A woman at the Seniors’ Home Chapel asked for a written copy of my message this morning. She was the daughter of a one-time pastor. Her family traveled much. She was used to a certain routine in a pastor’s calendar of sermonizing.
Well, I had no such hard-copy text. My emphasis was on the rich dividends arising from “fear of the Lord” (Psalm 34). If one has an honest reverence for Jesus’ finished work and message, one need fear nothing else. I wanted to expand on this type of “fear”. It is birthed in love and thanksgiving and past rich encounter with Jesus. It is not a hammer of duty. It is not craven. I got into Luke 22: 54-62 with the attentive and kindly group of 30 or so:
54 Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. 57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. 59 And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. 60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
Artists have rendered that look on Jesus’ face as he heard his friend make denial for the third time.
Peter had been warming himself at the fire of the unregenerate. His Master was being shamefully abused. He could say nothing to help. And Jesus knew that this was coming and loved him anyway.
The whole experience was never to be forgotten by the Big Fisherman. It was the tremendous beginning of a holy fear. Until the air was cleared and the resurrection an established fact he had to hang upon another statement of his Master, or else perish:
31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
And that pretty well sums up our little message of this morning, Elva. Fear of the Lord…not a bludgeoning but rather an invitation unto lasting intimacy and joy. Happy Easter!
(hard copy of this to follow)