Faithlife Sermons

Love that Forgives Our Sin

This is Love  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  29:04
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NOTE:
This is a manuscript, and not a transcript of this message. The actual presentation of the message differed from the manuscript through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is possible, and even likely that there is material in this manuscript that was not included in the live presentation and that there was additional material in the live presentation that is not included in this manuscript.
Engagement
A couple weeks ago my mom and sister moved into a new house. So Sally asked me if I could come over and put up some ceiling fans. When I arrived at her house I found five boxes sitting on the floor in the middle of her living room. Now I’m one of those people who is pretty independent and I like to do things on my own. In fact, if I can, I like to avoid even reading the directions when I embark on a project like that.
But since it had been a while since the last time I put up ceiling fans and these were a brand that I wasn’t familiar with, I did read the instructions - at least for the first fan. And I was sailing along pretty quickly until it came to one particular screw that had to be inserted into a very small space and then tightened. I think it probably took me 15 or 20 minutes just to get that one screw in. Once I finally accomplished that, the rest of the installation went pretty quickly, but even with a bit of help from my granddaughter, Haley, it still took me about an hour to install the first fan.
The second one went quite a bit quicker because I was now familiar with the assembly process, but that one screw still held me up for quite a while. By the time I got to the third fan, my brother and niece offered to help and while I was reluctant to do so at first, I accepted their offer. It turned out that they were much better at getting that one screw in place and because they did a lot of the assembly, I was able to install those last three fans in less time than it took to install the first one on my own.
Tension
I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who is reluctant to ask for help. Many, if not most of us, like to try and do things on our own and only ask for help when we make a mess we can’t clean up or there is something we can’t figure out on our own. We just don’t like to admit that we’re not self sufficient.
And that is often true when it comes to our spiritual lives and our relationship with God, too. We’re reluctant to admit to God that there are things that we can’t handle on our own and we take a tendency to turn to Him only after we’ve made a mess that we can’t clean up on our own.
This morning, as we celebrate what is undoubtedly the most important event in the history of mankind, the resurrection of Jesus, we’re going to begin a new three week sermon series titled “This is Love”. In this series we’re going to discover how the love of God, which is demonstrated by the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus, helps us to deal with some aspects of our life that we inevitably find we can’t handle on our own and where we need God’s help.
Truth
This morning we’re going to look at the story of a man who fails Jesus time after time. In fact, his failures were so epic that from a human standpoint there just doesn’t seem to be any way for him to overcome them. But the resurrection changes everything for him. And this morning my prayer is that you will understand how it can also change everything for you, too. That is because the resurrection makes it possible for your sins to be forgiven - something that none of us can accomplish on our own, no matter how hard we might try.
By now you may have figured out I’m referring to Peter. Most of us know at least something about Peter. We probably remember him best for his impulsive mindset that caused him to do things like jump out of the boat and try to walk to Jesus on the water. But we also remember him as the leading voice of the early church who boldly proclaimed the gospel, which resulted in thousands of people becoming disciples of Jesus. Today, we’ll see how the resurrection of Jesus made that possible.
And as we do that, here is the truth that I pray we will discover together this morning:

Even when I fail Him repeatedly, Jesus goes to great lengths to forgive my sin

The one thing I hope you will know for sure by the time we finish this morning is that Jesus loves you so much that He was willing to do whatever it took so that your sins could be forgiven. Not only did that mean He willingly gave His life on the cross, but, as we’re going to see with Peter, it means that He will continue to pursue you even if you continue to fail Him.
Let’s begin our journey during the earthly ministry of Jesus. He told His disciples on many occasions that he was going to be put to death and to rise from the grave on the third day. On one of those occasions, Peter rebuked Jesus with these words:
Matthew 16:22 ESV
22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”
One reason that Peter and the other disciples didn’t want to believe this could happen is because they misunderstood the nature of the kingdom that Jesus was going to usher in. They were still expecting Him to overthrow the Roman government and establish an earthly kingdom that would be more favorable to them and their fellow Jews.
On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter promises Jesus that he is willing to follow Jesus and lay down his life, but just as Jesus predicted, he ends up denying that he even knows Jesus three times before the new day dawns. And just as he denies Jesus for the third time, Jesus looks right at him. And Peter, being struck to his core, went out and wept bitterly.
When Jesus is sentenced to die and is nailed to the cross, it’s not surprising that Peter and all the other disciples, with the exception of John, go into hiding because they are afraid that they are going to suffer the very same fate. And they have to be thinking that their dream of Jesus becoming an earthly king has come to an end. It’s hard to imagine just how devastated they must have been.
Early on the morning of the resurrection, Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb and finds that the stone has been rolled away and that Jesus’ body is no longer there. So she runs back to tell the disciples. Peter and John immediately head for the tomb. John, who is much younger, arrives there first and looks into the tomb, but doesn’t enter. When Peter arrives, in his usual impulsive manner, he goes right in and sees the burial clothes lying there, but Jesus is gone.
But it’s clear that Peter still doesn’t understand what is going on because later that evening, he and his fellow disciples are hiding behind locked doors. Let’s pick up the account there:
John 20:19–23 ESV
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
Before we go any further, the thing I want you to notice here is that Jesus comes to the disciples. He doesn’t wait for them to come to Him. This certainly reinforces what I said earlier...

Even when I fail Him repeatedly, Jesus goes to great lengths to forgive my sin

These disciples, and especially Peter, had failed Jesus on many occasions. But Jesus keeps pursuing them because He wants them to understand that they no longer had to live with the guilt and shame that came along with those repeated failures.
The disciples were scared enough already and when Jesus just appears in their midst, they have to be even more terrified, especially Peter. The last time he saw Jesus face to face, he had just denied Him for the third time. So I’m sure he was filled with shame and guilt.
The first thing Jesus does is to say, “Peace be with you”. That had to be such a relief to Peter, in particular. Maybe Jesus wasn’t as mad at him as he thought. Then Jesus shows the disciples his hands and side and repeats His greeting, “Peace be with you”.
In the other gospel accounts of this encounter, we read that Jesus then asks for a piece of broiled fish and eats it to prove that the disciples aren’t seeing a ghost, but that in fact Jesus is there in the flesh with them. Once He has eaten, Jesus explained to them how His death and resurrection were the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures. During that discussion, He says something that helps us to better understand what we saw in John’s account:
Luke 24:46–47 ESV
46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
In both Luke’s and John’s gospel accounts, we see that Jesus wanted His disciples to see that His death and resurrection were not about ushering in an earthly kingdom. Instead, Jesus tells the disciples that He loved them so much that He came to this earth for the purpose of dying on the cross and rising from the grave in order to establish a spiritual kingdom in which their sins could be forgiven. As a result, they didn’t have to live with the guilt and shame that was the natural result of failing Him repeatedly.
And now Jesus was tasking them with taking that message of forgiveness to the rest of the world, beginning right were they were there in Jerusalem.
But even after that, it seems that Peter still can’t get beyond his guilt and shame. A number of days later, Peter and some of the other disciples return to Galilee and go back to their previous vocation of fishing. Apparently even after his encounter with Jesus on the night of the resurrection and another one a week later, Peter was so discouraged that he decided to go back to his old way of life rather than do what Jesus had commanded and stay in Jerusalem and wait to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
By now, it seems like Jesus would have given up on Peter. But that’s not how He works. We see once again that...

Even when I fail Him repeatedly, Jesus goes to great lengths to forgive my sin

Jesus pursues Peter one more time, this time to the Sea of Galilee, to demonstrate the extent of His love for Peter and to let Peter know without a doubt that he has been forgiven.
Jesus basically reenacts the same scene that had occurred when He first called Peter to follow Him. Although these experienced fisherman had fished all night and caught nothing, Jesus calls to them from the shore the next morning and tells them to let down their nets one more time. Figuring they have nothing to lose, Peter and the others do what Jesus had told them to do and they catch so many fish that their nets begin to break. Peter immediately recognizes it is Jesus on the shore and heads there immediately. There, he and the others eat the breakfast Jesus had prepared for them.
And then Jesus has a conversation with Peter where He once again lets Peter know that He is forgiven and that as far as Jesus is concerned their relationship has been completely restored. And as a result, just a couple weeks later on the day of Pentecost, Peter is able to boldly preach the gospel of Jesus, something that he continues to do for the rest of his life.
And all that was made possible because of the resurrection. If Jesus hadn’t risen from the grave, then it wouldn’t have been possible for Him to keep pursuing Peter to assure him that his sins had been forgiven. And without that assurance, it’s hard to imagine that Peter’s life would have been used so powerfully to proclaim the gospel.
Application
But that good news wasn’t just for Peter and the other disciples. As we saw earlier, that message of the forgiveness of sins wasn’t just for a select few. It was a message that they were to take to the entire world.
And the good news for all of us this morning, is that what Jesus did for Peter, He wants to do for every one of us. Because of the resurrection we can know for sure that our sins have been forgiven, too.
We’ve been talking a lot about sin so far this morning, but maybe that’s a term that you’re not familiar with, which is not surprising given that we tend not to use that term a lot in our culture. In fact, we often go to great lengths to call it something else - a “mistake” or a “lapse in judgment”, or a “shortcoming” or a “weakness”.
The word that is most often translated “sin” in our English Bibles is an archery term that means “to miss the mark”. The idea is that God has established certain standards to guide the way that he wants us to live our lives - standards that have been written down for us in the Bible. And when we violate those standards, we “miss the mark” and sin.
And all of us, no matter how good we are, do that from time to time, some more than others, no doubt. That is why Paul wrote these words in his letter to the churches in Rome:
Romans 3:23 ESV
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
And since our human tendency is to try and handle things on our own, most of us try to deal with sin on our own. But while some of the things we do might provide some temporary relief, there is nothing we can do that will permanently take away the shame and guilt that comes with that sin. And most importantly, there is nothing we can do to overcome the penalty that results from our sin. Paul describes that penalty:
Romans 6:23 ESV
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Wages are what we earn as a result of what we do. When I go to my job and work for my employer I earn my paycheck. Spiritually, what I earn because of my sin is death - not only the physical death that we all will face some day, but also a permanent spiritual death in which I am separated from God for eternity.
But because of His love for us, Jesus made it possible for our sins to be forgiven. And just like He did for Peter, He pursued us even while we failed Him repeatedly.
Romans 5:8 ESV
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
While we were still sinners, while we were still His enemies, while we still continued to fail Him day after day, Jesus died on the cross so that we don’t have to pay the penalty for our sins. He came running for you and for me just like He came running for Peter.
And then He rose from the grave so that He could do for us what He did for the disciples in that locked room on the evening of His resurrection - to breathe new life into us so that we can experience His peace. So we no longer have to fear or to be weighed down by shame and guilt. Through His resurrection, Jesus has made it possible for us to be at true peace with Him and with others.
The resurrection changed everything for Peter and his fellow disciples. Because of the resurrection they could finally understand what the cross was all about. And the resurrection changes everything for us, too.
But while Jesus has done everything He needed to do to in order for our sins to be forgiven, we do still have to accept His help, just like I had to choose accept the help from my brother and niece with those ceiling fans.
Let’s go back for a moment to a verse we looked at earlier, but now I want to focus on the last half of that verse:
Romans 6:23 ESV
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Eternal life is a gift that is offered to all through the death and resurrection of Jesus. But in order for that gift to do me any good, I have to receive it into my life. Again, Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome reveals how we do that:
Romans 10:9 ESV
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
There are two requirements that I must meet in order to receive the gift of forgiveness that Jesus offers to us. I’m going to deal with these in reverse order:
First, I must believe in my heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. If we look at the entire context in which Paul writes these words, it is clear that the belief that he writes about here is more than just believing that the resurrection of Jesus actually happened, although that is important. It means that I acknowledge that I can’t do anything about my sin and that I’m trusting in the death and resurrection as the only way to be forgiven.
I must confess that Jesus is Lord. That simply means that I say to Jesus, “I surrender control of my life to you and quit trying to live life on my own terms”.
If you’ve never taken those two steps, in just a moment we’ll give you a chance to do that.
Inspiration

Even when I fail Him repeatedly, Jesus goes to great lengths to forgive my sin

There may be some of you joining us today who feel like your life is over or that you’ve hit a dead end. Maybe because of some mistake you’ve made or some destructive habit that you’re entangled in or because you’ve rejected God your entire life you feel like it’s “game over”.
If that’s the case, then I want to encourage you this morning and say “It’s not over”. And the resurrection proves that. It wasn’t over for Jesus when He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins because God raised Him from the grave. And it wasn’t over for Peter even though he had failed Jesus on so many occasions.
Perhaps others of you have rejected Jesus, because, like the disciples, He hasn’t met your expectations in some way. Maybe he didn’t heal a loved one, or prosper you financially or give you the job you really wanted. But the resurrection is the proof that Jesus loves you so much that He has given you the opportunity to have something far more valuable - to have your sins forgiven so that you can experience eternal life.
I know that many, if not most of us, have already experienced that life-changing forgiveness that is made possible by the resurrection. For us today is a day to remember, give thanks, and celebrate the new life we have been given in Jesus.
Action
Depending on which group you are in, your response to this message is going to be different, but I’m confident that every single one of us needs to take some action in order to respond to what we’ve learned today.
First, if you’ve already committed your life to Jesus, I’m going to pause right now to allow you to spend a few minutes in prayer right where you are to thank Him for the forgiveness He has provided for you. If you’re together with your family I encourage you to do that together as a family.
For those of you who have never committed your life to Jesus, I want to urge you to do that right now. You can do that right where you are by just praying to God. Don’t be worried that you have to use some specific words. God already knows your heart. Just tell Him that you are sorry for your sins and that you’re trusting in the death and resurrection of Jesus to provide forgiveness for those sins. And then just tell Him you’re willing to let Him take control of your life. As as you do that I’m going to ask those who have already made that decision to be praying for you.
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