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Pentecost 13 2020, Proper 17
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
August 30, 2020
Jeremiah 15:15-21, Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 16:21-28

 

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Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
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Jacob is in the kitchen making scrambled eggs.  He cracks the eggs into a water glass and stirs in some milk and cheddar cheese and bacon bits and beats the eggs in the glass with a spoon while the big frying pan is heating on the stove with a hunk of butter melting in it. Jacob’s wife Katie comes into the kitchen and sees what he is doing.  She loves Jacob. She wants the best for him, and he is doing it all wrong.  Katie takes the frying pan off the stove and puts it in the sink and then grabs the glass of eggs out of Jacob’s hands and pours it down the drain.  She looks at him and scolds him, saying, “That’s not how I would do it.  My way is better.”  This is what Peter does to Jesus in our Gospel reading today regarding something infinitely more important than an omelet.

Peter has just confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Peter is right on the mark. He is confessing the right thing. Jesus commends Peter and says that on this rock He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.  Peter is saying the right things but then Jesus begins to explain what it means to be the Christ.

Matthew 16:21 (ESV) 21 From that time 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.[1]  This is the first time that Jesus tells the disciples what is ahead.  He will tell them twice more before arriving in Jerusalem.  These are often called passion predictions; a prediction of Jesus’ suffering and death.  But calling this a passion prediction is missing something.

Matthew 16:21 (ESV) 21 From that time 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.[2]

            Why does Peter say this?  What is his motivation?  This is where it gets tricky.  Peter loves Jesus.  Peter wants to protect Jesus.  Peter is motivated by love, but we see here how the demands of love can get things terribly wrong.

It is a passion and resurrection prediction.  Jesus gives the disciples both the bad news and the good news.  Jesus tells them plainly what is going to happen, but Peter is having none of it.  Peter basically tells Jesus, “That’s not how I would do it.  My way is better.”  Matthew 16:22 (ESV) 22 … “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”[3]

Why does Peter say this?  What is his motivation?  This is where it gets tricky.  Peter loves Jesus.  Peter wants to protect Jesus.  Peter is motivated by love, but we see here how the demands of love can get things terribly wrong.

Because of Peter’s love for Jesus, Peter rejects Jesus’ Words, and this is from Satan.  Peter wants to take control of Jesus’ words and do them the way Peter wants them done. Peter, out of love, wants to prevent Jesus from going to the cross.  Peter, out of love, believes his way is better.  Matthew 16:23 (ESV) 23 But [Jesus] 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.” [4]

We are very much guided by our emotions; our feelings.  Peter is an emotional person but his emotions are not a good guide.  Peter’s emotions lead him to sin.

Love is not where you get your theology; your understanding of God. Your feelings and emotions are not where you find truth.  You find truth in faith.  You find truth in faith because faith has nothing to say about itself, faith only speaks about what it is given in God’s Word.  Faith is focused on the object of faith given to you from God.  Your feelings; your emotions are focused on yourself and they can easily lead you into false belief.

The demands of love can get things terribly wrong.  Love can get you to call good evil and evil good.  It can have you rejecting God’s Word in order to conform to the ever changing ways of the world.  It can have you very concerned about the things of man while ignoring the things of God.

God gives you His gifts of forgiveness and eternal life with His Words, and His Words do what they say.  “I baptize you.  I forgive you all your sins.  Take eat, this is my body.  Take drink, this is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  Jesus’ truth is not an easy truth.  Jesus truth is that there is a penalty for sin that needs to be paid.  Jesus’ truth is what we learn in Hebrews 9:22 (ESV) 22 …without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.[5]

Jesus’ declaration that He will suffer and be killed and on the third day rise from the dead is the hard truth about sin, but is also the great good news that in His resurrection Jesus conquers sin and death.

Faith does not talk about itself, but only about what it is given.  Faith comes first from God and love flows out of faith.  Love follows faith because love is the fulfilling of the Law.  Romans 13:10 (ESV) 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.[6]

It is very easy to fall into Peter’s error of letting love drive your theology rather than letting love flow out of faith.  When love drives your theology you can quickly fall into the satanic practice of commandeering God’s words and making them say what you want them to say. Letting love drive your theology brings you into a theology of glory in which emphasizes your own works and your own reason.

The late Rev. Dr. Norman Nagel, a retired professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and former Dean of the Chapel at Valparaiso, University, was not known for mincing words.  He says it like this, “Peter speaks for Satan even with a heart full of love, ‘This will never happen to you.’  You can confess, saying all the right words, with a heart full of love for an alternative Christ, and be the mouthpiece for Satan.”

The apostle Peter falls into this satanic trap, so be alert.  Don’t think that you are immune.  Be on guard against letting love drive your theology.  And as Jesus instructs, Matthew 16:24 (ESV) 24 … “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.[7] Christians under persecution in other countries know much more clearly what it means to take up their cross and follow Jesus.  Following Jesus is not a promise of an easy life; it is a promise of eternal life.  You want to find your own way, but Jesus is the only way.  Jesus clearly teaches that following Him means following Him.  “If anyone would come after me…follow me…for my sake.”  Faith follows Jesus.  Love flows from faith.

Deny yourself and follow Jesus.  Denying yourself is not a popular message in this world in which you are encouraged to indulge yourself, pamper yourself, fulfill yourself.  Because you earned it; you deserve it.  But Jesus says deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.

Your sinful nature is not much of a fan of denying yourself; you are much more likely to want to deny the cross.  Your sinful nature so much wants to believe that the cross really is not necessary.  Your sinful nature so much wants to believe that your sins are not that big a deal, that you can take care of it yourself.  You don’t need to do it Jesus’ way because you have a better way.  You want to believe you can do it yourself…but you cannot.  You need Jesus.  You need the cross.  This is why you don’t follow your feelings…you follow Jesus.  You follow Jesus because sin is serious…deadly serious, and there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.

Thank God Jesus is who He says He is and He does what He says He will do.  Jesus goes to the cross as the ultimate blood sacrifice; shedding His blood for you.  Jesus rises from the dead in victory over sin and death.

Peter rebukes Jesus, and Jesus rebukes Peter, but Jesus doesn’t give up on Peter even after Peter denies Him three times, Jesus does not give up on Peter. Jesus forgives Peter and restores Peter three times, feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep.

Jesus does not give up on you.  Jesus does not deny the cross.  Jesus does not avoid the cross.  Jesus goes to the cross for you.  Jesus rises from the dead for you.  For the forgiveness of your sins.  Jesus does it His way and gives His gift of forgiveness to you in His Word and in His sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.

Do not let your feelings and emotions control your theology.  Your faith is not in your emotions.  Your faith is in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who gave Himself as the offering for your sin and promises you forgiveness and eternal life.  Amen.

 

 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[6]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[7]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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