Summary: This is the second message in a series on the most important day in the most important life ever lived; we walk with Jesus to Calvary!
¡§The Most Important Day In the Most Important Life Ever Lived!¡¨
Matthew 26:31-35; 51-58; 69-75
February 17, 2002
The most important day in the most important life ever lived was the day Jesus died on Calvary¡¦s cross that our sin debt might be paid. It is a day worthy of our consideration; today, we continue our walk with Jesus to Calvary by considering another in a series of terribly painful moments for Jesus.
It¡¦s one thing to face the assault of an enemy; while Judas had walked with Jesus and the other disciples for three years, he had never been one of them; he¡¦d been an impostor from the word ¡§go¡¨. And Jesus had, of course, known that this was coming, and so, painful as it must have been, and coming on the heels of the agony of Gethsemane, we can still say that it is one thing to be betrayed by one who is an enemy. It is quite another to be stabbed in the back by one¡¦s closest friend! Jesus knew it was coming, to be sure; still, it must have hurt deeply. Peter was one of the inner three, the one who had showed maybe the keenest insight into the reality of Jesus¡¦ identity and work. But it was Peter whose words of denial had to cut deeply into the heart of the Master. Stand with me as we read!
Twenty centuries of time stoke our courage. We are made brave people by the vindication provided by Jesus¡¦ resurrection. Living, as we do, this side of Easter, it is easy to point our fingers at Peter, at the cowardly disciples, but honestly, had you been in their shoes, can you be certain that you¡¦d have acted differently?
Yes, Christ had demonstrated His power; they¡¦d been amazed the first time they¡¦d seen Him heal a lame man, awestruck when the first blind man had opened his eyes to see, speechless as Lazarus staggered bound head and foot from his gravesite. And yet, though they¡¦d seen these demonstrations of His power, He¡¦d not seemed interested in taking on the Roman empire¡Xhey, wasn¡¦t this what a Messiah was supposed to do? He sure didn¡¦t act like a human ruler. Now, as a small militia came to cart Jesus off, He didn¡¦t even put up a fight¡Xwhat, had He no power when push really came to shove?
Oh, they¡¦d heard His profound teaching as well; they¡¦d had a hard time containing themselves, stifling a snicker when He had confounded the Pharisees, befuddled the Sadducees, and shut the mouths of the pompous, pious priests and scribes. Yet, on the other hand, some of His teaching had been hard to understand; they¡¦d missed His point with such regularity that they¡¦d lost count, and lately He¡¦d been doing all of this morbid death-talk. Where would that leave them? His kingdom didn¡¦t seem to be getting off to much of a start when it couldn¡¦t even deal with this little armed band. They were undermanned and poorly-armed.
Peter is known for his denial, of course, and we¡¦ll talk about that, but at least he had the guts to brandish a sword and try to do something! Jesus, of course, told him to put it away. The others just high-tailed it when trouble came¡Xhonestly, honestly, what would you have done?
Peter gets a bad rap, I think. We know about his denial of Christ, and it was awful. We know him to have been a brash, impetuous, overconfident sort¡Xhe suffered regularly from foot-in-mouth disease. And he blew it¡Xoh, how he blew it. But consider¡K
„h Yeah, he blew it, taking his eyes off of Jesus and sinking in the waves¡Xbut only two people in the history of the world have ever walked on water (the other disciples were still in the boat).
„h Yeah, he had the utter gall to rebuke Jesus, and Jesus had reprimanded him for voicing words inspired by Satan¡Xbut he was the first to voice faith in Christ.
„h Yes, he denied Jesus, but he did so in a situation that the rest of the disciples didn¡¦t even have the guts to face!
Peter never intended to deny Jesus¡Xbut deny, he did. Are there lessons for us to learn?
What do we learn from Peter¡¦s denial?
I. The possibility that a believer would deny Jesus.
No Christian is immune from the possibility of denying Jesus. The greatest men of God in the Bible had times when they failed God. Peter had been one of those the closest to Christ, and yet he had failed. Dare you say, ¡§oh, but I¡¦d never deny Jesus¡¨? Allow me to suggest you go back and carefully read and re-read I Corinthians 10:12; if you say there¡¦s no chance you¡¦d deny Him, I beg to differ. In fact, to one degree or another, every time I sin I deny Jesus¡Xperhaps I deny His authority over my life in that area, or I deny His sufficiency, or His ability, or His power, or¡K