Easter Sunday
March 31, 2024

Easter Sunday


Join us as we celebrate Easter.


This Easter sermon by Jonathan focuses on the message of hope and new beginnings found in the story of Jesus' resurrection.

Key Points:

  • Peter's Denial and Despair: Jonathan uses the story of Peter denying Jesus three times to illustrate how we can all fail and feel like failures. (John 18:25-27)
  • The Power of Resurrection: The sermon emphasizes that Jesus' resurrection offers forgiveness and a chance to start anew, regardless of past mistakes. (John 20:1-18)
  • The Call to Follow Jesus: Following Jesus is a call to a new life, leaving behind the baggage of the past. (John 21:1-17)
  • Finding Peace and Overcoming Doubt: The sermon highlights that Jesus offers peace in times of fear and doubt. (John 20:19-23)
  • Baptism as a Symbol of New Life: Baptism is presented as a public declaration of following Jesus and leaving behind the old way of life. (Romans 6:4)

Jonathan's Easter sermon uses the story of Peter's denial and Jesus' resurrection to deliver a powerful message of hope and new beginnings. Here's a closer look at the key points:

  • From Denial to Despair: We start with Peter, a close follower of Jesus, who denies him three times on the night of his arrest. This relatable story shows that even the most devoted can make mistakes. Pastor Jonathan acknowledges that we all experience moments of failure, leading to feelings of despair and questioning our worth.

  • Resurrection: A Beacon of Hope: The sermon doesn't dwell on Peter's despair. It shifts to the transformative power of Easter. Jesus' resurrection isn't just a historical event; it's a symbol of God's victory over death and sin. This offers immense hope - no matter how badly we've messed up, forgiveness and a fresh start are possible through Jesus. (John 20:1-18)

  • A Call to a New Life: Following Jesus isn't about maintaining the status quo. Pastor Jonathan highlights Jesus' encounter with Peter by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-17). Peter, burdened by his past actions, returns to fishing, his old life. Jesus, however, calls him again, and the miraculous catch of fish reminds Peter of his calling. This act signifies that our past failures don't define us. When we follow Jesus, we embrace a new purpose and direction.

  • Facing Fear and Doubt: The sermon acknowledges that following a new path can be daunting. Fear and doubt are natural responses. Jonathan reminds us that Jesus' appearances to his disciples after the resurrection brought them peace (John 20:19-23). Jesus can calm our anxieties and guide us through uncertainty.

  • Baptism: A Public Declaration: Jonathan concludes by drawing a connection between the message of Easter and baptism. Choosing baptism is a public declaration of our decision to follow Jesus and leave behind our old life. It signifies a new beginning, washed clean by God's grace. (Romans 6:4)

Overall, Jonathan's sermon uses the Easter story to deliver a message of hope and encouragement. It reminds us that regardless of our past mistakes, through Jesus, we can find forgiveness, purpose, and a new way of living.

Bible References:

  • John 18:25-27 - Peter Denying Jesus
  • John 20:1-18 - The Empty Tomb and Jesus' Appearances
  • John 21:1-17 - Jesus Reinstates Peter
  • John 20:19-23 - Jesus Appears to the Disciples
  • Romans 6:4 - Buried with Christ in Baptism


Easter is an exciting time for us as Christians. We're the other side of
the story. We even know the truth that Jesus didn't just die on a cross and that was the
end, but he rose again to life. And we've seen the power of that and the life of that
in this place. Matt, look around you. If you've never been to the church before, this is alive.
And it's alive with faith. It's alive with an experience that people have met Jesus.
And he makes the difference in everyone's life. Amen. But for Peter, all those years
back, Easter was really the low point of his life. Things could not have gone any worse
for him. It all started on the last meal that Jesus and his friends had together, where
Jesus was explaining to them that actually he was going to die and that they would all
run away and leave him alone. Peter was absolutely emphatic in Adam and look, even if the rest
of them, because they're a bit lightweight, even if the rest of them all leave, can't
keep up. I'll go with you to prison. I'll go with you to death. I will never deny you.
And he had his bubble burst immediately by Jesus who said to him, look, mate, I think
Jesus would have called him, mate. We call it friend because we're religious, but makes
good, isn't it? Look, mate, before this evening finishes, before a rooster crows, you're going
to deny me three times on how Peter felt. I wonder if he felt steel to say, I'm going
to show you Jesus. That's not going to happen. You wait for it. Whatever we know is Jesus
took a sword. Peter took a sword rather with him as they went off to the Garden of Gethsemane
because he was going to fight. He was ready for a fight. If anything was going to happen,
he was there. Something did happen, of course. A group of people with guards came to arrest
Jesus. And Peter drew his sword and didn't go for one of the guards. Think of one of
the soldiers. Big man Peter went for a servant, didn't he? And he attacked him. In anger,
frustration, he lashed out with a sword. Now, Peter was a fisherman. He wasn't a soldier.
He didn't know how to handle a sword. Whether that was good or bad, we don't know. All
we know is that this guy had his ear chopped off. That means to me that Peter was going
for his neck. He was that cross. He wanted to kill somebody for the sake of Jesus. Wow.
Well, what happened next was that Jesus took control. He said, look, guys, you're after me.
This is the person you've come for. He healed the person's ear. And Peter, in response and
Thanksgiving with the rest of them, all ran off. They ran off into the night and left Jesus.
The first thing Peter must have been thinking was, what have I done? But there's a curiosity
in Peter that's always there. And this curiosity led him to go to the high priest's house. Big
mansion with a big courtyard. See what was actually going to happen to Jesus after he'd
been arrested. And he's there around a fire with some of the other people. And suddenly
he's recognized. Hey, you're a Northern, aren't you? They said it with a Southern accent.
He was a guy. You're a Northern. It's too, aren't you? You've been with him. I've seen
you with him. And suddenly Jesus, Peter's, you know, on the back foot, he's not prepared
to stand up for his convictions or his faith or what he believed. He said, I know, no, no,
no, you've got to be mistaken, mate. Not me, another mate. You know, he's a Northern.
You've got to be mistaken that I don't know him at all. In fact, these questions of Peter got
more and more, three times he was asked. Surely you were with him. I've seen you with him.
Peter goes, look, on my very life, I swear to you, I don't know him. I'm swearing to him. He
starts cursing and swearing. Suddenly Jesus appears walking across the courtyard and he fixes his
eyes on him. And if the whole ground could have opened up for Peter at that moment,
his whole world is crashing that he would have loved to have been swallowed up. He'd have loved
to have been anywhere else but there when Jesus looked at him as he's denying him. And all Peter
can do is rush out of that courtyard and uncontrollably break down in tears. He's sobbing his eyes at
because he knows he's messed up big time. He knows he's failed. He knows actually that he's
done the very thing that Jesus said he would do and the very thing that he said he wouldn't do.
And it seemed like it was game over for Peter as we know Jesus is condemned to death and dies a
criminal's death on a cross. And that seemed to be that. Each the morning would have started just
like any other day in Jerusalem. Sun would have rose, people would have got up,
they'd be making their breakfast, getting ready to go to work. But it wouldn't be known to all but
a very few people on that day, a history-making life-changing event had taken place. Someone
that still takes some believing today. But even for those who were there who knew Jesus best,
they struggled with it at the time. Jesus didn't just have men following him, he had women too.
And in fact in many ways the women were there when the men had run away. They were there at the
cross. They'd seen where he was put in a tomb, a borrowed tomb. And they wanted to do what was
right for a body. In those days it put spices and ointments on the body to preserve it. It was a
way of honouring and respecting the dead. They went to respect the corpse of Jesus early in the
morning. They'd had to have a day off because in Jewish religion Sabbath you didn't do anything
like this. So they had a day off the Saturday, the Sunday morning they went there. And so
they're shocked and surprised. They wondered if somebody had nicked the body. The body had been
moved because this massive stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. And they wondered
what had happened. Well we'd all be amazed, wouldn't we really? And then they met these guys,
actually angels, with this great message. It's the message of Easter morning. Why are you looking
for the living among the dead? Jesus isn't here. He's alive. He's risen from the dead.
And they told them to look, look for yourself. Nobody's here. Go and have a look in, see the tomb?
Nothing to say, apart from some of this empty. And they were amazed by this story. And the angel
said, look, go back and tell the rest of the followers. Tell the guys what's happened. But
particularly they said, tell Peter. Peter the one who'd messed up big time. Peter the one who had
failed to stand up for Jesus. Peter the one who'd lost his nerve and his temper, who'd assaulted
somebody with a sword, who denied jeez with curses. The angel said, God wants Peter to know,
it's not game over for you. It's not the end of the story. So the women went to see the disciples
and told them what had happened. And if you read the Bible, sorry, they couldn't believe it.
They said it seemed like nonsense to them. That Jesus has risen from the dead. How can we believe
that? I mean, we've been following him. We've seen him raise other people from the dead. We've
seen miracles he's done. But somehow we can't possibly believe this could have happened.
But two of them went to the tomb just to check it out for themselves. One called John and the other
one, Peter. Peter's off again. And we read that when John saw the empty tomb, he believed the message
straight away. But we read that Peter went in, saw the cloth and he wondered still what this was
all about. He still wasn't sure what this might mean and what this might mean to him. By the evening,
these guys, the followers of Jesus, all gathered in this big room again, probably the same room
that had that last meal with him. And they were frightened, bewildered, confused. They'd heard
the story that the ladies had said. They'd seen the empty tomb. They'd heard the reports, but
they weren't quite sure. And they were still scared, stiff, for what might happen to them.
They thought the Jewish authorities would come and get them next and they would be the next ones for
the chop. So they'd lock the doors. And suddenly, Jesus on that first Easter evening came to them.
No lock can keep Jesus out of lives. He's more powerful than the locks we try to put on, you know?
And there he was among them. And into their fears, he spoke peace.
See, Jesus wants to speak peace in our fears too.
And he reminded them that they really had a calling that was beyond being tied in this
upper room or this room. They had a calling to take this message around the world.
And he breathed life into them, the living spirit of God.
There was a sense where Jesus brings peace into this place of confusion and bewilderment and fear.
The presence of God can do that for anyone in this room today.
It was a week later when they saw Jesus again, because some of them hadn't been there that
night. Thomas in particular hadn't been there. One of the disciples, one of the 12 people,
the special people that Jesus had picked. And he said, look, I can't believe this has happened.
What more do you need, Thomas? Do you think they're all lying to you? Do you think they've not,
you know, they would tell you, but he wanted to find out for himself. I won't believe it.
I've saved himself. So I've touched him for myself. And so I know it for myself.
And you know, we eat later. Jesus appears again.
And he meets Thomas in his doubts. Jesus will lead us in our doubts. We may not understand
everything about this Christian faith. We may not understand everything about resurrection
and about the life that Jesus brings and about the hope that he brings. But Jesus, the living
Jesus, this morning, can meet us in our fears and it can meet us in our doubts.
There was a third time that Jesus met these disciples. And this was the most pertinent for Peter.
By this time they'd left Jerusalem and they'd gone home. They'd gone back to Galilee in the north.
And Peter had gone back to his job fishing. Because for Peter, whilst he knew that Jesus was alive
and well, the thought of what that meant for him, he still wasn't sure. He felt disqualified.
He felt he failed. He felt his life was so messed up with the things he'd done wrong.
He'd been a follower of Jesus, but he messed up big time. He denied Jesus. He'd lost his rag.
He'd done so many things that were wrong. He thought there's no way that Jesus couldn't use
me again. And that day Jesus kind of reenacts what happened on the day that he originally called
Peter and the others to follow him as fishermen. Do you know what? Peter went back to his old life
and what did he catch? Nothing. Because there was nothing back there for him. I want to say
to you who become Christians in this room, there's nothing back there for us. Nothing.
That's dead to us. There's nothing there. It's not worth going back to.
And Jesus had been fishing all night caught. Nothing. And then Jesus says, well, put your nets
on the other side. As he had done those three years before, they did so. And this miraculous
catch of fish was brought in. And Peter immediately knew it was the Lord. It's the Lord he says.
And this is the third time Peter had met Jesus as a resurrection life. And he gets out the boat
and he swims to shore. And Jesus makes Peter and reminds him that his past did not determine his
future and said that whatever has happened in the past is gone. This is about you now.
I've called you to feed my sheep, to feed my lambs. And the word that Jesus uses,
one of the last words we have recorded that he says to Peter, the little discourse afterwards,
but one of the men think he says to Peter is, follow me. There's nothing worth going back to Peter.
I've called you to follow me.
Today, baptism is a public decoration that we're following Jesus. In baptism, we identify,
which is why it's so great to know Easter, that Jesus died for our sins. And he rose again to new
life. It's a declaration that the way we live before is finished. There's nothing to go back to.
It's over. That actually, whatever the pain we feel about that, how we're embarrassed or ashamed
we might feel about that, how we're guilty about what's happened in the past, there is a new life
for us to live in Jesus. Hallelujah. That we no longer need to struggle with guilt and shame and
a feeling of being unworthy to be his follower. If Jesus could recommission Peter to follow him,
don't you dare think that anything you've done in your life is too great for Jesus to forgive
and to deal with. He wants to set you free from the guilt of the past. It's a new day. You can
rise up into a new day, a new dawn. And just as with those first followers at Easter,
Jesus wants to breathe his life into our spirits. He wants us to know his peace instead of living
in fear. He wants us to learn to trust and know faith where we have struggled with doubts.
And he wants us to know there's nothing to go back to in this world. But our past failures do not
stop us from achieving all he has for us. Why? Because he is risen and he has power over sin
and death and hell. He is Lord. Hallelujah.

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