“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!” (1Pe_1:3).
“Peter, can you tell us about Jesus?” a man asked eagerly. “You were one of His closest friends. What was that like?”
“It was full of wonder and mystery; it was challenging beyond belief; it was life-transforming and timeless,” Peter answered, choosing his words very deliberately.
“I saw the eyes of the blind opened when Jesus came upon the scene. I was there when the deaf heard for the first time. I watched as cripples leapt to their feet, dancing and rejoicing; and a man with a withered hand was healed in an instant.
“I was there when the Gadarene was liberated from the legion’s demonic grip, and stood amazed as Jesus sent him home to his friends to tell them the great things the Lord had done.
I saw Jesus touch the leper, and the leprosy disappeared. I was there at the tomb of Lazarus, weeping with Martha and Mary at their loss. Jesus Himself wept. But then, He raised Lazarus from the dead!
I was there when He turned water into wine, and again when He feed a multitude with two fish and five loaves of bread.
And I was there the night Judas betrayed Him. And then I denied Him.
That was the night my whole world came to an end. I never imagined they would actually put Him to death! How could they; why would they? He was good, and did no evil; He was kind, and loving. Yes, He was straightforward and could read men’s hearts. I know; He read mine on many occasions.
There were a few times I was really angry at Him; but, I was wrong. He was always right.
No one can ever know the depths to which my soul plummeted in darkness that day when I watched from a distance as He died on the cross. I heard Him cry with a loud voice, “It is finished!” And I cried in unquenchable sorrow, “It is over.” I was talking about my life; He was talking about something else.
I know this now, because of what happened on the third day.
Gripped with inconsolable sorrow and guilt, I had returned to Gethsemane where I had last been with Jesus. It was there He had often prayed; and I thought maybe His God would somehow hear my cry, too. I didn’t notice when someone came walking into the garden, and was rather startled when I heard my name called, “Peter. Simon Peter.”
I knew that Voice.
I turned immediately and saw my Lord standing before me — alive! He had risen from the dead that very morning! And on that day I rose from the dead, as well.
I wrote about this. Perhaps you’ve read it?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ!” I said. “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!” (1Pe_1:3). This was my own personal experience; it happened to me!
Peter then lifted his eyes up and began singing,
When Jesus comes, the Tempter’s power is broken;
When Jesus comes, the tears are wiped away,
He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory,
For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay.
we all began to feel the very presence of the Lord enfold us as if we were in a cloud of light.
“May I tell you what I know about His grace?” Peter asked.
“Oh, please do,” we all said enthusiastically. And then listened with rapt attention as the great Apostle spoke.
Fifteen Days in a Friendship of Grace
“Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.” (Gal_1:17-18)
“I remember well when I first learned this wonderful truth about God’s Grace,” Peter began. “And strange as it may seem, I didn’t learn it from Jesus. There were many things Jesus did not say to us. It was because, as He put it, we “were not able to bear it now.” (Joh_16:12-13). He was right.
When I think back over all the times I argued with Him about this or that, it amazes me that He ever told me anything at all! Don’t laugh; for the same is true for you. Right?
And here’s a question for you. Are you willing to let someone who comes along after you show you something that you don’t yet know?
We don’t know everything, and that’s why its best to always be teachable. And don’t be surprised who the “teacher” might be! I mean, if God would use a jackass to speak to stupid Balaam, whose to say what He might use to speak to you!
Laughter erupted in our group as everybody pointed at me. “I’m sure that’s not what he meant,” I said. We all had a good laugh then.
“Then, who was it that taught you about God’s grace?” we asked.
“The apostle Paul, of course!” Peter said. “He knew more about it than all the rest of us put together.”
“You can only imagine how astonished we all were when we first heard the reports of Paul’s conversion. Frankly, we didn’t believe it.
The man was monstrous and unmerciful; breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord. He made havoc of the church, entering into every house and hauling away men and women, putting them in prison. Indeed, some he even put to death.
“So, yes, we found his conversion to be a bit of a stretch. But clearly we underestimated the power of the Lord.
“Paul was indeed a new creation in Christ, old things had passed away and all things were becoming new. He came a stayed with me for about two weeks and we talked at great length about many things. And one thing towered above all others in Paul’s mind – it was the Grace of God.
“His understanding of grace was different than what we had been taught from our childhood. We had viewed grace as God’s favor, given in kindness to the undeserving. But this was not the message Paul brought to me.
“Grace is the power of Christ working in me and through me,” he said with such passion and conviction, one could hardly resist him. “I got this directly from the Lord Jesus Himself,” he would add; underscoring his resolve in making sure I understood it.
Paul was not only convincing; he was right.
“I myself had indeed experienced the grace of God on many occasions, but did not fully understand it at the time. I just knew that the power of the Lord was surging in me and through me in ways that left me amazed with what happened. Think about it – my shadow healed a man! I guess you could say I took the heat off of him. Yet, it wasn’t me; it was the grace of God in me.
Or how about the day John and I walked into the Temple and saw a man begging alms. “Alms?” I asked, “How about a pair of legs?” And it happened! He jumped up and started dancing and shouting; got us thrown out of the Temple and arrested by the Council. Nevertheless – about five thousand more turned to follow the Lord because of it.
“Fishers of men,” Jesus said. “Fishers of men.”
Yes, I had experienced the Lord’s power many times; but those fifteen days with Paul helped me to understand more fully that it was the grace of God in me – and through me. It was the power of Christ helping me do His will.
Paul and I became fast friends. Our visit together also showed me that, while Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles, and I to the Jews – we both were life-long friends on one mission: Proclaiming to all the Gospel of God’s Grace!