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True Religion

Matthew 16:21-28

The Rev. Jon Roberts

28 August


Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

Venice, FL

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. 28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

True Religion

Difference Between the True Religion of Christ and the False Idolatrous Teaching of the Antichrist in its Principal Features / Protestantism and Catholicism.
Lucas Cranach the Younger 1546

I wash my hands in innocence, O Lord
And go before your altar singing a song of thanksgiving
And telling of all your marvelous deeds.[1]

This is the true religion we prayed to be increased in our collect. We carve out our time of worship on Sunday to live with integrity; to trust in the Lord and what he says. We intend to be worthy of holiness, and by this admission we open ourselves to be tested. We are to put aside all forms of deceit. We better. We better wash our hands in innocence because God can smell a counterfeit a mile away.

Speaking of true religion and counterfeits, there has been a recent scandal in the fashion news. As the story goes, in June, a Mr. Philip Duff, an apparel manufacturer in England, became a million and a half dollars richer.[2] Mr. Duff made... blue jeans. He sold them mainly to equestrians, horseback riders, mostly in England, and a few in the US. In the year 1995 he secured a US Patent for his trademark symbol, that looks like a horseshoe. Many designers will tell you, "Your brand is your nest egg." It is probably the biggest component of your company and all your trust is in it. Nike has the ‘swoosh.’ Ralph Lauren has the polo player on the horse. Mr. Duff has the horseshoe on the hip pocket of the jeans he sold, but he did not sell nearly as many as did the Vernon, CA-based company known as True Religion jeans. True Religion was a company that was created in 2002. Apparently, they too had a symbol, in the same shape as Mr. Duff's horseshoe. Since the company was formed only nine years ago, their net value is now over 350 million dollars.

The fact that a pair of True Religion jeans are $170-$370 a pair, could have something to do with their generous earnings. Along with the success of True Religion jeans many people have counterfeited them. Knockoffs were found in low-end retail stores the back of pickup trucks and even in street alleys. They have been a favorite knockoff target by Chinese factories. Last year, a 40-foot cargo container stuffed with 21,000 counterfeit jeans was discovered after it entered the Port of Los Angeles. True Religion has filed dozens of lawsuits against companies stealing their trademark. The irony of this story is that in protecting something they thought they owned, they were in turn stealing from another person. The moral of the story: If you want true religion, look for the symbol; know it is expensive, but consider the source.
The same moral is true in our Gospel this morning. The Matthean sequence of events, its track leading up to this is important. Jesus fed the five thousand in Galilee to those who were mostly Jewish. Jesus walks on water to his disciples and saves Peter. Jesus challenges the disciples by healing a Gentile girl. Jesus is now telling of what is to come. They were still fixed on the idea that Jesus came for those who are in covenant with God. He really did not come for the Gentiles, so they believed. "No", Jesus says. "You are to deny yourself of all the other symbols and take up the one of the true religions... the cross." This was a most scandalous and preposterous symbol. Nobody will buy it. Peter rebuked him for it. "God forbid, Lord!" Once more Jesus uses harsh words.

Last week he said, "Should I give the bread of the children to the dogs."[3] This week he says to his most ardent supporter, "Get behind me Satan."[4] Peter, the rock, the one who acknowledged Jesus as Messiah was given harsh rebuke. Sometimes one must use sharp words like this to get the attention of another; to get them to think quickly about something critical. Jesus is speaking out of love.
He is using tough love to get the attention of Peter and the rest. There are many counterfeit religions; There are also bogus rules and regulations in those that exist that are not carrying the gospel message far enough. The disciples looked for the symbol of messiahship within the denim of Judaism. The Christ must come in with power to overthrow the foreigners who do not belong to the covenant established through Abram. But Jesus came with powerful words, rebuking Peter for buying into a knock-off. The true trademark of a follower of Christ, the symbol is the cross, and we are to carry our own. No one know what that means until they live a life, where they chose not to conform to the ways of this world but were transformed by the love of Christ.

How does this happen? It happens when we desire to be people of integrity, of goodness, and of holiness, clothed in the righteousness of the Lord. It happens when we wash our hands in innocence, laying aside all deceit, asking God to forgive, to feed, to save and to heal. It happens when we sing our song of thanksgiving; Thanking God for having air to breathe; Thanking God for having something to eat; Thanking God for our family and friends; Thanking Him for dying for our sins. These are the marvelous deeds, for we do not deserve them and yet God provides. There are a lot of counterfeits out there who claim you do deserve these things. You deserve them because you worked hard for them. You paid for them. You are entitled to them. Be careful in what you wear.

The symbol is the cross.
It is expensive. It cost God his son.
Jesus Christ is the source of true religio

[1] Ps 26:6-7, a translation by Father Roberts.
[3] Matthew 16:13-20
[4] Matthew 16:21-28

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