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MID-WEEK LENT SERMON TWO
Text: John 18:15-25
Preached by Vicar Roy Askins

The almost innocent question invites Peter to say ‘no.’ “You’re not one of those disciples, are you?” The tempter who deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden saying, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1), tempts Peter also. He asks questions which set up Eve and Peter to answer, “No. God did not forbid us to eat of any tree in the garden,” or “No, I am not one of His disciples.” The tempter makes it easy; the answer rolls off the tongue. “I am not” (John 18:25).
MID-WEEK LENT SERMON TWO
Text: John 18:15-25
Preached by Vicar Roy Askins

The almost innocent question invites Peter to say ‘no.’ “You’re not one of those disciples, are you?” The tempter who deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden saying, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1), tempts Peter also. He asks questions which set up Eve and Peter to answer, “No. God did not forbid us to eat of any tree in the garden,” or “No, I am not one of His disciples.” The tempter makes it easy; the answer rolls off the tongue. “I am not” (John 18:25).

This is our double-edged text today: the words of Peter “I am not,” after they asked him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” (John 18:25). While Christ stood confronting Satan, sin and the world, Peter stood in the courtyard denying Him. The double-edge becomes sharper when set against Jesus’ words in Matthew, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10: 32-33) The double-edge is this: when Peter denies Jesus, he denies his discipleship. Peter thought he was deceiving those around him when in fact he was deceiving himself. The one who denies Christ cannot be a disciple of Christ.

In earthly organizations, denial of membership doesn’t necessarily matter. You may deny you hang out with those people, that she is your mother, or that you belong to the drama club, and so long as no one finds out, it probably won’t matter. For the earthly organizations, you can deny to others that you belong, yet still remain a member. The same goes for parents. You might be ashamed of your parents around your friends, but they remain your parents.
Not so for you dear Christian. You cannot deny Jesus and still be saved. Christ’s words are sure and clear: “For whoever is ashamed of Me in this adulterous and wicked generation, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38)

Satan first tempts us to deny Christ in Word and deed. So when you’re discussing evolution with your classmates, he says, “Are you really one of His disciples, one of those creationists? You really believe that?” Or perhaps among coworkers, “Are you really one of His disciples, the sort of disciple who won’t waste a little bit of time on the internet at work?” Are you really one of His disciples?

In both word and deed, we can deny Christ. Dr. Martin Luther’s explanation to the first petition, “Hallowed be Thy name,” says, “That God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity and when we as the children of God, live holy lives according to it.”

When we have denied Christ by our words and actions, the edge of the law strikes deep convicting us. “You have denied your Savior,” it says, “You are unworthy.” Who will rescue us from this sword’s edge? Just like Peter, we need rescuing. Who will save us when we deny Christ, not only with our lips but also our actions?

When we here look in the mirror of the law, Satan often seizes the opportunity to level his second temptation. He tempts you to deny that Christ loves you enough to save you. He says, “Look at all your sins. Are you, you ugly, dirty sinner really one of His disciples? A true disciple of Jesus wouldn’t gossip, cheat or lie. Look at all the sins you have committed. You can’t possibly be one of His disciples!”

Yet the other edge of the sword also strikes just as deep. But where the first edge brings death for sin, the second edges brings life through Christ. So when the question is put to Jesus, “Are these really Your disciples?” there is no hesitation. His answer hold no doubt. The chief cornerstone answers in resounding tones, “Yes, these are my disciples.” He assures us that He will never stop loving us. We may turn from Him, but Jesus still seeks us. Even though Peter was out in the courtyard denying Christ, Christ was inside bearing that sin. Not until the last day will He deny those who have turned from Him, and unless we dwell in unrepentant sin, which is unbelief, He will not turn from us.

Jesus reinstated Peter by the sea of Tiberia. Jesus brought Peter back to Him through repentance and absolution. He asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” After Peter replied, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you,” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-19) Jesus is saying, “This is why I came, to save sinners who when they promised to stand by me, denied me instead. Peter, I came to save sinners like you.”

Dear Christians, Christ came to save you. Yes, you are His disciples. Satan might tempt you to deny this. He might tempt you to deny Jesus’ love for you. He might tempt you to deny Jesus before men. But, in spite of all of Satan’s temptations, Christ will not deny you. Amen.


02/20/2008