Summary: After denying Jesus 3 times in the Gospels, Peter the Failure becomes Peter the Fearless in the book of Acts. How did this remarkable change take place? This sermon focuses on Peter's dramatic restoration to God's service.
Jesus Restores a Defeated Disciple
Sermon # 1 in After Easter Series: Close Encounters with the Risen Lord
April 8, 2018
NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation is available for this sermon by request at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illus. – One Sunday a few weeks before Easter, a Sunday School teacher decided to ask her class what Easter meant. The first little guy said, “Easter is when all the family comes to the house and we eat a big turkey and watch football.”
The teacher suggested that perhaps he was thinking of Thanksgiving, not Easter. Next, a pretty little girl said, “Easter is the day when you come down the stairs in the morning and you see all the beautiful presents under the tree.”
At this point, the teacher was really feeling discouraged. After explaining that the girl was probably thinking about Christmas, she called on a boy with his hand tentatively raised in the air.
She perked up as the boy began, “Easter is when Jesus was crucified and buried.” She felt she’d gotten through to at least one child until he said, “And then He comes out of the grave, and if He sees His shadow, we have six more weeks of winter.”
Well, Easter means a lot of things to a lot of people. For people of a secular bent, it means bunnies and eggs. To believers, it means the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But to a certain group of believers just after Jesus’s resurrection, Easter had very personal meanings that addressed very real problems in their lives…and also in ours.
Today is the first in a four-sermon series titled, Close Encounters with the Risen Lord. It will focus on the after-resurrection appearances of Jesus to several of his disciples.
• Today’s sermons is, “Jesus Restores a Defeated Disciple.”
• Next Sunday’s sermon is titled, “Jesus Enlightens Some Dim-sighted Disciples.”
• The third sermon will be “Jesus Emboldens His Fearful Followers.”
• The last in the series is, “Jesus Revives a Doubting Disciple’s Faith”
To Peter, more than with any of the others, Easter meant something intensely personal. Mark 16:1-8 describe the story the women followers of Jesus who went to His tomb at daybreak to give Jesus’ body proper preparation for permanent burial. Wondering who would roll the stone away for them, they were met by what was no doubt an angel who told them that Jesus had risen and therefore was not there.
Now I want you to see something very interesting. Look with me at what the angel tells these women to do in verse 7: He said, “But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter…” Now why did the angel single out PETER from THE DISCIPLES? In finding the answer to that question, there are important truths for our lives, but first we need some background, and for that, please go with me in your bibles to Matthew 26.
I. NOTICE FIRST OF ALL, JESUS’ PREDICTION OF SIMON PETER’S DENIAL – Look with me at Matthew 26:31-35 – “Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. 33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. 34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.”
Note Peter’s response in verse 33 – “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” – Peter boastfully says, “Hey, everybody else may blow it; but I’m one guy you can count on, Lord; I’ll NEVER let you down.”
And then look at Peter’s prideful boast in verse 35: “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.”
This sets the stage for one of the most gripping dramas in the scriptures.
II. NOW GO WITH ME TO LUKE 22 WHERE WE’LL LOOK AT PETER’S DENIAL.
Verse 54 – Then took they him [Jesus], and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off.”That last phrase in this verse is significant – “And Peter followed afar off.”
This was the first mistake Peter made that led to his fall. Peter was not there by the side of Jesus in His hour of need. Rather, he “followed afar off.”