This Peter Goes Away by Pastor Paul Becker
A sermon mini-series about those who come to the Lord's Table has emerged since we overheard the conversation between Jesus and his disciples at the Passover meal. Before addressing the sermon series, it is essential to pause and reflect on the purpose of the Passover Meal. It was a scripted meal commanded by God for Israel to observe. Its liturgy told how God freed his people from Egyptian bondage. At the story's center is the remembrance of lambs slain by every Hebrew household. God commanded that these lambs' blood be applied to the doorposts of their homes. Because Pharoah refused Moses' decree to release the Israelites, God sent the Angel of Death to Egypt to kill the firstborn son of every home that did not display the blood of a lamb. Let's fast forward to the Passover Meal that Jesus observed with his disciples. He followed the liturgy of the meal and then inserted new language about his broken body and shed blood. He changed the liturgy of the meal by revealing that he was the lamb whose shed blood would free God's people from the bondage of sin and death. When we observe the Lord's Supper, we are rehearsing God's plan to free us from slavery to sin. Let's return to Matthew's story of Jesus.
The sermon mini-series is established by three things Jesus said during and after the Passover meal. He said that one of the disciples would betray him, all the disciples would fall away, and Peter would deny him three times. This story was preached on a Communion Sunday, and we considered how we are like Judas, Peter, and all of the disciples. Like Judas, we betray Jesus when we appear to follow him only to secure our own agendas. Like Peter, we deny Jesus when we hide and deny our allegiance to Jesus when the culture calls us out for being his followers. We are like the disciples who fell away when fear and confusion squashed their trust in God's design for their lives. On that same Sunday, we remembered that just as Jesus had a place at the Table for all his disciples, he also has a place for us. His grace and love are sufficient and available, so Communion Sundays are vital to our discipleship.
This past Sunday, the spotlight shone on Peter and his transformation. Matthew recounted the times Peter denied Jesus. And with each accusation, Peter's denials were made with increasing emphasis. After establishing Peter's weakness, Pastor Paul turned to the Gospel of John, where the resurrected Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" And each time, Peter said that he loved Jesus, with increasing emphasis. Jesus told Peter to feed and care for his sheep. Then, Pastor Paul turned to the Book of Acts, where Peter fed and cared for the Lord's flock. The "feeding and caring" of sheep is rooted in preaching and teaching about Jesus. This is the primary ministry of a Pastor who is a Shepherd.
In Matthew, Peter went away from Jesus to become Peter the Denier. As the pages of scripture turn, Peter the Denier went away to become Peter the Bold. Boldness about Jesus belongs to all believers who are confronted by a resurrection! Boldness is not rudeness or force of personality. Boldness is confidence in the resurrection being the seal of truth about Jesus and the Word of God. This boldness is available to us when we know and believe the scriptures. Ask yourself: Do you know the scripture? Do you know what it says about Jesus, from page one to the last? Do you hunger and thirst to know more, more about Jesus? The testimony about Jesus in scripture is the Holy Spirit's means of transforming us to become bold like Peter.
This Sunday, we turn to Judas, his regret, and his suicide. We will ask ourselves: Where did Judas go wrong? What alternative did he have to taking his own life? The title of the coming sermon is You Are Not Your Judge. This will complete the sermon mini-series about those who come to the Lord's Table.