by Rev. Vincent X. Shaw, M.Div.
Post a comment
Tags: passover meal, sinful pride, foot steps
Pastor: The footsteps of Peter take us into the bitter consequences of sinful pride. But we’re not going to stop there. We’re going to move on to the cross. ALL THREE: At the cross, sinful pride, Peter’s and ours, is forgiven and overcome. I. Pastor: It’s Thursday evening. Our Lord has just eaten the Passover meal with His disciples in the Upper Room. After singing a hymn, they set out for the Mount of Olives. Along the way, Jesus speaks of things to come, with this ominous warning: Assistant 1: You will all fall away because of Me this night. For it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” Pastor: But Peter, not yet realizing the full significance of what Jesus had said, confidently replies, Assistant 2: Though they all fall away because of You, I will never fall away. Pastor: You have to marvel at such confidence. But a second look reveals it is not confidence born of faith. It is overconfidence, spiritual pride, and conceit. To Peter, it seems very pos¬sible that the rest of the disciples might fall away, but he would never fall away. Maybe his prestige has gone to his head. He is one of three disciples closest to Jesus. Only he, together with James and John, were with Jesus at his transfiguration. He had made the wonderful confession, Assistant 2: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Pastor: He had been given the name Peter, the “rock.” How could he fall away? Perhaps others would, but cer¬tainly not Peter. Jesus’ warning to Peter becomes even more explicit. Assistant 1: Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times. Pastor: But the proud heart is hard and calloused. Assistant 2: Even if I must die with You, I will not deny You! II. Pastor: Is Peter’s attitude mirrored in your life and mine? Take a brief inventory. Does it sound like this? Assistant 2: There’s no deep and shameful sin in my life. There’s no blemish on my reputation. There’s no skeleton in my closet. Others may be guilty of certain sins. Others may be negligent in spir¬itual matters. Others may be lacking faith and Christian character, but not me. I would never fall away. Pastor: In all or one of these ways, Peter comes to life in us. Again and again, the Scriptures condemn sinful pride. Listen: Assistant 1: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Pastor: Hear the proud Pharisee in the temple: Assistant 2: God, I thank You that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get. Pastor: He goes home, not with God’s favor, but with His judgment: Assistant 1: Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled. Pastor: St. Paul warns us, Assistant 1: Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. Pastor: Our fall is just beyond our next step if we rely on our own strength, if we imagine there is no danger for us, if we think we are untouchable to Satan. The wages of sinful pride is death. We need the ashes of repentance. III. Pastor: Jesus gives us the answer to sinful pride and to every sin, right here in our text. Assistant 1: For it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scat¬tered.” But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee. Pastor: Jesus is the Shepherd who seeks the lost. He is the Shepherd who searches for even one lost sheep. He is the Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep. He is on the way to the cross, where God will smite the Shepherd with wrath and judgment over our sinful pride, over every shameful sin that has ever marred our thoughts, words, or deeds. There, at the cross, the Shepherd becomes sin for us. The flock was scattered when Jesus was arrested and condemned. All the disciples forsook Him and fled. But the flock will be gathered again, because the cross and death are not the last word. Assistant 1: After I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee. Pastor: The loving, caring, redeeming Shep¬herd returned from death to gather His disciples, and they are the redeemed and forgiven sheep of His flock. We’re very much in this. The Lenten ashes of repen¬tance humble us. We come here to God’s house and confess: Assistant 2: I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You. We have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. Pastor: But repentance is not just knowing our sin; it’s know¬ing Christ. With glad and believing hearts we hear and believe the Absolution: Assistant 1: In the stead and by the com¬mand of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.