preaching study: john 13:31-38, pt 3

In “preaching study” posts, I’m really interested in fostering a “community” approach to study and prep for the sermon, so please interact as much as you like. All Scripture quotes are from the TNIV unless otherwise noted. Thanks!
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As I said in part 1 and part 2 of this series for the week, I’m back in the preaching cycle at my church for the next 4 weeks, 3 in contemporary and 1 in traditional. The text for this week is John 13:31-38. We are focusing our messages around questions for the season of Lent and the question for this week is: “Will you lay down your life?” 

Had a little more conversation with folks on my shelf today. George Beasley-Murray points out (p. 248) that Jesus’ question about Peter’s readiness to lay down his life for Jesus collaborates with the prediction/assurance that he has already made that “you will follow me afterward” (v36). The difference is critical for Peter’s discipleship and his ministry vocation–it is not a matter of whether or not he will lay down his life, that much is already assured.

The question seems to be one of timing or readiness. It could be readiness, since the narrative flow seems to present Peter as rather unthinking in his pronouncements of faith and devotion. Maybe he needs to mature further. At the same time, the issue could be timing, since part of Peter’s vocation will be service and leadership in the Christian community after Jesus’ death and resurrection. We know that because this isn’t the first time we’ve read this story. And, in truth, it could be a healthy dose of both. After all, Jesus’ “reinstatement” of Peter in John 21:15-23 with the three-fold questioning–Do you love me?–that allows Peter to perform the mirror-opposite of his three-fold denial of Jesus before the rooster crowed (predicted in our passage) in his three-fold profession of love for Jesus. There, Peter is met with not just an opportunity to “cancel out” his denial with affirmation. He is given a vocation–Feed my sheep/Take of my sheep/Feed my sheep–and the fuller picture that includes Peter’s following Jesus not by physical proximity but in vocational proximity. Peter will take up (and lead the church in taking up) the ministerial vocation of Jesus.

That’s all for now.  A little more later…

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