Summary: Peter is often depicted as a weak and unreliable disciple, but was that really his problem... or was there something else that lay behind his denials of Christ in the High Priest’s Courtyard?
OPEN: Nearly 30 years ago on October 30, 1974, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman squared off in the boxing ring in Zaire. Ali had dubbed it “The Rumble in the Jungle.”
Foreman was heavily favored, and was considered to be the hardest puncher in heavyweight history. Foreman was fairly confident he could finish off this upstart braggart. And when he entered the ring, he intended to do all in his power to squash him.
Ali, however, did something in that fight that no other fighter had ever tried before. In a technique he called the “rope-a-dope” Mohammed Ali held up his arms against his face and leaned back against the ropes allowing Foreman to punch away at him for eight rounds. The strongest boxer (in the history of the sport) beat on Ali until he could punch no more.
When the right moment came, Ali bounced off the ropes and knocked out Foreman… sending him into retirement.
APPLY: George Foreman believed in himself. He was a confident boxer who delivered the hardest, most powerful blows of any pugilist that has ever fought in the ring.
And yet, he lost. And not only did he lose, he suffered a blow in the ring from which he never quite recovered. This fight literally sent him into retirement.
I. Two Thousand years ago, there was another confident man.
A fighter. A brute of a man - who feared nothing and no-one.
And if there was a conflict, you could count on him being there
… especially, if the conflict endangered his friends
… and especially if that friend happened to be Jesus Christ
His name was Peter, or Petros… People of the day might have called him “Rocky,” for that’s what his name meant. And like his name, he WAS a rock:
A rock of loyalty and of courage, and strength.
A man who had decided to stand beside Jesus in the worst of situations
And, for the most part, Peter did stand beside Jesus.
His loyalty to Christ caused him to be a model of true faith and devotion.
It was Peter who stepped out of the boat and walked on the water out to Jesus.
Say what you will about the fact that he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to watch the waves and feel the violent wind. He took his eyes off Jesus and became overwhelmed by fear and doubt and began to sink. Then Jesus reached down to him and rebuked him for his lack of faith.
Say what you will about that incident… Peter was the only one of the 12 who even dared to try it. Because he loved and trusted Jesus. And wanted to be with his master even in the most impossible of situations.
It was Peter who answered Jesus question when He asked who the disciples said He was. Peter blurted out: “You are the Christ the Son of the Living God.”
Some might say “Well, yeah, but a few minutes later, he said something really embarrassing that caused Jesus to rebuke him.” True…
But Peter was the only one of the 12 who had the courage to say what they all believed anyway
II. Whenever there was something to do, something to say, something to stand for…
Peter was there. You could count on him. Peter was a simple, uncomplicated man who had one driving passion: his love for Jesus and his determination to defend his master against all threats.
That’s why he reacted to violently to Jesus’ comment in Matthew 16:21-23
Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"
Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
And later, when Jesus is about to be betrayed by Judas in the Garden, He says
"You will all fall away," Jesus told them, "for it is written: "‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
Peter declared, "Even if all fall away, I will not."
"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "today— yes, tonight— before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times."
But Peter insisted emphatically, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the others said the same." (Mark 16:27-31)
Then, here in Luke, we read that Peter told Jesus