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Archive for April 8th, 2015

COLLECT OF THE DAY

Almighty God,by the glorious resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ,  You destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light.Grant that we who have been raised with Him may abide in His presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory;through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord,who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,one God, now and forever.

READINGS:

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

Psalm 61

 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

 St. John 21:1-14

Reflection on the Gospel LessonJohn 21: 1-14. In this Gospel reading, the risen Lord asked Peter 3 times, Do you love me more than these? 3 times the Lord said, “Feed My sheep”. Feed them in the pastures of His Word. The number 3 was quite significant to Peter as Peter denied Jesus three times. Then after the Lord’s Ascension Peter does not want to go to the Gentile Centurion, Cornelius’ home because Peter would eat unclean animals.  3 times a sheet is lowered with unclean and clean animals, the Lord telling him to eat. The name Peter means “Rock”.  It takes time for many of us “to get it through our thick heads”!  But Peter did not seem to have a hard heart. After Jesus walked on the water, Peter almost commanded the Lord and the Lord invited  him: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14)  Then we he saw the waves and the wind, the storm  and Peter began to sink.  When he saw the storm around the fire as Jesus was being taken to trial, likewise he sank.  A good heart is not enough.  Pr. Johann Gerhard made a crucial distinction regarding Peter for our edification:

 “We should also contemplate how Peter came to such a fall (i.e. his denial), in order that we avoid the same. He was entirely too daring (presumptuous)–meaning that it all depended upon a good heart and good intentions. When he noticed others who were not like him in this matter, he held them in disdain. Thus he experienced how very little we are capable of if God does not sustain us. Therefore we should indeed not rely on the strength of our own faith, or on our good intentions. God’s power does it, and it alone must do everything.

I think Peter was the first evangelical-born-again ”I made my decision” Protestant pietist. I would love a congregation of those kind of Peters, but I know I am more like Peter when he saw the waves and the Rock sank.  Peter was a good guy, but even our goodness, apart from God, also needs Christ’s redemption, His Body and Blood, His forgiveness every step of the Way. It is my good heart and good intentions that can wreak the greatest damage in congregations, families and nations. I will impose my version of the good but it will pale in comparison to the Lord in His Word.  A  good person will boast, I live for others.  C. S.Lewis said, you tell who that person is by the hunted expressions for those round about. See Simon Peter and look to Jesus Christ.

Don’t look to  your life for salvation, because the Law points out to us, and our hearts, our sin, and points us to the Lord.  Peter found that out after he denied Jesus three times, the arrested Jesus simply looked at Peter. Peter wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61-63Peter finally knew his good heart was not enough, his decisions for Jesus did not bridge the gap between himself and the Lord, only the Lord’s hand, His Word, His decision savedhim…again and again and again!  He is risen!

Back in Luke 5 and the miraculous catch of fish, when the boat begins to sink because of the haul of fish, Peter jumps into water and falls before the Lord, “Depart from me O Lord for I am a sinful man.” First note, that Jesus did not answer Peter’s prayer in the affirmative!  Peter would discover the depths of his sin and the greater depths of the forgiveness and mercy in Jesus, the heart of His Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.  After the resurrection, Peter would forget this as recorded in the New Testament but the Lord brought Him back to Himself in true repentance.  And in this scene from John 21, Peter once more impulsively throws himself into the depths because he loved the Lord, because by His love  Peter, you, me and everyone we meet has been redeemed.  Now may His Word open our hearts to our Redeemer and  by faith be saved knowing the depths of His truth and grace for sinners and also for me and for thee as well day by day.  We pray…

O Lord Jesus Christ, look upon me, a poor sinner, with Your eyes of mercy, the same eyes of mercy with which You looked upon Peter in the assembly-room, upon Mary Magdalene at the banquet, and upon the malefactor on the cross. Grant to me also,almighty God, that with Peter I bemoan my sin from the heart, with Mary Magdalene sincerely love You, and with the malefactor on the cross may live eternally with You in Your kingdom. Amen. (Johann Gerhard)

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