“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.”
If you will recall from last week, I talked about St. Peter, or Rocky, as my NT professor liked to call him. Some like to put him on a pedestal, but it is obvious from our studies of the Bible that St. Peter was an equal in the company of the Apostles.
Before the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came on the Apostles as tongues of flame, Rocky was often doing some rather questionable things.
Three weeks ago we heard about how Rocky got out the boat to walk on the water toward Jesus. Then he looked down, and thought, What am I doing? He was filled with fear. Why? He took his eyes off Jesus, and he was afraid of the wind and the waves, and he lost his faith for that one moment.
Jesus said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Remember how Rocky betrayed Jesus three times just as Jesus as predicted?
Today, in our Gospel reading, we heard a conversation between Jesus and his disciples about what was to take place. Let’s listen to that again.
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him! Think about that for a minute. We know Peter is brash, and often says things that seem extreme, but this time he goes too far.
Jesus is pretty sharp with him, going as far as to call him Satan, and a stumbling block.
Obviously, Peter did not understand the need for Jesus to make the ultimate sacrifice. He is, after all, a simple fisherman, who never received an education, couldn’t read and write, and probably did not spend a lot of time in the Temple.
He was a working man, and probably worked from sunup to sundown six days a week to bring in enough catch to make living, to care for his family, including his mother.
It is safe to say he did not understand why Jesus would need to become the sacrificial Lamb, for the atonement of the people of God. So he says, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”
There are many people, and perhaps many Christians who don’t fully understand why Jesus had to die in the first place. This is because they are not familiar with the Old Testament teaching of the Passover, and the subsequent annual remembrance of the night that the Angel of death visited the houses of Egypt.
Maybe we should start showing the great movie starring Charlton Heston, The Ten Commandments during Holy Week!
On the eve of the Exodus from Egypt, the LORD commanded each family to take a male sheep or goat of less than one year old, and slaughter it, and paint the blood on the lintel and doorposts of their houses.
That the night, the LORD would strike down the first born males in Egypt, except at those houses where he saw the blood. The LORD said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.”
The Jews were commanded to reenact this night every year, sacrificing more lambs, and other kinds of animals to keep this act fresh in their minds, and teach it to their children.
The LORD emphasized that fact, that it should be taught to their children. I know people who had well-meaning parents who told their children that they wanted them to make up their own minds about what to believe, and now they have no religion at all.
If it’s important to send your children to grade school, should it not be just as important to send them to Sunday School?
Peter didn’t have the luxury of either, but when he met them, Jesus told Peter and his brother Andrew that he would make them fishers of men. They had a new destiny to fulfill, and they left their nets and followed Jesus.
If Jesus could redeem Rocky, then he can redeem anyone. Including us! None of us is perfect. None of us can say we wouldn’t deny Jesus when faced with some harsh fear, like the loss of some Facebook friends, but we will be tested.
Many of the martyrs of our Church stood firm in the face of torture and death for their beliefs, and it is happening right now in the Middle East. Would we stand firm?
We do not have to worry about that, because we have not faced such fears, and we are not likely to, but if we do, we have a true friend in Jesus, who will never desert us, and will never unfriend us.
Just remember the verse that I started this sermon with: “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.”
That is indeed a warning that there will be a judgement some day. All of us will face it. Some of us will face it alone, but some of us will have an advocate, a lawyer, so to speak, who will speak on behalf of us.
That lawyer is Jesus, who fulfilled the Law of Moses for us, so we do not have to face the penalty. We have all done things in secret that we pray we will not be judged for, and when the time comes to face the Judge, who do want on your side?
Who do want to be your Advocate? I know I want Jesus there beside me, and you do, too. And what do we need to do now? Walk with Jesus, and keep him by your side, in this world, and pray he will be at your side in the next.
Set your mind on the divine.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.