2010) Without God, Without Sin? (part three of four)

         (…continued)  Peter knew that a miracle had just been done for him, and he knew he was in the presence of something—someone– divine and holy.  He was first over-whelmed by the words of Jesus, and now, by a spectacular deed of Jesus.  Peter felt ashamed and unworthy and even afraid; as one might well feel, indeed should feel, in the presence of the divine and miraculous.  And Jesus responded with a word of grace, saying, “Do not be afraid.”  And then Jesus gave Peter, and James and John, a new job.  Jesus said, “From now on, you will be catching people,” or as it says in the old version, ‘you will be a fishers of men.’

            Well, that is all true and theologically correct and all that; but isn’t that just typical of the Bible, and isn’t that the trouble with it?  All it ever talks about is sin.  Even at the happiest times, somebody has to bring up sin and guilt and repentance and remorse.  That’s why the Bible is so out of date, some say, and so unappealing to a growing number of people these days.  The church would maybe do a lot better at catching people, if it just got over talking about sin all the time. 

            I will tell you what Peter could have said.  He could have said, “Jesus, you have just made all my dreams come true. Catching fish like this has always been what I dreamed about for my business.  Do you think you could do this for me every day, and, for other people, too?  Because if you can, I think we can get a crowd with this kind of gig.  Think about how appealing it will be:  We’ll say ‘Jesus will help you accomplish all your dreams and all your goals, he will turn your scars into stars, he will turn you into the person you always wanted to be, and make sure you get out of life everything you deserve.’  Let’s go Jesus, we will surely catch people with that kind of message.  We will even be able to fill stadiums.  Just go a little easier on all that talk about sin and guilt, and we will be sure to succeed.”  Some preachers these days have gone that route, and it does work.  So why should we talk about sin and guilt when it has been proven that you can fill stadiums by avoiding the subject?

            Here is why.  The church talks about sin and guilt because that is what we all live with, every single day.  Sin is what we do, and by our sins we hurt others.  Sin is what other people do, and we get hurt by their sins.  Is there anyone sitting here right now with any regrets or guilt over some wrong or hurtful thing you said or did recently, or years ago?  Is there anyone sitting here with an aching heart over the hurtful words or actions of another?  Sin and guilt are the elephants in every room, in every day, of every life.  And if there is an elephant in the room, you should acknowledge what is impossible to ignore.  Sin causes our troubles, guilt is what follows because God gave us a conscience, and the way through all that is Jesus, who died for the forgiveness of our sins.  That is why the Bible is always talking about sin.

            Jesus confronted Peter right in the midst of life, right in the middle of a frustrating time at work.  Peter had been out fishing all night and had nothing to show for it.  As I said, Peter might have been a bit irritated with Jesus telling him to go out again.  Jesus maybe even overheard some cussing and swearing out of him.  Peter could do that, you know (Matthew 26:74).  For whatever reason, Peter felt ashamed when he realized who he was dealing with, and he said, “Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinner.” 

            Let me put it this way.  What if Jesus appeared to you sometime this week in the midst of your life—in the middle of another mean-spirited argument with your spouse, or just as you are sassing your mother instead of respecting her, or as you are telling a lie, or sloughing off at work, or looking at a website you shouldn’t be looking at, or resenting the help you again have to give to another, or using God’s name in vain, or gossiping, etc. etc.  And then what if when Jesus was there with you, you remembered that he could also read your thoughts.  He can, you know– even right now.  And how good are you at purifying all your thoughts, thoughts so often filled with jealousy, ingratitude, lust, hatred, malice, and so forth?  Someone once said we all have thoughts that would cause shame even in hell.  I don’t know about you, but if Jesus appeared to me this Tuesday afternoon or any other time, I could well imagine myself saying, “Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinner.”  (continued…)


Matthew 26:74-75  — Then Peter began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”  Immediately a rooster crowed.  Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

I John 1:8-10  —   If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

I Corinthians 15:3-4  —  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:  that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

Acts 10:43  —  All the prophets testify about him (Jesus) that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.


Merciful God, I confess to you that I have sinned.
I confess the sins that no one knows about and the sins that everyone knows about.
I confess the sins that are a burden to me and the sins that do not bother me because I have grown used to them.
Father, forgive me, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 


Artwork by Carl Bloch, The Repentant Peter, Made of Etching mounted in passepartout

The Repentant Peter, 1882, Carl Bloch (1834-1890) (Matthew 26:75)