Summary: This sermon is the third in a Lenten series and deals with denial, one of the key words in the experiance of Jesus in the final week of his life.
A little boy kept falling out of bed, but no matter what his parents tried, each night he rolled out of bed. An visiting uncle teased the boy and asked “How do you keep falling out of bed”. The little boy thought a minute and then said ”I don’t know, unless I stay too close to where I got in”. (source unknown)
What happens when we have stayed too dangerously close to where we got in? Remember Peter as he journeyed with Jesus. Tried walking on water, but took his eyes off Jesus and he sank. Maybe Peter was the over zealous one who cuts off the servants ear in the garden when Jesus was arrested, but then seconds later he was denying Christ, the very think he swore he would not do. The issue at hand is “denial”. There are several definitions of denial, including “an assertion that an allegation is false”. But I want to speak about that form of denial which means to disavowal. As in Peter’s case, he denied he was a follower of Jesus, not once but three times.
Could Peter’s denial be our denial? (1) (1 - (by Pastor John Grosboll) http://www.stepstolife.org
Meredith Grey states “Sometimes reality has a way of sneaking up and biting us… (in the ass). And when the dam bursts, all you can do is swim. The world of pretend is a cage, not a cocoon. We can only lie to ourselves for so long. We are tired, we are scared, denying it doesn’t change the truth. Sooner or later we have to put aside our denial and face the world. Head on, guns blazing. De Nile. It’s not just a river in Egypt, it’s a..(an) (freakin’) ocean. So how do you keep from drowning in it?” (2) (www.thinkexists.com )
We can all think of some famous denials: Boy band member Nick Lashae and Jessica Simpson took the public stage and denied what turned out to be true, they were divorcing. President Clinton when accused with an affair with Monica Lewinsky took the microphone and said “I did not have sex with that woman”. Tany Harding first denied knowing anything about the attack on fellow ice-skater Nancy Carrigan.
In Peter’s case he goes from being a close follower of Jesus to hanging back at a distance. He had drifted back among the world. Like Peter we think, even swear it will never happen to us. But Peter’s act is more than being on that roller coaster of faith that has highs and lows, he does the unthinkable, denies three times that he even knows Jesus!
Sometimes denial precedes a relationship with Christ. We could classically call it “an unbelievers denial”. It could stem from “lack of knowledge”. It could be based on a refusal to accept. Even the Bible speaks about those who “say he was a Prophet, or Elijah”, but Peter was asked “Who do you say that I am?” This could be “denial” of a relationship with Jesus, but perhaps the more serious denial is that which comes after having professed to know Jesus, and then later denied that relationship.
Peter answered that question, “Who do you say that I am?” with the affirmation “You are the Christ, the Son of God.” But then when publicly challenged he asserts “I do not know the man”. The real test of your faith will come when you are asked “Are you a Christian?” “Are you a follower of Jesus?” “Are you a Methodists?” “Don’t you go to church?” “Do you know Jesus?” Denial is a form of dishonor! A form of betrayal! It is a means of desertion. If one swears and oath of allegiance and then turns their back on the thing to which they pledged, it is no small thing. How do we deny Christ? In the workplace? In the home? When we are out on the town? At sporting events? When we cheer with the crowd?
"Disappointment - (John Peter disappointed there wasn’t a fight! Cut off the ear! Call on the 12 Legions of Angels.) Can your own disappointment lead to denial?" "Disappointment dampened the faith" (1)
Other ways in which we might be lead down the path of denial: Fear - fear of failure! Fear that God isn’t going to do what he said He was! Peter saw the plan falling apart. Jesus was arrested. Denial. Lost faith - weakened faith - tried faith - may all cause us to deny the plan of God in our lives.
"Peter was self confident" and his overconfidence in himself lead to his denial of Christ. "I will not deny you". Maybe a better answer is, Lord, I’m weak, and I know in my sinful ways I could deny you. But with your help. With you at the helm, I can make it. ("Peter did not know his own heart")