A Sermon on Luke 22:54-65 by Rev. Dr. Daniel L. Wong

Martin Grove Baptist Church, Toronto, Good Friday, April 14, 2017

We have all had an experience when we failed someone. We promised that we would never ever tell another living soul, but we did. We said that we would keep and watch a friend’s house and water the plants. The results? Wilted flowers and a rift in the relationship. We feel ashamed.

Peter in the Bible had that experience as well. In “The Crowing Rooster and Me: The Burden of Shame” by Max Lucado:

“See the fellow in the shadows? That’s Peter. Peter the apostle. Peter the impetuous. Peter the passionate. He once walked on water. Stepped right out of the boat onto the lake. He’ll soon preach to thousands. Fearless before friends and foes alike. But tonight the one who stepped on the water has hurried into hiding. The one who will speak with power is weeping in pain.

Not sniffling or whimpering, but weeping. Bawling. Bearded face buried in thick hands. His how echoing in the Jerusalem night. What hurts more? The fact that he did it? Or the fact that he swore he never would?

‘Lord I am ready to go with you to prison and even to die with you? He pledged only hours earlier.’ But Jesus said, ‘Peter, before the rooster crows this day, you will deny me three times that you don’t know me’” (Luke 22:33-34) [Traveling Light, Thomas Nelson, 2001]

The painting by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-90) captures this powerful moment of denial. Prints of this passed to the congregation.

  1. The denial

On a cool spring night, similar to what we are experiencing lately, In the courtyard, Peter seeks warmth by a coal fire where others are gathered. He sits down among others. We see him instinctively reaching out his hands, rubbing them together to keep the circulation going.

A servant girl looks closely at him in the firelight and said, “This man was with him.” Peter denied it saying, “I don’t know him.” Peter doesn’t answer the question directly. The gospel of Matthew says, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” The first denial. In baseball, we call that strike one.

A little later a person saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” You are one of Jesus’ disciples. “Man, I am not,” was Peter reply. One commentator says Luke is more kind to Peter. The denial is found in all four Gospels. Matthew and Mark say that Peter called down curses and make an oath. He swore that he was not one of Jesus’ disciples. The second denial. Strike two. Time passes. An hour later of relative silence. We’re not sure what was going through Peter’s mind. Maybe he was recounting his relationship with Jesus.

“Certainly this man was with him, for he is a Galilean.” His accent gave him away. He was from the northern area of Galilee, not this southern area of Judea where they are in Jerusalem. Jesus is often called a Galilean as he spent his early years in Nazareth. He was born in Bethlehem in Judea. Interestingly enough, the twelve disciples were Galileans except one. That is Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.

One’s accent is one way to identify others. Some of us have been identified or misidentified regarding our country of origin. How many have been asked, “What are you?” We feel fenced in and marginalized. Did Peter feel this way in his life?

Peter is close is being discovered. John’s account says that the accuser was a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off. Peter denied it. Strike three. You’re out!

It was right at the moment when Jesus was shackled and shuffled between trials that Jesus encounters Peter. It was in between a meeting with the former high priest Annas and current high priest Caiphas that this encounter took place. Not one, not two, but three denials.

  1. The shame

Luke records the incident, just as Peter was speaking, the rooster crowed and the Lord looks straight at Peter. Peter is caught red handed. Caught in a lie. You are gossiping about someone and the person walks right behind and catches you talking about him. It is like you hand is caught in the cookie jar.

What triggered Peter’s memory? Was it that rooster’s crowing? The focus here is the look of the Lord. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”

Jesus was on his way to the cross. Five more trials to come. Peter was following at a distance and now he denies the Lord.

What shame. A number of translations use the word “disown.” That is a strong term means that you give up a person or object. To disassociate yourself with some one. We are reminded of the prodigal son leaving his father and asking for his inheritance.

Peter’s response is grief, weeping bitterly. He was sorry but couldn’t tell Jesus directly.      Shame is called “one of the most destructive emotions. Shame is that painful, sinking feeling that tells us that we’re flawed or defective. The French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre described shame as that ‘immediate shudder which runs through me from head to foot.’ https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/intimacy-path-toward-spirituality/201608/the-power-healthy-shame For Judas it could lead him to a false repentance and to suicide. We have experienced crippling shame. The voices of accusation. Many of the cultures of our origins are shame-based.

On the other hand, shame can lead us to a positive outcome. If one doesn’t experience any shame, that person can be cold. It can bring us to face real self. It can bring us to the restoration of relationships.

3.  The anticipated restoration

Jesus had predicted Peter’s denial. Luke 22:31-32: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

No doubt Jesus’ look was one of compassion and love. Luke used the word John used in John 1:42 to describe the way Jesus looked at Peter when they first met. It usually signifies a looks of interest, love and concern (Walter Liefeld, “Luke” in Expositor’s Bible Commentary).

After the denial, the disowning, after the fall, Peter has future. When you return from the far field like the Prodigal son, there is a waiting father, there are open arms. We will see that story on Easter Sunday in John 21.

Make sure that shame leads to a positive outcome – a restoration of relationships.

Conclusion:

Jesus moves on his journey to the cross. Guards mock and beat him. They blindfold him and see if he is really a prophet. Who hit you? Jesus suffers the fate of the prophets before. It is only a foretaste of more suffering to come.

Jesus moves on his journey to the cross. Guards mock and beat him. They blindfold him and see if he is really a prophet. Who hit you? Jesus suffers the fate of the prophets before. It is only a foretaste of more suffering to come.

Display large nail. There is a great emotional impact of what  Jesus suffered for us. Crucifixion on this Good Friday.

It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’ – famous sermon by S. M. Lockeridge:

“It’s Friday

The disciples are running

Like sheep without a shepherd

Mary’s crying

Peter is denying

But they don’t know

That Sunday’s a comin’”

The entire sermon section:

https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2014/04/18/its-fridaybut-sundays-comin/

“The Crowing Rooster and Me.” I think more of this passage of Jesus look and me. I remember my words of commitment and Jesus words of assurance. He know my failures, he had time for me and for the compassionate look on the way to the cross.

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