Tuesday, April 7, 2015

“Numbers of Hope-3” (Mark 14:30)

S-1490 GF/3B 4/03/2015 Hymns: (O) #342; 179; (S) #159; LS #146; #314; #155;

Texts: Psalm 22; Isaiah 53:1-11; Hebrews 14:14-16; 5:7-9; Mark 14:26-31; 15:33-41

Theme: “Numbers of Hope-3 (Mark 14:30)

8th sermon in sermon series on “Numbers of Hope

Jesus said, ‘Don’t be so sure. Today, this very night in fact, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times…’ And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and cried and cried and cried. Mark 14:30; Matt. 26:75 (The Message).

Beloved children of the heavenly Father from front to finish, the Word of God is absolutely true. Every Word written for us is in accordance to the will and Divine Master plan of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus is always right. He is the One person no one should ever bet against. Therein is our hope. He knows all things. He is all-powerful. He always keeps His Word. He is trustworthy, reliable and dependable to the nth degree.

Saint Mark, who is speaking on behalf of Peter, tells us that in the Upper Room discourse with His disciples, after the Lord’s Supper and before the Garden of Gethsemane agony, Jesus had predicted a series of events that would take place.

The disciples would all fall away from Jesus this night.

The Shepherd would be stricken—His flock scattered.

He then predicted His resurrection and return to Galilee.

Peter, feeling secure, safe and strong enough to contradict Jesus said to His Lord and Master, Even if they all fall away because of You, I will never fall away. In one sentence Peter contradicted Jesus and put himself above the other disciples.

Unlike Nostradamus, (middle ages self-proclaimed prophecy maker), Jesus gives pinpoint predictions. He tells Peter, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”

Not knowing when to stop, Peter continues to dig a deeper hole. He tells Jesus, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny you.” The rest of the disciples caught up in Peter’s bravado all said the same thing. However, in a short period of time they would all turn tail and run to save their own hides! The helter-skelter out of control events would send them scattered and running for their lives.

For Peter a series of bad things happened. He fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane, unable to pray for Jesus in this terrible hour of need. Then when Jesus is arrested Peter takes his sword and lops off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus picks up the ear providing miraculous instantaneous surgery and restoration. Suddenly as the disciples looked around and saw they were inches away from martyrdom, they cut and ran. PAUSE.

Peter feeling bad about his desertion, tried to follow Jesus from a distance. It is an age old problem following Jesus from a distance. He would eventually see His Lord bloodied, beaten, and battered. Along the way a series of bystanders would finger him as one of Jesus’ disciples.

With vigor and force he denied Him before them all. Mind you, not once, not twice, but three times on separate occasions. His Galilean accent was giving him away. The third time he was so fearful he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately, immediately after the third denial his heart skips a beat, his lungs stop breathing and his eyes are bewildered at the sound of the rooster crowing.

And Peter, the strong and boisterous disciple was crushed. He cried and cried and cried—weeping bitterly for his lack of courage, lack of fortitude, lack of faith and trust; for having contradicted His master and Lord, Jesus Christ who for the past 3 years has proven Himself again and again that He knows all things.

Three has been considered the number of unity, of accomplishment, and of the universe—time, space, and matter. Throughout the Bible it shows up with familiarity and force. We have Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We have the saddest story of the fall of man, as the devil, Adam and Eve 3 in all rebel against God. There are 3 Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 3 guests visit Abraham. Israelites were to observe 3 feasts a year (Passover, Pentecost and Booths Deut. 16:16). Jesus spoke with Job 3 times. Rehab hid the Israelites for 3 days. There are the 3 sons of Noah and 3 daughters of Job. There are 3 cities of refuge to show us that Jesus brings us the HOPE of eternal refuge. He provides a place for our stupidity. Jesus walked with His disciples for 3 years. 3 are in the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples (Peter, James and John). He said in 3 days He will rebuild the temple. Paul prays 3 times when he has painful thorn in the flesh. Moses’ mother conceals her son for 3 months. The Ark of the Covenant stays at Obed-Edom’s house for 3 months. Mary stays at Elizabeth’s home for 3 months. Paul resides on the Island of Malta for 3 months. The people followed the Savior for 3 days without food. Today, on this 3rd day He feeds us. On Calvary’s hill there are 3 crosses at 3 p.m. the Son of God dies.

In the opening chapter of Genesis God is manifesting Himself in a 3 in 1 movement. The Spirit hovers. The Son sends forth light. The Father creates. Together they say, “Let us make man in our image.” So the three-in-one God creates a three-in-one human being made up of body, soul, and spirit. At the end of the gospel of Matthew the Risen Savior tells us to baptize people into One name but 3 persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. As Prophet, Priest, and King Jesus sets forth this glorious message to be taken to the ends of the world.

For portions of three days Jesus is in the belly of the earth fulfilling prophecy similar to Jonah who was in the belly of a fish for 3 days. On Good Friday from 12:00-3:00 pm there is 3 hours of total darkness. At that same moment (3:00 pm) Jesus wills Himself to die at the precise time the Passover Lamb is being sacrificed. So profound is all of this that St. Paul spends three years in Arabia rethinking his whole worldview, replacing salvation by works with salvation by grace through Jesus. In Ephesians 1:3-14 there are twelve verses that make up this one sentence in the Greek where Paul does a Trinitarian salute to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. PAUSE.

Beautiful people of God know the Scriptures and hold them dear, for there is so much for us to learn and believe. The term “On the third day” is a metaphor throughout the Bible beginning with Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine as well as the day He rose from the dead. Whether the rooster crowing, Jesus dying, or Jesus rising from the dead, the number three signals unity, accomplishment, fulfillment, and hope—living Hope. Not a sparrow falls, not a nation rises, and not one event takes place in this universe that does not in the end come under the rule and reign of Jesus.

For us on Good Friday Jesus was willing to be denied. For us on Good Friday He was crucified. For us on Good Friday He willingly died. For us on Good Friday He was glorified. For us on Good Friday He accepted His lot at the will of His Father so that we can be part of the great throng without number. He was denied so that you would not be denied His forgiveness and salvation. He died so that you would never die.

The same Savior who spoke of Peter’s denial spoke of His resurrection and reunion with them in Galilee. May both passion predictions increase our hope, confidence, and joy! Even on Good Friday Jesus is Lord. The rooster obeys. The devil makes his worse mistake. The grave overreaches. Death claims a victim it cannot hold! And through it all and more, Jesus unceasingly works everything together for our good. Yes even a beaten and bloodied Jesus dead on a cross and laid in a tomb is used for good! Because we have a God who can do this miracle and more, there is hope. On the third day...the three denials are overcome so that we could be baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Now the peace…


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