Summary: We find in Jesus the secrets to spiritual stamina and we see in the disciples the elements that lead to spiritual failure.
A CONTRAST OF CHARACTER
Sermon Objective: We find in Jesus the secrets to spiritual stamina and we see in the disciples the elements that lead to spiritual failure.
Read the full text:
I want you to notice some interesting contrasts in these stories.
Jesus says: "You will all stumble"
Peter and friends say: "Even if all stumble, I will not."
Jesus says: yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.
Peter and friends say: I will never disown you.
Jesus says: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," so he fell to the ground and prayed
Peter and friends: Take a nap
Jesus says: “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
Peter and friends: Take another nap
Jesus says: “Enough!" Suggesting he has settled the matter.
Peter and friends: Resort to violence
Jesus: Quells the violence and submits to the Father’s plan
Peter and friends: Flee
Jesus says: "I am," And in doing so seals His fate and the redemption of humankind.
Peter says: "I am not" And in doing so distances himself from the Redeemer.
These contrasts are between Jesus and His followers. Did you notice that the term “follower” is an oxymoron? That they were anything but “following” Jesus?
THERE IS A CONTRAST BETWEEN THE DISCIPLE’S SELF-CONGRATULATIONS AND THE HUMILITY OF JESUS. (V. 27-52)
There is no question about the disciple’s loyalty and sincerity. They were more than confident in the ability to face any battle – spiritual or otherwise and they will show this when they use the sword. The question of their source of confidence, of the other hand, is real and answered. They thought the source of strength and courage would lie within themselves … hence they set themselves up to stumble and fall.
Jesus, however, gives us another alternative for facing the battle. When Jesus comes face to face with the horror that awaits him. Unlike the disciples, he does not brag of his ability and then flee; he flees immediately into the arms of the Father for strength and confidence.
Jesus understood that the circumstances were dire. The Gospel writer uses words like Deeply distressed, Troubled and Overwhelmed with sorrow.
The very Son of God placed no confidence in his flesh but fled to the Father as the source of all he would need for the unfolding event. And the Father’s presence indeed is proven to be satisfactory. With one simple word (enough/settled) Jesus gives the Father credit and credence.
THERE IS A CONTRAST BETWEEN PETER’S LACK OF INTEGRITY AND JESUS’ AWARENESS OF HIS PERSON AND MISSION (53-72)
To have integrity means that all the parts are assimilated … that they have been fused into a “whole.” We sometimes refer to it as having character. Peter shows his lack character and his lack of lack of courage when the pressure is on.
Peter sought acceptance and approval of the bystanders instead of Jesus.
I am sure that as Peter recounted these stories to Mark the words of Jesus (found in 8:38) were ringing in his ears.
“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels."
We must not water down what has happened here. It will be important as we look at the conclusion of the book. Peter failed completely and miserably. There is nothing but guilt – no excuse or rationale would do – he was a coward and distanced himself from his friend and savior.
Jesus, by contrast, shows complete character, complete integrity as he stands in harm’s way. When they asked him if he was the “Son of God” he does not mince words. He calmly but certainly acknowledges who he is with full understanding all its eschatological and cosmic ramifications … fully understanding what it would cost him personally too.
The contrasts are not perceived but real.
They are not just historical either are they? I will only speak for myself today when I say that my spiritual journey is pocked marked with contrasts and failures.
I will let you give testimony of your experience.
But, I have learned lessons along the way; lessons from both Peter and myself that might transfer to you as well.
There are certain elements that always seem present when I fail spiritually. The disciples illustrate them too.
> Confidence in self and thinking I am more “advanced” than I really am.
> Looking at the problem not “THE SOLUTION.”
> Accompanied by a lack of prayer.
> Failure to develop the mind of Christ (spiritual mindedness) and unwillingness to see things from God’s vantage point.