Summary: Peter was going to fall right on his face, though he was sure he would not. But grace abounds!
Passage: Matthew 26:31-35
Intro: There is an unforgettable scene in “Saving Private Ryan”
1. climatic battle for a bridge, at the top of a set of black stairs, two soldiers locked in hand to hand combat
PP Upham on the stairs
2. he is unable to force himself to go up and save his friend’s life.
PP Upham with hand off on rifle
3. sitting on the stairs, loaded rifle in his lap, let’s the German go by who just killed his friend, and who will later kill Captain Miller
4. danger calls us to action, but also reveals who we may not want to believe ourselves to be.
5. the week of Christ’s passion is filled with such crisis.
6. political intrigue, betrayal, conspiracy to murder, and the cowardice of Jesus’ disciples.
7. but in the face of all this sinfulness, there is great beauty that shines through
8. God is at work, and the crisis reveals His gracious character at the same time it reveals human weakness.
9. let’s watch and learn about our own terrific need, and God’s wonderful grace.
I. The Disciples Would Fail in the Clutch.
1. scholars argue about the chronology here.
2. after Judas gone, who left near the end of Passover.
PP Kidron Valley
3. walking to Mt. of Olives the setting, when Jesus drops the latest bombshell.
4. perhaps they were all talking about Judas, what a scum!
5. “this very night” you will all skandalidzo
6. very tough word, means “to cause to stumble.”
7. passive voice, “to be made to stumble” by whom…their own flesh
8. then Jesus adds the OT reference, the shepherd will be struck, and those who had relied on Him for power and protection will scatter.
Il) we even have a phrase: “Every man for himself”
9. group becomes a dangerous identifier. Safer alone.
10. throughout this little passage, Jesus tells them that they will fail, and they consistently refuse to believe it.
11. easy to criticize, but the disciples were only going to demonstrate the universal human condition.
12. their failure would be inevitable, because their fear would overcome their fledgling faith.
14. their eyes were opened to who Jesus was, and they believed, but their character was lagging behind.
15. and when the crowds turned on Jesus and He was led off to die, their as yet untransformed character would be exposed. Just like the rest of us.
II. God Does Not Give Up on His Kids
1. we might expect God to be upset at this awful falling away, capped by their leaders 3 denials v34
2. but underline v32. It is beautiful
3. remember the context when you read it, because it is not just a geographical and chronological reference.
4. it is a statement of fantastic hope
5. “you will fall on your collective face, hard, but I will not give up on you.”
6. you are my kids, and you will fail.
7. but your failure cannot overcome my purpose to love you w/ complete understanding.
Il) Tom playing LL baseball, put him in left field. Fly ball hit to his left, everyone screaming for him to catch it, but it thudded to the ground.
8. but his parents knew he had lost peripheral vision to left side during brain surgery, never saw it because he could not see it
9. there is no censure here, no criticism, no blame-casting.
10. Jesus would say, “that is exactly why I have come to die, to transform you from your weak sinful state.”
11. and He does this as a partner, a friend, one who understands us completely, sin and all.
Il) “Knowing God” J.I. Packer, p37
Il) book we are studying in men’s group, Jesus pictured standing beside us looking at our sin and saying, “Let’s work on this together”
12. Jesus knew that they would all desert him, and that Peter would even deny knowing him.
13. His response? “See you after the victory is won, and we will continue on the path we are walking on.”
14. the same is true for all of His kids, like you and like me.
15. get this picture!! It is Biblical!!
III. Good Intentions are No Match for Our Flesh
1. all the disciples were adamant that they would not fail.
2. not surprisingly, Peter was the most vociferous
3. v33, “I don’t know about the rest of these guys, “ego oudepote skandalisthaesomai” “I” is emphatic,
Il) you can see him putting slapping a hand on his chest when he says “I”
4. it was beyond his wildest imaginations that he would fall on his face in crisis.
5. Jesus response?
6. “Peter, your failure will be the worst”
7. v34, within hours of his proud boast, he will “disown” Jesus three separate times.