In his book Hope in Times of Fear, which he wrote after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Tim Keller writes on the meaning of resurrection: “Doesn’t nature itself teach you that after winter comes spring? That even in a disaster and after death there can be new beginnings? That even in our misfortunes, we can discover lessons, we can grow, and we can begin afresh.”
Before the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, Jesus spoke to His disciples: “And Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away, for it is written, I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered’” (Mark 14:27). After the Passover, Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives, where He often taught His disciples. There, Jesus revealed to them that they were all going to fall away, and specifically that Peter would deny Him. Jesus knew that when they saw His arrest, His trial, and His ensuing crucifixion, they would become fearful and flee.
The Promise of a New Beginning
Why did Jesus reveal to His disciples that they would all fall away? And why did He specifically prophesy that a rooster would crow twice as a reminder to Peter of what Jesus said he would do, deny Him three times? Notice that sandwiched between Jesus revealing to His disciples that they will all desert Him and that Peter would deny Him three times, Jesus said, “But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee” (Mark 14:28).
After revealing that they would all abandon Him in His darkest hour, Jesus didn’t say, “But when I rise from the dead you will miss out on all that I had planned for you.” He didn’t say, “Wherever you’re hiding out, I will find you and I will make you regret what you did for the rest of your lives.” Rather, as James Coffman explained, “Christ here went far beyond the detailed prophecies of His Passion and calmly set up an appointment to meet the Twelve in Galilee after the Great Sacrifice had been offered. Nothing in literature, fable, myth, legend, or imagination is worthy to be compared with what Christ promised in this verse. [Moreover], He did it!”
Now, it’s clear in the Scriptures why Jesus would reveal to His disciples that He would rise from the dead. The promise of His resurrection would assure them, and assures us today, that all of Jesus’ promises are true and faithful. Because He conquered death, we can trust that He is able to come through on His promise to give life to all who believe.
But Jesus didn’t just assure them that He would rise from the dead. He said, “But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee” (Mark 14:28). Galilee was a place where our Lord and His disciples could commune with one another away from the crowds, so that Jesus could encourage them and instruct them in the things concerning the kingdom of God. Moreover, Jesus would wait for them in Galilee because He had more disciples there to whom He would offer Himself and manifest His resurrection than He had in Judea. But more significantly, His disciples were from Galilee. He was waiting for them at the place where He found them. He’s taking them back to where their journey with Jesus began.
A Personal Appointment with the Truth
Jesus did more than just remind His disciples, who were going to abandon Him, that He would rise from the dead. He set up an appointment to meet them in Galilee. He’s telling them that He will be waiting for them there. And Jesus is not speaking like a father who says to a disobedient child, “Wait until we get home; you’re going to get it!” He’s assuring them that, although they may have let Him down, He will not let them down.
Jesus did more than just remind His disciples, who were going to abandon Him, that He would rise from the dead. He set up an appointment to meet them in Galilee.
Although seeing the risen Jesus should have been a time of celebration for the disciples, I want to suggest to you that there may have been some lingering regret, shame, and guilt in their hearts, especially in Peter’s. We know that after denying the Lord for the third time, he went out and wept bitterly. This lingering shame may have made them reluctant about seeing Jesus again and may have caused them to doubt whether He would still use them for His kingdom purposes. This is why He made an appointment to meet them in Galilee after He rose from the dead, the place where it all began.
Likewise, if you’re saved today, Jesus wants you to know that you may have failed Him, but He will not fail you. You may have denied Him, but He will not deny you. You may have even forsaken Him when it mattered most, but He hasn’t forsaken you—and He never will.
Jesus wants you to know that you may have failed Him, but He will not fail you. You may have denied Him, but He will not deny you. You may have even forsaken Him when it mattered most, but He hasn’t forsaken you—and He never will.
You might feel unworthy to come to Jesus, but Galilee means He’s not done with you. He knew you would mess up before you messed up. But go back to Galilee. He never gave up on you. He’s amazing! I’ve given Him 10,000 reasons to give up on me. Anybody here with me? But He never, ever gave up. Satan is a liar.
If you feel like it’s too late, or you missed your moment, or you messed up too much and you’re ashamed, I’m telling you—go back to Galilee. Go back to where you started. Go back in your heart to when you had childlike faith, and say, “Jesus, help me! I need You.” He will start with you right there. I’m so glad He doesn’t throw people away.
You may still be saying in your heart, “But I’m unworthy.”
“No,” Jesus is saying to you, “My love is greater than your mess-up. My strength is greater than your weakness.”
Have you ever felt distant in a relationship with someone that you once were close to? A distance like this doesn’t just suddenly happen. Married couples that break up often say things like, “We just grew apart.” But growing apart doesn’t just happen. Couples often grow distant because they fail to make intentional investments to cultivate intimacy in their marriage.
The Pathway Back to a New Beginning
To the church of Ephesus, Jesus said, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” (Revelation 2:4-5). On more than one occasion, I’ve heard a professing Christian who feels distant in their relationship with the Lord say, “I’ve lost my first love.” But notice that to the church of Ephesus, Jesus didn’t say they had lost their first love. Jesus said, “You have abandoned the love you had at first.” And Jesus’ prescription for returning to a first love relationship is to remember, repent, and do the first works. What were you doing before, that you are not doing now?
What most often leads to spiritual drift is that we neglect to spend meaningful time in communion with the Lord. We neglect to be with Him. Remember, Jesus said to His disciples that after He paid the debt of their sin on the cross and rose from the dead, He would go before them into Galilee. Galilee was a place where Jesus and His disciples could commune with one another away from the crowds so that He might instruct them in the things concerning the kingdom of God.
Where are you today? Have you drifted from the Lord? Have you abandoned your first love? Like the disciples, have you made mistakes you regret and never thought you would ever make? Do you feel like God can’t use you because of something you did in the past? Are you struggling with a sin issue in your life that is making it hard for you to come to church, read your Bible, or even pray? Have you been isolating yourself because you feel like a hypocrite rather than being open and honest about where you are in your walk with God? Have you ever had a relationship with the Lord?
Jesus is alive, and just as He waited for His wandering disciples in Galilee after paying the debt of their sin, He’s waiting for you with love and resurrection power to renew, restore, and give you a fresh start. You may have given up on Him, but He’s not given up on you. He’s waiting for you to come humbly and in faith, knowing that He will receive you with love. He’s waiting to bring you back to where you once were so that you can get to where He wants you to be. He’s waiting for you to come to Him—not so He can condemn you, but restore you to a place where you will once again experience the joy of fellowship with Him and the power of His resurrection in your life. I’ll say it again—simply cry out, “Jesus, help me; I need you!” He will start with you right there.
Jesus is waiting to bring you back to where you once were so that you can get to where He wants you to be.
Copyright © 2023 Marco David. All rights reserved.
Pastor Marco David came to know Jesus as his Redeemer and Lord at the age of 17 after a zealous evangelist knocked on his brother’s apartment door and came in for a visit. For 20 years he served the city of Chicago in various roles in the correctional system and the police force. Ordained in 2000, he began to serve the Church in a part-time capacity until he retired from the police force in 2015 to become the lead pastor of Midwest Bible Church. He also serves as a Regional Leader for the 6:4 Fellowship and as a Renewal Coach with the 6:3 Discipleship. His passion is to make disciples who spread the fame of Jesus as he prayerfully relies on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Marco married his high school sweetheart Elizabeth and they have four sons who are all in law enforcement.