Monday, June 30, 2008

St. Peter: The Indispensable Man (Part Two)

This is the second part of the sermon that I preached (on Matthew 16:13-19) Sunday, June 29 at St. Joseph's. The third and final part will appear tomorrow.

Peter’s Answer

Now say what you will about Peter; he was a man of many faults, just as we all are. He was hot-tempered, impetuous, prideful, arrogant, unstable, overly talkative, and even violent at times. And yet, like King David and so many other great figures in Scripture, Peter was a man after God’s own heart. He was a man of faith, a man who loved the Lord Jesus and who was loyal to him above all else (despite one major failure to demonstrate this loyalty).

And so, when Jesus let rip this 100-mph fastball of a question, Peter knocked it out of the park. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Peter said. He acknowledged that Jesus was the Christos, the Messiah, the One sent by God to deliver Israel from all her iniquities. Certainly, his understanding of what the Messiah’s role was flawed, as was everyone’s at that time. And yet, unlike so many, including some of the most religious people in Israel, Peter understood (albeit with God’s help) that Jesus was the true Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Jesus’ question bears being asked of all of us. And so, my brothers and sisters in Christ, I ask you: “Who do YOU say that Jesus is?” Now if I did a survey after the Liturgy, if I asked each and every one of you individually who you think Jesus is, I’m sure that each of you would give an answer very similar to what Peter gave. You would acknowledge, as we all say in the Creed, that Jesus is “Lord” and “The Son of God,” and so on. Do you believe that Jesus is Lord? Do you really? When we say that Jesus is our Lord, that begs another question that Jesus asked his disciples, “Why do you say to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things that I say?” (Luke 6:46). He also said, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he does the will of my father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

And so my question for you today is, do you merely call Jesus “Lord,” or do you demonstrate your allegiance to him by doing his will. I do not mean perfectly, for none of us does that. But are you striving with your whole being to do the will of God? You are here worshipping the Lord today, and that is good. But were you here last week? Were you here the Sunday after Pascha? Will you be here next week? Are you here every Sunday unless you are very sick or out of town? You see, worshipping the Lord Jesus with the rest of his body, the Church, is part of God’s will. But of course there are other things that God wants us to do as well. He wants us to pray. He wants us to read the Scriptures. He wants us to help the needy. He wants us to practice kindness, patience, and to strive to have a godly character. And he wants us to do these things not just once in while, but regularly. Are you doing all these things? If not, then can you really say that Jesus is your Lord? It may be time to bring your practice in line with your profession, so that you will not be one of the ones to whom Jesus will say, “Depart from me; I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23)


Clint said...

I eagerly await the conclusion to this sermon. Great thoughts so far, in my humble opinion.

Oh, and I still like the Johnny Cash in the playlist. A very subtle choice...

Fr. James Early said...

Yes indeed; "Get Rhythm" is my second-favorite song by the Man in Black, after (of course) "I Walk the Line."

fdr said...

I love the baseball analogy!

Fr. James Early said...

Thanks, FDR. I think in baseball terms pretty much 24/7 --especially this time of year!