Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Jesus greater than Moses

3.31.2015 Tuesday of Holy Week              Hebrews 3:1-19 Jesus greater than Moses

In the first four chapters, the author of Hebrews is concerned with the superiority of Jesus over angels, Moses, and Joshua. Today’s reading deals with Jesus’ superiority over Moses. We are to consider Jesus as high priest who is greater than the Levitical priests set up by Moses. Christ has done away with the Levitical priesthood and thus is superior to Moses. Jesus is high priest of a new covenant and is thus superior to Moses who initiated the old covenant on Mt. Sinai. These passages develop the idea of Jesus’ superiority by comparing Jesus as the builder of the house rather than as Moses as one who lives in the house. Moses served faithfully as a servant in God’s house while Christ was over God’s house as a son.[2]

Moses was faithful as a servant in God’s house. Jesus was faithful as a Son, thus being superior to Moses. Whose house are you? Whose family are you? To whom do you belong? Do you belong to Moses or to Christ? You belong to the family over which Christ is in place. Why shouldn’t the hope of living with Christ fill you with joy? This is our bold, firm, confident hope. A hope that will not disappoint. Moses was a member of the household of God. Jesus is the creator of that house. He is worthy of a greater glory.

The ancient Rabbis considered Moses to be the greatest man ever. Greater than the angels. The writer of the Hebrews does nothing to criticize Moses. He only looks to properly exalt Jesus.  Moses was faithful. In all His house as a servant. But Jesus, as a Son, is over His own house. Moses was a faithful servant. But he was never called a Son in the way Jesus is called as son.

O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen[3]

[1] Image by Ed Rioja © Higher Things
[2] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B, John Brokhoff, pg.282, CSS Publishing, Lima, OH
[3] Collect for Tuesday of Holy Week, http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm

Monday, March 30, 2015

Jesus made like His brothers

3.30.2015 Monday of Holy Week              Hebrews 2:1-18 Jesus made like His brothers

The author of the Hebrews is facing the situation of the church’s waning faith, probably because of the delay of Christ’s return. To stimulate their faith, he writes the epistle of Hebrews. Today’s reading deals with the event of Christ’s incarnation leading to His suffering and death for the salvation of humanity. His incarnation, His breaking into time and space, gave Him  a solidarity with humankind in order to save it. At present we do not see Christ’s lordship over everything, but we do see Him. (Vs.9) His atoning death created a oneness of Christ and His followers whom he calls, “brethren” (Vs.  11) As Christ’s followers, we are created and re-created by redemption.[2]

By the grace of God, Jesus became a man who became perfect through suffering and died for all. This is how He acts for you. He becomes your substitute. He takes to Himself your sin, you misery, your guilt. He suffers for you. He dies in your place. Thus, the forgiveness He offers is truly for you. He is the perfect substitute. He will stand in your place. Jesus He is your surrogate, your proxy, your replacement, your Savior and friend. 

Almighty God, whose dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other that the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen[3]

[1] Image by Ed Rioja © Higher Things
[2] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B, John Brokhoff, pg. 277, CSS Publishing, Lima, OH
[3] Collect for Monday of Holy Week, http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Time in the Word - Holy Week

Time in the Word
Father, Into Thy Hands I commend My Spirit

Readings & Prayers for Holy Week
March 30 -April 4, 2015

Monday, March 30, 2015 – Monday of Holy Week – Isaiah 50:5-10 - My sin and the Savior’s obedience

The Antiphon: Continue Your love to those who know you, Your righteousness to the upright in heart. – Psalm 36:10

Prayer for MondayGrant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who amid so many adversities do fail through our own infirmities, may be restored through the Passion and intercession of Thine only-begotten Son.

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ chose to suffer pain before going up to joy, and crucifixion before entering into glory, mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find this path to be the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 – Tuesday of Holy Week – Jeremiah 11:18-20 – The plot against the Lord’s anointed

The Antiphon: In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. – Psalm 71:1

Prayer for TuesdayAlmighty and everlasting God, grant us grace to pass through this holy time of our Lord’s Passion that we may obtain the pardon of our sins.

Almighty and everlasting God, grant us grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord’s Passion that we may receive the pardon of our sins; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 – Wednesday of Holy Week – Isaiah 62:11; 63:1-7 – God’s day of vengeance and redemption

The Antiphon: Hasten, O God, to save me, O Lord, come quickly to help me. – Psalm 70:1

Prayer for WednesdayGrant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds are continually afflicted may mercifully be relieved by the Passion of Thine only – begotten Son.

Merciful and everlasting God the Father, who did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all that He might bear our sins on the cross, grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in our Savior that we may not fear the power of any adversaries; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Thursday, April 2, 2015 – Maundy Thursday –              1 Corinthians 11:23-32 – A new covenant

The Antiphon: I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. – Psalm 116:13

Prayer for Maundy ThursdayO Lord God, who hast left unto us in a wonderful Sacrament a memorial of Thy Passion, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may so use this Sacrament of Thy body and blood that the fruits of Thy redemption may continually be manifest in us.

 Friday, April 3, 2015 – Good Friday – Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12 – The suffering and glory of the servant Christ

The Antiphon: O Lord, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. – Psalm 22:19

Prayer for Good FridayAlmighty God, we beseech Thee, graciously to behold this Thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed and given up into the hands of wicked men and to suffer death upon the cross.

Saturday, April 4, 2015 – Holy Saturday, Easter Eve –   1 Peter 3:17-22 – The victory lap through Hell

The Antiphon: From the depths of the grace I called for help, and You listened to my cry. – Jonah 2:2b

Prayer for Easter EveO God, who didst enlighten this most holy night with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection, preserve in all Thy people the spirit of adoption which Thou hast given so that, renewed in body and soul, they may perform unto Thee a pure service.

Abide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. Abide with Your whole Church. Abide with us in the end of the day, in the end of our life, in the end of the world. Abide with Your grace and goodness, with You holy Word and Sacrament, with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair when death shall come. Abide with us all the faithful through time and eternity.

THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1982 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK LECTIONARY © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use
Google Image of the Shroud 

The Son Superior to angels

3.29.2015 Palm Sunday                                  Hebrews 1:1-14 The Son Superior to angels

Jesus enters Jerusalem 

Who is Jesus? He is God’s last final Word. In a variety of ways. God prepared the way for Jesus. The prophets of old gave glimpses of the age which was to come. God spoke often in years past to prepare the way for speaking once and for all by His Son. Jesus’ coming fulfills the promise of God. Jesus’ ministry completes the salvation plan God had for the world.

Jesus is God’s best Word. The Father identifies His Son as bearing “the very stamp of His nature.” Jesus is the heir of all things. Jesus is co-creator of the world. Jesus reflects the glory of God. Jesus upholds the universe. Jesus cleansed the world of sin and now sits at the right hand of majesty.

God also identifies His Son as “better” than angels. No angel is worshiped as Jesus is honored. No angel rules into eternity. Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. All the word and predictions of old are now fulfilled and completed in Jesus, who remains the father’s last and best Word.   

Almighty and ever living God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen[2]

[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday
March 29, 2015
Mark 11:1-11; 15:1-39
An Attitude of Opportunity
“When Triumph & Tragedy Kiss Each Other

Passion –Palm Sunday consists of mixed emotions.  One does not know whether to laugh or cry, to celebrate or to mourn.  Palm Sunday seems to be triumph for Jesus and Passion Sunday is one of agony, suffering, and death.  Within a week, this was Jesus’ experience, and we need to re-live it with Him.

How triumph turns to tragedy –

Was Jesus a King? (v.2) The central issue in the trial, passion and death of Jesus was the matter of kingship. He was accused of making Himself a king. This claim was the subject of Pilate's interview with Jesus. His enemies rejected Jesus as a king.  They claimed to have no king but Caesar. Using the idea of a king, the soldiers had fun with Jesus dressing Him up as a king. While on the cross, His enemies used the King idea as the basis for mockery. The superscription on the cross identified Him as a king. But what a King! He was a king without a crown, throne, and scepter; He had no countries, no army, nor navy. All He had was a kingdom of truth and love.

Yet there was no answer that Jesus would give to His accusers. (v.4) In the trial with Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate, a distinctive feature was the silence of Jesus. He refused to defend Himself. To deny the charges, or to expose His enemies. Why did He give "no answer"? An answer would do no good because His enemies had made up their minds that he was guilty of death.  Moreover, they were not open to truth or to change. Jesus' silence indicated He was willing to die for the sins of the entire world.

It was out of envy and spite that these false charges were leveled at Jesus (v.10). Pilate was convinced that Jesus was innocent of the charges. He realized that Jesus was brought to trial because of the envy of the religious leaders.  Well might they envy one who could heal the sick, raise the dead, still the storms, and captivate the people. If Pilate knew this, he had reason to release Him. Pilate was a person who knew what was right but he lacked the courage to act on it.

After a night with no sleep, enduring four trials (three Jewish and one Roman) after repeated beatings and extreme cruelty Jesus was led through the streets of Jerusalem bearing His own cross.  But He fell under the load a pilgrim who had come to the city was compelled (v.21) to carry Jesus' cross to Calvary. His name was Simon, Simon from Cyrene. A cross may be carried voluntarily, but most crosses are thrust upon us.  If it is our own cross, we may choose to carry it. But, it is another matter if the cross belongs to another person. Life often thrusts a cross on us - it is unavoidable and inevitable. Even though the cross is compulsory, we gain from carrying it. Simon must have become a disciple for the early church; for he is identified as the father of Alexander and Rufus, men known by the church to be key leaders. Simon was a role model for his children in bearing the cross for Christ even when it was thrust upon him. May we model Simon as we bear under the crosses that are placed upon us.

When Jesus died, the curtain between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place was torn from top to bottom (v. 38). The Holy of Holies was the place where God was identified with the Ark of the Covenant. Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies but once a year. The torn curtain indicated that the crucified Christ broke down the partition between God and man. There was not restoration and peace between God and man. Where there was once enmity there was now a bond of peace.

It took a hard man of war and a Gentile to see in the crucified 0ne that Jesus was the Son of God. (v.39)  This is a confession that Jesus is divine and the chosen Messiah. This conviction came as a conclusion to his experience at the cross. He saw and heard a man who acted like the Son of God would speak and act. His conclusion that seemed to explain everything to him was that Jesus was the Son of God. So, it must always be - the truth that Jesus is God's Son is not a thesis but a conclusion that is inescapable after experiencing the cross. May this be your story as you begin Holy Week this week. 

Words –800
Passive Sentences –14%
Readabilities –75
Reading Level –6.1

The women at the tomb

3.28.2015 Saturday of Lent 5                       Mark 16:1-20 Women discover the empty tomb of Jesus

The women at the tomb
Three women undertake the job of properly preparing Jesus’ body for burial, which the press of time prevented earlier. When they arrive at the tomb, they find it empty and hear the wonderful (and temporarily paralyzing) message that Jesus has risen from the des and the tomb is empty. In spite of Jesus’ clear predictions on at least three occasions (Mark 8:31-32; Mark 9:31; Mark 10:33-34), His disciples do not believe. Jesus rises from the dead, proclaiming His victory to all creation and proclaiming for all believers a resurrection to eternal life on the Last Day.

Mary Magdalene sees the resurrected Jesus and tells the disciples about Him, but they do not believe it. Sinful human nature cannot believe. Doubt assails our hearts at every opportunity. Yet faith, like life, comes as a pure gift from God, He keeps us in the true faith unto life everlasting.

Jesus commissions His followers to proclaim the message of salvation throughout the world. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can anyone be saved. The Gospel invitation is open to all. God wants all people to be save. The Gospel invitation is open to all.  God wants all people to be saved through Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)[2]

There is no such thing as a dead Christ. Why seek the living among the dead?  He will not be found in the tombs of the dead. He is alive! Why seek Him there?

The grave could not hold Him in. He rose from the dead on the third day. The disciples’ testimony is true. “We are witnesses of these events; We have seen Him with our own eyes.” This Jesus who was crucified is now alive forevermore. The grave could not hold Him. See the place where they laid Him. He is not here. He is risen from the dead!

O Lord, in your goodness you bestow abundant graces on your elect: Look with favor, we entreat you, upon those who in these Lenten days are being prepared for you Holy Baptism, and grant them the help of your protection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen[3]

[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[3] Collect for Saturday of Lent 5,  http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm

Friday, March 27, 2015

Jesus is buried

3.27.2015 Friday of Lent 5                             Mark 15:33-47 Death and burial of Jesus

Jesus is buried

Jesus pays for the sins of the world on the cross, opening the way to God through faith in Him. As God and man in one person, He dies under the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:14-15). The penalty for sin is death. (see Romans 6:23a)

Friends bury the body of Jesus quickly. The approaching Sabbath Day was holy to the Lord, and no work could be done (Exodus 20:8-11). Even in the tomb, death does not conquer Jesus – His body does not decay (see Acts 2:31). Jesus completes His mission with this last step in His state of humiliation> He has fully paid for the sins of the entire world![2]

Mel Gibson’s movie the “Passion of the Christ” is a vivid portrayal of the Roman style of execution called crucifixion. It is a rendering of what took place in Jerusalem during those short three hours on Good Friday. This movie is an apt depiction of what crucifixion was really like. No wonder the world feared the Romans! No wonder some still today cannot bear to see this film. No wonder the Romans had a law, which read: Roman citizens may not be crucified. The scourging, whippings and beatings Christ endured was pure violence.

And yet, Gibson’s film is not “gratuitous violence.” To the contrary - there is a higher good, which comes from the sufferings and the passion of the Christ.  Your sins, oh man, are gone. Your sins are buried in the tomb of Christ never to be seen again. The Father now separates them as far as the east is from the west and He remembers your sin no more.

There is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ who was crucified. This is why we call that day “Good Friday”, for on a Friday - in time - the Son of God suffered to set you free. And this is good.

O Lord, you relieve our necessity out of the abundance of your great riches: Grant that we may accept with joy the salvation you bestow, and manifest it to all the world by the quality of our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen[3]

[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The crucifixion

3.26.2015 Thursday of Lent 5                   Mark 15:16-32 The passion and crucifixion of Jesus

The crucifixion

Jesus is crucified, bearing the punishment for the sins of the world. This is what it costs to atone for sins. At any time, Jesus can halt the proceeding, save Himself, and condemn His enemies. His love for us and His obedience to the Father lead Him to make this sacrifice instead.[2]

Hanging on a cross - suspended between earth and heaven - the Son of man suffers – as no one has ever suffered – before or since. Stricken, smitten and afflicted see Him hanging on that tree – He hangs there - for you and for me.

Today we witness Jesus as He offers Himself as a sacrifice for the life of the world. The old song sings: “Make me see thy great distress, anguish and affliction,”

The distress of Jesus is one no one has ever experienced. The physical torture was tremendous. But even greater was the spiritual torments He received. On that bloody and cruel cross Jesus was abandoned by God and by men.  Thus the Savior’s affliction and anguish was the highest cruelty. The wrath of an angry and offended God was poured out on the Son of man on a hill called Calvary. Heaped upon Him was a double load.

He suffered as no man should. He suffered innocently the righteous for the unrighteous. Jesus suffered great distress, anguish, and affliction. He suffered in time so we could be in bliss with God eternally.

O God, you have called us to be your children, and have promised that those who suffer with Christ will be heirs with him of your glory: Arm us with such trust in him that we may ask no rest from his demands and have no fear in his service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, fo ever and ever. Amen[3]

[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Lutheran Study Bible © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[3] Collect for Thursday of Lent 5, http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Attitude of Opportunity

Mid-week Lent #6
March 25, 2015
Zachariah 9:9-10
The Attitude of Opportunity
What a King!

What kind of King do we want to rule over us? Though we do not have a king we do have a president; and in the midst of a national election year that is the question that many are asking themselves these days “what kind of leader do we want to lead us as a people?”  

This can lead to a number of questions for us to consider.  Who or what is the master (king) of your life?  In our lesson for today, we are told that the King is coming.  Is the King (Messiah) coming to take charge of your life?  Jesus offers to be our king in fulfillment of the promise “Lo, your King comes to you.”  What kind of King would He be?

A humble King – “humble and riding on an ass”. The Messiah comes riding on a common beast of burden. He is a humble king. He does not ride a horse, which is reserved for a mighty king.  An ass is a humble animal, which symbolizes peace.  The ass carried the Christ to the people. Today we see this same humble king coming to us to take away our sin. He has stilled God's anger and taken away our reproach. His innocent suffering and death save us.

A victorious King – “triumphant and victorious is He” Jesus began the week as He rode into the city of Jerusalem triumphant accepting the claim and the praises of the people.  By the end of the week, He was condemned to die with two common thieves.  His early success turned to scorn along with it the horrors and tragedies of Good Friday.

And yet, we too can triumph with Jesus even though we know that it meant the cross. Even in the midst of pain and gore, there is joy.  Jesus endured the cross for the joy, which was set before Him.

The joy is that the Savior is coming to die for our sins and to assume His rule over us in our daily lives. Because of the cross, Jesus truly is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Yes, He is a victorious king.

A peaceful King – “He shall command peace to the nations.” His victory over sin, over death, and over the power of the enemy guarantees for us peace with God. He has become our peace.  Not a peace, which is only temporary.  He gives us a peace that lasts.  And of His kingdom, there shall be no end!  Jesus has come to bring blessings and life.  In Him, there truly is peace on earth and good will to men. Rejoice in His mercy and the peace that He alone can give.

This is how God chooses to come to us.  He chooses to come to us in a sacramental way. This is how He chooses to deal with us.  We do not come to the King.  Rather, the King chooses to come to us. He comes to us personally to bless us.  We do not decide for Christ. Rather, He decides for us.  We do not choose Christ, but Christ chooses us. God initiates the act of grace. And we live and dwell in safety under the watchful eye of our gracious and humble peaceful king.

Words –464
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability –86/1%

Reading Level -4/0

The Annunciation of our Lord

 O Lord, as we have known the incarnation of Your Son Jesus Christ, by the message of the angel to the Virgin Mary, so by the message of His cross and passion bring us to the glory of His resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Woodcuts by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld © WELS

Jesus before Pilate

3.25.2015 Wednesday of Lent 5                 Mark 15:1-15 Jesus before Pilate

Jesus before Pilate

Jewish leaders bring Jesus to Pilate, hoping to get a death penalty conviction from him. The world does not understand the kingdom of God, where God rules by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, nor does the world understand its King. Jesus endures His trial silently, without making a legal defense. He willingly goes to the cross for us.

Despite knowing that Jesus is innocent, Pilate condemns Him to death by crucifixion under pressure from the Jewish leadership and the crowds. Even though Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he sentences Him to death to keep himself out of trouble. Often, Christians face similar temptations to act contrary to God’s Word and will for their own safety. We can pray that the Lord would grant us courage to trust His will and share His will. He has promised to give us His Holy Spirit to strengthen us for every challenge.[2] 

Jesus, the innocent victim is sentenced to death – a death He did not deserve – yet a death He will bear for your salvation. In the most blessed Sacrament, which He instituted before His arrest, you receive the tokens of His sacrifice – His body, broken - His blood, shed - that you might receive absolution and clemency for your offenses.  Thus we are moved to pray, “O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us and grant us Your peace.”

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, renew in us the gifts of your mercy; increase our faith, strengthen our hope, enlighten our understanding, widen our charity, and make us ready to serve you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen[3]

[3] Collect for Wednesday of Lent 5, http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm

[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jesus before the Sanhedrin & Peter's denial

3.24.2015 Tuesday of Lent 5                        Mark 14:53-72 Jesus before the Sanhedrin
Jesus before the Sanhedrin  

The Council will convict Jesus of blasphemy. When asked by the high priest, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? Jesus simply answers, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated sat the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Jesus stands alone. All His friends have deserted Him. He stands bearing the sin of the world.

As Jesus stood trial before Caiaphas, out in the courtyard Peter denies that he even knew Jesus Fear leads us to do things we later regret. Only God can give us the courage to face difficult situations, especially persecution.[2]
Peter's denial  

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. “Peter gave it scarce a thought when he God rejected.”

Peter was so sure of himself. He felt secure in his faith. 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. 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

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!”

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? Every time we sin willfully we are doing nothing short of what Peter did on that fateful night.

Like Peter we often “give it scarce a thought” when we compromise principle for convenience or for what is expedient at the time.

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!

Almighty God, through the incarnate Word you have caused us to be born anew of an imperishable and eternal seed: Look with compassion upon those who are being prepared for Holy Baptism, and grant that they may be built as living stones into a spiritual temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen [4]

[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Lutheran Study Bible © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[3] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use