A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on March 18, 2015 by Pastor Dale Raether
Please visit our Synod’s website at www.wels.net
I Tell You the Truth… You Will Disown Me
Mark 14:27-31

27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” 30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation”, does it ever seem to you that God isn’t listening? For example on the way home from church after hearing the Word, receiving the Lord’s Supper and praying the Lord’s Prayer, an idiot driver cuts you off, and a bad word goes through your head or comes out of your mouth. Was that a sin? Yup! Or, maybe you tell yourself that this was a justifiable sin, because that other driver shouldn’t even be on the road. Ops, justifying sin is another sin. And now maybe some are starting to get mad at the preacher, because it seems like everything they do, he says, is a sin. Well, getting mad at the preacher would be yet another sin.

We can’t win, can we. If everything we say think or do is stained by sin, why even bother to pray, “Lead us not into temptation”? Part of the answer was in last Sunday’s Psalm. It said: Who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. – Psalm 19:12-13 We can’t stop all sinning, because we are sinners. On the other hand, as soon as we recognize we just sinned again, we can ask God for forgiveness. And we can live each day in the blessed assurance that even the sins we aren’t aware of are forgiven. Also, we ask God to keep us from willful sins, because if we do give into them, those sins can take over in us, and that’s how we end up doing some really bad things.

But what if we insist that we could never be guilty of a really big sin? That’s what Peter, and so in our text this evening Jesus warns him: I Tell You the Truth… You Will Disown Me. May we too: 1. Heed Jesus’ warning. 2. Believe His promise.

1. Believe Jesus’ Warning

The Passover meal was finished. Holy Communion was just celebrated for the first time. As they’re leaving the Upper Room for the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus says to His disciples: You will all fall away, for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” – Mark 14:27-28 Peter doesn’t want to hear that anything is going to happen to Jesus. He’s not getting it yet that the Kingdom of God would not come through physical force. Jesus wasn’t going to just zap all the good people holy and destroy everyone else. Rather, the Kingdom of God would come by His submitting Himself to death and the devil in order to pay for every sins. Another thing Peter had trouble with was that all sheep would be scattered. He insisted he was one sheep who wouldn’t be scattered. And so, even though he didn’t understand why Jesus was so bent on suffering, he was ready to suffer with Him.

Jesus corrects Peter: Truly I tell you, today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times. – Mark 14:30 Sadly Peter refuses to believe Jesus and emphatically tells Him that what He just said isn’t going to happening. Don’t you find this a little shocking? How could Peter keep telling Jesus that He doesn’t know what He’s talking about? Peter’s underlying sin is pride. And this pride needs to be rooted out before Peter could begin serving as an apostle. But this is where Satan unwittingly steps in. Just like he had asked God for permission to put Job to the test, he asks to do the same to Peter. Satan’s goal is to make Jesus’ suffering so bad, that He gives up on people and especially on Peter, as not being worth it. Well, the Father agrees to the test. And Peter’s failing his test later that night would make Jesus’ suffering worse. But Jesus would not come down from the cross because of it. He would stay there until there was not even one sin left unpunished. In the long run, Peter’s failing his test would also help Peter. You see, because he’s refusing to learn the easy way, which is by listening to Jesus’ warning, Peter will have to learn the hard way. Yet he will learn! Jesus, then, gets very specific with Peter on how he’s about to fall. Peter in his pride rejects this warning too, and this seals it for him. He’s guaranteed to fall, not because sin is ever God’s will. But God knows our sins advance, and Peter was trusting in his own strength to fight temptation, instead of resting his faith on His Rock, who is Christ.

What about us, will we learn the right way to fight temptation the easy way or the hard way? We might have to learn the hard way if we’re saying things like, “Don’t worry, I’ll be okay, it’s just one more drink. Or, don’t worry! I’m just skipping church until I get caught up on a few things. I’ll come back. Or, don’t worry! It’s just a joke. Nobody will be offended. Or, don’t worry! It’s just internet pictures, and not like I’m going to follow through on anything. Or, don’t worry! It’s just flirting, and we’re all Christians. Or, don’t worry! I know Jesus will forgive me; He always does! When we say, “Don’t worry”, that’s pride talking – pride that we’re so strong we can’t fall, which is when we do fall.

Why not rather learn the easy way to fight temptation by listening to God’s Word? God’s Word says: Surely we have been sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. – Psalm 51:5. Or: I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. – Romans 7:18-19 If we believe these warnings, we will stay connected to His Word. Then we will run the other way from the things or situations we know will tempt us. And so, either with the clarity that comes from the Word or with clarity that comes from hindsight, like Peter’s did, we will learn to trust in Christ alone. However, what does this mean as we continue to fight temptations on a daily basis?


2. Believe His promise.

Our text reads: But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee. – Mark 14:28 Our feeling good about ourselves doesn’t come from being strong, which we aren’t. Our feeling good about ourselves comes from what God’s Son did for us. He was sinless for us. He paid the price of our sins for us. Proof of that would be His resurrection on the third day. Also, Jesus has not only reconciled the Father to us, He still desires a close personal relationship with us. This is why even after the disciples would scatter from Him, and Peter would disown Him, Jesus would invite them to Himself in Galilee, and also He would even keep repeating that invitation, so that they would finally believe it.

How many times does Jesus repeat His invitations to us? For many of us He first invited us to Himself through our Baptism. He said, “Fear not, I have called you be name. You are mine.” Each week in our services He repeats His invitation to believe that we are His. He says to us through His called servant: “You are his own dear child.” And finally in the Lord’s Supper He seals that we are His through the body and blood of the Covenant.

However, are we any better at believing Jesus’ promise that we are His than we are at believing His warnings? Not really, at least the disciples weren’t. And so, on the Saturday before Easter and on Easter itself, they were filled with doubts and fear. Then gradually they began to get it. They had peace with God through Jesus. Still even after 40 days, just before He ascended into heaven, it says some continued to have doubts and fear. However, Jesus did not turn away from any of them. And finally after witnessing His ascension and receiving special gifts of the Spirit on Pentecost, they were humbled enough and trusting enough to serve Him.

This is often how it goes with us. We may start off thinking we’re too strong to fall, but then when we do fall, we may have doubts and fear whether God still want us. Those doubts and fears are pride talking again. Let’s not listen to our pride. Let’s keep listening to Jesus’ promises, because then when He returns on the last day just as He had gone up, He will not disown us. He will not introduce us as those who failed to heed his warning and had doubts about His promises. He will introduce us as dear His brothers and sisters, washed clean by His blood.

And now let’s hold on to that thought whenever we are being tempted! This hope will give us joy. And this joy will be our strength. And then finally as veteran temptation fighters, we’ll be ready for the next fight (and there will be more fights). And we’ll also be equipped to gently help others in their fights. So, you see, God has answered our prayer: Lead us not into temptation. And He is answering our prayer. Amen.

 

Please visit our Synod’s website at www.wels.net