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Peter Remembers

The following script was prepared by one of the Paraklesis team for use at a local primary school by the ISCF group at Easter. We thought we would share it with you, perhaps you may be able to use it also .

Peter Remembers

Hullo ! My name is Peter, and I'm a fisherman by trade, although I haven't done much fishing these last few years.

I'm not really here to tell you about myself, but to introduce you to the best friend I've ever had. His name is Jesus and we met, it seemed by accident, about three years ago.

So much has happened in that time that it seems much longer since we met.

It happened this way. My brother, Andrew, and I were out with our nets, fishing just off shore, when Jesus walked along the beach and called out to us.

"Come with Me," he said, "and I will teach you to catch men."

Well, I'd heard a little about him, and we were curious to know what he meant, so we just dropped everything and went with him. The things we've seen and done since then ! I tell you, there's never been a man like this man, Jesus !

He called quite a group of us together, twelve in all, to travel around with him, to hear and see and experience the amazing things he had to share with us about God.

Jesus was the sort of person who had a "way" with people. You know what I mean ? When Jesus spoke, people listened ! Everywhere he went, crowds of people gathered around him. I guess the main reason was that people understood that Jesus really liked them.

One time, when the crowds pressed in too far on the beach, I had to lend Him my boat so he could speak to the people from there, otherwise they would have pushed him away out into the water.

On a couple of occasions, the crowds actually stayed all day: and didn't even go home for meals ! But even though he got tired, Jesus never sent anyone away. Instead, do you know what he did ? Let me tell you.

Jesus had sent us all out, in pairs, to practice doing the things he'd been teaching us. We'd all just met back together and had just finished sharing what had happened, when all the crowds started to arrive.

There were so many people that we didn't have time to eat. Jesus suggested that we go over to the other side of the lake, so we could have a chance to rest. But by the time we sailed there, many people had run around the shore and got there before us ! I thought Jesus would tell the people to get lost, but instead, he felt sorry for them and began to teach them.

Have you ever had visitors who didn't know when to go home ? That's what the crowd was like ! I was glad when it got late, because I thought then that they'd have to go; but no.

Jesus told us to get everyone to sit down so we could feed them before they left ! He said they'd faint on the way, otherwise. The only one in all that crowd (there were well over 5000 of them) with any food was a little kid who hadn't eaten his lunch. He gave it to Jesus, but - I ask you - how were two little fish and five bread rolls going to feed that bunch ?

It didn't seem to worry Jesus ! He just took the food and thanked God for it and told us to give some to everybody to eat. I must admit, when I started to dish out my share, the first few folk didn't get much ! But it seemed that the more we gave out, the more we had ! Even after everyone had had as much as they could eat, we had twelve whole basketful left over ! I'd never seen anything like it before.

But that wasn't the only amazing thing that Jesus did. The reason that many people came to him was that he was able to heal them of whatever was wrong with them. Blind, deaf, crippled - even insane - Jesus healed all those who came to him.

My wife's mother was ill once with a very high fever. Jesus just took her by the hand and she got up, completely well, and cooked tea for us ! We knew that Jesus was no ordinary man - that he was who he said he was - God's Son - for no one else could do the things that He did. Day after day he would go around teaching people about God's love, and healing them. He said that was why he'd come - so that we could live life to the full.

There was the time when we were going to Jericho and we passed by a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. No one took much notice of him until he began yelling out to Jesus. The more the people in the crowd told him to be quiet, the louder he yelled. Well, Jesus stopped and called the man to him. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. "I want to see!" said Bartimaeus.

Jesus just said, "Then see, your faith has made you well".

Immediately, Bartimaeus could see and kept jumping around pointing things out to everyone.

Then there was the time when Jesus healed ten people at once. They were lepers and were forced to live apart from everyone else because of their disease.

Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests, and as they went, they were healed ! Do you know, only one of those men came back to say "thank you" to Jesus ?

Jesus even had control of the weather! I remember, we were out on the lake one night and a violent storm arose. Being a fisherman, I'm used to storms, but this was a whopper !

The boat was heaving, and so were we ! Soon there was almost as much water inside the boat as outside, but Jesus still slept on in the back. When we were sure we were going to drown, we woke Jesus - "Don't you care that we are about to die ?" we shouted. Jesus just stood up and spoke to the wind. "Be quiet," he ordered. "Be still!" he said to the waves.

Then the wind died down and there was a great calm. We were still shaking with fright - I think that we were just as afraid of Jesus then as we had been of the storm - what kind of man was he, that even the wind and waves obeyed him ?

You'd think, wouldn't you, that since Jesus did so much to help people, that everyone would like him ? I never heard him say or do one unkind thing, or tell a single lie, but many people didn't like him. He claimed to be God's Son and he healed people on the Sabbath, which was the Jews' Holy Day. The Jewish teachers and priests said that this broke their rule of not working on the Sabbath.

They were jealous of Jesus and were afraid that people would follow him instead of their sets of laws, so they set out to put him to death.

The things I'm going to tell you about now, were the worst times of my life. I can't think back on them without feeling so bad about the whole thing. Let me tell you.

We had all - the twelve of us special followers - shared a special Passover meal with Jesus. It was at this meal that Jesus told us that one of us would betray Him and hand him over to the Chief Priests to be killed. It was unthinkable that anything like that would happen to Jesus - and impossible that any of us would do such a thing.

I told Jesus that I was prepared to die with him, and that I would never leave him - I was pretty upset and offended when he told me that before the rooster crowed twice next morning, I would have denied him three times. Following the meal, we all went to one of our favorite spots - the quiet Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was really upset about something, and he called John, James and me on ahead to pray with him. However, we were all so weary that we fell asleep.

Suddenly I was awoken by a great commotion. There, coming right at us, was a whole mob of people sent by the Chief Priest, armed with swords and clubs.

I grabbed a sword and slashed at one guy, but Jesus stopped me. He let them arrest him and while he was led away we all turned tail and ran. But I couldn't keep away. I was scared stiff but I followed at a distance and watched as they took Jesus to the High Priest's house. I mingled in with the servants huddled around a small fire, hoping no one would notice me, and got the shock of my life when one of them stared at me and then accused me of being one of Jesus' followers. I was so frightened that I denied it, and moved away to the edge of the courtyard. But she told some of the others and when they turned and looked at me, I denied it again. About an hour later another servant came up and accused me yet again. I swore at him, and denied it for the third time. Just then a rooster crowed. Jesus turned and looked at me and I remembered what he had said only a few hours before. I wished that the ground would open up and swallow me - or that I'd never been born - because three times I had denied even knowing my best friend. I felt as though my heart was breaking as I burst into tears and turned and ran from that place.

The next few days are rather hazy in my mind. I could not go back near Jesus - I couldn't bear what he must be thinking about me and I felt so wretched and miserable. I would never have forgiven one of the others if they'd done what I did, and I couldn't forgive myself.

The others kept me informed about what happened next; how Jesus was taken to Pilate, the Roman Governor, and then handed back to the Jewish leaders to be tried because Pilate could find no fault in him. They told me how he was then convicted on false evidence and taken to Skull Hill to be crucified - nailed to a cross. I was told how his body was taken down and buried in the cave tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea. The tomb was sealed and a guard placed around it.

Jesus had promised us that his life would not end in death, but that he would rise again. None of us remembered this until the third day after Jesus' crucifixion.

Some of the women had gone to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body with spices. When they got there, they found the stone rolled away from the entrance. They went in and found - not the body, but two angels who told them that Jesus had been raised from the dead and was alive again. The angels told the women to go and tell all Jesus' friends - including me - the wonderful news. I could scarcely believe it, but I grabbed John and we both ran with all our might to the tomb. John got there just before me, but waited for me to go into the tomb first. It was just as Mary and the others had said. Jesus' body was gone - only the grave clothes that the body had been wrapped in were there. I was so confused that I didn't know what to think. Nor did the others, when we told them about it later.

Suddenly, the most incredible thing happened. We were all gathered together in one of the upstairs rooms - with the doors locked, because we were still in fear for our lives - when suddenly Jesus was there, standing amongst us. He looked at me and smiled, and I knew that He had forgiven me. What relief and happiness flooded through me !

We saw Jesus several more times after that. I remember after one night's useless fishing, we were returning to shore when a man on the beach called out to us to let our nets down on the other side of the boat. Immediately, our nets got so full of fish that we couldn't pull them in. When John told me that the man on the beach must be Jesus, I was so excited that I straightaway jumped overboard and swam ashore. It was just so good to see him again ! He had already cooked us some fish, so we had a really lovely meal together.

Jesus told us that he wouldn't be with us much longer, because he was going back to Heaven. However, we wouldn't be alone, because he would send his Spirit to be with us all the time; and not only with us but with all who put their trust in him.

You can see why I'm so excited about knowing Jesus - because I know that he loves me and has forgiven me and wants me as his friend. You know, Jesus hasn't changed. He can change your life, just as he's changed mine. You only need to ask him and trust him to do it !

Jesus Loves Me This I Know ...

"God loves you just as you are", we recently heard an evangelist say.

How true !!!

We want you to note that the evangelist did not say "God wants you to stay the way you are", but that He "loves you as you are".

You don't have to prove a thing to God to have Him love you. He's always loved you, despite your failings and pitfalls.

People are sometimes apt to make two mistakes about God loving us.

The First Mistake is to think that we have to fight our own way back from our habits and sinful life to come to a position whereby we can be "halfway acceptable" to God and then perhaps He will "take us on" and "clean us up".

Nothing could be further from the truth !!!

The Bible states that While we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8.). In other words He didn't bother to wait for us to be even halfway acceptable before He acted out of His love for us ... and He has never changed from that point of view (Hebrews 13:8).

The Second Mistake is to think that God only loves and accepts those who love Him.

This is also not true.

In fact it doesn't matter how far away from God you are as you read this message, He will never love you more than He does right now, (Jer 31:3; John 15:9-15).

When a person becomes a Christian he/she begins to be aware of God's love because he/she is responding to that love. The more they respond, the more they are inclined to think that God loves them a little bit more than He did before, but in fact God's love has always been the same (Hebrews 13:8); the only thing that has really changed is the person's awareness and responsiveness to that love.

So the good news is that not only do you not have to strive to earn God's love, but you don't have to be in competition with someone else who you think God may love more than you.

Let us think this through from another angle.

It is a fact that Satan destroys those who let him take control of their lives, thoughts and actions, (1 Corinthians 10:6 - 14).

But it is also a fact that those who let God take control of their lives, He takes them out of the mess they are in and makes them better than they could ever hope to be in their wildest dreams. That is all part of His love package; so make no mistake about it, God does not wish for you to stay the way you are, He wants you transformed into His glorious life (Romans 12:2).

He Changes You From The Inside Out

Yes ! That is right, from the inside out.

You see, people will often say "You have to do this or that" or conform in one way or another after you become a Christian; but that is merely changing you from the outside in, and that often means that the job is only half done.

When God changes a man, He does it from the inside out and He does a complete and perfect job. It may well be that the same thing men sought to change, God will change, but it is He who does the changing, not us by our own efforts.

We want to tell you that there is no one and no condition that God can not change.

We recently heard a story of a man caught up in a commune indulging in heavy drugs and all sorts of other unimaginable things. This person really came to the end of his tether and wanted to get out and change for the better. Instead, he felt trapped and did not know how to get off the merry - go - round of the life style he was in.

He confided in a friend who also belonged to that commune, who certainly was not a Christian either, that if only he could find a way out of the mess he was in he would take it.

The friend said "The only way is to know Jesus" and went on to quote two Bible verses remembered from far off in his Sunday School days : -

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16.) and,

"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13).

There, far away from any Christian to help him, that man decided to let Jesus take control of his life, and immediately his life began to change.

You may be like that man, wanting something purer and better for your life; you too may be isolated from direct Christian help and support. God will still answer your simple earnest prayer and change your life. If so, why not let Him do it right now ?

If you look up Ephesians,1:8, you will see that God lavishes His love upon us. The idea is that He almost wastefully pours out His love on us to make sure we get enough .... what a wonderful God He is !! He is the only true God.

Then if you look at Ephesians, 2:6 you will see that He lifts us up to heavenly places in Christ Jesus, In other words He takes us from where we are and puts us where we should be.

Then in Ephesians, 1:18 - 23, you will see that not being content with all of that, He confers upon us the almighty power that is His in order that we might walk in power, authority and victory as Christians ... Which is certainly something we were unable to do before we came to know Him as Lord.

God loves you ! He loves you ON PURPOSE !

Will you respond to that love ??

Jesus makes the difference !

Perhaps we could sum up with the fourth verse of hymn number 283 from Golden Bells.

Because the sinless Saviour died,

My sinful soul is counted free,

For God the just is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me.