SERMON: Peter Gets It...Then Doesn't (Matthew 16:21-28)

We all know the story of how Peter denied Jesus three times (Mark 14).

In light of that, and because this week's sermons in our churches will be based off of Matthew 16:21-28 which also involves Peter, I thought I would share with you three separate sermons that beautifully proclaim Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 2:2; 1 John 2:2).

I don't mean to overwhelm you, but I do know that faithful sermons are, sadly, hard to come by throughout the LCMS Church today. So, perhaps you will find all three as edifying as I did this morning.


 
"Peter Gets The 'Who' But Not The 'How'" By Pastor Charles Henrickson

"A Pebble In The Savior’s Sandals" By Pastor Tony Sikora

Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost By Pastor James T. Batchelor


Of course, each one is worth reading from beginning to end, but here are some of my favorite excerpts.


"Last week, we heard that marvelous confession by Peter: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the God who lives.' You may recall that Jesus praised God the Father for revealing this special confession to Peter. Then Jesus sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone about this confession. As we read the rest of the Gospel accounts, we learn that Jesus regularly told people to keep His identity to themselves. It almost seems as though Jesus did not want people to know that He was the promised Messiah or Christ. This particular instruction puzzles many people. Why wouldn’t Jesus want people to know His true identity? Why did He strongly warn people not to tell others about Him? Today, we hear the answer to that question. The disciples got the words right when they confessed that Jesus is the Christ, but they did not know what those words meant. If you read last week’s Gospel and this week’s Gospel together, you understand that right after Peter made this marvelous confession, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. Basically, Jesus had heard this great confession and now He wanted the disciples to understand what it means to be the Christ. It means suffering, death, and resurrection. It means taking your sin onto Himself and carrying it to the cross. Peter very ably demonstrated that the disciples did not get it. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, 'Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.' That word rebuke is just a fancy way of saying that Peter chewed Jesus out. Think about that for just a minute. Peter is the one whose mouth confessed that Jesus is the Almighty Son of the God who lives. Then, just five verses later, that same Peter is chewing out the Almighty Son of the God who lives ... the one through whom all things were created. It becomes very obvious that the title Christ means one thing to Jesus and something entirely different to Peter. Jesus lost little time in straightening out Peter’s theology. He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.' There is a lot going on in this reply." 
*- Pastor James T. Batchelor 

"Peter wants life to be happy. You want life to be fun. And our culture has wholeheartedly bought into such a worldview. We want everything to be fun. We want school to be fun. We want homework to be fun. We want learning to be fun. We want to have fun jobs and fun marriages and families and fun parents making play with fun children. Want every aspect of our lives to be fun even church, even Jesus. We want fun Jesus not crucified Jesus. Fun becomes our idol and entertainment becomes our means of grace. This is why we chase after technology and bow before the video screens be they on our walls, in our pockets or hanging from the rafters of Christ’s church. These entertain us and provide us with the illusion that what we are doing is fun when in reality what we are doing is dying as we surrender our humanity, our dignity in order to gain the whole world apart from the cross. And when the illusion is made manifest, when the consequences of sin crash our party, when marriage begins to hurt, or children rebel, or cancer departs only after taking our loved one, or our job requires our sweat, or our education requires discipline, or we don’t seem to get much out of bible study, or worship seems same ole’ same ole, then we deny Christ and begin to appease Old Adam. Rather than repent and follow and obey the Savior we prefer to go another way. The chase is on again to find the fun wife, the fun husband, the fun family, the fun church, the fun life. Thus we chase and we hunt and we abandon our post and we surrender our vows and we hurt the ones we said we loved. We hurt the ones we promised never to hurt. We sin against each other while trying to please ourselves and avoid the burden of love toward our neighbor. Peter wanted a different Jesus, a different life, than the Father was giving him. So do we. And for that we must repent. For such things are of Satan. They are demonic. They are like pebbles in Jesus’ sandals; attempts to deter Him from Loving us with His whole heart by getting in His way. Peter rebuked Jesus for His self-sacrifice. So do we when we deny the cross He’s given us and seek to love ourselves and gain the whole world. We reject what it means to be Christ. We reject what it means to be Christian, disciples of the Christ. Jesus will not have such disciples. He’ll have none of that because any of that is not following Jesus but following the devil, or the devil who makes himself into some sort of fun Jesus. So Jesus calls Peter out. He calls you out. Jesus calls Peter, Satan. He calls you to repentance and tells you how its going to be if you’re going to be following Jesus. ... Here in the Lord’s house is the reality of our new world, where fallen creatures like us gather together around the body and blood of the Risen Christ. Here the Savior walks with us and talks with us and tells us we are His own, not in some emotional mystical manner but really and truly through His Word and His Sacrament. No, the liturgy is not necessarily fun, but we are not here to pursue the fun, we are here to receive life, the life of Christ and to have it as our own. This life comes to us through Word and water and bread and wine and liturgy and hymnody and the blessed conversation and consolation of the brethren. Here in this place we are not only made Christians through the word and sacraments but we are preserved as His Christians through the Word and Sacraments." 
*- Pastor Tony Sikora

"'Get behind me, Satan!' What a harsh rebuke to tell Peter, the disciple he had just commended so heartily. 'Get behind me, Satan!' Why, those are the very words Jesus had used on Satan himself, at the temptation in the wilderness. Satan had not wanted Jesus to carry through with his mission. So he tempted Jesus to take the easy way out, to achieve glory apart from suffering, apart from going to the cross. So Jesus told him, 'Get behind me, Satan!' And now Jesus uses those same words to rebuke Peter, for Peter, even without realizing it, is speaking the will of the devil, not the will of God. 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.' You see, Jesus will not be dissuaded from carrying out his mission, even if–even as–that mission takes him the way of the cross. Jesus came to do the will of his Father, who sent him. And that will is to redeem mankind from their sins–from our sins. And the only way to do that is for Jesus himself to bear the weight of our sin and guilt and shame. That’s the 'how' that Peter didn’t get. And let’s be honest here. We would not have gotten it, either. It doesn’t make sense to the natural man. We expect glory. We want glory and God’s approval. We don’t think things are bad enough between us and God–certainly not on our part–that it should require God’s own Son to die in our place. But that’s the reality of the situation. Things are that bad. We have no goodness in ourselves that will stand the test of God’s judgment. No, we have sinned, sinned against our Creator. We have not listened to his voice. Instead, we have gone off on our own, each one of us wanting to be our own god, making our own decisions about what’s right and wrong. That’s rebellion. That’s sin, the original sin, which lurks inside each one of us. And God’s judgment on sin is death–eternal death, separation from God for eternity. What’s the answer? What’s the remedy–if there is to be a remedy? The answer will have to come from God. We could not do it. We could not pile up enough good works to atone for our sin and thus avert our eternal death and damnation. But God can. God does. And that’s where Jesus comes in, both the 'who' and the 'how.' For it will take the Christ sent from heaven, it will take the Son of the living God, to do what you and I cannot do. Only Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, can accomplish our redemption and our deliverance. That’s the 'who.' And the 'how' is that he will do this precisely by his suffering and death. For by dying in our place, on the cross, Jesus pays the price for our transgression. His holy blood does indeed atone for the sins of mankind. God’s justice is satisfied. God’s great mercy is displayed, in its highest form. God so loved the world–he so loved you and me–that he gave his one and only Son, so that we would not perish eternally, but instead have everlasting life. And that, then, that is the 'what.'" 
*- Pastor Charles Henrickson


Please don't assume that I just pulled the best or most important parts of each sermon either. Besides, they carry so much more weight when you read them in context and as part of the entire sermon so please do it. If anything, my hope and prayer is that those carefully selected excerpts will merely prompt you to want to read the rest.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, Peter may have denied Jesus three times, but there's no denying the profound truth that we learn from another interaction he had with Jesus as recorded for us in Matthew 16:21-28, and as explained to us through these three exceptional sermons delivered by three truly called and ordained ministers of God's Word.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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