Friday, September 9, 2011

“Broken Promise” (Matthew 26:73-74)

S-1244 5MIL/3A 04/06/11, (O) #151 vs. 1, 5, 7, (S) #143 vs 1, 4, 9, 14; (C) #400

Text: Psalm 15; 1 Kings 8:54-61; Matthew 26:57-75

Theme: “Broken Promise” (Matthew 26:73-74)

Question: “Is it Easy to Keep Promises?” 5th in Sermon series Broken BUT not Broke


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 5th Midweek in Lent is from the Gospel lesson: “After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know the man.’ And immediately the rooster crowed.” (Matthew 26:73-74).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

You who are loved unconditionally and eternally by the Savior Jesus, this past Monday and Tuesday I was privileged to attend our BELOVED SD District Spring Pastors Conference (Watertown). During the period of reports (by different organizations and pastors) two pastors got up to give us a report on a new Lutheran Camp dealing with creation. One of them was the speaker while the other the technician who ran the PowerPoint. While the spokesperson continued, the technical person asked for the microphone (for a second time) and said: “I promised George that I would not say a word, but I already have broken my promise twice.” PAUSE.

Tonight, we take time to pause for a little bit on the journey to Golgotha and listen to Peter as we consider another Broken theme. So far we have dealt with Broken Hearts, Broken Vessel, Broken Trust, Broken Life and this evening’s theme is Broken Promise.

This one really hits us between the eyes. This theme affects all of us. This theme causes us to squirm in our seats as we listen to the Word of God and consider our promises to Him, family and neighbor.

This evening we consider that bold and courageous Peter—one of the 12. You know quite a bit about the life of this man. Peter the fisherman who knew he could do it all. He spoke often on behalf of the disciples. He was the first one to step out of the boat and walk on water. He is the ONE who made the great confession that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God. He was the one who drew his sword when His Lord was in danger. He gave us those familiar words in our liturgy, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of Eternal Life!” (John 6:68). He was the one who in the Upper Room made that big promise saying: ‘Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death’ (Luke 22:33). This man from Galilee, Peter, was strong, sturdy, solid, spirited in making one promise after another.

However, this evening we see another side of this man—Peter. After Jesus was taken captive by the guards to Caiaphas’ house Peter followed from a distance. While he was trying to see what would happen to His Lord and Master Jesus, he warmed himself by the fire with the soldiers. As he was warming himself, he enjoyed the warms of the fire and was thankful for it, however, there was another fire brewing and this one was in his heart.

Those standing by recognized him and said, “You are one of them” but he denied it saying, “I don’t what you mean.” The fire got a bit hotter when the servant girl said again: ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ And again, bold and confident Peter denied it with an oath: ‘I do not know the Man!’ The fire got hotter still. After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Now the heat is really getting the best of him. As all of the people around that red hot fire were gawking at him, Peter began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know the Man!’

At that moment Peter was awakened to what he said 3 times by the sound of the rooster. You see His Rabbi, Jesus, had told Peter before the event took place what would happen: Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.’… Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know Me’" (Luke 22:31-32, 34). In that instant Peter melted because he realized that he has not kept his promise. In his arrogance and pride, Peter made a promise he couldn’t keep. And that night he realized what he did and ran out of the courtyard weeping. PAUSE.

How about us? Actually that is the wrong question. Why? Because when we lump all of “US” together it is so easy to feel like you are like the rest of the people in our world and not singled out. It is so much easier to say, “We are not perfect! We are all sinners! We have all broken God’s promises! We have not all been faithful!” When we do that, we take the sting out of wrath and punishment of God against each of us.

It is so easy to look at politicians, powerful people, police officers and others and say, they haven’t kept their promises. But don’t go there. Don’t compare yourself to another. Tonight, be honest with yourself. Tonight, don’t stack up your work righteous in comparison to your neighbor. Tonight, compare yourself to the good and gracious Lord. Look deep into your heart and be sincere. Don’t pretend. Don’t hide. Don’t act.

Have you not stood here before God and this congregation and said in your confirmation vows, in pride and arrogance just like Peter, I will never deny You or the truth of Your teaching even unto death? Have you not said to your spouse you will love, protect, provide for him/her? Have you not made a pledge to be a faithful disciple putting God first, giving of your offering to the Lord and serving your neighbor? Have you not said, “You will be a light and salt to the world?” BUT HAVE YOU?! Maybe you have kept some of your promises. But have you kept them all? God knows that I HAVEN’T. I have broken so many promises that it isn’t even funny. God forgive me for not keeping my promises.

You who are loved unconditionally and eternally by the Savior Jesus, I exhort you to keep all of your promises to Him even when it hurts. The Psalmist exhorts us to do just that saying: “who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change [his] their mind will be able to be in the presence of God” (Psalm 15:4)Yes, keep your promises when it hurts. Remember Peter, the bold confessor? He relied too much on his own pride. He thought he could do it on his own. But the Lord reminded him saying: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Yes, be on guard. For indeed the “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Don’t rely on yourself but on Him who has withstood all temptations, Jesus your Lord and Savior. PAUSE.

My beloved in the Lord know this truth, The Holy Bible is God’s book of promises. From Genesis to Revelation we read one promise after another. In Particular the Old Testament is the story of God’s promises to His people. Below its somewhat obscure surface is hidden magnificent truth about the love and power of God. Throughout its pages the reader can find promise after promise from God, all of which are fulfilled in the New Testament-in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. God promised to send a Savior when Adam and Eve fell into sin (Gen. 3:15). God promised Abraham that he would become a great nation, the nation from which the prophets would come and, at last, the Redeemer of the world (Gen. 12:1-3). God promised a deliverer to lead the captive Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3). God promised to raise a prophet like Moses that the people should listen to Him (Deut. 18:15-19). God promised that He will go with Joshua into the Promised Land (1:9). God promised to Ruth a Kinsman-Redeemer (Ruth 4). God promised that a virgin will give birth to a son (Isaiah 7:14). God promised that the Suffering Servant would be pierced and give His life for all (Isaiah 53). God promised that He would shepherd His people like a flock (Jeremiah 23:1-6). God promised that He would bring His Son out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1) God promised that out of the town of Bethlehem the Savior would come (Micah 5:2). God promised this Christ in the Scriptures.

God’s promises are given to this broken world—a promise of blessing and peace; a heavenly joy on their pilgrimage; a sacred delight. But this peace and joy is not cheap. What Jesus promises is not a gimmick to give you goose bumps or a mental attitude that has to be pumped at pep rallies. No, God’s promises are fulfilled in a radical way even when it hurt His Son as He gave His life on the cross of Calvary. On that cross, Christ suffered the agony of hell for YOU. On that cross Jesus looks at your face as He looked at the face of Peter and forgives YOU all of your broken promises. On that cross we see and hear of God’s faithfulness in keeping all of His promises. Though we are not faithful, He is always faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). He never breaks His promises. We see it in the shedding of the blood on the cross. We hear it when He says, “Father, forgive them…” We hear it when He commends His life into His Father’s arms, saying, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”

Tonight, as we gather by the cross, we hear again the shout of victory that Christ kept all of His promises with these words: “IT IS FINISHED!!!” God’s promises are fulfilled as He comes to us in His house of worship. God’s promises become ours in faith by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit. God’s promises are kept for you in spite of you .

Not only do we see His face on the cross, but He sees our face also. He reaches out to us with those pierced hands of His and pulls us to His bosom and share these wonderful words: “Though you have not kept Your promise to Me, I will keep My promise to YOU. I will always love you. I will always care for you. I will always watch over you. I will always be here for You. I will always forgive you your sins and be Your God.” This promise is YOURS! Rest in it. Rejoice in it! Revel in it tonight and always! AMEN

Now the peace…


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