(c) Copyright 2004 Rev. Bill Versteeg
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you
will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
”‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into
33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I
34 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered,
“this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown
me three times.”
35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I
will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the
Maybe I should have called this sermon “Never say
Never!” As the darkness of Lent deepens, on this day we look
closer at the disciples’ denials, especially
Peter, If ever there was an occasion that he should
have not said “Never,” it was this one.
Around this Last Supper table there were disciples, the very ones who
had heard the words “If any would come after me, he must deny
himself, take up his cross and follow me.” These were the
ones who choose to respond in the affirmative, like you and I. And of
the disciples with promise Peter looked so very promising. He
Spiritually sensitive, probably
more so than the other disciples. It was Peter that came to understand
that Jesus was the Christ of God by revelation from God, while the
other disciples were certainly still confused.
was Peter who had the guts to step out and walk on water toward Jesus.
The other disciples looked good because they did not try!
after all, at the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter was the one who
wanted to build temples in honour of Moses and Elijah and Jesus. You
don’t hear the other disciples dreaming up such big plans.
He had a good Value system.
When Jesus offered to wash his feet, he voiced the inappropriateness of
this foot washing, he understood himself a servant who ought to be
washing his masters feet
It was Peter who said that he was willing to die for Jesus and then in
the face of inescapable odds took out his sword to defend Jesus and he
cut off the high priest servant’s ear. And not only these
qualities, especially the last quality that made Peter a stand out
disciples was that the Lord had changed his name, given him a new
identity and made great promises concerning something about
Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter.
Simon meant literally “one who listens,” but there
was a sense about the name that meant weak and wavering, like someone
who listens to everyone’s opinion and just doesn’t
know what to do. Jesus in Matthew 16 changed his name to Peter, the
Rock, and with the name gave him a promise that it
would be on that Rock that Christ’s church would be built and
that the keys of the kingdom would be in his hands.
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not
revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you
that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the
gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the
kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
If we think that Peter had a
problem with pride, in the sense of arrogance, boastfulness, a looking
down his nose at others, we are not understanding how fine a disciple
he was by Jesus own definition of a disciple. And our passage brings
out that following Peter’s lead, they all said the
same thing, that not one of them would disown Jesus. This was
a disciples commitment to his master. Peter wasn't boasting in the
negative sense of the word, he was describing his heart, but
the problem was, Peter, like the other disciples, like all of us, did
not know how fragile and weak his heart was, how frail and distorted
his Spirituality was, how feeble his courage was, how puny his vision
was, how wavering his value system was or how brittle his commitment
As the darkness of those last hours
increased, as Satan started to shake the very foundations of these
disciples lives, every weakness would be exposed. As God took the sword
of his wrath against his own, the Shepherd wounded would no longer be
able to guard the sheep, and the sheep discovered a very painful truth:
without the Good Shepherds staff and rod, they were nothing,
defenceless. Everything they were as disciples of Christ would seem to
tumble to the dust.
As the dark hours progressed, the
disciples all disappear from the picture, fall away from the scene.
Peter however still remains the strongest, following behind, even
daring to enter the courtyard of the High Priest and sit down with the
guards waiting the outcome of the trial (Matthew 26:58). John the
beloved disciple hides in the shadows further behind. The rest were
And then, Peter the promising
disciple was recognized.
First a Servant girl came to him
“You also were with Jesus of
Galilee,” she said.
“I don’t know what
you’re talking about,” Peter
Another girl saw him, recognizing him told the bystanders
“This fellow was with Jesus of
And Peter responded with an oath...
“I don’t know the
More people came up to Peter, now as a group they said
“Surely you are one of them, for your accent
gives you away.” His accent was a dead give away.
People from all over the world were in Jerusalem during this Passover
feast celebration. He had a Galilean accent and very few people there
would have that accent except those who had started following Jesus
from the beginning when he started his ministry, when he choose his
disciples, fishermen from the sea of Galilee. Peter
responded, May heaven strike me dead...
“I don’t know the man!”
And the cock crowed!
Have you heard that sound, not just
about Peter, but about you? Have you discovered that though you have
made claims and held commitments, that if God removes his sustaining
hand, they are nothing and your weaknesses overwhelming...
I will never forget Wim’s (not his real name) story. Wim was
an elderly man, in his 70's when he told me this story. He said it with
tears of regret, of repentance. At one time he had been a young man. He
was following on the pathway of discipleship, committed to Christ. His
life was going the way so many lives do, a young wife, a child on the
way, and he had to earn a living and he did it as a brick layer. It was
the late 50's, he was working on a large union project with many other
brick layers and labourers. The times were rough and the men doing the
work fit the rough times.
Lunch room conversations bothered
him. The language was foul. The jokes were distasteful. He did not join
in. But what bothered him more than this was another man, a Christian,
who seemed to have no sense, at least no shame. He would talk about
Christ to all who would listen, and even those who would not listen
heard about Christ from him, and it wasn’t long before this
vocal Christian was the object of mockery in the lunch room, Wim did
not join in. One lunch time, once again, this man was preaching to his
table when one especially rough bricklayer, who wanted the preaching to
stop, decided to throw a brick at him. It struck the man on the head,
doing obvious damage. He was rushed to hospital, but the man, now brain
injured, never returned to work again. Wim said and did nothing! He had
disowned his Lord and Savior by his silence! Anxious fear clouded his
eyes, tears dropped freely off this tough man’s chin. Could
he be forgiven? That was his question. That was Peter’s
question. Maybe this morning, that is your question. It certainly, at
times, has been my question. Can I be forgiven for the times I denied
Maybe this is your question. Were
there times when you know you should have spoken for Christ, and you
did not? Were there times when you should have withheld your anger, and
kept your witness, but instead in weak self control you let it out, and
disqualified yourself from speaking for Christ? Were there times you
should have spoken to your children but for fear of losing them did
not? Were there times you should have spoken to your fellow students
about Christ, about what is right, and you did not because you very
much wanted to fit in? Have there been times when you should have
seized the opportunity to speak, or to love, or to forgive, or to help
someone, and wrapped in weakness you did not, and in so doing, you
denied? Can you be forgiven?
I invite you to prayer and a few minutes of silent confession, and this
morning again, as an act of confession and repentance, I invite you to
sign the card that was on your chair, and then before you bring it up
to the front, look on the back of that card - it may be that those are
words from God for you today.
Prayer - lead to silence
Our assurance come from Peter himself. Having denied vocally, forcibly
to save his own skin, having discovered how weak he really was, and
having grieved deeply for his failure, Christ restored him and told him
again and again to feed his sheep. And Peter in his letters to his
brothers and sisters uses his own discovery of weakness and experience
of failure to help his brothers and sisters to assurance and recovery
and then strength. Listen to these words.
1 Peter 1
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an
inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in
heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s
power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in
the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little
while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These
have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold,
which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved
genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is
revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though
you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an
inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of
your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 5
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, (have an accurate measurement of self, including
your weakness) therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he
may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he
cares for you.
8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like
a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing
firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the
world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in
Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore
you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for
ever and ever. Amen.
Song of response, “There is a Redeemer”
Prayer teams forward - during singing
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.
Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by
permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
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