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Summary: Peter's denial of Jesus gives us the perfect example of how a person who falls can be forgiven and start over.

Introduction:

A. The year was 1779.

1. He was a loyal patriot, a prosperous businessman, a natural leader and an obvious choice to be captain of the Connecticut State Militia.

2. He proved to be a good military leader.

3. He received much praise and acclaim, but when Congress created five new generalships he was passed over for political reasons.

4. It was only the urging of his good friend, General George Washington that kept him from resigning his commission.

5. And though he stayed on in his role, he was never able to recover from this slight against him.

6. In time he would become commander of West Point.

7. But still resentful and seeing an opportunity he made a deal with the British.

a. He would deliver West Point into their hands.

b. The price for his betrayal was 20,000 pounds sterling (1 million dollars in today’s value).

c. He was to receive half if he failed, and fail, he did.

d. His British contact was captured by the Americans, who then discovered the plot.

e. He however, escaped aboard a British ship named “The Vulture.”

8. Perhaps by now you’ve figured out who I’m talking about.

a. When Benedict Arnold made his betrayal, it not only struck at the heart of the American forces, but it struck even deeper at the heart of his close friend, George Washington.

9. History records that when General Washington learned of the betrayal he at first showed no emotion.

a. He sent Alexander Hamilton off with a detachment of soldiers to try to intercept Arnold.

b. He ordered his staff to defend the fort.

10. Then taking only his confidant Lafayette with him, he left the room.

a. Out of sight and earshot of others he finally vented his emotion.

b. Lafayette said, “Washington threw his arms around Lafayette’s neck and began to weep.”

c. Lafayette said, “It was the only moment in the entire war when he witnessed Washington weeping.”

11. Why did Washington weep? Because he had been betrayed.

a. He had completely trusted a friend and that friend had failed him.

12. I’m sure that Benedict Arnold felt justified in selling out his country.

a. He owed it to himself.

b. If Congress wouldn’t put him on top, he’d have to get there by himself.

c. People always have an excuse for their betrayal.

B. I’m sure Judas felt many of the same feelings during his betrayal.

1. And Peter did likewise in his denials.

2. Whether it was 20,000 pounds, or 30 pieces of silver or simply denying in order to live another day, it was the same focus on self that brought about the betrayals.

C. Today, as we return to our sermon series on the life of Peter, we come to those critical parts in the story of Peter, when Jesus was facing His most difficult moments of persecution, and then crucifixion and death, some of Jesus’ closest disciples let him down.

1. Like Washington, I’m sure Jesus felt the sting and sorrow of Judas’ and Peter’s betrayals, but unlike Washington, Jesus knew they would happen and had predicted their occurrences.

2. Since this series is about Peter, rather than Jesus or Judas, let’s focus on how this happened in Peter’s life and how he was able to come back stronger after his fall.

I. The Story

A. In our last sermon from our series on Peter, we witnessed the moment when Jesus washed Peter’s feet and Peter learned a lesson about serving.

1. The parts of the story that we want to examine today, occurred that same night during and after the last supper.

2. As you recall, as they ate the meal together, Jesus left the table, took the basin and the towel and washed their feet.

3. In the midst of that meal, the first bombshell that Jesus dropped on the disciples was that one of them would betray Him.

a. They wondered who it could be? They couldn’t imagine how anyone of them could do it.

b. Jesus identified the betrayer as the one who dipped his bread in the sauce at the same time He did.

c. Judas was then identified as the betrayer and Jesus said to him “What you are about to do, do quickly,” and Judas then left the upper room.

B. The next bombshell came when Jesus revealed that all the disciples would desert Him.

1. Matthew records the event with these words: 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” (If you are keeping stats, this is the third time Peter said “never.” Never would Jesus be killed. Never would Jesus wash his feet. And never would he fall away) 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. (Matthew 26:30-35)

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