Are you feeling incredible guilt and sorrow? Are you waking up this morning asking the question, “Oh my God, what have I done?” How have you turned your back and disobeyed the one who loves you so much? Have you fallen farther than you imagined possible? In the moment of trial, have you betrayed him like Judas? Despite all the blessings Christ has given to you, have you responded like Peter and the Eleven on the night of his arrest? Worse yet, are you and ordained elder or deacon charged with leading other men and women? Are you now freshly awakened to the fact that you are still a halfhearted Christian who has lost his consuming passion for Christ?
Please take heart from the following words:
So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. (John 20:3-4)
These two disciples were in Jesus’ inner circle. They had been called and befriended like few others. One was “The Rock” and the other was “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved.”
These two disciples knew Jesus’ Law better than most. They understood the full ramifications of each sacred command, and they also understood Jesus’ holy anger towards sin.
These two disciples had experienced a horrible weekend. They had fallen deep into sin. They had argued over supremacy in the kingdom. They had fallen asleep and neglected their needy friend. And when push came to shove and they were given the opportunity to proclaim their allegiance for Christ, along with the other disciples, they denied him and fled.
For several days they endured a grief-stricken state. Basically, they had spit in the face of their Savior. They had responded to his love with apathy and self-worship. And they had been a horrible example to both unbelievers and those in the household of faith.
However, it was Sunday morning and there was good news. Jesus’ tomb was empty. Jesus was alive, and knowing the affection, compassion, sympathy, mercy, grace, and forgiveness of their Lord, Savior, and Best Friend, they ran to Jesus as fast as their feet could carry them.
My grief-stricken friends, what will you do after your horrible weekend? What will you do on this Sunday morning?
Fraudulent disciples like Judas take matters into their own hands, but faithless disciples like Peter and John run to their Savior for renewed fellowship.
Pastors, elders, and deacons – we who have been called to leadership but have lost our consuming passion for Christ – what will we do today? We need not retire. Instead, we need to repent. Jesus waits with open arms, tear-filled eyes, and words of forgiveness, and words of encouragement for us to get up and continue on in ministry. Perfect elders cannot be used of God, for none exist. Penitent elders are often greatly used of God. Let us run to Jesus as fast as we can. He can’t wait to have a conversation with us.
Non-pastors, non-elders, and non-deacons – pray for us. We are not spiritual supermen. We have the same experiential ups and downs you do. We are not exaggerating when we sing the words of that famous hymn, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.” Therefore, pray for us and with us.
Then, after watching us repent, come join the penitent party. It starts with the Law but ends with the Gospel. It starts with confession but ends with communion. It starts with tears but it ends with laughter. All of you, everyone, come to Jesus. Why would you let the darkness overtake you? Jesus is the Savior of infinite compassion. His love has no end. His mercy has no expiration date. He keeps no record of our wrongs. He is alive. He is risen. He is the one who has paid for all the sins of those who repent. He is waiting for you. He can’t wait to have a conversation with you.
And though he is everywhere present, he and his elders and his people wait for you at church. It is Sunday! Run, run as fast as you can to your Savior and his gracious family. And if your church is not so gracious and quick to reconcile as was Jesus, well then find another one where Jesus is especially present.