“Trial and Denial” The Passion: Week 2 (John 18:12-27)
John 18 / February 18th, 2018 / Todd Gray
Sometimes we let our failures in life define who we are. Peter’s biggest failure was denying Jesus following His arrest. But instead of becoming that failure, Peter lived in the light of the Resurrection and clung to Christ.
Lord Jesus, as we gather this morning, I pray that in our hearts and in our minds we would do exactly what that opening video showed us. We would be able to look at the passion of those last hours of your life through the lens of the resurrection. We celebrate the resurrection every Sunday, because you conquered our sin, and you conquered our death there, but before the resurrection, you walked through the valley. You went through trials on innocent man. You were beaten. You were brutalized. You were crucified. The whole story’s important. There’s so much in your word, Lord, that walks us through those hard days, those hard hours, those last hours of your life, so help us glean from them what you want, what you paid, what sent you there, and why you went there, so that we can come on resurrection Sunday this Easter and worship with the proper understanding and true victory. Holy Spirit, do your work today. Because of Christ, we can say, “Amen.”
If you have your bibles this morning … Of course, I pray that you bring them with you every Sunday. Let’s turn together to John 18. John 18 verses 12 through 27. As I was thinking about this section of the passion of Christ, the trials section and Peter’s denial, yet watching the Olympics at night, I couldn’t help in his mistake thinking of another big mistake around the Olympic season. How many of you know who Tanya Harding is?
Kind of. Don’t laugh at that sweet lady. If you don’t know who Tanya Harding is, sum it up for you. She basically was involved in a lead pipe being taken to another skater’s leg, whose name was Nancy Kerrigan, just to get her a better placement, so that she could be in and win a medal in the Olympics. You know Tanya Harding’s name, if you know it, because you’ve allowed your mind to define her by her mistakes, right? She allowed that mistake to happen, and if that still defines her, then she’s allowed herself to be defined by that mistake, but in Christ, it doesn’t have to be that way.
How do I know that? Because I see Peter in John chapter 18, making a far greater mistake than trying to up his position in figure skating in the Olympics. He denied Jesus, not once, not twice, but three times. Yet when I say the name of Peter, you don’t think denial. Some of you may not even know that he denied the lord three times. What do you think of? Church leaders, powerful disciple, great man of faith. Why? Because Peter was not, nor did he allow himself to be defined by his mistakes. He was defined by the grace, and the mercy, and the love found in the gospel, as Jesus died in his place and rose from the dead.
Church, you’re going to make mistakes. What we’re going to learn today is that you need to learn from those mistakes, and you need to lessen those mistakes. Life will go better for you, but sometimes you’re just going to flat out slip up, mess up, deny Christ, and find yourself in sin, in a mistake. Hear me. If you’re a follower of Christ, that mistake does not have to define you. What should define you is the same thing that defined Peter, the grace, the mercy, and the love of Christ. Like Peter, may the latter half of your life be not defined by the mistakes, but defined by his love in the gospel.
It’s a great story. Let’s read it together. Would you stand with me as we look at John 18 verses 12 through 27? It’s a lot of scripture, but this is a really good story, so let’s just dive into it together. Leaving the Garden of Gethsemane, the Roman cohort and the commander of the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus, and bound him, and led him to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year. Now, Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people. That prophecy is being fulfilled very soon.
John 8:15. Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple, unnamed. Now, that disciple was known to the high priest and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside the door, so the other disciple, who was known by the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper and brought Peter in. Then the slave girl, who kept the door, said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” Strike one. He said, “I am not.” Now, the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold, and they were warming themselves, and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself.
The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together, and I spoke nothing in secret. Why do you question me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them. They know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the officers standing nearby struck Jesus, saying, “Is that the way you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If I’ve spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong, but if rightly, why do you strike me?”
Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas, the high priest. Now, Simon Peter was standing and warming himself, so they said to him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it, strike two, and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of one whose ear Peter cut off said, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter then denied it again. Strike three. Immediately a rooster crowed. This is God’s word. Please be seated. No. It’s not three strikes and you’re out for Peter. Three strikes and mercy is shown.
We continue our journey of Jesus walking from the Garden of Gethsemane to the cross, hereby beginning the trials section of what we call the passion of Christ. Now, let me define that term for a second. When I say the passion of Christ, I’m speaking not to the movie. I’m speaking to a term that defines, although the movie did as well, the last hours of the life of our savior. In those last hours, those brutal things that happened to Jesus need to be understood by his church, and that’s exactly what those moments were. His passion displayed for us to read. Much of the gospels are consumed with this passion time period in his life. We say passion, because that’s what you see, the passion of Jesus Christ for god’s glory being accomplished and the passion of Jesus Christ for our salvation that he earned on our behalf.
This is what Jesus is doing. The section that we’re in right now, verse 12, tells us is the trial section, as he transitions from the garden to being before Annas. Now, it says here in verse 12 that he was arrested by the Roman cohort and the officers of the temple. I didn’t share this information with you last week, but you need to understand that this is a health number of men. A Roman cohort was between 500 and 600 men, not to count the officers from the temple. This is an army coming to get Jesus, and they bound him hand and foot, this innocent man.
A question that Christianity’s been asking for 2,000 years, that we need to both ask and have the right answer to is this. Why did Jesus, the innocent god-man, the son of God, allow himself to be bound hand and foot, taken away to a mock trial, though he was a innocent man? If you don’t understand this, you’re not alone. Peter didn’t understand this. That’s why Peter took out the sword and cut off the high priest, his slave, his ear, trying to kill him, but the answer is going to help you understand the beauty of the brutality that you will be seeing throughout the passion story. Here’s the answer. It was his sovereign will.
Do you remember when Peter pulled out the sword and cut off the slave’s ear. Jesus touched him on the shoulder and said, “Put away your sword?” “Why?” “Because the cup of God’s wrath I want to drink.” This is something that Jesus not only knew he must do. It’s something he wanted to do. Again, his passion, his desire was to be taken away, and falsely accused, and nailed to a cross. Please don’t look at it like Jesus was weak. Please don’t se this text like Jesus was forced into captivity.
The gospel writer, Matthew, gives us some insight into the kind of power that Jesus actually had. You read in Matthew chapter 26, starting in verse 53, after Jesus told Peter to ut away the sword, he reminds peter, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my father and he will at once put at my disposal more than 12 legions of angels?”, but how then will the scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way.
John MacArthur, as I was reading his commentary this week, reminds us that the power that Jesus had at his fingertips was more than you could possibly imagine. If he wanted to, he could just speak it and every man there would be dead. In fact, he wouldn’t have to lift a finger. What he tells us here in Matthews that he literally could have gone to his father and 12 legions of angels would come to his defense and bring wrath on this planet that we have yet to see. To help you understand the impact of how many angels this is, a legion of Roman soldiers was between 5,000 and 6,000, so that means 12 legions of angels would be 60,000 angels.
If the story is true that 185,000 Assyrians were destroyed by one angel at the Battle of Sennacherib, what does that look like for 60,000 angels to descend on this Earth when Jesus says, “Come on.”? I’ll tell you what it means. It means total annihilation of our planet, something that we could not recover from, something that an atomic bomb, a nuclear weapon couldn’t touch. That’s the power that Jesus had access to his whole life, and yet as he was being beaten and brutalized through his passion, he said no to that power. I don’t know if I could be so strong.
Don’t see it as Jesus being arrested and forced into captivity. He allowed these men to take him for you and for me, because it was a part of his sovereign plan and his father’s desire. John Calvin sums it up best when he said, “The body of the son of God was bound, so that our souls could be loosed from the cords of sin and Satan.” That’s why he allowed it, because we had to have it.
Verse 13 tells us where he was taken. We know he was taken bound hand and foot, but he was also taken to a place. It’s called the courtyard of the high priest, and here he met with a man named Annas. Now, there’s going to be some confusion as you continue to read through this passage of scripture, because Annas is in the courtyard of the high priest, so he’s referred to in this text as the high priest, but he wasn’t the high priest this year. The high priest was who? Caiaphas, his son-in-law.
Now, here’s what’s going on. According to Jewish law and Jewish tradition, if a man had the position of high priest, he had that position his whole life, but when the Roman Empire came in and they took over the Jewish Nation, they said, “One man cannot have that much power for that long of a period of time. He’ll have too much influence with the people, so you need to rotate this position.” So, they did. They rotated mostly within the family. Annas, who would always be seen before the people as the high priest, had five sons, who were the high priest, one son-in-law, who we see here, and also a grandson that all served in that position of the high priest. The people respect Annas. He will always be the high priest to them, but they also needed a high priest in name, which was his son-in-law.
As we go on to see this, there’s some things that you need to understand. Not only do you see Caiaphas and Annas as the high priest. You also need to understand that this is trial number one, although it’s a mock trial. It’s trial number one out of six that Jesus would face as he headed towards the cross. Here Annas did this mock trial, and a lot of shady things going on we’re going to talk about. Then he sent him to trial number two, to his son-in-law, Caiaphas, and part of the Sanhedrin. It was still at night, still shady. The next morning, having already decided at that night, when they should not have done it, that Jesus was to be killed, murdered if you will, they said, “Okay. We’re going to have another one, third trial, in front of Caiaphas and the whole Sanhedrin this time, and it’ll be at daylight.”
But because they did not want to enact the sentence of death upon Jesus themselves, so they wouldn’t get their hands dirty, the Jewish leader sent him to his fourth trial, to who? Pilate. Let Pilate do the dirty work. Pilate said, “I don’t want nothing to do with it,” had him beat down a few times, had him sent off to King Harry. King Harry didn’t want anything to do with it, sent him back to Pilate. That’s trial number six, and under public scrutiny and feeling the public pressure, Pilate finally gave in and had Jesus crucified. Here we see the first trial before Annas.
Now, there’s a couple interesting things about this trial that make it a false trial. First and foremost, under Jewish law, if they were going to try a defendant, you had to question the witnesses first, before you questioned the defendant. Do you see that happening here? No. They go straight for attacking Jesus. They should not have done that. Number two, it was supposed to happen in front of a public crowd in the daylight. This is at the private meeting, and it’s at night. Not only that, but Annas wasn’t even the true high priest in name. According to the Romans, he was just a guy, but he had the influence. Church, this shows you that something is going terribly wrong.
This is the first of the six trials. Why do we see in this text another question, the false trial of Jesus contrasted with the denial of Peter? Well, first and foremost, that’s just the way it happened. While Jesus was on trial before Annas, he was seeing himself denied by one of his closest disciples, named Peter. He also did this, not only because that’s what happened, John records it like this to show the sovereignty of Christ over the situation. What did Christ already tell Peter that was going to happen when Peter in John Chapter 13 verse 37, “I will lay down my life for you.”? Jesus says, “Oh. You will lay down your life for me? I don’t think so. Not only will you not lay down your life for me, but you’ll actually deny me three times, and then on the third time you will hear the rooster crow.” That happens in this text. It shows Christ’s sovereign power over the situation.
Another thing that I see here, why it goes back and forth between the trial and the denial, is to show the gospel before the gospel was ever accomplished. Think about it. Jesus was on trial for and would face the cross for the very sins that Peter was committing. While Peter was denying, while the Jews were lying, Jesus would appear to be dying for them. What a wonderful picture that we can embrace this morning. All right. Let’s get into the story a little bit.
Here Peter follows Jesus in the shadows to Annas’ courtyard. When he gets there, there’s another disciple waiting for him. Many people believe this is John. If it helps you that it’s John, that’s fine. We have no real evidence of that. It doesn’t really matter. But if it’s John, John must have had a relationship with the high priest, because he’s already in there with Jesus. He sees Peter hiding in the shadows. He goes up to the door and be like, “Hey, man. Come on in.” He tells the door guard, “Okay. This is Peter. He can come in.” As he goes in, before we even see the trial, we see the denial of his closest friend.
What does Peter do? When the slave girl who’s guarding the door, she asks him, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?”, what does he say? No. She was expecting a no, because why would any sane man follow him to his trial? He says no. Before we get into the rest of his denial, the bible then takes us back into the unlawful trial of Jesus. The reason I say it’s unlawful, for the reason we stated earlier, it should have never happened like this. But when he is before Annas, he’s questioned about two different things. Look here. He’s questioned about his disciples, and he’s questioned about this teaching, which caused the most problems.
I love how Jesus here, even though his disciples abandoned him, even though Peter is denying him, he’s still protecting them. What do I mean by that? Well, look here. As he’s asked by Annas about his disciples, he doesn’t mention them at all. It’s kind of like he told them in the garden, “They’re none of your business. You’re here for me. Deal with me. I’m not going to talk about them. Leave them alone,” but what he does answer, he defends his teaching. Look at verse 20 of John 18.
Basically, he tells them, “I’ve spoken openly. I taught in the synagogues. I taught in the temple. I didn’t hide anything. If you want to know what I said, you don’t have to ask me. I didn’t hide anything. Everything that I taught in private with my disciples I taught in public for everybody to hear. You should be questioning them.” He knew the law, didn’t he? “You shouldn’t be coming to me. Ask them what I said, for they know it well” Suddenly, when he made a very rational and a very lawful response, you get the true desire of this false trial before Annas. They didn’t want to hear the truth. They didn’t care about the truth. They just wanted to kill him and destroy his reputation.
What happens when Jesus says that? The guard looks at him, smacks him across the face, and says, “Is that any way that you answer the high priest?” This shows you what they were there to do, just to accuse him and to kill him. Jesus responds to them in a very loving way, instead of defending himself, because he’s not starting some kind of coup. Everything he’s said has been in public. He goes, “Listen. If I’ve spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong, but if rightly, why do you strike me?” Of course, the guard has no answer for him. He had no reason to strike Jesus. He knew Jesus was right. Annas had no defense for having a false trial, so they stopped speaking. They simply sent him on to Caiaphas, the high priest that year, the one who bore the name.
Annas had already made up his mind that Jesus should die, but before we pick up the scene between Jesus and Caiaphas, the story flips back from his false trial, back to Peter’s denial. The second time he would deny the lord is when someone see’s Peter’s face maybe flickering in the fire, and they look at him again and say, “Wait a second. Aren’t you one of his disciples?” What does he say here? Strike two. “No. I am not.”
The third denial is pretty interesting. It’s almost like there’s this guy over here in the corner of the courtyard, looking at Peter like this with his head sideways thinking, “I think I recognize that guy.” Why did he recognize him? Because this time the slave that’s looking sideways as Jesus is one who was in the garden, in fact was a relative of Malchus, the slave that Peter, who cut his ear off. I was there. He walks up to Peter and says, “Listen. I was in the garden. I saw you earlier. Tell me, are you not a disciple of Jesus? We’re thinking at this point, “Why doesn’t he just own up to it?” Why doesn’t Peter just acknowledge the fact that he’s a disciple? Whoever this other disciple is had already done it. Why doesn’t Jesus allow …? Or why doesn’t Peter do it now? ”
Well, think about if you were Peter. Not only is Jesus on trial and you’re worried, are they going to kind of lump you into his sentence, but whose courtyard are you in? You’re in the courtyard of the high priest. Who did the slave belong to that you tried to kill in the Garden of Gethsemane? That slave, Malchus, belonged to the high priest. He was probably fearful of being tried for that false thing that he did there as well. This time Peter is probably thinking, “Uh-oh. They got me.” But because of fear, because of maybe pride, strike three. He still says, “I am not one of his disciples.”
Other gospel accounts record him saying it with a curse, like vehemently saying, “Stop asking me this question.” Another gospel account, after the rooster crows, kind of shows him as broken or burdened, as you and I would be, realizing what just happened, because as soon as the rooster crowed, the words of Jesus came crashing down on his head, “Three times you’ll deny me, and then the rooster will crow.” What I see here is an amazing back and forth message focused on Christ’s faithfulness in the midst of human sinfulness. He was faithful to Peter when Peter was denying him. He was faithful to the truth when the falsehood was thrown at him.
Before we leave this text, there are a couple of application-focused observations from this trial and denial scene that I want you to take with you today. Number one, while we were yet sinners, church, Christ suffered for us. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. You probably recognize that from Romans 5:8, where it says exactly that, that God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. In this passage, where you see Jesus on trial as an innocent man, you have a guilty man present that should have been on trial. His name was Peter. What does this mean? It means that Jesus faced the trials that Peter deserved. Jesus is not in sin. Jesus has not lied. Jesus has not cut the ear off of a high priest’s slave. He is an innocent man. Peter’s the one that should be on trial, not Jesus, but he was there because Peter could not be there.
That also means Jesus went through all the trials that you and I deserve. Not only did he die for the sin that Peter was committing, he died for you and all the sins that you commit. He was the one that was tried and found guilty, though everybody that accused him knew he was innocent. He was the one that was abandoned, denied, and betrayed. Yet he was always faithful. He was mocked, brutalized, and tortured, though he deserved none. He was beaten almost to death, as his flesh came off in ribbons of red, but he didn’t deserve one of the lashings. Church, he suffered greatly physically, but he was tormented spiritually, because the wrath of God’s spirits that he was bearing was for you and for me, because this brought God glory.
You bring God glory when this message impacts you. You bring God glory when you marvel at the gift, when you glory at the gift that God gave you in Christ, though you don’t deserve it. What you see happening to Christ should both break you, because it was your sin that he’s being punished for, and it should also uplift you, because you don’t have to bear it on your own. Church, if you’re here today and you’ve yet to receive this gift called salvation, the bible tells you today’s a great day to be saved. Anyone who calls on the name of the lord will be saved. If you’ve yet to trust in Christ as your lord and savior, call on him today. Repent of your sin. Believe in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sin, and he will forgive you in a moment.
Give up your life that you’re living for yourself. It’s only going to bring you heartache, and disappointment, and pain anyway. Surrender to Christ, and let him live through you. If you’re a Christian and you’re not living, if you’re not marveling in the power of this message, I encourage you, stop fighting, stop clawing, stop striving for success, stop striving, and start resting in the salvation that Christ earned for you. That’s why the passion story is here, so it will envelope you. It will convict you. It will encourage you. Yet while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Not only can we learn from what Christ showed us in this trial, but we can also learn from Peter directly, can’t we? You know, the bible tells us in Second Timothy 3:16 that all scripture’s not only inspired, but it’s profitable. It’s profitable, so you learn how to please God in how you live your life. Some scriptures are there for you to be encouraged by. Some scriptures are there for you to be convicted by. Some scriptures are there for you to emulate, like the life of Christ, and yet other passages, like what we see in Peter’s life here, are there so that you don’t emulate them, so you don’t follow him.
One of the questions that we need to be asking today is how do I not deny Jesus? I know what you’re thinking. Well, Peter is Peter. He denied the lord three times. What chance do I have? Well, rather than just using Peter’s example as an excuse for you to fail, why not use this passage of scripture as an example to not follow? Why did Peter deny Jesus? There’s lots of reasons. I see two that point out to me. Number one, fear, and number two, social pressure. How many mistakes do you make in your life? How many times do you deny Jesus in your life, because of fear and social pressure? The examples are innumerable. I’ll give you a few.
I heard a story about a child in our nation that was in school. Many children go to school, private, and public, and even homeschool. In this school setting, this child was listening with other students to some music, and that’s good. It’s good if your children listen to music, by the way. It’s healthy for them. They were listening to some great songs, but then a song came on the radio that was upbeat. It was fun. It was modern, but yet it was also provocative. This child is a Christian, and this song talked about the provocative nature of a woman’s body and how he wanted to participate in that. Let’s leave it at that. It sounds confusing. You know what I’m talking about. Okay?
This child at first is singing along and dancing. Then conviction sets in. This child thinks, “Uh-oh. Wait a second. This is not good for my spirit, nor is this what my parents would want me to listen to.” Amazingly, the child gives into that conviction, goes up to this teacher in this story, and says, probably not wanting to own it, this child [inaudible 00:27:49] says, “I don’t think my parents want me to listen to that.” The teacher kind of just rolled her eyes, put her hand on the music box. I think we call that a radio. Music box. How old am I? Anyways, and somebody said, “Well, now we just can’t listen to music anymore.”
Oh. I know what you’re thinking. “That child’s just a little, prude child. Oh. That silly child needs to learn some better social cues.” You might be right. “Oh. That child needs to grow up a little bit.” On, and on, and on you could go, but let’s pause there for a second. What if that simple instance, that was legit conviction? What if that was the holy spirit speaking to that child and this was honoring Christ to deny this particular situation? I know the child could have just not listened. I know that the child could have done a lot of other things, but my question is not what did the child do, or what could have the child done? What will the child do next time is the question, because the fear of not rocking the boat, because of public ridicule. What will that child do? I pray that that child does the same thing, maybe in a different way or maybe in the same way. I don’t know.
Here’s what you can learn. Listen to the convictions of Christ in your heart. Do not give in to fear. Do not give in to social pressure. If you know a conviction from the word of God and the spirit of God is speaking to you, listen to the conviction, because there are areas, there are situations waiting for you at school, in your workplace, and even at your home, which can be ample opportunity for you to deny Christ if you don’t listen to your convictions. How else can this work itself out in your life? Again, there’s many ways. I’ll just give you some more examples.
We see Peter here. He knew Jesus was innocent. Am I right? Do you agree with that? Yeah. I think so. He knew Jesus was innocent. Those who were putting Jesus on trial knew that he was innocent. All along the way, through all six trials, they knew that. Yet Peter, when Jesus was falsely accused, when his savior was slapped across the face, we know he didn’t like it, because last time they tried something like that he pulled out a sword, but this time he just stands there, warming his hands by the fire. Church, you can deny Christ by warming your hands by the fire and ignoring wrong when it’s happening before you. It takes courage to not deny Christ. It takes courage to do the right thing when nobody’s looking, but maybe even more courage to do the right thing when everybody’s looking.
This can show itself in some big ways, by standing up for what Christ stands up for. Let’s just talk about some big social platform areas. Now, what I’m not talking about is the gray areas. Don’t be trying to use a passage like this to defend your little, political soapbox that’s underneath your … you know, you got it digging right here. If it’s gray area, you need to be careful about it, but they’re not all gray areas. There’s some pretty black and white areas. Biblical marriage, you know what Jesus believes about it. It’s clear in the scriptures. Gender, we know what the bible says about it’s pretty clear. Abortion, sanctity of human life, we could go on and on. These are the big issues.
You can avoid denying Christ by standing up for the things that he stands up for and standing against the things that he stands against. It’s clear. There’s lots of them, but, uh-oh, it’s not just the big issues. It’s the daily issues too that can get you going and coming, church, at home, when you’re doing this 35 days of prayer, and you watch Netflix and picking up a book, like I did this week. Right? I’ve done that. In a small way, that’s denying Christ. He’s calling me. He’s yearning to spend time with me. We gave you a book. You didn’t even have to pay for it. I didn’t pay for it either. It’s sitting there on the night stand. It even has a bookmark in it, but I say no to that to say yes to me. On, and on, and on we can go. There’s lots of examples of how we deny Christ.
What I want you to ask yourself is the positive affirmation of this. How can I not deny Christ at school? How can I not deny Christ at my job, on the highway, or in my home? That would be a wonderful lesson to learn from Peter’s mistake, rather than falling into the same types of mistakes, but like me, and like Peter, you’re not perfect, are you? No. You’re not, though you should learn your lessons from your mistakes to lessen them and not repeat them. Peter didn’t repeat them. Sometimes you’re going to deny Jesus even when you don’t want to. What I want to tell you today is the message that is in here, but not in these verses.
This is not the end of Peter’s story, is it? Jesus didn’t abandon Peter in the courtyard of Annas, “Because you denied me, and you’re out of here.” No. He continued to march forward towards the cross, because of the sins that Peter committed in this chapter. Peter would be one of the first to show up to the empty tomb. Peter in his life would prove faithful and true. Peter would be a leader in the early church, only because of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ that he was shown after the resurrection. When you fail, and you will fail, don’t look at your life through the lens of your failure. Don’t be defined by that failure. Confess it to Christ, and let his forgiveness wash over you, like it did Peter.
We see it, don’t we? What about John chapter 21? Peter’s already denied Jesus. Jesus is crucified. Nobody understands it. Jesus rose from the dead. Peter’s like, “Where’s the body?” They’re starting to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and Peter finds himself out fishing, kind of like, “You know, I guess I have to get back to life.” Who does Peter see in John 21 on the shoreline? He sees Jesus making breakfast, and it wasn’t because he was hungry, but he jumped out of the boat. He started swimming to his savior, probably just rejoicing that he’s alive, ready to follow him his whole life long. What does Jesus say to Peter three times, like we see three times here he denied him? Three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”
It’s almost like with each affirmation of Peter’s love for his savior and for his sheep, the forgiveness of Christ washed away the stain of the denial. Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? What it did, it cleansed Peter. It restored Peter, and now he could see clearly the path that Christ had for him, and boy, did he live it the rest of his life. Church, if you just look through the lens of your pain, if you just look through the lens of your failure, it’ll give you a muddled view of where Christ wants you to go, like driving down Interstate 45 in the rain, maybe like later today, without your windshield wipers on.
Can you do it? Sure you can. I don’t advise it. You could drive down the highway with the rain on the windshield, and you can kind of look through it and see the road, but it’s dangerous, and you won’t have a clear path, but if you just turn the windshield wipers on, maybe give it a little of that washer fluid, tst-tst, things become clear, don’t they? Well, maybe Jesus needs to give you a little tst-tst this morning. By realizing his grace and mercy, found in the cross and the resurrection, can wash over your mistakes. It can wash over your pain, just like the windshield wipers fluid or the windshield wipers, and help you to see his path in front of you clearly, but you got to use it, just like you got to use your windshield wipers. You got to enable the power of the gospel to live true in your life by marveling in the reality of it and living your life according to it. What a great message.
Let’s pray. God, we thank you for Peter, his successes and his mistakes, because, Christ, you were seen in all of it. I thank you, Lord Jesus, that while I was sinner, you knew my mistakes. You knew my rottenness to the core, and yet you still died for me. Because of you, I have life. You died for the very sins that I commit. I praise you for that. Let it empower me. I marvel in the reality of what that is, and I thank you for it. Lord, we also make mistakes. I praise you that even when I do make a mistake, after being saved, that your grace and your mercy are there for me. My mistakes no longer have to define me.
God, I pray maybe if there’s just one here today that have yet to embrace you, Lord Jesus, as their savior, this message today would bring such conviction they couldn’t help respond to it, that you may lead them to repent and believe in you today, because you did this for them. You were Peter’s substitute, and you died in our place as well, bearing the burden that we deserve. You rose from the dead, and we have faith in you. Let this story change us and encourage us this week. It’s in Christ’s name we pray that we do not deny him, and everybody said, “Amen.”
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