Sunday, July 24, 2016

Simon Peter and the Coke Machine god

John 12:9-19   New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
    the King of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:
15 “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
    sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. 17 So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. 18 It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. 19 The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!”

Simon Peter is by far my favorite of all the disciples
          He is so real
          So human

It is hard not to love him

Peter is uneducated, most likely illiterate
          He is a fisherman by trade

          But Peter is called personally by Jesus to be a disciple of his
And Jesus gives him a new nickname
Peter is the original rocky
Rocky, however seems to have a hard time living up to his name.

Do you remember the night we call “the last supper?”

John 13:2b-9  (NRSV)
And during supper Jesus, . . . got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”  Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

Don't you love Peter's exuberance and innocence?

But, after Jesus' arrest, trial and death --- what does Peter do?
          Begin Preaching?
          Start Evangelizing?
          Change the world for Jesus?

I’ll let John tell you what Peter says, it is just four simple words. 
Peter says: “I am going fishing.”

Peter – Rocky --- the one Jesus says he is going to build his church on --- when the chips fall --- Rocky goes back to his comfort zone and goes back to fishing.

And as Peter goes back to fishing, John tells what is my favorite resurrection story.

It is found in John chapter 21

Peter does exactly what he says, and the story finds him fishing on the Sea of Galilee.  But he and his fellow disciples are having a terrible night.

They have been out all night long and have caught NOTHING

They are getting ready to quit when they see this stranger standing on the shore, and as any of us who have been doing something for a number of hours long to hear, this stranger says “Your fishing on the wrong side of the boat, throw your net over the other side and you will catch some fish.”

I don’t know how you would react to that comment, but you can ask Nancy how I would --- let’s just say, I doubt I would respond very favorably

But, for whatever reason, they decide to give it a try.

And guess what?
John tells us that they caught more fish than the nets were able to hold!

Peter all of a sudden gets a glimmer of insight and realizes that it is none other than Jesus who has been talking to them, not some stranger.

And as they gather on the shore, what takes place one of the greatest (and for me) most hope filled exchanges in the bible.

John 21:15-17
Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 

I love that story --- and it is filled with hope for me.

Because if Peter had been blessed with three feet instead of two, you can be certain that he would have somehow managed to get all three in his mouth, instead, he just had to settle with getting two crammed in there.

Peter --- Rocky --- the guy Jesus is building his church on.  If Peter can be so thick headed --- well there is certainly hope for someone like me!

All this gets me to an earlier time in Peter’s life, actually the moment when Jesus gives him his nickname.

Sometimes I think we may have miss translated his nickname as Rocky when it really should be head full of rocks or knucklehead!

Mark 8:27-29   (NRSV)
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”

As many of you know, I graduated from The Divinity School at Duke University.

One of the special features of the Duke Divinity School in the early 80's was we had a demon possessed Coke Machine.

This was one of those old fashioned machines that you put your money in, a cup would drop into a slot, ice would fill the cup and then the drink flow into the cup.

But this was, as I said, a demon possessed machine --- you never knew with certainty just what you would get.
Sometimes it would take your quarter and do nothing
          Other times
Cup but no drink
Cup drink, no ice
My favorite: ice, drink --- but no cup
You quickly had two choices to make
·         Make a cup out of your hands and catch as much drink as you could
·         Watch your drink go down the drain

Near this pop machine was a good place to study because it was quiet and out of the way --- and once when I was sitting there studying --- this well dressed, petite, drop dead gorgeous woman, who obviously was very classy (and I had never seen before) came up to the machine.

She got out her quarter, put in in the machine, and made her selection --- but nothing happened

She pushed the buttons again --- tried the coin return --- but still NOTHING

After a few minutes of trying to get the machine to work --- this petite woman began to kick and hit the machine!

You see --- She EXPECTED something from the machine --- but she didn’t get what she expected.

PETER expected certain things from Jesus
He knew who Jesus was
          The Messiah
          The Christ
          The Chosen one of God
He thought he knew what that meant
Peter and the Jewish people of his day had certain expectations of God’s messiah
They expected the messiah to be:
·         A great king like David
·         The one that God would use to intervene in history and achieve by supernatural means that which they had not been able to achieve by natural means
·         The messiah would totally destroy all of God’s (and thus the Jew’s) enemies
·         The messiah would restore Jerusalem
·         The messiah would gather the dispersed Jews
·         Israel would be made the center of the world, and all the world would be subject to Israel
·         The messiah, after cleaning up all our mess, would bring an everlasting peace to the world

But Peter didn’t get what he expected when he encountered the Messiah

Listen as Jesus tries to explain to Peter just what kind of Messiah he is:
Mark 8:31   (NRSV)
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again

Simon Peter expected something from Jesus
·         He thought he had him all figured out
·         He put his quarter in the slot, but he didn’t get what he bargained for --- instead he got a Messiah who had to DIE


Last week I asked you to show me Jesus --- to show me the kind of Jesus that you follow.
What did you decide to show me?

We, just like the Jewish people of Jesus day, have come to put certain expectations upon the Messiah


Many of us would like to believe in the Christianity that is promoted by many of our mega-church, TV evangelists, and even within the walls of many churches: 
A Christianity that says:
          Just send your money
          Believe the right things
          Vote for the right candidates
                   And everything will be OK
          Just tune us in
          Just come to church
                   And you will have it made
                   All your problems will be solved

But like Simon Peter, we find ourselves with feet firmly planted in our mouths because when Jesus tells us what it means to be a Disciple, to be a follower of the Way, we say: “Are you crazy? --- You must be mistaken”

Because that is not the kind of Christianity that we have come to expect

But Jesus tells us, that to follow him means sacrifice
And one of the first things we must sacrifice are the ideas that we have come up with that define the Messiah
Instead we need to listen to God

Jesus tells us:
·         that we must take up our cross (our burdens)
·         we must risk our lives and our stuff
·         we must follow, actively follow, if we want to live with God and the Christ

What kind of God do you come here seeking?
What kind of God are you looking for?

For many of us, our God has become like that Coke machine at Duke
We put our quarter in and --- we expect something in return
          Something very specific
And when it does not come out as we planned --- we often find ourselves angry and disillusioned with God

Some of you may be asking yourselves --- OK, this is nice Steve, but what did it have to do with the scripture lesson that was read to us today?

Did you listen carefully to the first verse that Roger/Matt read?
John writes:
When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 

The people had heard what Jesus had done with Lazarus --- RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD --- and they came because they wanted to see if it was real and to check out Jesus --- because --- well you never know . . .

We are also told that they believed and even testified about Jesus because of this great sign that he had done --- BUT --- when push came to shove --- as Jesus is arrested, tried and crucified, over the next few days ---- where were these people?
The problem was ----
·         they expected Jesus to raise up an army
·         Not to offer himself as a sacrifice

We have to be careful what we expect from God
          God is not called to live out OUR expectations
God is not like a vending machine, that we can go and put our money in and get out what we expect
          Instead God is calling each of us, and has expectations for us.

The question is --- are we willing to take the time, the sacrifice and effort to understand God’s expectations for us?

Or do we want a Coke machine god to do our bidding?


And see where God leads you this week.

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