The Empty Tomb and the Second Chance
In Mark’s account of the Resurrection, we see the gospel expressed in just two words. He says in Mark 16:7, “But go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” The two words are “And Peter.” In the midst of this angelic message we do not find words of antagonism such as, “Go and tell the disciples and Pontius Pilate or Herod or Cephas.” We do not find words of appreciation such as, “Go and tell the disciples and John.” Instead we find words of affection, “Go and tell the disciples and Peter.” Our Lord knew of Peter’s failure and of his brokenness. He knew Peter needed encouragement, a new beginning, a second chance. On this Easter many of us stand where Peter stood, in need of a second chance, in need of the gospel.
These two little words – “and Peter” – reveal that the second chance is possible, it is personal, it is private and it is profitable.
I. The second chance is possible
How is the second chance possible? Because of the Resurrection. If there was no Resurrection, there would be no gospel, no good news, no second chance. The Bible is full of stories of men and women who have been give a second chance: Moses (a murderer); David (an adulterer); Jonah (who ran from God in disobedience). But remember, before his second chance that Peter was broken hearted and “wept bitterly” in repentance. The second chance is possible, but it is not automatic. Judas, the rich young ruler, Pontius Pilate did not get it. The second chance is for men and women like Peter who have repented, recognized their sin and wept bitterly over it.
II. The second chance is personal
The love of Christ singles us out by name. He “calls his own sheep by name” (John 10:3). Jesus used Simon Peter’s new name “Peter.” After all Peter had been given a new nature, even though he was living here by his old nature. It is one thing for us to believe in Jesus, it is another for us to know he believes in us. God still uses ordinary people, like Peter and like us, to change the world. Sin can wreck our lives, but it can’t keep God from loving us.
III. The second chance is private
In 1 Cor. 15:5 it tells us that when our Lord arose from the grave He “was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.” After the Resurrection one of the first things our Lord did was to meet privately with Peter. We do not know what took place, but here we see the tenderness of our Lord. Denied in public, he first restores Peter in private before doing so publically. Do we know anything of this private encounter with the Lord in our own lives?
IV. The second chance is profitable
This meeting transformed Peter’s life. He went on to Pentecost and after that to become the undisputed leader of the early church. We have a way of remembering one’s failures and often forgetting their strong points. Not so our Lord. He enables us to get up again, and to live profitably because of the second chance he extends to us. Look at the prodigal son, at Abraham, at Moses, at David, at Peter. Thank God he can use us, and make our lives profitable even when we have messed up in the past. He is the God of the second chance.