Sermon Notes and Observations

September 8, 2009 at 2:44 am (Uncategorized)

Where: Church @ Chapel Hill – Douglasville, Ga

When: Sunday, September 6, 2009

Series: The Classics Vol. 2-Personal Encounters with Jesus

Today’s Sermon: Peter’s Denial          Pastor Jeremiah Stingl

 

Scripture References: Matthew 4:18-20, 14:27-33, 16:13-18 & 21-23, 26:31-75; John 21:15-19; Jeremiah 18:1-6; Romans 8:38-39

***These are my opinions and views of what was said. The full message is available here, under week six — http://www.churchatchapelhill.com/messages/theclassicsvol2week1.htm . Anything said here is not sanctioned by Church @ Chapel Hill. I just go there and agree with the vast majority of what they believe.

 

Mistakes happen. At some point or another, you will fail, at one thing or another. It could be something or something big. But it will happen, because we are all human and nobody is perfect. the vast majority of people have “favorite sins”, ones that commit over and over again. It could be lying, cheating, stealing, looking at porn, or any number of things that cause them to stumble in their walks with God. How can that cycle of failure be broken? It is possible that God could ever love us again?

Peter is a perfect example of imperfect greatness in the Bible. No matter how many times Peter stuck his big old foot in his mouth, Jesus still loved him. And God still used him to do great and mighty things. The first mention of Peter in the Bible is when he is called by Jesus in Matthew 4:18-20. Jesus sees Peter and his brother fishing, because they were fishermen, and calls them saying “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” I think that we often over look the fact that Jesus was human. He was God in the flesh. So, He was perfect, but he was still a man. Hard to comprehend, but I agree with em a Pastor Jeremiah (see video) on this point. Jesus had a sense a humor and a way with words. But back to Peter. He and his brother immediately left their boat and nets to follow Jesus. We don’t see Peter actively or specifically mentioned again until Matthew 14:28, when he walks on the water with Jesus. We see a bit of Peter’s attitude here and we recognize that he is the guy that takes the risks in the group. All of the other disciples thought that the figure of Jesus walking on top of the water during the storm was ghost (vs. 26). When Jesus reassures them that it is indeed Him, Peter challenges “Lord, if it’s you..tell me to come to you on the water.” Peter wants to make sure. Jesus summons his and Peter climbs out of the boat. What a tremendous step of faith! Peter did something really great here right? He trust completely in his Lord and stepped out of boat in the middle of the sea into a STORM! I know that I would have a few problems with that myself, but I’m getting away from the story again. Peter was fine, until he “saw the wind” (vs. 30). Peter got scared. He was completely trusting in his Lord one second, and terrified the next. He lost faith in Jesus, who immediately reached out and pulled him up. And Jesus rebuked him, “You of little faith, he said, why did you doubt?” Personally, I’ve always thought that was pretty hard line. I mean, Peter was the only disciple willing to get out of the boat in the first place. Everyone gets scared, so why was that so terrible of him? But the pivotal point here was that Peter took his eyes off Jesus and “saw the wind”. Peter was there, with Jesus, walking on water, until he looked away from his Lord and focused on the world around him. That was Peter’s big mistake. He took his eyes off Jesus. But Jesus will always reach out and pull us back up when we cry out to Him (vs. 30-31).

Peter does the same sort of thing again in Matthew 16. Jesus wants to know who his disciples think He is. He asks, in verse 15, “But what about you?…Who do you say I am?” Peter is on the ball. He immediately answers, in verse 16, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Go, Peter! He hit is right on the head with that one. Jesus answers him in the next verse saying, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter (which means rock in Greek), and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on the earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (vs. 17-19)

Peter! You are THE MAN! I mean when Jesus says something like that to you, it’s a big deal. And once again we see Jesus’ playin’ with His words with the whole “rock” and “Peter” think, but I digress. Let’s see what happens with Peter next.

Jesus goes on from this speech to inform the disciples about what His last days will be like. Peter doesn’t like the sound of this very much. In verse 22 it says that “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him”. WHOA! Peter! What are you thinking here?!? Rebuking Jesus, the one that you just proclaimed was the Messiah? But that’s not all. “‘Never Lord!’ he said, ‘This shall never happen to you!'” Is it just me, or did Peter just almost call Jesus a liar? Oh Peter, what’s wrong with you? What happened in, what seems to be, a short amount of time? Jesus answers him and says “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block (there He goes with the word play again) to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Oh, Peter. Peter, Peter, Peter. What have you done? Nothing any other mortal man might do. But to say it to Jesus? To call him a liar to His face? Peter, Peter, Peter. He had in his mind what the Jews had been thinking for centuries. That when the Messiah came He would take over and rescue them from the world and set up His kingdom on earth. Peter is probably thinking all this and also that he’s going to be right there with Jesus, His buddy, His disciple, His go-to guy. And Jesus knows this, and no, He is not calling Peter Satan, but He is saying that Satan is trying to tempt Jesus to deviate from the Master Plan with Peter’s words.

 We skip all the way to Matthew 26 to see the next chapter in Peter’s tale, which continues to sadden me, at least. We see Jesus seated at the table of the Last Supper, the last meal He will be with His disciples before He is betrayed and crucified. Jesus tells the disciples that they will all fall away from Him tonight, because of the prophesy in Zechariah 13:7. Here Peter goes again. He probably was thinking that he’s going to speak up and be the brave disciple, the faithful one. He says in verse 33, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”(emphasis added) Oh Peter, not again. Calling Jesus a liar, I would assume, is not recommended, but here is Peter’s second offense. Jesus is a human. A perfect one. But a human with emotions, as I said earlier. I can almost hear the hurt in his words as he responds by saying, “I tell you the truth, … this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Peter fights this, with I think is desperation. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” After the Last Supper, Jesus and the disciples go to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray (vs. 36-46). Jesus goes off alone and leaves the disciples in a group, to pray together. He comes back three times to check on the disciples, and all three times they have fallen asleep. The part that impacted me the most here was that he specifically addresses Peter. In verse 40 it says “Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.’Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter.” I think that he specifically addresses him here to sort of put him in is place. “You can’t even stay awake to pray for me, but you tell me that I am wrong, and you would die rather than disown me?” I don’t think it quite sinks in with Peter yet. After the third time Jesus finally tells them get up, because He is about to be betrayed. The betrayal happens and Jesus is led away. It says in verse 56, that “all the disciples deserted him and fled”(emphasis added). But in verse 58 it says that “…Peter followed him as a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high pries. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome” (emphasis added). Peter was waiting to see what his man Jesus was going to say to the guys that were trying to accuse him, again. He wanted to see Jesus say what He’d been saying to these guys for the last three years. Peter is found by a servant girl, who says that she saw him with Jesus. He denies her out of fear. He even goes as far as the say, verse 70, that “I don’t know what you are talking about.” He left the courtyard and was accosted in the gateway by another girl, who also says that she saw him with Jesus. He denies it again and swore, saying, “I don’t know the man!”(verse 71) After another while, a group of people came up to him and accused him again of being with Jesus. Peter began “to call down curses on himself and he swore to them ‘I don’t know the man!'”(verse 74) It says in verse 75 that “immediately a rooster crowed”. Peter then remembered what Jesus had said and went outside and wept. Peter had betrayed his Lord. His leader. His best friend. How heartbreaking does it get? But the ending is happy. And so encouraging.

We look in the book of John, chapter 21, for the end of Peter’s story. In verses 1-3 it explains that Peter suggested that they all go back to fishing. They weren’t very successful though, because they fished all night and “caught nothing”. Jesus found them, and stood on the shore watching. I like to think that He was sad, at seeing his disciples backslide into their former occupations. They just gave up, and decided to go back to catching fish, instead of men. Jesus stands on the shore and watches his followers, his sheep, and calls out, asking if they have any fish. They fail to recognize Him, and answer in the negative. He tells them to recast the nets, on the other side of the boat. I can just picture the disciples looking at each other like “Who is this guy? What does he know about fishing?” But they decide to take his advice anyway, seeing no harm in it since they haven’t caught anything anyway. As soon as they did the nets were full to bursting, so full that they couldn’t pull them in. John immediately recognizes Jesus and calls out “It is the Lord!”(verse 7). Peter then recognizes Him and dives into the water and swam for shore. The other disciples follow in the boats and when they landed Jesus asked that fish be brought to Him. Peter drags the net alone, trying to impress Jesus with his servitude. It is a mistake that we all make at some point or another. After they had eaten some of the fish that they had caught, Jesus addresses Peter, asking him if he truly loves Him in verse 15. Peter answers in the affirmative. Jesus asks him two more times, if he loves Him, and each time Peter says that he does. In verse 17 it says that “Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time.” I had always read that thinking that Peter was offeneded, but now I see that he was more convicted. The point finally is driven home in Peter’s head. Jesus continues and says again, “Follow me!” in verse 19, repeating His original call, giving Peter a second chance. He took Peter back to where it all started and forgave Him and offered him a fresh start.

To me, the story of Peter it one of the most precious that we can find in the Bible. Jesus clearly had a soft place for him, but it was because of Peter’s rashness and his mistakes that we have the tender moments that we do in their relationship. God doesn’t shun you because of your mistakes, but rather embraces you all the more tenderly for them. He knows that you’re going to mess up, and he still loves you. As long as you come to Him with a Godly sorrow that shows him that you are truly repentant, he will accept you back into the fold with a fresh new start.

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