- Sermon Notes
If We Are Faithless…
ILLUS – Life is like a rubber band.
1. Life is filled with pressures.
2. The pressures of life can stretch anyone to their limits, resulting in a faithless, fleshly response.
3. Tonight, we are going to study a time in the Apostle Peter’s life when he was stretched and snapped under the pressure; when he was faithless.
4. From Peter’s story, we will discover valuable lessons to help us stay faithful when we are stretched by life and also where to run “If We Are Faithless” and fail.
1. This is one of the most important sections not only of Matthew’s Gospel, but of the Bible itself; the night that resulted in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.
2. That night Jesus was betrayed by one of His own apostles, Judas Iscariot, in fulfillment of the Scriptures.
Psalm 41:9, Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
3. That night Jesus was abandoned by the other eleven apostles when He was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, also in fulfillment of the Scriptures.
Zechariah 13:7, Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered
4. That night and next morning, Jesus would endure six trials, false accusations, mocking, beatings, and scourging before the first nail was hammered into His flesh.
5. Next week, we will study the trials that exonerated Jesus even though He was wrongly condemned.
6. This evening, our focus will be on another trial of sorts; the self-inflicted trial of the Apostle Peter.
7. Self-inflicted? Yes, for as we will see Jesus repeatedly warned Peter, but Peter did not heed Jesus’ warnings.
8. Peter walked right into the trap that Jesus had warned him about and snapped under the pressure, denying the Lord three times. Peter was faithless.
Transition – If you are like me, you can relate to Peter and that’s the problem! We don’t want to relate to Peter in that manner, yet sometimes we do. So, what do we do to be faithful and not faithless?
I. Sanctify Christ as Lord in Your Heart
• Peter is the one disciple who always seems to put his foot in his mouth.
• Earlier that evening, Jesus had warned the disciples that they would all fall away that very night.
• Then Peter stepped forward to offer his two cents and corrected Jesus, failing to remember what had happened when he had tried that before!
• Peter threw the other apostles under the bus to make himself look better, stronger, and more loyal.
• As we noted previously, Peter had overestimated himself; he was relying upon himself and that’s where he got himself into trouble.
• While in the Garden of Gethsemane, a great multitude came with swords and clubs to arrest Jesus and bring Him to the high priest to stand trial.
• The moment they laid hands on Jesus, Peter pulled out a sword and tried to take off the head of the high priest’s servant, Malchus.
• Fortunately for Malchus, Peter was a fisherman, so his sword skills were lacking, and he took off his ear instead!
• At that point I believe it’s safe to assume that Peter was in a lot of trouble.
• But Jesus saved Peter. Jesus reached down, picked up the ear, dusted it off, and reattached it.
• Then Jesus rebuked Peter, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (52)
• Jesus was then led away to endure the first of many trials.
Transition – In many ways, Peter is an example for us to take heed of. If you want to be faithful…
A. Don’t follow Jesus at a distance
1. In verse 58, we are told that Peter followed Jesus “at a distance”.
2. Peter was following Jesus, but after the arrest he wanted to blend in and not be recognized as Jesus’ apostle; the one who just cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant!
APPL – Frankly, we can relate to Peter. Maybe there was a time in your life when you found yourself in the same place.
• You’re a follower of Jesus, but you didn’t want to stand out.
• You’re a follower of Jesus, but you didn’t want anyone to know.
• Perhaps you learned as I did that this is actually a miserable place for a Christian 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 Jesus is what gets us into trouble.
• The answer is to stay close to Jesus because His nearness is our good!
Psalm 73:28, But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.
• Stay close to Jesus and be unashamed of your relationship with Him.
Romans 1:16, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
2 Timothy 1:12, For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
APPL – I have found that it is actually much easier to declare who you are then try and keep it under wraps.
ILLUS – Sharing my faith with a college friend
B. Don’t warm yourself by the world’s fire
1. While Jesus was on trial before the high priest, Peter was outside in the courtyard.
2. We’re told in the other Gospels that it was a cold evening and a fire had been lit in the middle of the courtyard.
3. In fact, Mark and Luke state that Peter made himself so comfortable that he was sitting with the officers and servants around the fire!
Luke 22:55, After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them.
4. While Peter was making himself cozy around the fire, people began to take notice of him, that he was a follower of Jesus, the Galilean.
5. Peter was in their midst, at their party, warming himself at their fire, trying to fit right in and be one of the crowd!
6. While warming himself at the fire, Peter forgot Jesus’ repeated warnings.
Luke 22:31-32, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:34, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”
Matthew 26:41, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
7. Peter had not taken Jesus’ words to heart.
8. Peter was asked by a servant girl about Jesus, and he denied Jesus his Lord.
9. He was asked a second time, and again Peter Jesus denied his Lord.
10. Peter was asked a third time, and he even cursed and swore as he denied Jesus his Lord.
11. Mark’s Gospel indicates that Jesus said the cock would crow twice.
Mark 14:30, And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.”
12. This means that after Peter’s third denial of Jesus, the cock crowed for the second time.
a. So, when the cock crowed the first time, Peter should have realized what was happening; that Jesus’ warning was about to be fulfilled.
b. At that moment, Peter should have heeded Jesus’ warning and left immediately.
c. But he lingered until it was too late! Faithless.
13. Again, Peter had overestimated himself, believing his strength, his loyalty, his love would overcome any and all obstacles. Under any and all pressure, Peter thought he would never snap!
APPL – When you warm yourself by the world’s fire, there will be great pressure to conform and be like the world.
• But the world’s fire cannot satisfy the soul.
• Heed and believe the words of Jesus.
o Watch and pray.
o Stay close to Jesus.
ILLUS – Later in life, Peter would exhort his fellow Christians to be in the world, but not of it.
• To set apart or sanctify Christ as Lord of their hearts.
• Why? So that when they are asked about their relationship to Jesus, they are ready to give an answer.
1 Peter 3:15, … but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…
• Peter had learned the hard way and he did not want anyone to feel what he had felt that cold night after the cock crowed a second time.
APPL – According to Luke 22:61-62, the moment the cock crowed the second time, the “Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord… And he went out and wept bitterly.”
• What did Peter see in the eyes of Jesus, his Lord?
• What look did Jesus give to Peter, the one who had just denied Him three times?
• What did Peter realize about Jesus during that bitter moment of the soul?
II. When Our Love Fails, Jesus’ Love Never Does
• I am convinced that Jesus looked at Peter with eyes of compassion.
2 Timothy 2:13, If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
• Peter immediately went out and wept bitterly.
Transition – But we need to see that there is a sorrow that’s good because it is a sorrow that leads to true repentance.
A. There is a sorrow that is good
1. What does it mean to repent of our sin? It means to turn around and leave our sin outside the camp!
2. What does it mean to confess our sin? It means to agree with God that what He calls sin is sin!
3. How does this apply to Peter?
a. That night, Peter realized his strength was not enough.
b. That night, Peter realized his loyalty was not enough.
c. That night, Peter realized his love was not enough.
4. Contrary to Peter’s view of himself, he snapped under the pressure when asked three questions about Jesus. His pride was his undoing.
APPL – Peter’s not alone.
• King David, the man after God’s heart knew failure.
• But he also knew God’s heart and called upon the Lord knowing He would forgive and heal his life.
Psalm 51:16-17, For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
APPL – The Apostle John was with Peter that night. He would go on to write 1 John 1:9, which gives us great hope in the midst of our failures.
1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Transition – That night, Peter confessed and repented of his sin; which was the first step in Peter’s healing and restoration.
B. We can do all things through Christ
1. Peter’s story would not be complete unless we knew the rest of the story.
2. In 1 Corinthians 15:5, the Apostle Paul wrote that after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to Peter privately before He appeared to the other twelve.
a. A private restoration.
b. What a comfort that must have been to Peter.
3. Then John 21:15-19 records how Jesus restored Peter publicly.
APPL – Through it all Peter had learned valuable lessons about setting apart Christ as Lord of his heart.
• To keep watch and pray.
• To heed Jesus’ Word and put no confidence in his own strength.
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
APPL – Tonight, where do you find yourself?
• I hope all is well, that you are refreshed in Christ.
• But if not, there’s hope. There’s One who can help!
• You don’t need to snap under the stress of life.
He Giveth More Grace by Annie Johnson Flint
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labours increase,
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
Psalm 61:1-2, Hear my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.
Matthew 26:57-75 NASB
57 Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. 58 But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the [a]officers to see the outcome.
59 Now the chief priests and the whole [b]Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. 60 They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, 61 and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the [c]temple of God and to rebuild it [d]in three days.’” 62 The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I [e]adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are [f]the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus *said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, [g]hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65 Then the high priest tore his [h]robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; 66 what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!”
67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others [i]slapped Him, 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, You [j]Christ; who is the one who hit You?”
69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” 71 When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and *said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” 73 A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk [k]gives you away.” 74 Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.