Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Midweek Lenten Sermon for 06 March 2013 before Compline

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ Drawn from the Four Gospels (LSB/ESV)
Wednesday of Lent III, 06 March 2013
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ Drawn from the Four Gospels    

Those who had arrested Jesus brought him to the high priest’s house, where the scribes and elders were assembled. Peter followed him afar off, and so did another disciple. That disciple was known to the high priest and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So that other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper and brought Peter in. He went in and sat with the servants to see the end. He was warming himself at the fire they had kindled in the middle of the courtyard.
Meanwhile, the chief priests and the whole council were seeking evidence that might make the case for a death sentence, but they could not find any. Many bore false witness against him, but their statements did not agree. Two stepped forward and said, “We heard him say, ‘I shall destroy this temple made with hands and after three days I shall build another, not made with hands.’ “But even on this point their evidence did not agree.
Then the High Priest stood up, moved to the center, and put this question to Jesus, “Do you have no answer? What is this evidence they have given against you?” But he was silent and gave no answer. Again the High Priest put a question to him and said, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am. You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God’s power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” The High Priest tore his garments and said, “Do we still need any witnesses? You have heard this blasphemy. What is your opinion?” They all agreed that he was deserving of death.
Then some of them began to spit on him; they blindfolded him, struck him, and said to him, “Prophesy to us, O Christ, who is it that struck you?” The guards beat him as they took him away.
Meanwhile Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maidservants of the High Priest came and saw Peter warming himself. She looked at him closely as he sat in the light of the fire, and said, “You also were along with the man from Nazareth, that Jesus.”
Peter denied it and said, “I do not know what you mean.” He went out to the forecourt. Another maidservant saw him there and said to those who were standing around, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Peter denied it again with an oath, “I do not know the man.” A little later those standing around said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them. You are a Galilean. Your accent gives you away.” Peter started calling down curses on himself and swore, “I do not know the man.”
And immediately while he was still speaking, the cock crowed a second time, and the Lord turned and looked on Peter. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” Peter broke down, and went out, and wept bitterly.
As soon as it was morning the chief priests with the elders and the scribes held the court session with all the Sanhedrin. Then they bound him, led him away, and turned him over to Pilate. Then Judas, who had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, was sorry and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned. I have betrayed innocent blood.”
They said, “What is that to us? That is your affair.” Judas threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed. He went and hanged himself.
The chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.” They took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field to bury strangers in. That is why to this day that field has been called “the field of blood.”
In this way was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by the children of Israel, and gave them for the potter’s field.”
Here ends the Reading.

By grace you have been saved. This is what St. Paul wrote in Ephesians. This is a good Word of the Lord to remember. With our candles burning tonight, one can almost picture Peter, outside the Palace of the High Priest, warming himself.

Tonight’s reading contrasts Jesus, Judas, and Peter.
Jesus, He who brings grace and truth, was put on trial late at night against Jewish law. False witnesses are brought forward to testify. He is accused of blasphemy. No grace for Him. No benefit of the doubt. He accepts the cup the Father has prepared for Him.
Judas appears surprised by the consequences of his actions. We are not used to asking questions about where our impulsive, selfish, sinful decisions will lead us until we see the shocking results.
Did Judas think the leadership would just punish Jesus, tell Him to be quiet, and let Him go? Did he even care? We witness his remorse, the return of the blood money, and his death, but Judas does not repent. He did not remember Jesus’ words of hope and life.

By grace you have been saved. That means it isn’t about you or what you do or some bit of goodness left within you. The Law promises salvation if it is kept perfectly. Every second of every day for a lifetime. One sin—just one—messes up that whole system. Yet many continue to pursue that road, from Rome to Geneva and Salt Lake to Pasadena.
By grace you have been saved. And so was Peter. He was as much of a sinner as Judas was. Peter denied His Lord three times. How foolishly he had boasted before about going with Jesus to die with Him! Now Peter would not even acknowledge knowing Jesus. Peter wasn’t any holier than Judas. So what made the difference?
By grace you have been saved. In Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians, Paul recounts that he had to call Peter to repentance using the Word of God. That is what made the difference after the cock crowed. Peter remembered Jesus’ words and wept bitterly. He would be restored. In Jesus there is always hope, always grace, always salvation. But not without repentance and faith.
Again, we rejoice that the Lord brings forth faith within you. He calls you to repentance and brings it about through His word of Law. And yes, sometimes it feels like a guilt trip, especially when the sin is one of long-standing that we don’t want to give up.
What did Judas’ sin give him? Thirty pieces of silver that went to buy a potter’s field, akeldama, a field of blood.
In contrast, you were purchased and won from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil not with gold or silver, but with Jesus’ holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death that you may be His own. By grace you have been saved.

Next week, we follow our Lord to THE PRAETORIUM. Amen.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.