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The King's Rock

That's My King  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Matthew 26:69-75

Peter Denies Jesus 69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
earlier … v35 - Peter had made a promise, a commitment … I won’t deny you, I won’t betray you, I will never disown you … I’d give up my life for you
here in vs 70, 72, 74 … and by 75 he has gone out … and is weeping bitterly
and within weeks … this same guy … Peter, Jesus’ rock … that’s the name Jesus gave him … would be one of the most important, most prominent leaders of christianity …
What broke him … outside weeping bitterly … and then restored him so quickly?
The answer is commitment … promises …oaths.
He got broken because he didn’t understand the magnitude/importance/power of breaking your word … and he was restored when he learned the secret of promise keeping.
Promises = why he was both broken and restored
I read this week that much of the bitterness in our lives comes from our inability to make or keep promises or commitments.
Before we go to much further
Commitments/Promises, what do I mean this morning
Sermon Mount = Yes be Yes, No be No … we should people who mean what they say … not just formal, signed a contract … Jesus people are supposed to be people of integrity
Did you tell someone you would pray for them … call them … look them up … check on you … we should be people who say what they mean, mean what they say … consistent, dependable
Let’s look at what Peter learned:
Formed By Our Commitments/Promises
How To Make Commitments/Promises

Formed By Our Commitments

Our Promises have power
Why did Peter go out and weep bitterly?
Promises make up our identity, they make up our community
Think about the fabric of a society:
Denial of self, limit options, hold myself to my word, expect that of others … legal system, driving, going to school, at the store, contracts, etc … all predicated upon … folks doing what they said, what they committed to
Promises form our identity, and they form our community

1) Promises Form our Identity

Peter comes face to face with the reality of who he was … he has been operating believing he was the Peter of vs 35 … the Peter who wouldn’t run, who would die for Jesus … and now he has seen … I didn’t stay awake, I got rebuked by Jesus when I pulled my sword, and now I denied Him three times
His identity is fragmented because he didn’t keep his promises
Our modern culture is constantly asking “Who am I” … “What is my identity?”
Their/our answer is generally some form of what are your desires, what do you feel, what do you want, who do you want to be ...
And so many say, I need to find myself, figure out who I am … I need to see who I am outside of my obligations, promises, covenants, commitments … out from under all that stuff that feels weighty … what do I really want? … Who am I at my deepest feelings?
But Here’s the problem - our desires are often in conflict, they are often transitory, temporary, they change
Almost everyone, has a fundamental desire to be chosen … to have some who will show up for us, who knows exactly who we really are and will still be there
But most also want the option, the freedom to choose someone different if someone better comes along
We want the security and contract at work, but we dont’ like the discipline and accountability of quotas, and 7:30am clock punching
Peter wants to be a great leader, he wants the others to know it, he wants Jesus to know it and count on him … but he doesn’t want tortured, he doesn’t want arrested and whipped and beaten
Peter’s identity is divided, his deepest desires are in conflict
And if you had asked him, what is your deepest desire … vs 35 … I will stand with you Jesus, I will lead, I won’t run … but now he is faced with reality … his deepest desire is being a coward
But is that really all he is?
Our feelings are our identity … our feelings move and shit and change … but our identity is fundamental, it’s core, it’s unchangable … its what is the same about you no matter what you feel, what year it is
That means that our identity is our commitments, it’s our promises … if it’s changeable you will never know who you are, and neither will anyone else
Your Identity Is what you always are
Situation, circumstance, feeling, opinions … I’m committed
W/o this … you don’t know who you are … if all you have are contradictions and equivocations … excuses and justifications … no identity
Integrity means we’ve got some thread, some rope, some thing that winds through our entire life and holds it together
Integer = whole number, not a fraction, not it pieces or parts
We aren’t compartmentalized
Our public & private, not different in different crowds, Monday & Sunday, what we say & do, this year & next … we have that when we have some promise, some commitment that holds it together
This means we can’t be run by our hormones, feelings, desires, circumstances, public opinion
MS Shakespeare class … studied a non-shakespeare play called A Man For All Seasons - about Sir Thomas More - Henry VIII - chancellor … Henry wants to keep marrying and divorcing/killing wives because he wants an heir … ultimately More won’t side with King … won’t deny what he thinks is right and it costs him his life … burned at the stake
Daughter Meg comes to him - “Oh, please, Father. Can’t you please just go back on your word so we can have you?” He looks at her, and he says, “When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water. And if he opens his fingers then—he needn’t hope to find himself again.”
Peter opened his hands, he can’t find himself … our commitments, principles, promises, covenants … they can’t only be held when comfortable, convienent … pragmatism is no way to build an identity :)
So Peter is left with no idea who he is … no promise is holding him together … does he really love Jesus, is really a leader of this group … is he the rock?
He doesn’t know, and nobody knows … in fact it seems like Jesus knew he would fold, he would deny

2) Promises Make Community

Peter goes outside to weep … when we break our word, when the promise has been dashed … you don’t gather folks around and say look at me, I’m terrible
NO .... we go outside, we get by ourselves, get alone … promises create community, breaking them damages it
Breaking commitments inevitably creates isolation, aloneness, being on the outside
Think about places where it’s everyman for himself … not a village, not a community … that’s jungle, eat or be eaten … don’t count on me … hunger Games … everyman for himself … kill or be killed
I remember when call waiting was brand new … we used to joke that we knew was more important … were you the one they stayed on the line for … or when they heard the beeps did they hang up and answer the other line
Commitment means that we are limiting our options … marriage, friendship, church membership … what am I going to do this morning, who am I going to sleep with, who will I show up for when they are in trouble … who will hang up on someone for
There is no community, no friendship, no marriage w/o narrowing our options, making choices … for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness/health
One of my favorite and most challenging marriage lessons … we are not married to the same person today … Meg has been to at least 6 different, and probably many more than that … and so have I … her first husband was 22, no kids, no job, no money, just lots of deby … each child, each life transition, heart attack, global pandemic, got fired, etc … everyone has been different and everyone has been me … but the thread, the rope, the ring, the commitment that runs through it all … I made a promise, covenant, and that is my identity … I am hers, she is mine
This is true for marriage - we make lifelong permanent covenants … our community, our family is built on it … breaking it would open my hand … nothing would be there, I would not know who I am
The result of breaking promises, covenants even small ones … we end up outside weeping … a part of us, a part we trusted, other trusted has been lost/broken
Society, culture, church, family, marriage … all built on promises … w/o them those things can’t exist and be sustained
We have to be willing to say … I am grabbing ahold of this rope, this thread is going to define who I am … 1 year, 5 years, 25 years from now … this is who I will be … hell or high water … even if the creeks rise, even if the storm rages, even if cancer shows up, even if the job is lost, even if the bank account goes dry …

How to Make Commitments/Promises

I promises make us, how do we make promises?
If we are honest … this sounds simple … but we’ve lived more than 6 minutes we know … this isn’t easy
a) others break their promises to us all the time, being the consistent one, who shows up … we get taken advantage of … we get left holding the bag … why would I keep making promises/covenants/commitments to these idiots who don’t come through
b) I’m bad at keeping promises .. I can’t don’t won’t stick to them … I don’t follow through
There is a secret … In John’s gospel … chapter 21 … Jesus meets with Peter … after the resurrection, after the upper room interaction … Peter is clearly still wrestling with who he is … he has taken the other apostles out to fish … and Jesus meets him on a beach … sits him down and three different times ask him … Do you really, truly love me … Peter answers, I do, I do love you
And after each time Jesus says to peter … then feed my sheep, lead this church, be my guy, you are still my rock … just like before, even though you broke your word, even though you denied me … be the rock I’ve called you to be
And Jesus goes further … he says … listen, you may have avoided death by denying me, but taking this commitment and meaning it, will cost you your life, you will have to stretch out your arms and be crucified
Peter says … ok … but what about him … what about John … Jesus answer … doesn’t matter, not the question of your identity … is your identity to be my follower … then follow and don’t worry about what I do with him
And Peter does … he leads, preaches, risks, and follows
The bigger our commitments, the better we keep them … the more we know who we are … the team of folks who risk much, who give themselves to it … achive great things
So let’s do it … let’s be great promise keepers …
Hold Up … sounds good … but I know you, and you know me … you know your spouse, your friends, your pastor, your neighbors … is the secret try real hard, keep your promises and it will all work out … thank heavens no … that is a strategy for bitterness and anger and dispappointment
See Peter discovered a different secret … Jesus didn’t point Peter to himself … He pointed Peter to Himself … Jesus is the perfect promise keeper … Jesus make and keeps promises … let’s look quickly at Jesus promises … let’s build our relationships, community, marriage, friendships, church on His promises

Jesus Promised to Judge

Jesus says - Peter, I’m in charge … you will die, he may live … I’m the judge
and we see this … one person, keeps their word, tells the truth … boss rewards it, promotes it … someone else, tells the truth, acts with integrity, passed over for promotion, out of the inner circle, maybe even fired
Hebrews 11:32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us,
Jesus is saying it’s up to me, i’m the judge … I’m the one who is going to make it all make sense in the end
unless we believe that there is a God who regardless of the cost of being a promise keeper will through his justice, righteousness and compassion and goodness that those are ultimate realities
This means we function not as those who say … you only go around once, grab all you can, don’t worry about who you step on … no we keep promises because we believe in delayed gratification … we wait according to his promise

Jesus Promised to Die

Jesus makes some promises … the bible is one long story of God keeping his promises, while mankind keeps failing to keep theirs … God says I will … I will be faithful, I will be committed, I will come through, I will show up …
and the greatest of those was the sending of Jesus to die … God had been promising to send His Messiah, His annointed one for 1000’s of years … showing them what it would look like, sacrificed lambs, goats, bulls … snakes lifted in the desert … struck rocks that produced water … over and over again … I will come through, one is coming … and then Jesus does … and He goes to the cross…
and amazingly what Jesus knew by keeping his word he would separated from God the Father … He would be forsaken … keeping his promise to die would mean He was alone … Jesus was treated as the promise breaker … he was put on the outside, calvary was outside the city .... my God, My God, you’ve forsake me … I’m alone, I’m in the dark … I am feeling the pain of death and separation
Jesus promise to die was a promise to take on the weight of being the promise breaker and offering to Peter, offering to me, offering to you … we are standing here with empty hands, our identities have all poured out threw our fingers … and Jesus offers us something

Jesus Promise to Forgive

Jesus looks at Peter on that beach … there is no pretending that Peter is a great promise keeper … and Jesus says … you will be the leader, I meant it when I called you the rock … do you love me
Jesus was telling Peter that his identity is bound in his own ability to keep promises.
Peter’s Identity, my identity, all true followers of Jesus Identity … bound in Jesus promise-keeping … Peter thought his identity was in being faithful, in not denying, in fighting for Jesus, in staying awake … but he couldn’t do anything of those things … not perfectly, not even all that well … he had tried to find himself in fear and pride … and found his weakness
Do you see what this means … it means that it isn’t until we accurately see ourselves as promise breakers, the one who doesn’t come through … we realize that we aren’t, we can’t be saved because we are so good, because we are faithful … so we don’t have to deny who we really are … we have to repent, we don’t pick up our own promise-keeping, we pick up Jesus’ promise-keeping
In that moment we don’t have to fall apart and head outside … we get to say, He forgives ,He loves me not because I was doing it all so well, but because Jesus did it perfectly and nothing I do can screw that up
So we can be those who make promise, who enter back in, we don’t have to remain afraid of commitment … he is the one who has already died, he took the penalty, he is the righteous judge who will make the scales balance in the end … the unjust weight of broken childhoods … the unfair sacrifices made in your marriage/divorce/singleness … the deep pain of friendships, neighbors, co-workers … the heartache of church disappointment and broken promises
and for those of us who haven’t been good at keeping promises … we can make them … we can enter slowly, we can try to be wiser, we can attempt to not make promises we can’t, won’t, don’t intend to keep .. but we can also risk and commit
Jesus forgives … He loves … He comes through … He is just
Father, we ask you would grant to us now the possibility to be men and women of integrity, men and women who are not too quick but not too slow to make commitments and to do so because your Son did. Make us people of our word. Make us people of honesty. Let the world look into this community and be amazed at the truth spoken in love here, at the promises made, the commitment, the way people give their money, the way people give their time, the way people give their hearts. People who are not afraid to be committed to one another. Make us people like that because we’re seeing your Son, the great promise keeper. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
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