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Presentation 49. Introduction Many film producers have discovered that a story can be dramatically told by interweaving scenes from different locations.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 49. Introduction Many film producers have discovered that a story can be dramatically told by interweaving scenes from different locations."— Presentation transcript:

1 Presentation 49


3 Introduction Many film producers have discovered that a story can be dramatically told by interweaving scenes from different locations but which take place in the same timeframe. This is how John chose to tell his story, intertwining the story of Peter's denial with that of the Jewish and Roman trials. In this way the vulnerability and failures so common to Christian experience are set against the hatred of Caiaphas and the indifference of Pilate. Mark gives his account of Peter’s denial simply yet no less forcefully. Remember that Peter is most likely Mark’s source and so the blunt realism of his account should not surprise us. Presentation 49

4 Introduction Jesus’ words in v 27 “you will all fall away”, are expanded by Luke to read, "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Lk. 22v31-32. It is a graphic description. Peter was told that he would be blown about like chaff in the wind at threshing time. And that knowledge had caused Jesus to pray. There is a serene confidence in Jesus’ words revealing his assurance of victory despite the casualties that his side would take. “Satan has asked to sift you… BUT I have prayed.” As in Gethsemane, once again we see that, prayer is the key! Presentation 49

5 Peter’s Denial While witnesses were bearing false testimony inside during Jesus’ trial Peter, who could have been the chief defence witnesses, was in the courtyard. But Peter had failed to take seriously Jesus’ caution in Gethsemane to pray lest he fall into temptation? Would Peter’s self-confidence which presumably keep him from praying now exacerbate his hostility? Unlike his Master, Peter had no assurance that God’s purposes were being worked out in the process of events. This arrest and trial was not a scenario he had envisaged. He had no peace of mind that God was in control. Instead, a tremendous sense of unrest, dread and uncertainty gripped him. Presentation 49

6 Peter’s Denial Panic will invariably be the experience of people in crisis who have no persuasion that God is in control. Would the pattern of events have been different if Peter was not parlaysed by fear? Not that a bold witness for the defence would have influenced the verdict but it would have comforted Jesus. He had three opportunities to stand up for Jesus but failed to take them. In fact he distanced himself from Jesus. Do we sometimes do that? We have a God given opportunity to speak out for him yet we remain silent, intimidated by the prospect of ridicule or worse. By our speech and action we can convey the impression that we have little interest in Jesus or his gospel. Presentation 49

7 Peter’s Denial Peter did what was for him the unthinkable. “While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. `You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,’ she said. But he denied it. `I don't know or understand what you’re talking about,’ he said, and went out into the entryway.” Jesus had told Peter he would deny him. Peter had been appalled at the suggestion, loudly protesting that if even everyone else fell away, he would not! Presentation 49

8 Peter’s Denial A second time, “when the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, `This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it. Remember, this is the man who hours earlier had said, “Even if all fall away, I will not,” v29. Shortly after the first two denials those standing near said to Peter, `Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’ He began to call down curses on himself, [a sign of protest, and an affirmation that he is not lying] and he swore to them, `I don't know this man you’re talking about.’” Presentation 49

9 Peter’s Denial According to v72, “Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: `Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” Realizing the horror of his action, Peter is absolutely crushed. His heart is pierced. He collapses under his burden. Peter is discovering precisely what it means to carry one’s cross and to be identified with Jesus in the presence of those who hate our Lord. Its not as easy as he had imagined! Presentation 49

10 Peter’s Denial How poignant is Luke’s record, ‘The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter’ Lk. 26v61. This look took place after Peter’s third denial. It was not an, “I told you so,” triumphalistic sort of look, but one of bitter disappointment that said, “I have endured depths of agony and known great anguish of heart for you. Are you unprepared to bear the lighter burden of confessing you are mine? I have called upon you to bear a cross but remember I am carrying the heavier end of the cross. I have told you that you will suffer for my sake but you will never suffer as I have suffered.” The love and disappointment in Jesus’ eyes melted proud Peter’s heart. He dissolved into tears. Presentation 49

11 Peter’s Denial In the aftermath of our denial s does Jesus give us a look that says; “Remember Gethsemane, remember Calvary, remember all that I have borne for you. Are you able to bear so little for me?” Are there times when, like Peter, we have to face the awful truth about ourselves and recognise we are not as strong, or brave as we thought? Do we weep tears of repentance. It is not an impersonal code a morality that we offended but a friend, a Saviour, who has poured out his life for us. Peter’s tears marked the beginning of a way back to God. It is the man who has no tears for his denials of Jesus who is in a more serious position! Presentation 49

12 Peter’s Denial On three occasions Peter had denied that he even knew Jesus, despite having previously, boldly proclaimed that he would never fall away. By the time Mark’s Gospel was written some thirty or so years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter’s story was well known in the church, but Peter was still the rock, one of the key leaders of the Christian church. As a result the account of Peter’s stumbling would also have been comforting to those early Christians who were facing persecution from Rome and struggling to remain faithful to Christ. The message of Peter’s life was not one of ‘fail and your out!’ Presentation 49

13 Peter’s Denial Thankfully, our salvation rests upon the faithfulness of Christ and not our own. However, God would use Peter’s experience of cowardice as a refining fire and bring Peter through his self-inflicted ordeal in a way that would strengthen and equip him for leadership in the church. When we fail God do not forget that his grace is much greater than our sin. Have you denied Christ when faced with the pressure of non-Christian friends and family? Is there forgiveness and the prospect of fruitful service for you? Yes, this is assured the broken and repentant heart. We must not write people off because of their early failures. Paul learned this in his dealings with John Mark. Compare Acts 15v36-38 with 2Tim. 4v11 Presentation 49

14 In Defence Of Peter Many reading the gospel for the first time are surprised by Peter’s denial. After all Peter was not only a close friend and disciple of Jesus but one who had shown himself to be no shrinking violet! He was Jesus’ man! Had the denial come from someone like the rich young ruler we would not be surprised for he loved riches more than Jesus and "went away sorrowful." Or, we might expect denial to have come from those one who watched Jesus at a distance, but who never confessed him as Lord. But this was Peter - the bold, the courageous, who was on record as saying, "Even if all fall away,I never will." v29. Surely, if Peter fell, then anyone can fall, from the strongest to the weakest. In fact it’s often the strongest who are in the greatest danger. Presentation 49

15 In Defence Of Peter It is easy from our present day perspective to be too hard on Peter. A number of positive things need to be born in mind. First, he at least followed Jesus after his arrest. The others scattered into the enveloping darkness and kept running till they felt they were safe. But Peter, along with the unnamed disciple of Jn. 18 v15, probably John, followed the arresting party back to the high priest's house. John may have been the young man mentioned in Mk. 14v 51. True, Peter failed but he failed in a situation that none of the other disciples had dared enter. He failed, not because he was a coward, but because he was brave. Presentation 49

16 In Defence Of Peter Secondly, Peter followed Jesus because he loved him. Common sense may have argued ‘run for safety’ but Peter wanted to know what would become of Jesus. He would never have been in the courtyard if he not loved Jesus Thirdly, Peter had tried to defend Jesus in Gethsemane with his sword. True his behaviour was reprimanded by Jesus but it revealed a passionate (though misguided) concern for his Master. Finally, Peter was the disciple who had made the confession that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the living God”. Peter was no pathetic follower of Jesus. He was one of the best of them. Yet it he who falls, not only dreadfully but speedily and with such slight provocation. Presentation 49

17 The Steps In His Fall If Peter was as we have suggested one of the strongest of the disciples and yet he could fall in such a way, it is important to ask what steps led to that fall In order that we might avoid them. There are a number to consider. First, Peter was overconfident. When Jesus warned his disciples that they were going to abandon him, Peter ‘s response had been, "Lord, I don’t know about this motley bunch, they’re not the kind of people whom I’d have chosen as disciples. They may deny you - but you have one man you can depend upon, Peter." When Jesus repeated his warning, Peter replied, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." v31 Presentation 49

18 The Steps In His Fall If we indulge in such over-confidence and think that we are invulnerable because we are strong, wise and talented, able to grasp and deal with the dangers facing us, then we’re well on our way to falling. Jesus says, "Without me you can do nothing“ Jn.15v5. Nothing means nothing! Whenever we forget that, we are in trouble. Secondly, remember that in Gethsemane Peter failed to pray while Jesus did not. If we were to choose someone who, in our opinion, did not need to pray, it would be Jesus. But while Jesus was pouring out his soul before his heavenly Father, Peter was sleeping. We often fail to pray because we are not convinced of its absolute necessity. Presentation 49

19 The Steps In His Fall Thirdly, the man once stood at Jesus side is found sharing the comfort of Jesus’ enemy’s fire. He was not prepared to identify himself as a follower of Jesus but nevertheless was happy to benefit from the comfort made available by Jesus’ enemies. This causes us to ask, ‘Are we more at home in our culture, and in this world’s society and do we find more comfort from it than we find with Jesus and his people?’ I am not suggesting that we should somehow become detached from the world and give ourselves to monastic living. We are to be ‘in the world’. But- and this is the point - we’re ‘not to be of it’. We are to be with Christ at his side in the midst of a world that is opposed to his rule. Presentation 49

20 The Steps In His Fall What would we say if asked, “Did I see you with Jesus?” We are with Jesus whenever we spend time in fellowship with him, in Bible study, prayer or worship. And if we spend time with him it will show. It cannot be hidden! Your family will notice, workmates will notice, church folk will notice. And if you are identified as having spent time with Jesus, certain things will be expected of you? Oh, I know that often non-Christians can expect too much of believers, they demand something approaching perfection. We’re not perfect. But there is a sense in which the world and fellow Christians are right to expect certain things of us. Presentation 49

21 The Steps In His Fall What kind of things? Jesus’ priorities should be our priorities. His values should be our values. We are not at liberty to assume the world's values and adopt the world's theology. Our theology and values must be his. We should be filled with joy and holiness. We should stand for God’s truth and engage in mission. There should be an observable unity among Christ’s people. And all we do should be marked by love. The world has a right to expect certain patterns of behaviour if we are Jesus’ men and women! The world will question us just as it questioned Peter. Presentation 49

22 Conclusion The story of Peter’s denial is powerfully instructive. None of us are so strong that we can lower our guard against similar temptations to unfaithfulness. The example of Peter’s fall is here that we might learn from it. In particular we must recognise that past failure does not disqualify us from future fruitfulness. That God’s grace wonderfully rehabilitated Peter does not mean that we can be indifferent to falling into sin. It is surely better to be spared the heartbreak and tears that Peter endured. View yourself as a vulnerable child in need of protection. Cry to God to keep you faithful for, “if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” 1Cor. 10v12 Presentation 49

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