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Sermon for Easter Three from Little Paxton Church

Thanks to our ALM  Nick Gellatly for letting me blog the sermon he has prepared for tomorrow’s 9.15am Eucharist at Little Paxton  Church.

It is based on John 21 v 1-19.

The picture below is Nick taking part in our Rededication service in September 2012.




 Simon who was called Peter – the first time Jesus laid eyes on him, he took one good look and said, “So you’re Simon” (John 1:42), and said that from then on he’d call him Cephas, which is Aramaic for Peter, which is Greek for rock.


There’s no nonsense about a rock, and generally it’s there to stay. You can’t do much to change a rock and you can depend on it about as much as you can depend on anything. So Jesus called him the Rock, and it stuck with him the rest of his life. Peter the Rock. He could stop fishing for fish, Jesus told him. He’d been promoted. From now on people were to be his business. Now he could start fishing for them.


There was a lot of discussion about who Jesus was and who he wasn’t, until one day he brought it up himself. Some said he was John the Baptist come back from the grav, or maybe Elijah, or Jeremiah. Then Jesus put it to them straight: “Who do YOU say that I am?” Nobody wanted to stick his neck out until the question washed up against the rock that was Peter. “You’re the Christ,” he said, “the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16: 15 -16).


You could be stoned to death forcashing things like that, but Peter said it anyway. He was the rock upon whom Jesus to build his church. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom,” (Matthew 16:17-19). It was another promotion.


Not long afterwards, Jesus was saying that to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, wasn’t going to be a bed of roses and the time wasn’t far off when he’d suffer and be killed. Peter couldn’t take it. “God forbid, Lord. This shall never happen,” he said, and that’s when Jesus tore into him. “Get behind me, Satan,” he said because the rock that Peter was at that point was blocking the grim road that Jesus knew he had to take because God wanted it that way, and that was that. “You’re not on God’s side but men’s,” he said. (Matthew 16:21-23).


It wasn’t the last  mistake Peter made either – the day he saw Jesus walking on the water and tried to walk out to him, he was just about to go under for the third time because rocks have never been much good at floating when Jesus came to the rescue (Matthew 14:28-31). And when Jesus was talking about forgiveness, Peter asked how many times you were supposed to forgive — seven times maybe?–and Jesus turned on him and said that after you’d forgiven him seventy times seven you were just starting to get warmed up (Matthew 18:21-22).


And then there were those final, miserable days just before the end. At their last supper, when Jesus started to wash the disciples’ feet, it was Peter who protested-“You wash my feet!”-and when Jesus explained that it showed how they were all part of each other and servants together, Peter said, “Lord, not my feet only but my hands and my head!” (John 13:5-11). At that same sad meal, Jesus said he would have to be going soon, and because Peter didn’t get what he meant or couldn’t face it, he asked about it, and Jesus explained what he meant was that he was going where nobody on earth could follow him. Peter finally got the point then and asked why he couldn’t follow. “I’ll lay down my life for you,” he said, and then Jesus said to him the hardest thing Peter had ever heard him say. “Listen, listen,” he said, “the cock won’t crow till you’ve betrayed me three times” (John 13:36-38), and that’s the way it was, of course–Peter sitting out there in the high priest’s courtyard keeping warm by the fire while, inside, the ghastly interrogation was in process, and then the girl coming up to ask him three times if he wasn’t one of them and his replying each time that he didn’t know what in God’s name she was talking about. And then, as the  cock’s crowing squawked the rising sun, the tears ran down Peter’s face like rain down a rock (Matthew 26:69-75).


According to Paul, the first person Jesus came back to see after Easter morning was Peter. What they said, nobody will ever know but their last conversation on this earth, however, is reported in the Gospel of John.


lt was on the beach, at daybreak. Some of the other disciples were there (see NATHANIEL), and Jesus cooked them breakfast. When it was over, he said to Peter (only again he called him Simon, son of John, because if ever he meant business, this was it), “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” and Peter said he did. Then Jesus asked the same question a second time and then once again, and each time Peter said he loved him-three times in all, to make up for the other three times.


Then Jesus said, “Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep,” and you get the feeling that this time Peter didn’t miss the point (John 21:9-19). From fisher of fish to fisher of people to keeper of the keys to shepherd. It was the Rock’s final promotion, and from that day forward he never let the head office down again.





April 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment