He is Risen.
The greatest event in all of human history. The pinnacle of how this world tells time.
He is Risen.
No doctrine is more central to the gospel.
He is Risen.
Yes. He is. But now what?
The resurrection of Christ is only half the story, so where do we go from here?
In Romans we learn, “Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: (6:4-5)
The other half of the story is that we must rise too.
While I would love to simply fall into His arms and spend the rest of my life safely there, Jesus calls us to something greater. Our mission as members of the Church of Jesus Christ calls us to come unto Christ and help all of God’s children come too.
God’s plan didn’t end at the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection set the stage for the rest of His plan – and the rest of our lives along with it.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is where we start. It’s where we find our power to play our part in His plan. It’s where we embark on a lifelong journey to follow in the footsteps of our Savior and to gather others to join us.
It’s not an easy journey. We are going to come up short more often than we’d like. We’re going to miss the target and find ourselves in need of the cleansing of Christ’s atonement again and again and again.
But despite all the difficulties standing between us and exaltation, this is a journey of hope.
But not hope in the way the world teaches. A kind of hope that often hints at uncertainty. But hope in the language of the gospel. Hope that is sure, unwavering, and active. It is the living hope that Peter teaches us.
In 1 Peter, Peter says to us, “his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us. (1:3-4)
Because of the resurrection, we have a living hope. We have an eternal inheritance that can not be taken away from us. We can rejoice because God is guarding and protecting us and our incorruptible inheritance.
An inheritance that is unbreakable and full of promise.
As Peter describes that incorruptible inheritance he shares with us six promises, six truths of the resurrection.
Because of the Resurrection…
- We can be born again (1:3)
- We are protected by God (1:5)
- We can survive suffering (1:6-7)
- We love and believe (1:8)
- We rejoice with joy (1:8)
- We obtain salvation (1:9)
But isn’t Peter an interesting choice to be sharing this promise? Peter who was portrayed in the gospels as the most prominent apostle. Peter who exclaimed his loyalty, his determination, his resolution to stand by Christ. But then Peter who became the man that denied Christ not once, not twice, but three times. Peter who should have been Christ’s most determined advocate, and yet he betrayed him. Peter who was overtaken by fear, weakness, and pressure and then crumbled.
Of course, it should be Peter, because no one knew the power of this incorruptibility better than Peter. Peter knew personally and intimately the resurrection’s power to redeem a life.
President Gordon B. Hinckley shared an important connection that links us with Peter, “So many of us are so much like him. We pledge our loyalty; we affirm our determination to be of good courage; we declare, sometimes even publicly, that come what may we will do the right thing, that we will stand for the right cause, that we will be true to ourselves and to others. Then the pressures begin to build. There is a weakening of the will. There is a softening of discipline. There is capitulation (a surrender). And then there is remorse, self-accusation, and bitter tears of regret. And Peter Went Out and Wept Bitterly – President Gordon B. Hickley April 1979
Wracked with guilt, with remorse, with shame, weeping bitterly Peter had committed one of the ultimate sins, and yet Christ did not forsake him. He may have denied Christ, but Christ did not deny him. He may have not advocated for Christ in that moment, but Christ never stopped advocating for him. The inheritance was his, and because of Christ it became incorruptible.
Because from the very beginning Christ knew that people like Peter, people like us, are the entire reason He was here.
Peter’s life is a reminder of the power of embracing living hope that makes way for our incorruptible inheritance. And even more than just giving Peter a chance to have the power of the atonement in his life, Christ took Peter out of his sin and used Peter as a tool to further the plan. The same man who denied Christ three times later went on to cry repentance to the multitudes and to bring souls to Christ.
So what changed him?
From the teachings of Harold B. Lee we learn, “Peter had been a personal witness. The plain and simple answer is that Peter was a changed man because he knew the power of the risen Lord.”
One of the sweetest moments of Peter’s story is that when we look at Paul’s lists of witnesses, Peter was first of the apostles to see the risen Christ. The gospels are completely silent as to the details of this meeting. I am sure this private appearance was to reassure Peter. To comfort him. To remind him he could be forgiven. But can you even imagine the personal, loving moments and words that would have occurred between Peter and Christ? I am sure that this moment changed Peter and was the foundation upon which the entire rest of his ministry was built.
Those moments between a fallen man and his Savior remind us that we in our sin and shortcomings and weakness can be redeemed too. They remind us that Christ can meet us where we are. They remind us that we are never too far gone for Christ to use us to fulfill His fathers plan.
Just weeks after that moment, Peter stood up to the crowd, who had earlier yelled “Crucify Him”, and this man who once crumbled held nothing back and boldly declared, “This Jesus, whom you crucified, is both Lord and Messiah. God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. (Acts 2:36)
You would expect them to revolt back and demand Peter’s crucifixion just like they did Christ’s. But instead, we see the miraculous; the biggest change of heart known to man. Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and this violent horde turned into a repentant following of 3000 Christians.
Peter showed us what lively hope in the power of the resurrection can do.
Today in remembrance and celebration of the world’s greatest victory, I encourage you to step into that living hope Peter so intimately knew. Take hold of the incorruptible inheritance that is and always has been yours. Accept the sacrifice that has been made for you.
Claim your redemption story.
We will meet Him face-to-face. But until that day we can partake of moments of continuous redemption in our everyday lives.
Christ will not deny us. Christ will never stop advocating for us.
When we are lost and broken, Christ will come to us. When we are weak, Christ will make us strong. When we fail Him over and over, He will never stop pursuing us. We are not beneath His love and we are not beyond His reach.
He is Risen. That fundamental truth can never be overstated or overshared. But remember the story didn’t end on the third day. The story was just beginning. He is Risen, so that one day we will too.
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