For Lord’s Day, May 19, 2013
You might remember a really helpful nugget I shared in a sermon a while back from Pastor Jeff Stivason about Peter’s triple denial of Jesus Christ in the Gospels before the cock crowed. Peter wept bitterly, of course.
Pastor Jeff pointed out that every time Peter would later hear a cock crow, we might imagine he would feel terribly guilty. Certainly, the pain of knowing what he did would likely arise in his heart. However, Pastor Jeff pointed out that every time a cock crowed, Peter also would be reminded of grace alone, by faith alone, through Christ alone. He would remember that Jesus had to go to the cross alone to pay for his sins just like everyone else; contrary to Peter’s earlier cocksure commitments of undying loyalty, he could not go with Jesus to the cross.
Also, Jesus ordained and predicted that Peter would deny Him thrice so as to prepare him for ministry — not disqualify him. Peter would be humbled to serve, and grateful for grace to pass on to others.
I believe it was Alistair Begg this week who in a sermon tied the end of John’s Gospel together with this part of the story; he had another great nugget I want to share with you. In John 21, Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” And each time after Peter affirms his affection for our Lord, Christ says, “Feed my lambs” or “Feed my sheep.” Peter grieves, but Jesus is not here giving Peter a guilt trip; rather, a grace tip. Jesus wanted Peter to serve His Church after He went back to His Heavenly Father, and Peter needs to really believe this before he will be able to do so and be trusted by others. Jesus is alluding to Peter’s earlier sinful triple denial, no doubt. But Jesus is here before everyone giving Peter a triple affirmation of grace and apostleship! Christ had come back from facing the cross and shows that there He truly saved His people from their sins, including Peter!
Calvin explains John 21:17:
” … being free from every disgraceful stain, [Peter] might boldly preach the Gospel; and the reason why Christ thrice appoints him to be a pastor is, that the three denials, by which Peter had brought on himself everlasting shame, may be set aside, and thus may form no barrier to his apostleship, as has been judiciously observed by [early Church Fathers] Chrysostom, Augustine, and Cyril … “
What have you done this week that has you ashamed to return to Jesus? See here He humbles you through the experience. And then He affirms you with the reminder that there is no guilt for those under grace. And He calls you before all His people to serve Him with no barriers between you, Him, or His church. Praise the Lord! And serve Him with confidence.