Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733
A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Celebrating our 182nd Year
Chartered February 25, 1838
“Jesus I will Ponder Now”
A Lenten series based on six Chorales written by Sigismund v. Birken & Johan Sebastian Bach
Introduction: The story of Peter is your story. It is also my story. Peter is so strong; so sure of himself, so bold – yet so often he stumbles, fumbles, flops and falls. Johan Sebastian Bach in a beautiful chorale tells a powerful account concerning Peter’s failure. Let’s see how the story unfolds.
I. “Peter gave it scarce a thought when he God rejected.”
A. Peter was so sure of himself. He felt secure in his faith.
1. After all, he was one of the twelve and of the twelve, one of the three whom Jesus gathered together to be part of His inner circle.
2. He was fixed firmly in his own ability to stand confidently with the Savior. Just hours before Jesus’ arrest in the garden Peter had pledged his loyalty to the Savior. “And [Simon Peter] said to Him, Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death. But Jesus said, I tell you, Peter, before a [single] cock shall crow this day, you will three times [utterly] deny that you know Me.” - Luke 22:33-34
B. When he would eventually deny the Savior he thought he was only finding a limb on which to climb. It was for him a way of “saving face.” “I wasn’t really denying my Lord,” he could argue, “It was merely a case of “mistaken identity.” Peter said to the crowd, “You’re talking to the wrong man!”
1. What happens in our life? – Do we give a “false witness” when we, for example, compromise clear Biblical principles in order to fit in at work, or at school? What price will we pay to acquire acceptance, approval, acquiescence?
2. Every time we sin willfully we are doing nothing short of what Peter did on that fateful night.
3. Like Peter we often “give it scarce a thought” when we compromise principle for convenience or for what is expedient at the time.
C. We too are tempted.
1. In the beginning we are tempted [by the Devil] - to think - “it’s nothing.”
2. In the end we are told [again, by the Devil] - “it can’t be forgiven.”
Transition: It was bad enough for Peter to deny his Lord. But upon looking into the eyes of the Savior Peter was seized with guilt. Luke reminds us: “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord how He had said unto him, ‘Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice.” (Luke 22:61) With one look Peter’s world crumbled!
II. “At Christ’s look he fled distraught, weeping and dejected.”
A. Confronted by his denial Peter was crushed.
1. This is what the Law does to us.
2. It is a necessary ingredient in preaching!
B. We too are crushed when confronted with the Law.
1. Nathan said to David “Thou art the man” - 2 Samuel 12:7
2. Contrition and repentance are necessary for restoration and forgiveness.
Transition: As Jesus fixed His gaze on Peter thus He must look on us.
III. We ask Jesus to “look on me” – “Cast me not away from Thy presence and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me” – Psalm 51:11
A. “Jesus fix Thy gaze on me”
1. Press me, pursue me.
2. Never let me go! “I will never leave Thee nor forsake Thee” -Hebrews 13:5
B. “True repentance teach me” Remember the 5 “R’s” of repentance…
1. Responsibility – we own up to our sin.
2. Remorse – we are heart sorry.
3. Repair – we attempt to fix what we’ve broken - inasmuch as we are able.
4. Repeat not! – We don’t return to visit!
Note: These four steps; leading to repentance, come from Dr. Laura Schlesinger, she’s a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. She suggests; quite convincingly, that this is all we need to right a wrong. Yet, one component is missing. A 5th step is necessary; the final step, which separates Christians from the rest of the world; a step, which turns from following rules to establishing a relationship with God Himself. The 5th step necessary:
5. Reconciliation - through Christ alone!
Transition: Repentance is not merely a one-time act – it must be a daily process. Thus we pray…
IV. “When Thou evil there doest see through my conscience reach me.”
1. Jiminy Cricket from Disney’s ‘Pinocchio’ would suggest to us; “let your conscience be your guide”
2. Our text would suggest even stronger let your conscience and the cruel and bloody cross of Calvary be your guide!
Conclusion: After the resurrection Peter and Jesus had another heart to heart meeting. Three times Jesus would ask Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” John would remind us in his gospel account, “Peter was grieved because Jesus said to him for a third time do you love Me?” – John 21:17
Roman Catholics maintain that Peter was the first Pope. To this day Protestant parishes in Europe will place a rooster instead of a cross on the top of their spires as a not so friendly reminder of Peter’s seedy past. Not much has changed over the years. Have there been instances in our lives when we have not acted as becomes a child of God? Have you had to be reminded of that moment only to relive it once again?
Each of us can recall those moments in our lives in which we are not proud! Peter’s’ denial crushed him – but what he found was restoration by the Savior!
Peter’s freedom came at a price – the price of Jesus’ life. To be crushed by conscience and the Law is never a pleasant thing. But Christ’s redemption leads to recovery – to be reconciled to the Father and also to each other – all has been made possible by the Savior’s amazing grace!