CSI – Peter

What is a thing you have done or said on the road or at work that surprised you about you – an ‘oops!’?

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I love God. Yes I do. And most of us would say so. But I have had my “what was that?” moment.

In fact, why you wake up on a Sunday morning and make your way to church is because something is alive in you. You want, or actually claim, to be a follower of the Cross. You sing songs that suggest that He is at the center of your life. That you would live for Him. ‘It is all about Him’, we sing!

But is it easy to dance to the tune of the song Monday to Monday?

Not in a country like ours, or a workplace like yours. Often we have our “faith-oopses”. We do some things we should not do if we were to be true to the confession of our faith. We fall, fail, side step the faith and disappoint ourselves. Lie to a client in broad daylight. Like someone a little too far at work. Receive some money in a secret account. Corrupt your way out a bad situation, like a traffic offence. Gossip about a boss or slander a colleague. Work to frustrate a mean workmate. Block someone on the road. Use a four-letter word like ‘love’ on someone who pushes you to a corner. Disobey a boss, quietly. Watch porn at work or in a hotel during a work trip. Cheat on your husband or boyfriend.

We find ourselves in compromising situations often in our Christian walk. I was looking closely at one of the characters around Christ and I realized I have company. There are lessons we can learn from Peter on this issue.

PETER, THE UNSTABLE FRIEND

Peter was definitely Jesus’ friend. He was among the first ones to be called to follow the Rabbi from Galilee. Andrew, his brother, brought him to Jesus. He was there among the few when Jesus was transfigured and some biblical characters joined him. In fact, he so liked the experience that he wanted to build some shacks up there. He seemed to love the display of glory and power.

This gentleman was a family man – at some point Jesus healed his mother in law. Jesus often stayed at Peter’s house. He went by the name Simon for a long time. Jesus renamed him Peter! He had a claim on and a purpose for the man. This man is daring to the core. He once stepped out of the boat and walked on water, at night. As a fisherman, he was persistent and diligent. He worked long and late. He rarely lacked something to say. Quick to answer but slow to listen. He was like a natural influencer. Violent when provoked – he cut someone’s ear at some point.

Was he a great friend? So it seemed. He had done leadership internship with Jesus for close to 3 years. Walked or hiked together for maybe hundreds of kilometers, done some fishing, resolved a few conflicts, spend nights in the same house and witnessed the power of heaven together. In fact, Christ allowed him to assume leadership of the top executive team. When the 11 were not sure what to make of mysterious Jesus, Peter, moved by heavenly forces declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” It took madness and guts for a Jew to say that of a lowly Galilean carpenter. It was a huge statement, with serious implications.

Mark 14:65-72

Fast forward, Jesus is at the garden called Gethsemane. He is saying his last prayers, so to speak. Some mean-looking elite team from the high priest’s office show up: the temple guard. They do not look like they have come for friendly theological debates. In fact, they come to the master and proceed to arrest him. Peter, recovering from a sleepy state, remembers that he had been warned to bring along some weapons.

He looks keenly and recognizes the man firmly holding the man he had grown to love, admire and even worship – Jesus.

“Malchus man, what do you think you are doing? Who do you think you are?” The temple guard must have said something a little unkind. Peter does not remember feeling his hand reach for the sword. He just remembers thinking that this evil man must be stopped. That someone had to take initiative and do something. Peter swung the sword like a strong warrior and a no nonsense fisherman fighting for his friend. He missed the neck, but at least he got the ear. Malchus shouted in pain. Jesus turned, took the disconnected piece of flesh, restored it and rebuked his friend out of violence.

Off they dragged the street preacher for trial. Peter followed, his heart racing, wondering: “What can I do? What will happen? Could this be what Jesus kept saying? I remember I rebuked him when he kept predicting death. And he said some unkind words to me. Was he serious? Is this the night? What should a friend do in such circumstance?” (May be he even asked What Would Jesus Do?)

He probably held an emergency on-the-go staff meeting to strategize. The agenda was simple – How do we save Jesus and how do we punish Judas? The team follows Jesus through to the religious leader’s scandalous trial.

Peter sits down to warm himself on this cold night as he manages his anger and clarifies his course of action. The night is already dark, but darker it’s about to get. A slave and a maid in quick succession accuse Peter of being with the suspect. Peter, to save his skin, denies it. Who would say yes in such a dangerous messiah-hating crowd?

A third confrontation sends him to his lowest. He uses the lowest form of communication, profanity. We are not sure whether he called someone a pig or some worse names. If people use some words on TV with no provocation or danger at all, sure someone in danger of imprisonment should be understood for a few unfriendly words escaping his lips, right?

The rooster crows. Jesus looks. Peter remembers that he had been warned about this. The bird convicted a fallen brother.

That look! I wonder, was it an ‘I-told-you-buddy’ look or a ‘How-could-you …’ look? Whatever emotion the look expressed, the results were expected. I have read enough to know that it was restorative. But to Peter, at the time, it opened a door to all sorts of unpleasant emotions.

Remorse. Regret. Shame. Guilt.

Off he walks into the darkness. Alone. Mad and disappointed with himself. Shocked, even. He has denied his friend in a time of need. He has compromised his commitment to his Friend and Master.

The Scandal: A friend and vowed follower, in fact the preferred successor, denies his friend in public. And not before very significant people. Yet he still became the leader.

Put yourself in Jesus’ shoes. What would be your feelings, thoughts, wishes, imaginations, plans, and reactions? It must have hurt! Yet Peter still got a second chance after Jesus resurrection. He still became the team leader.

Because of the cross, I have a second chance.

But what made Peter do that?

Fear of Consequence – I might be put in or killed alongside Him! Ever compromised for this reason? We overcome this by trusting that God will fight for us. But even if He does not, the King who died on the cross for me is worth even the ultimate sacrifice.

Fear of Standing Out – He did not want to be seen as ‘holier-than-thou’ or the odd one out. Peer pressure and crowd-pleasing fly away when we consider that the Jesus who took a bold cross-stand for us can be trusted to be with us even in shameful, unpleasant circumstances. And that He is the greatest and most important or significant audience – what can man do to you?

Momentary Insanity – Heat of the moment act! Sometimes we compromise without much thought. Jesus gives us His Spirit to direct our paths in righteousness.

Peter is a friend who runs when it hurts. A friend who cannot be trusted when the going gets tough. A follower who keeps at a distance when danger shows up. Compromise limited his relationship with the Master he loved – at least for a while. It does that to us. It pushes you out the presence of the one who truly cares for you.

Do you see yourself in Peter?

I am sure you have denied Jesus before.  Taken a bribe and compromised justice. Partied as if Jesus never died. Ignored his opinion and slept in whichever bed you liked. Lied about something both eyes wide open. Falsely accused a workmate to get rid of her. Broken some rules at work or on the road.

Because of the cross, I have a second chance

Do you feel guilty of a relational ‘denial’ of Christ? Do you walk with regret from a divorce you occasioned or an abortion you participated in? Do you carry shame from a past not pretty? Have you disqualified yourself as a follower of the Messiah through greed and corruption? You need to say to yourself; 

Because of the cross, I have a second chance

The cross is a sign of radical follower-ship. It is a place of:

Restoration – God of a second chance. Take up the second chance, receive forgiveness and forgive yourself. When Jesus resurrected, He said: “But go, tell the disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

Surrender – Gal 2:20: Submit to His will. Peter thought about his safety and his status… At the cross we give up mine for His.

Commitment – Take up your cross and follow Jesus! Peter, after Christ’s death and resurrection became the foremost disciple. He spoke for the team during Pentecost. He suffered a lot as the leader of the church. History tells us he eventually was crucified upside down. He committed to the faith to the very end.

God is calling us to be radical followers of the Master! To receive our restoration, to surrender totally to Him and to give this faith the commitment it deserves.

A story is told about a pig and a hen. They were asked by their master to contribute towards his breakfast. The hen said: “Because of my commitment to serve you, I will give 5 eggs.” The pig said, “Because of my great commitment, I will give you bacon.” Between the pig and the chicken, who showed full commitment?

God is calling us to a bacon-kind of commitment.

We need the resolve to Stand Up and Stand Out for him, no matter the consequences of price. This will take conviction and Courage.

Because of the cross, I have a second chance

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4 Responses to “CSI – Peter”

  1. loving the sermon.

    Like

  2. Because of the cross, I have a second chance.
    powerful words that spoke to m and continue to.
    Because of the cross, I am restored – powerful words that help m forgive someone.
    I continue to look to the cross for I know as a mere mortal, I cannot do this journey alone.
    B Blessed Pastor S

    Like

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