts were boring and typical until they turned on me. As suddenly and randomly as Paul was struck blind on the Damascus Road, I had the unsettling thought that my sin would be “the death of me.”
I sat up in my bed and thought deeply about all that was happening in me. I’d known about God for so long, but now it seemed as if God was inviting me to know him. To love him. To walk with him. To be in relationship with him. That moment—that epiphany that my sin, left untreated, would be “the death of me”—wasn’t a matter of trying to be straight or even trying to escape hell. No, it was about God positioning himself before my eyes, so that I could finally see that he is everything he says he is—and worthy to be trusted.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (4:6). In October 2008, God let his light shine into the dark corners of my life. And when he did, I saw my sin with full clarity.
Without a sermon, an altar call, or any emotionally laden music gesturing me to “come to Jesus”—just sitting in my bed, with the TV on and the sun not yet up—I saw Jesus. He was better than everything I’d ever known and more worthy of having everything that I thought was mine to own, including my affections. They were for him to have and to be glorified with.
Do you have an Easter Story? Today can be the day you find yours.
Martin Luther’s testimony
I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, “the justice of God,” because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in con­science, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.
Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that “the just shall live by his faith.” Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereup­on I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scrip­ture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the “justice of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven.
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