Tag Archives: Confession of Peter

Peter was a fallible man, so am I, but the Holy Spirit uses fallible men

Peter is such a great example to me and should be to all of us I readily identify with him. If the Gospels show the humanity of anyone, it is Peter, he really is every man.

Good Friday was yesterday and among the things we remember from Good Friday is Peter’s denial of Jesus. At the Last Supper Peter vehemently promises Jesus he will never deny him. Few hours later, to a woman, Peter is not just denying Jesus, he is doing so with oaths and curses, denying Jesus rather vehemently

But as the Blackabys point out, despite his failings Peter was always seeking after Jesus and I certainly hope that I am at least as passionate in seeking after Jesus as Peter was. “Peter did not always say or do the right things, but he did constantly seek to be with Jesus.” (Henry, Richard Blackaby Experiencing God Day-by-Day p 36). Hey give him credit he may have denied Christ, but other than John, Peter is the only one we know who at least tried to maintain contact with Jesus. All the other disciples had scattered at Gethsemane.

People seem to like to stereotype me, that “well you grew up in the church, that’s the way it’s always been for you, la, la, la…” Well that would be wrong! I did not grow up in the church. Jesus was a vague historical figure and really did not mean anything to me, well yeah Christmas and Easter. I saw that, as many do today, as some sort of rote, ritual thing to do. Then I got whacked over the head. There is so much superficial platitudes going around the secular. People just think they go through the motions, do what they decide is right (which is often very wrong), think that “well I’m a good person”, when they know deep down they aren’t. Or they decide that some superficial good deeds are all that is necessary and everything will work out fine. They never seem to be able to articulate how that will be, they have no basis for what they think or for that matter don’t think, but “hey don’t try to confuse me with the facts.”

Peter was very much like that, “trying” hard, but it just didn’t sink in. He thought it was all about him taking action. Well the fact is it’s all about what God does. On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit filled Peter and he came out like a tiger witnessing to over 5,000 fully aware that it could end him up in jail, flogged, crucified. But all of a sudden, because the Holy Spirit moved him, it was all about Jesus for him and not about what he did, it was all about what the Holy Spirit moved him to do regardless of the circumstances.

So the question is, do people see Jesus in me? Do they look to me to point them, to disciple them in Jesus? For sure I’m certainly not doing it perfectly, but like Peter I keep coming back. The question is raised “what’s the difference between what Peter did and what Judas did?” Judas trusted in his own actions, decided he needed to force the issue and make Jesus come out as the Messiah. It was going to be done that way, Jesus knew it and said so at the Last Supper. But when the issue came to fruition, Judas decided that he would take issues into his own hands, again, and not turn it over to the forgiveness of Jesus and so Judas went and hung himself. Peter on the other hand waited in the faith that the Holy Spirit gave him and stayed faithful. He was one of the first ones at the empty tomb and after Jesus was resurrected stayed with Jesus and was told to “feed my sheep”. Peter was faithful to that and after Jesus ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit came down and gave Peter the courage to stand and witness to his Savior Jesus. Many were saved because Peter was used by the Holy Spirit to witness to many that Jesus was the Savior, the Hope and Promise of the world, of true life in the resurrection. He was an example to many in his life and continues to be an example to us today.

So I am a very human and fallible man, but I continue to pray that the Holy Spirit uses me as mightily as He did Peter and that I continue to faithfully witness to the only hope of the world, my Savior Jesus. Jesus died for me as the payment of all my sins and rose so that I would have life in the resurrection of my body and the perfect, eternal world of the resurrection.

The Gates of Hell

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit. And all those who say “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” said … AMEN.
Jesus and His disciples are in the district of Caesarea Philippi. which is north of Capernaum, in the north of Israel, near the Syrian/Lebanon borders. Look at the cover of your bulletin, this is a temple of Zeus and Bacchus that was built by Philip the Tetrarch of this district. Philip was the son of Herod the Great, one of the few surviving sons. Since both he and his father owed heir titles to the Romans, they were careful to flatter the Romans to keep them happy and Philip built this temple to Roman Gods. Philip wasn’t exactly Jewish, he used his quasi Jewish status when it suited him and likewise switched to Roman “gods” when it suited his purpose. Philip married Salome, you might remember that Salome was the daughter of Herod and Herodias and after she danced for Herod asked for John the Baptist’s head. Yea, these people were more than a little messed up. Philip had enlarged the city and named it after Caesar and himself, which seems a little presumptuous. You can imagine, the Jews in this area hated Philip for his various offenses and saw this temple as a blasphemy, a sacrilege against their Jewish religion and they referred to this temple as the “Gates of Hell”. According to legend, this is where Jesus and the twelve disciples were camping when today’s reading took place. You can kind of picture them sitting around the campfire. Things are starting to come to a head, in the very next chapter the same Peter, with John and James are going to climb a mountain with Jesus and see Him transfigured and God the Father declaring Jesus to be His Son. For those who like to deny that Jesus is God the Son, seems pretty hard to dispute Peter’s confession, Jesus’ confirmation and then the Father confirming His Son. If Jesus isn’t God the Son, seems a big fuss is being made.
There are a few things going on in this passage and they might seem a little random.
Peter has his failures, and they’re pretty huge and he also has his high points, no question this is a high point. No doubt Peter is sure that this Jesus is someone pretty special. But when Jesus says “…who do you say I am”, Peter didn’t seem to hesitate. ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter’s saying a few things here and this temple is the effective backdrop of this exchange. You are the promised one. Christ isn’t a name, it’s a title. The Hebrew word Mesi,an is the equivalent word of Christ or cristo,j which means anointed one. According to John MacArthur Mesian in the Hebrew: “refers in the Old Testament to prophets (1 Kings 19:16), priests (Lev 4:5, 16) and kings (1 Sam 24: 6, 10). In the sense that all of them were anointed with oil. This anointing symbolized a consecration for ministry by God. Jesus Christ, as the Anointed One, would be the ultimate Prophet, Priest and King (Is 61:1, John 3:34) … Peter declares his faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah.”1
Peter really stepped up and Jesus proclaims, “Blessed are you Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Jesus is saying that you are special Peter, God has chosen you to proclaim this, you know who I AM to the depths of your soul. Not because you had some great insight but because the Father chose you to declare that I AM the promised Messiah, the one who is the promised Savior of mankind.
Jesus builds on this, since you know this, I can also declare that I will build my church on your proclamation and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against My church. Church in the Greek refers to those who are called out, the Christian community of saints. Not just this building, or the Lutheran Church, all the saints, all those who are hagios, holy, separated people of Jesus, you.
If you look at this picture again, you might be able to tell that this temple has been carved out of stone, this whole thing is one big rock. So when Jesus says on this rock, on top of this pagan temple is where my church, my people will be. When I was there, hearing the tradition, I could almost see Jesus pointing over His shoulder. You see that big rock, that people here call the gates of Hell, my church is going to be built on this temple to false “god’s” and it will never prevail against My church, My church will always be on top.
I also took from this, that Jesus is making a direct reference to the idea that all false “gods” are of Satan. That all false “gods” are actually demons, evil spirits who have corrupted people to believe that they are “gods”. Jesus is saying that these false “gods” and we know that Satan is referred to as the “god of this world” John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11 will never overcome the Kingdom of Heaven.
In four more chapters Jesus will make His triumphant entry into Jerusalem to establish His victory over the world. He will be sacrificed then, He will die as payment for all of our sins and then will rise again in triumphant victory over sin and death. Sin and death are the very essence of Satan and His demons. They may rule the world now, but Jesus’ promise to His disciples and we are His … disciples, that in the end when it really matters He will defeat Satan and reestablish the world the way that God had created it.
In establishing His church, Jesus begins to empower His church. His church will possess the keys to heaven on earth. This means He has given His church the authority to declare what is sin and bind that sin. No other institution has that authority, only the church of Jesus, which the Lutheran Church certainly is. Our authority is based on Scripture and we bind or loose based on God’s Word. Because of God’s Word, we know what God has already bound, who He has locked heaven against. We are simply declaring what has been bound, and in a sense, enforcing that binding from what God has declared.
The world may try to deny the authority and even the legitimacy of the church, but Jesus has certainly declared the church’s authority in this passage. The church, made up of those who are separated, declared holy, will be those who have not just authority, but also responsibility to be the instrument of God’s will.
To those who ignore the church, deny the church has any real meaning, Jesus is clearly establishing His church. The disciples, represented by Peter, have recognized who Jesus is and that He is the promised One of God. He is the anointed One, anointed Prophet, Priest and King and now Jesus has established His church and declared that His disciples make up that church and they have the authority to represent Jesus. As His apostles, His sent ones they, and us, will do the things that the church is responsible to do, to declare the will of Jesus in the world. For those who think that “worship” is on the golf course or the beach, Jesus is saying these people are my church, they will lead in worship, do the work of the church. Anything else will only be personal preference and idolatry.
Take some time this week to think about how that looks, what does that mean to the world? Certainly it is proclaiming the Gospel, He who died to pay for our sins and who rose to give us the only way to eternal life. It is also going to those who are living a life that rejects Jesus and chooses to only be concerned with their own desires. The church is the institution that Jesus empowered to baptize, to be His instrument to bring people into the Kingdom of heaven. His church has been given the responsibility to offer the life saving Blood and Body of Christ. His church is responsible for preaching His proclaimed Word so that all will be able to hear the Good News of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus. Take some time to think of how that should look to the world as we exercise that authority here at First St Johns.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.