- Sermon Notes
God’s Love Never Fails
As we continue in the book of Luke, Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane, it’s very early, perhaps 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning.
Remember what has happened so far; so much has happened just in the last 12 hours from this point. Jesus had that Last Supper, the Passover meal, with His disciples. At that supper, He declared that one of them would betray Him. He also said that all of them would fall away on account of Him.
He also specifically turned to Peter and told him that he would fail, that Satan demanded permission to sift him like wheat, but that He would be praying for him that his faith would not fail. Peter famously disagreed with Jesus on this point and declared boldly, “Though all may fall away because of You, I will never follow away.”
Jesus responded, “I say to you, Peter, the cock will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”
The disciples then went with Jesus out of Jerusalem heading east, down into the Kidron Valley, then a short distance to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spent the rest of the night praying to His Father. He had warned them all to be on the alert and pray that they may not fall into temptation. But three times Jesus returned from praying and found them all asleep. He then said those famous words that gave us such insight into our own failure, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
When He returned the third time from prayer, He said, “Behold, the hour is at hand...” Judas Iscariot then approached Him, followed by a crowd of temple soldiers to arrest Him.
Jesus is now in the hands of the unrighteous. They claim to be religious, but their hearts are hard. Jesus had called them whitewashed tombs; they had only the appearance of righteousness, because inside, they were full of death.
We will follow along the story as Jesus is now led into several corrupt trials, but there is another story playing out at the same time. It’s about Peter and the story of his failure.
The reason it’s so important to follow the story of Peter is because in many ways it’s our story. We can relate to overconfidence in ourselves, we can also relate to personal failure, but what an amazing encouragement it is to see what God does about Peter’s failure.
I. When Our Love Fails; His Does Not
- Immediately after they laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. Peter pulled out a sword in a rush of hot anger and tried to take off the head of the servant
of the high priest, but cut off his ear instead.
- Jesus corrected Peter, "Stop! No more of this! Put your sword back into its place; for all those who live by the sword shall also die by the sword."
He then rescued Peter by healing the servant’s ear.
- Those who had seized Jesus led him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, and Jesus will now endure the mockery of this false trial.
- But the biblical truths that will apply to our lives are going to be seen in the unfolding story of Peter’s failure.
A. Don't follow at a distance
- In verse 54, we see Peter following Him at a distance, he's following Jesus, but he doesn't want anyone to know who he is.
- Clearly he's a follower of Jesus, but he’s following Him at a distance. Frankly, here again we’re related to Peter, many people find themselves in
the same place.
- They’re followers of Jesus, but they don't want to stand out, they don't want anyone to know.
- But this is actually a miserable place for a believer to be. Following Jesus at a distance is miserable because you have too much of the Lord to enjoy
the world and too much of the world to enjoy the Lord.
- Being too far from the Lord is what gets us into trouble. It's been that way from the very beginning.
- The problem is that if they think you are of the world, they will expect you to live in the world.
Psalm 73:28, But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge.
2 Timothy 1:12, I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that day.
- I have found personally that it's actually much easier to declare who you are. When I was in the workaday world and got a new job, I wanted it known
early on that I was a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Illus - I worked as a waiter in Bible College when the church was first started and some amazing things happened when they found out I was a Christian.
The key is to respect and be respected and to serve them and love them. It seems to me that conflicts arise when we try to clean the fish before we catch them. That said, you will often see God opening doors of opportunity to speak into the lives of unbelievers. When you do, represent God’s kindness.
Romans 2:4, Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
- Then as we return to what's happening with Jesus, we see His love never fails even as He is falsely accused.
B. Don’t be warmed by the world’s fire
- While Jesus is on trial in front of Caiaphas the high priest, Peter was outside in the courtyard and it tells us in verse 55 that Peter was warming
himself by their fire.
- In fact, in the book of Mark we read that Peter made himself so comfortable that he was sitting with the officers and servants around the fire.
Mark 14:54, Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire.
- While he is making himself comfortable around their fire, he is accused of being a follower of Jesus, the Galilean.
- But he's in their midst, at their party, warming himself at their fire and so he becomes like them. Immediately, Peter denies
that he even knows the Lord; three times Peter denies Him. In fact, the third time, he even does so with cussing.
- Peter had overestimated himself and declared that even if all may fall away, he would never fall away. It was as if Peter was saying, "I love you more
- Peter's love fails here; and we can relate to Peter because we know what it means to fail also.
Illus - When you warm yourself by the world's fire, the pressure will be there for you to be like them. But the world’s fire cannot satisfy the soul.
C. There is a sorrow that's good
- After Peter had denied Jesus the third time, immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed and the Lord turned and looked at Peter.
- I am convinced that Jesus looked at Peter with eyes of compassion, but also sorrow.
- Peter immediately went out and wept bitterly. But there is a sorrow that's good; there is a sorrow that leads to repentance.
2 Corinthians 7:9-10, For you were made sorrowful according to the will of God… For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Illus – I remember when I was 21 years old and making terribly worldly decisions, I started looking in the mirror with eyes that were opened and I did not like what I saw, but it caused me to turn my life around.
Psalm 30:5,11 Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning… You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.
II. God Pursues You with His Love
- The story of Peter here wouldn't be complete unless we see how God restores, how God pursues Peter with His love.
- In order to do that, we need to go to John 21. Jesus had told His disciples to go to Galilee and He would meet them there.
- It's there in Galilee, familiar surroundings for the disciples, that Jesus pursues Peter in His love and restores him to God's purpose in his life.
A. God doesn’t hold failure against you
- I'm so glad to know that God is not like us. We hold grudges; we let our pride get in the way.
1 Corinthians 13:4 -7, Love is patient, love is kind… Love does not take into account a wrong suffered… Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
- Peter decided he was going fishing. Maybe he was going back to his old way of life; maybe he didn't know what to do, so he just went back to that which
- They fished all night and caught nothing, but in the morning Jesus Himself was there on the beach and everything that happened was part of God's restoring
him with His purpose.
- Jesus told them to cast the net on the right side of the boat. Here again Jesus was reminding them of the significance of His presence in our lives.
- There was a charcoal fire with fish and bread prepared for them. That fire would have been significant to Peter. But wouldn't the fish and bread also
have reminded them of something?
- It was the Lord’s touch that changed everything. He is the One who brought success out of failure. Sometimes the Lord allows us to fail on our own
to prepare us for the success that comes only from His hand.
Psalm 127:1-2, Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, and the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for it is He who gives to His beloved even while he sleeps.
B. God’s love gives purpose in our lives
- After breakfast, Jesus took Simon Peter aside and the conversation that follows is remarkable.
- To understand this conversation, we need to know that in the Greek language there are several words which we translate into our word "love."
- There is the Greek word agape, which is a steadfast committed love that comes from the heart.
- There is the Greek word phileo, often translated, brotherly love, which is an affection or fondness that you have towards someone. But the scripture,
"There is a friend that is closer than a brother," is more accurate.
- Throughout this conversation Jesus keeps calling Peter to "tend My lambs," and "shepherd My sheep." Jesus is giving Peter significance and purpose
in his life by entrusting those whom God loves into his care.
- It is great restoration when God sends you out with His purpose on your life and asks you to go about His business of tending after and caring for
those whom He loves.
Ezekiel 34:15-16, “I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord God. “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick;”
Luke 22:54-71 NASB