Sermon – November 8, 2020

John 18:15-27 – The Courageous and the Cowardly (mp3)

We find many great examples of righteous courage throughout Scripture. Joshua took over the promised land with a rag-tag army; David faced the monstrous Goliath with 5 small stones; Esther faced her death simply to pose a question. These are valuable examples for us to follow. It is, however, perhaps better not to look at the positive examples of courage, but also at the negative examples of the cowards, for one suspects that we are nearer to the later rather than the former. Peter’s failure is the prime example for us, and the one that we get to consider this morning. What can we learn from Peter’s faithlessness?

1. Courage is displayed in faithfulness
Peter’s failure in courage didn’t come with the failure to swing the sword – indeed, we would think him incredibly brave in the garden. Yet, the where Jesus wants him to be bravest, he fails. So often we think of courage in life or death situations, and indeed those call for much courage! But Christ has called few of us to that kind of courage. Rather than worrying about being courageous in front of the battalion of soldiers, our concern ought to be our bravery and faithfulness before the girl guarding the door. Your courage need not swing the sword of the world, but rather is found in submission to the sword of Jesus’ word.

2. Courage is found in identity
It is not for nothing that John, in multiple ways, shows that Peter is more like the officers and servants of the high priest than Jesus. His denial mocks Jesus’ own confirmation, and Peter seems to do his level best to look like those around him. This is a good warning for us – let our identity be found first and foremost in Christ. Let us tread carefully in the world, that we not identify ourselves with the groups or things of the world that may call us and our devotion away from our Savior!

3. Courage is given in Christ
We can, at times, look at a passage like this and simply blow it off. It’s just what Peter does, we can think. But that slightly misses the point. It was what PETER did – the head of the apostles, pillar of the church in Jerusalem, the recipient of the keys of the kingdom! If he can fall in this manner, so can all of us! Yet, Christ covered his sin, and redeemed his failure. Christ is faithful for us all. Let us strive with faith, then, to remain faithful and courageous in him!