01 February 2008

"Blessed Be"--Simon Barjona (Matthew 16:13-19, 21-23; John 21:15-19), part 2

Part 1 here.


Peter was a MAN OF FAITH. But, he was also a MAN WITH FLAWS. Look at Matthew 16:21-23. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, "Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee." But he turned, and said unto Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."

Poor Peter. Talk about a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease. "Blessed art thou Simon Barjona…Get thee behind Me Satan." **SNAP** Like that.

You see, Peter, he kinda had the same idea about the Messiah that many of his Jewish brethren did. He thought the Messiah was gonna come in, drive out the Romans and set up His kingdom here on earth. No quite. Jesus told Pilate in John 18:33, "My kingdom is not of this world." Peter, ya had it, but ya let it slip away. In John 18, when the guards come to arrest Christ. Jesus stands, unmoved, ready to go to His death. Not Peter. John 18:10, Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. "You ain't takin' our Lord! Come on, Lord, let's get 'em!" The next thing Jesus tells him is, "Peter, put it away. Those who live by the sword die by the sword." He still didn’t quite get it.

Then, just a little while later, Peter would come to the lowest point in his life. He would be asked three times, "Hey, I know you! You're a friend of that Jesus, from Nazareth! Your speech gives you away!" And Peter, that bold man of faith. The one who said, "I'll go to jail with ya! I'll fight for ya! I'll die for ya!" But now he's faced with the choice. Not once. Not twice. Three times he says, "I do not know the man." What have you done in your life that was so awful? What sin or addiction or lifestyle have you been in that you think can't be forgiven? "Oh, I've done such awful things God could never forgive me." Friend, you have never done anything so bad, so sinful, so awful as abandoning your Lord and denying you even know Him, or that you ever did. That's what grace is all about. You can read it in Matthew 26:69-75.

Ya want to know what grace is? Look out. Look out over these hills. These rooftops. The windows and doors and apartments. What goes on around here every day? Drugs. Prostitution. Crime. Abuse. Yet I tell you this my friend. If every sin and every crime that has ever been perpetrated in these projects had all been committed by one man and one man alone, they would not even come close to being as wicked as the sin of denying the Lord Jesus Christ. But I tell you this also. That one person who had committed every crime in the history of Western Heights would not be out of the reach of God's grace. And they would not be so far gone that the blood of Jesus Christ would not cleanse them of everything they would have ever done. That is grace. That is what Peter found after this tragic event. Turn with me to the last chapter of the Book of John. Peter was a MAN OF FAITH. Yet he was also a MAN WITH FLAWS.

But in the end, he was a MAN WHO FOUND FAVOR. John 21:15-19
So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than [you love] these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”

This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

OK, quiz time. What name did Jesus use when He first met Simon in John 1? What name does Jesus use when He's speaking to Simon at the end of John 21? And this is another place where Catholics have it wrong! When we sin and we grieve the heart of God, we do not get forgiveness by sitting in a box and talking to a guy with a funny collar! There is no man on earth that can give you forgiveness when you sin against Almighty God!! Your sins can only be forgiven by the grace of God and the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ!!

"Well, son, you committed this sin. Now go say 25 Hail Mary's and 4 novenas and give to the poor and that'll make up for it." NO! There is no amount of things you can do that will erase the stain of sin. There is nothing you HAVE TO DO to serve any kind of penance for your sins! There is nothing in the bible that says anything like that! Did Jesus tell Peter to go give to the poor? Say a bunch of prayers? Roll a string of beads around in his hand? No! "Simon son of Jonah, do you love Me? Feed My sheep. Feed My Lambs. Tend My sheep. Feed My sheep." Peter had said "I do not know the Man" a couple nights ago. Now, the first time they speak, Jesus restores him to a state of forgiveness without any mention of penance or giving or anything else. Only the grace of God.

Then He tells Peter that Peter will glorify God through his death. Won't hear Joel Osteen tell ya that. Tradition tells us Peter was crucified upside down. Kenneth Copeland would say poor ol' Peter just didn’t use his faith words.

Is there any greater favor God can show us—other than saving us—that He does when He says He wants to use us? Paul said in Philippians 1:21, According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. Consider the martyrs who give their lives to tell the lost in India or Iran or China about Christ. Consider those who seek the lost right here in this country—a country, by the way, which is about to see an influx of missionaries from China bringing the gospel to America. People ask, "What happens to the people in the jungle that never hear about Jesus?" They are just as lost as those people in America that never hear about Jesus.

Jesus tells Peter that he will glorify God through his death. Then He gives him the same command He did when they first met. "Follow Me." Don’t worry about John, and whether he's going to die before I return. "You, follow Me." Don’t get so wrapped up in how God uses other people. Thank God that He does use people in different ways, and pray for them.

Peter was a MAN OF FAITH. He was A MAN WITH FLAWS. But in the end, he was A MAN WHO FOUND FAVOR. But, in the end, he was a man. A man who was used greatly by God. But he was not—never was—the "visible head of the church." Nobody succeeded him as "Bishop of Rome." The RCC uses terms like "apostolic succession" to claim that they hold the keys to the kingdom. No, my friends. Peter was never the head of the church. But he was a blessed man. "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." "Blessed art thou Simon Barjona."

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