Midweek 5 LSB #’s 704, 609 v.1, 4-7, 575
Text – Luke 22:55
And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard & sat down together, Peter sat down among them.
The Courtyard: A Place of Renewal
Have you ever been caught by surprise in a store? Your son’s car won’t start, so you drive him to an early morning football practice. You haven’t had time to shower or put on anything decent. On the way home, you stop by the store to grab a few things & then comes the voice. Someone calls out your name. Normally, you like meeting people... but not today.
Today, you want to run & hide. Why? Because all of a sudden you see yourself & you think, “Do I really look like this, out in a public place?” It’s a moment of self-revelation.
Tonight, we have a moment of self-discovery for Peter. He sees who he is in terms of his denial, but, by God’s grace, Jesus also holds out another picture for us. A picture of who Jesus is for Peter: his Savior.
This evening, we’ll meditate on these two pictures – Peter’s denial & Peter’s Savior. Doing that, it is my prayer that we will grow in trust of our Lord, who enters places of denial & turns them into places of renewal in His love.
Consider the courtyard – the place of Peter’s denial. As we listen to the conversation that occurs there, we see more & more of Peter’s life stripped away. It’s like watching a crack in the foundation slowly spread, bringing the whole house to ruin. The servant girl is the 1st to reveal the problem. She mentions the relationship between Peter & Jesus:
“This man also was with Him,” she says. (Luke 22:56) She puts Peter & Jesus together with these words, but Peter denies it: “I do not know Him,” he says – a crack in the foundation. He denies his Lord, & when your relationship with Jesus is broken, it doesn’t take long for everything else to give way. From there, we move to Peter’s relationship with Jesus & the disciples. Someone says, “You are also one of them.” (22:58)
So, we have Peter & Jesus & then Peter & the disciples. Finally, someone offers the bigger picture. He says, “Certainly, this fellow was with Him, for he too is a Galilean.” (22:59) We move from Peter & Jesus to Peter & the disciples to Peter & all of the ministry of Jesus in Galilee. And Peter still says “No.”
When your relationship with Jesus is broken, it doesn’t take long for everything else to give way. At that moment, Peter experiences a time of painful self-revelation. He hears a sound, sees a face, & remembers a word. Luke wrote:
“Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned & looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord.” (22:60–61) Like hearing your name called in a store, Peter at this point remembers & sees. He remembers what Jesus said. Jesus knew him better than he knew himself.
Peter said he would follow Jesus to prison. He’d follow Him to death, but instead, he denied that he ever knew Jesus. This is a moment of spiritual self-revelation. By our own might, we are unable to follow Jesus. Salvation is not dependent on what we do for our Lord. It never has been, & never will be.
If ever we rely on our own strength rather than Jesus, we also have entered into a place of denial. That is what really makes a place of denial; not the drama of having other people question you about Jesus. It is the simple nature of your relationship to God’s Son. Whenever we rely on our own strength instead of on Jesus, we’ve entered into a place of denial.
Think about our places of denial. They are not as dramatic as Peter’s, but they are places of denial, nonetheless. It could be a place of honor in the church. We are founding members of the congregation. It could be a place of great leadership, as we’ve done much to further the kingdom of God. It could be the frequency & fervor of our devotional life.
We look at these things: our years of membership, our leadership, our attendance in a congregation, our time spent in Bible study & prayer, & slowly we begin to think we are strong in the faith because of our own doing. We become a bit bolder in our witness. We speak out at work, sharing our disgust with our culture’s sinful lifestyle. We speak up at church meetings.
After all, people should listen to us; we’ve been members around here for years. And, as we think we are growing stronger & stronger in the faith, we actually are neglecting the crack in the foundation. There are many ways of denial, you see.
We can deny Jesus by saying we never knew Him – clearly, emphatically, right in the middle of a courtyard – or we can deny Jesus by saying we do know Him, loudly, emphatically, self-righteously, all the while forgetting His work in our lives.
You look like a Christian. You act like a Christian. You do all the things that a Christian does, but there’s a crack in the foundation. You’re relying on your own power, your own achievements, & the crack between you & Jesus grows. Soon, the whole structure will fall.
There’ll come a time when we’ve not been able to do as we had hoped, when we tell our child “Christians don’t do that,” & he says, “But, Dad, you do it all the time.” When we sign the divorce papers & our spouse says, “But I thought you said, ‘I do.’”
When we see that we cannot follow into prison or give our lives unto death, that we are weak, & we are sinful, & there is no health in us, & for a despairing moment, all we can say is “We are lost in sin & cannot set ourselves free.” To such people, Luke offers another word this evening. The word of Jesus. The story of His Passion.
In the midst of our failure, Jesus is & remains the one who takes our sin away. Our
salvation does not depend on how much we can bear for Jesus. Instead, it depends on what Jesus bears for us. Our forgiveness does not depend on what we do or say for Jesus. It rests securely on what Jesus does & says for you & me.
In the face of Peter’s denial as His disciple, Jesus continues to be his Lord. While Peter goes out to weep bitterly, Jesus goes on to suffer for the man who is weeping. It is His work, His love, His mercy that overcomes our sin. Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself. Jesus knows you better than you know yourselves.
He sees this denial & our sin, yet He continues on to the cross. We are not saved by giving our lives up for Jesus; Jesus saves us by giving up His life for the forgiveness of our sin. That’s what Luke reveals this evening. When Peter is caught in the act of denial, Jesus continues in His act of love.
By doing this, Luke asks us to see a different picture – the picture of a Savior’s love. Jesus comes to us in the most awkward of moments. He doesn’t wait until we get it together to visit our home. He doesn’t wait until we’ve overcome our temptations & fought our demons & conquered our sins & achieved our goals.
He comes now, while we struggle. Now, while we confess our failure. Now, while we feel like we’ll never be the person God wants us to be. He comes now to assure us that “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9)
Jesus is the foundation of our life before God. God the Father received His life for your life that He might give you His love for all time. Jesus comes to you tonight with a love that never changes. Time passes & life is filled with change. We move from a dorm to an apartment, from an apartment to a house, from a house to a condo, from a condo to a retirement center, from a retirement center to a skilled care facility, from the skilled care facility to our grave. From our grave we will be raised to live in heaven. In each place, however, Jesus remains the same. He is the one who forgives our sins & saves our soul.
Even at the end, after death & the grave, we will be raised to find Him as we have always known Him to be. The one who went to the cross to die for our sin & rose from the grave for our salvation. Jesus brings us tonight a picture of His love. In those times when you are faced with a painful self-revelation, Luke wants you to see, not just your sin, but also your Savior.
Trust in His love, live in His kingdom, pray in His name, & know that as you now know Him, He ever will be. Jesus enters our places of denial & makes them places of renewal in His love. When Christ is with us, moments of self-revelation are a good thing. Amen.
Jesus sinners doth receive; oh, may all this saying ponder who in sin’s delusions live & from God & heaven wander! Here is hope for all who grieve; Jesus sinners doth receive. Now my conscience is at peace; from the Law I stand acquitted. Christ hath purchased my release & my every sin remitted. Naught remains my soul to grieve: Jesus sinners doth receive. Amen. LSB 609:1, 6
Pastor Dean R. Poellet