Monthly Archives: April 2021

Matthew 26:69-75 Peter’s Moment of Faithlessness

Caravaggio, The Denial of Saint Peter (1610)

Matthew 26:69-75

Parallel Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:56-62; John 18:25-27

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” 71 When he went out to the porch[1], another servant-girl[2] saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 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 are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

All four gospels report Peter’s denial of Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest. Peter remains a ‘little faith one.’ He is unable to remain faithful under the threat of persecution and death, even though earlier he proclaimed that even if he must die with Jesus he will not deny him. On the one hand, Peter’s lack of faith in this scene is strongly contrasted with Jesus’ faithfulness throughout the passion narrative. On the other hand, one of the underlying concerns of my work through Matthew’s gospel has been to reappraise the negative view of the disciples and the judgmental view of Jesus that underwrites this. Peter, unlike Judas, is not condemned by Jesus for his inability to hold himself to his own high standard of faithfulness. Jesus never expresses that he expects Peter to remain steadfast in this moment or condemns him. Instead, Peter and the rest of the disciples will not be permanently branded by their inability to remain faithful once their shepherd has been taken away. They will all be intentionally regathered in Galilee by their shepherd at the end of the gospel.

Peter will remain the boldest of the disciples throughout the gospels and often he is the voice that speaks for all the disciples. Previously he is the one who utters the confession that Jesus is the Christ, but also he is bold enough to (wrongly) reprove Jesus when Jesus declares that he will go to Jerusalem and suffer at the hands of the chief priests and the scribes. (16:16-23) Peter is the one who speaks at the Transfiguration (17:4) and gets out of the boat and approaches Jesus in the midst of the storm (14:22-33). Peter, unlike the rest of the disciples in Matthew, has followed Jesus as far as the courtyard of the high priest. His proximity is what leads these servants of the high priest to question his relationship to Jesus. Ironically, Peter’s rebuke of Jesus about his initial declaration about what would happen when they come to Jerusalem as well as Jesus’ declaration of Peter’s upcoming denials bear witness to Jesus’ ability to perceive how events will unfold far more accurately than Peter. Jesus’ words have proven to be accurate throughout the story and they await completion as the story ends.

Matthew continues to relate events using the gifts of an oral storyteller, and this continues with his use of the escalating pattern of three. Throughout this reading, I have tried to illustrate how Matthew tightens this pattern, which is already present in Mark, and here in this scene the three-fold denial moves from a statement to an oath, to a curse with an oath. Peter is contrasted with Jesus who often remains silent before the accusations, but when Jesus does speak his words declare who he is even when the religious leaders consider it blasphemy. Peter responds to each accusation quickly but with words that are untrue. Peter does not model the type of truthful speech that the Sermon on the Mount calls for (5:33-37) and not only swears an oath twice but even invokes a curse. Comparing Peter, or any person, with Jesus invites that person to be viewed negatively as Anna Case-Winters can demonstrate:

The contrast of his cowardice with Jesus’ courage is dramatic. At the very time Jesus stands before Caiaphas and makes a bold confession, Peter caves before a serving girl. Peter’s three denials under pressure are the reverse image of Jesus in Gethsemane. Three times he petitions God to be spared the trials ahead; three times he stands fast in his faithfulness to God and God’s will regardless of the outcome. (Case-Winters 2015, 300)

The community of the faithful is comprised of many who are ‘little faith ones.’ In times of crisis, they may fail to ‘acknowledge Jesus before others’ and instead through words or actions ‘deny Jesus before others.’ Peter is confronted by servants, and particularly ‘servant girls’ and although these servants may have had a lower standing in society than Peter as a male, these ‘servant girls’ were also aligned with the power that seemed to be stronger at the moment. In the courtyard of Caiaphas, the kingdom of heaven probably seemed a distant dream as its Messiah is abused. The disciples of Jesus work towards wholeness, but they are not perfect. Leaders like Peter will continue to need their moments of faithlessness forgiven. They will continue to need the blood of the new covenant poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Peter, and the rest of the community of Christ, are not disqualified by their moments of faithlessness. Instead, the covenant of God and the forgiveness it offers remains stronger and Peter along with the rest of the disciples will reemerge in Galilee on the other side of the resurrection.


[1] The Greek pulona is a vestibule which is an antechamber, hall, or lobby next to the outer door of a building.

[2] ‘Servant-girl’ is not present in verse 71, the Greek has simply that ‘another’ saw Peter.

Digital Worship Service, April 11, 2021

Second Sunday of Easter
April 11, 2021 Traditional Worship Service

Confession and Forgiveness
We are gathered in the name of the Father, and the Son, and
the Holy Spirit.
Amen
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our
hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly
love you and worthily magnify your holy name, through Jesus
Christ our Lord.
Most merciful God, we confess that we are captive to sin and
cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in
thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what
we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole
heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the
sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive
us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will
and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name.
Amen.
In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for
us, and for his sake God forgives us all our sins. As a called and
ordained minister of the church of Christ, and by his authority, I
therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen

Greeting:
L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy
Spirit be with you all.
C: And also with you.

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, with joy we celebrate the day of our Lord’s resurrection. By the grace of
Christ among us, enable us to show the power of the resurrection in all that we say and
do, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

First Reading: Acts 4: 32-35

32Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one
claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in
common. 33With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the
Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34There was not a needy person among
them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of
what was sold. 35They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any
had need.

Psalm: Psalm 133
1 How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the LORD ordained his blessing,
life forevermore.

Second Reading: 1 John 1:1-2

1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with
our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim
concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we
proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. The
word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Gospel: John 20: 19-31

19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are
retained.”
24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when
Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to
them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of
the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
26A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them.
Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be
with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach
out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28Thomas answered him,
“My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have
seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written
in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the
Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Sermon: Pastor Adam Stockton

Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power
of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day
he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the
Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the
forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Let us pray:
Loving God, we lift up this world that you love. Renew your creation and give wisdom to
all your people who share in your responsibility to care for the world. Give wisdom to the leaders of nations, states, and cities to care for your people and the world. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The countries of the world experience disunity and conflict; we set our minds on fear
and greed rather than on your rule of justice and steadfast love. Build up all countries
on your cornerstone of peace. Protect and bless all who sacrifice to guard our
freedoms, including: Ben, Christian, Clayton, Daniel, Dillan, Haden, Lindsey, Luke,
Michael, Mike, Spencer, Steve, Sydney, Tyler B. and Tyler G. Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We still weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. Cradle the
fearful, the suffering, and the dying, assuring them of your loving presence. We lift up
before you: Becca, Betsy, Bob D., Bob S., Brenda, Carol, Cathy, Christa, Craig,
Darryl, Dave, Debra, Doug, Gary, Jamie, Jan, Jeff, Jerry K., Jerry N., Judy, Marie,
Matt, Maureen, Michele, Mike, Patrick, Pete, Richard, Sal, Sandy, Scott, Shirley,
Steve, Vicky, Vim, Spring Wright, all medical and emergency workers and those we lift up in our hearts. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for the ministries of the ELCA and the Northern Texas – Northern
Louisiana Synod, we also lift up in prayer today: Peace Lutheran Church, Vernon, Hope
Lutheran Church, Springtown, NT-NL Bishop Gronberg & Synod Staff. Lord, in your
mercy, hear our prayer.

Leader: In trust and hope, we commend to you, O Lord, all for whom we pray. Amen.

Highlights/Sharing of the Peace
Offering
(offering can either be mailed to Rejoice (12000 Independence Pkwy, Frisco
TX 75035 or there is the opportunity for electronic giving on the website
http://www.rejoicefrisco.com)

Instructions for Communion
Words of Institution
Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will
be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive
us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not
into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory, forever and ever. Amen

Post Communion Blessing

A: Let us pray. Lord Jesus, in this sacrament you strengthen us with the saving power of your death and resurrection. May these gifts of your body and blood create in us the fruits of your redemption and grace in our lives, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Blessing

DiscipleLife

L: As God has claimed us as his own in Christ,
we seek to follow Christ with these marks of DiscipleLife:
▪Praying Daily
▪Worshiping Weekly
▪Studying the Bible
▪Serving Others
▪Building Spiritual Friendships
▪Giving to God and our Neighbors in Need
▪Engaging God’s Mission

Dismissal: “Go in peace, serve the Lord. Thanks be to God