Summary: A midweek Lenten sermon that explores what it means for us and Jesus to let go of looking after oneself only.
In the novel The plague by Albert Camus
a North African coastal city has been hit with the bubonic plague.
They are cut off from the rest of the world.
Imagine that, living in a place where no one could get in or out.
By law no one was allowed in to the city and no one was allowed to leave.
You could almost here the worry...
Where would our food come from?
Where would our fuel come from?
As a result of this isolation small businesses popped up everywhere
to fulfil the demands and desires of this coastal town.
And not all of them legal businesses.
One enterprising family who owned some boats offered anyone who was healthy the opportunity to leave the city for a mammoth price.
And heaps of people were willing to illegally buy a ticket out of the place to avoid the plague.
When someone brought a ticket they were instructed to wait in a warehouse so they wouldn’t be infected by the disease and wait for their boat to arrive.
But you guessed it, the boats never came.
And once the plague was over they left the warehouse.
But they were too afraid to tell the authorities that they had been ripped off because not only were the boat owners acting illegally, they too were also acting illegally.
Now fortunately this is only a story,
however it highlights a problem that each of us face.
The temptation that we look after ourself at any expense.
For Peter in this evenings gospel reading it meant him denying being one of Jesus’ disciples.
Listen again to what happened reading from Matthew 26:69-75
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Now in just a few verses prior to our reading we hear how Jesus was being treated and Peter most likely was aware of this.
Reading from Matthew 26:65
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered.
67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?”
Now imagine if you were Peter.
What would you have done, if someone asked you are you with him?
The character who was being beaten up.
Would you have been tempted like Peter to deny Jesus,
to save yourself?
It is real temptation isn’t it?