31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32 But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”
33 Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.”
34 But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
It started with a warning. Jesus and the disciples were celebrating Passover in the Upper Room and Jesus was trying to prepare his disciples for what was about to happen. Simon, the disciple whom Jesus had renamed Peter was adamant that whatever terrible thing Jesus was about to endure, that he would do the same.
And Jesus gives him the warning. Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. That’s a scary thing, that’s like a farmer taking the wheat and sifting it to find the impurities. The farmer sifts it and the integrity of the wheat is evaluated. And this is what Satan was going to do to Simon and the other disciples, sift them like wheat.
He was going to put them through the pressure cooker, he was going to see if they could walk the walk, he wanted to know if they were for real.
And Jesus warns the disciples, because he knows what is lying in store for them. He knows that 3 years of training are about to go from theory to application. Soon he would be out of their presence, and they would have to put there faith in God to the test.
Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that you faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.
So many times in life when we get a warning, we react on the defensive instead of taking those words to heart. We take the warning and we try to counter it with our own knowledge and with our own drive and desires. But we miss the point of the warning, because God is not giving us the warning to see how smart we are, he is giving the warning to prepare us for what is coming down the pipe.
Simon Peter went on the defensive and impulsively replied, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you and even to die for you.”
He had missed the point. Jesus knew his intentions, he understood Simon’s heart and that isn’t why he gave the warning. He gave it to prepare Simon for what was about to happen.
The hardest, roughest, saddest, most depressing night of those 12 men’s lives was about to take place, and only Jesus understood the severity of what was going to happen.
It was going to be a time when character would rise to the top and overtake a man’s good intentions. It was a time when fear would grip the hearts of his disciples and they would desert the one they had called Lord.
And so Jesus pleaded in prayer for them. He pleaded that their faith would not fail, that they would rely on God and not themselves.
And he knew, that Simon’s impulsive response meant that he had missed the warning.
* When God warns you, don’t go on the defensive. Instead try to understand what He is saying to you.
And so Jesus spells out what is going to happen. Peter, Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.
And Peter is left speechless. How could Jesus say this about him. He was the one who was given understanding by God that Jesus was Messiah, God’s promised Savior. He was the one that Jesus was going to build his Church on, he was the one that Jesus had renamed Peter, ROCK.
When we get warnings in life, we must fight the impulse to defend ourselves. We must humble ourselves to the place where we are able to take that warning and properly apply it to our lives.
Here are some of the ways that God warns people.
• He puts reoccurring thoughts in your mind.
• He uses other people, oftentimes in multiples to confirm.
• His Word, the Bible.
• Through the Prophets.
• At church
Peter was unable to grasp the warning Jesus gave him and it resulted in impulsive behavior during the most important time of his life to date.
The meal in the Upper Room finished and the remaining 11 disciples accompanied Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane where he was going to pray.
It was on the Mount of Olives that Jesus gave a second warning to Peter, James and John. They had gone there to pray and it was quite late at night.
36 Then Jesus brought them to an olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, "Sit here while I go on ahead to pray." 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he began to be filled with anguish and deep distress. 38 He told them, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me."
39 He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine." 40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, "Couldn’t you stay awake and watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak!"
42 Again he left them and prayed, "My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away until I drink it, your will be done." 43 He returned to them again and found them sleeping, for they just couldn’t keep their eyes open.
Matt 26:36-43 (NLT)
It is as if those disciples heard the warning, but the severity of what Jesus was saying did not register with them. Jesus said, My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death, and they still fell asleep.
How you perceive the importance of the subject matter will determine how you respond to the command.
“Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the flesh is weak.”
Peter’s flesh was willing, on his own strength he was willing to go to the death with Jesus. But when Peter relied on his own flesh he was not strong enough to make it through the night without sinning.
Jesus knew that the only way his disciples had a chance, was to pray. He knew that they could not rely on their own resources, they had to get connected to God, and when through Prayer God supernaturally gave them strength and discernment, then they would be able to overcome the obstacles that they were about to face.
But the disciples fell asleep. They simply could not keep their eyes open.
Before we point our fingers at the disciples in condemnation we should point our finger at ourselves and ask the question… “When has God spoken to me, and I was too tired to pray.
When did God warn me, and I ignored the warning and relied on my own strength, when I should have been relying on God.
When did I fall into sin, because instead of spending time in prayer I fell asleep on the job.
Just like the disciples, you and I do not have sufficient strength on our own to follow God with all of our heart, and soul and mind. We cannot do it, save for the grace and power of God in our life.
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Once you start living in the Power of Jesus, you are a conqueror. When God is working in your life, there is no assignment that he gives you that you cannot do. When God says Go, you go. When God says pray you pray, and when God warns you, TAKE NOTICE.
The disciples continued to fall asleep in the Garden, and each time they did Jesus would return from personal prayer, (he was relying on God’s strength and not his own,) and he would wake them up and charge them to pray.
And the third time that Jesus woke them up the hour for his betrayal was at hand. The mob led by Judas Iscariot came to the place where Jesus was, and Judas identified Jesus with a kiss so that Jesus could be arrested.
What do you suppose was going through the disciples minds as they witnessed what was happening. I think I have a good idea of what might of being going through Peter’s mind.
I think that it was the warning that Jesus had given him. Before the cock crows you will deny my 3 times. Peter had the warning in his mind, but he had not prayed about it, instead he had slept. And now when the hour was at hand he was not prepared for what he should do.
In the absence of prayer Peter was forced to rely on his own strength and not on God.
And so Peter does what any impulsive, scared, sword bearing 1st century fisherman would do, he goes for the kill. He grabs his sword and swings wildly at the High Priest’s servants head. As the blade comes down Peter misses his target and instead of a killing the servant he only slices off his ear.
And now Jesus has to deal with the mob and the wounded slave. At this point mayhem probably should have broken out.
Our police of today have this rule, do not fire unless fired upon. I wonder if they had the same rule in the 1st century, because when Peter pulled out that sword I can imagine that it would have given license to the mob to start attacking the disciples.
Mayhem is the very probable result of our lives when we act on our own strength and when we have not prayed. However long it takes to connect with God each day and each week of your life, do it. You cannot afford to live a day of life on your own strength, mayhem ensues.
Jesus calmed the storm that Peter had started. Jesus reached out his hand and healed the servant and gave this warning, “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword, and the crisis was averted. The mob took Jesus away, and as they did every single disciple deserted the one whom they had committed to die for.
Jesus is taken by the mob to the home Caiaphas, the High Priest where an illegal trial takes place. Peter follows at a safe distance, and he slinks into the courtyard and begins to warm up by the fire, all the while watching as Jesus is left to fend for himself.
69 Meanwhile, as Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, a servant girl came over and said to him, "You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean."
70 But Peter denied it in front of everyone. "I don’t know what you are talking about," he said.
71 Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth."
72 Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. "I don’t even know the man," he said.
73 A little later some other bystanders came over to him and said, "You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent."
74 Peter said, "I swear by God, I don’t know the man." And immediately the rooster crowed.
Matt 26:69-74 (NLT)
Peter started off bad and then it just got worse. The first time he simply denied Jesus, the second time he took an oath, (I swear by this and that that I am telling the truth.) and the third time he swore by GOD.
People, living on their own strength, put in desperate pressure cooker situations, don’t even stand a chance. Peter on his own strength simply was unable to stand up for what he believed in.
Jesus had even warned him about the 3 denials, Jesus had charged him to pray so that he would not fall into temptation, but Peter defended himself instead of taking the warning to heart, he fell asleep when he should have been praying, and when the moment of temptation was at hand, he was unable to overcome it.
61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times." 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
Luke 22:61-62 (NRSV)
Maybe you can relate to Peter this morning. Maybe you have betrayed God, maybe you have betrayed your family, maybe there is something in your life that is so wrong that you are simply unable to fight on your own strength, and each time that God looks at you, you weep bitterly because you cannot comprehend the depths of how low you can go.
Peter balled his eyes out. It was the soft tearful sort of crying. It was weeping. It was gasping for breath because he was crying so hard. It was uncontrollable because the pain was so great.
And then, over the course of the next day Jesus was crucified. And Peter is nowhere to be found in the accounts of that time period. Maybe he was still crying. Maybe he was watching from the background.
Jesus disciple John was there at the cross with Jesus mother, but Peter was nowhere to be found.
Shock, pain, despair, hopelessness, those feelings that you get when a close friend dies are what the disciples must have experienced as Jesus was put to rest in the tomb.
The next day was the Sabbath, and by Jewish law the ladies were not permitted to go and anoint the body and so they had to wait for Sunday to come.
1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.
John 20:1-10 (NRSV)
The time for sorrow was over. Jesus was risen from the dead.
Jesus still had to deal with Peter’s sin though. Yes, Jesus death on the cross paid the penalty for Peter’s sin, and for our sins. But when we do something wrong, against God’s word, we still must deal with it head on so that we can move forward in life. We must deal with it so that we can achieve the purpose that God has called us to.
Jesus dealt with Peter at the sea of Tiberias. Jesus, Peter and 6 of the other disciples were having a breakfast of fish together.
John 21:15-19 (NRSV)
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." 16 A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."
In that encounter we see Jesus deal with Peter’s wrong, and then he reinstates the call on his life. Feed my lambs, Tend my sheep, Follow Me.
And although it was not an easy experience for Peter to have Jesus ask him 3 times about his commitment and love, it was necessary.
When we do something against God, it is necessary for God to deal with us. Otherwise we could not move forward in life. We could not accomplish the amazing plans that he has for our lives.
God had to deal with Peter, and God has to deal with you.
If there is sin in your life, it is God’s mercy that brings it up. If he didn’t bring it up, you would live under its oppression, and that is no way to live.
I strongly believe that as I have been speaking this morning that the Holy Spirit has also been speaking to your hearts. Perhaps he is patting you on the back and saying well done.
But probably he is showing you areas of your life that you need to deal with. Areas that will hold you back if you are unable to find restoration, healing and release from.
You can fool man, maybe you can fool your family, but you will never fool God. Don’t fight him, fight with him against the sin in your life.
Peter’s Easter weekend started with a warning. Satan is going to sift you life wheat.
And Peter impulsively went on the defensive when he should have taken the warning to heart.
When you receive a warning in your life, don’t impulsively react. Take the time to pray and ask God for understanding. Ask God for strength. A warning is there for your benefit. It’s purpose is to avoid tragedy, not prophesy it.
You are going to deny my 3 times. Peter was shocked, he should have asked how he could avert that tragedy. He should have went into prayer and action mode so that he could have relied on God’s strength. But he did not.
Peter denied his Lord 3 times, and then Jesus looked him in the eye and Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Thank God for the Resurrection. Thank God for Easter Sunday. Thank God that Jesus did not stay in that Grave but that he rose again and that he can reinstate you to your purpose in life. Thank God we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus.
Thank God for the Church. Thank God for the alter. If you came to church this morning with burdens weighing you down, if you came to church with a sinful habit, if you came with a problem that you just can not solve then Thank God for the Church. Don’t leave with your burden. Don’t take your problems and your habits with you.
Deal with them here at the altar. Deal with them in Jesus’ name. Let somebody pray with you.
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Jesus died so that you don’t have to have the burden of sin on your life. Why you would ever leave a service without getting help from God is beyond me.
Peter went on to accomplish those dreams and those plans that God had set for his life. He was part of the 120 who were gathered in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit came in like a rushing wind and tongues of fire appeared on each person’s head. They began speaking in different languages and all the people outside the home could understand each person in their own native tongue.
And the 120 were accused of being drunk. And so Peter, who is now relying on Prayer and on God stands up to give a defense. And his defense turns into a compelling message from God as the Holy Spirit speaks through him and 3000 people give their lives to Jesus. And he is the Rock that Jesus builds the church on.
Easter Sunday is a day that represents new life in Jesus. It is a day that represents the hope of our faith. It is the day to get your life in line with God.
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?" 38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him."
Acts 2:37-39 (NRSV)
Charles Spurgeon offers this warning: “If you haven’t looked at Christ on the cross, you’ll have to look at Him on the throne—with great trembling. The sacrificial death of Christ will be brought before the eyes of all who refuse to accept His free gift of forgiveness and eternal life. In Bethlehem He came in mercy to forgive sin. In the future He will come on the clouds in glory to establish justice. What will we do without a Savior? On the day of judgment there is nothing we can do if we have not trusted Christ.”