Summary: A look at Peter’s denial and what motivates us to run away from the cross rather than to it.

1. Title: Running From The Cross

2. Text: Matthew 26:57, 69-75; Mark 14:53-54, 66-72; Luke 22:54-62, John 18:16-27

3. Audience: Villa Heights Christian Church, AM crowd. April 2, 2006. 2nd in the series “Walk to the Cross”

4. Objectives:

-for the people to understand seriousness of Peter’s denial, and also the great level of love and forgiveness of Jesus; to consider, from Peter’s experience, what might motivate us to deny our Savior so that we deal with that weakness ahead of time; to understand how God can use people who have wandered off from Him to still do great things

-for the people to feel repentant over any time they have with their lives or words denied that Jesus is lord of their life

-for the people to identify specific ways in which they are denying Jesus and to return, repentant, as Peter did, to the welcoming Lordship of Jesus

5. When I finish my sermon I want my audience to examine their own lives to see if there are times they deny Jesus as their lord and to turn from that behavior to complete devotion to Him

6. Type: textual

7. Dominant Thought: Peter illustrates the danger of “running from the cross” but also the hope for imperfect people who embrace the cross

8. Outline:

We’ve titled this series “Walk to the Cross.” The goal has been to encourage us to walk, deep in our hearts, to the cross along with Jesus. Last week, we walked through the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus. But today…today is a bit of a diversion. Today we step off the road to the cross. In fact, we’ll jump off the road and run the other way through the experience of Peter.

I want the text to speak for itself.

Matthew 26:69-75

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said. But he denied it before them all. "I don’t know what you’re talking about," he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth." He denied it again, with an oath: "I don’t know the man!" After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away." Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don’t know the man!" Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.

I’m not worried this morning that I might either vilify or hero-ify Peter. The reason we have this story, according to John, is so that we will understand Jesus and believe in Him. The point of us having this is really about Jesus and what we do about Him. Peter’s denial is just one in a 3-year series of mess-ups we have recorded from his life. Peter spent most of that time with Jesus running in a direction other than the one that Jesus was taking. He was running from the cross. Are you??? Let’s find out…

I. The Cross is a Way of Humility, Surrender, and Dependence

Peter was a strong guy. In Jn 21, he jumps from a boat, swims about 100 yards to shore to get to Jesus, and then right afterwards he’s the one who drags a net full of 153 large fish onto the shore. No doubt he was conditioned from a demanding life as a laborer that sometimes had him up all night, in a boat, fishing with a net. I have to use my imagination a bit here, but I think a guy like Peter must have a guy used to doing things. If Peter’s boat had a bumper sticker, I think it would have said, “Git R Done!”

We need people like that. We need them in our community and in our church; people who act; people who don’t just talk about doing something; people with spirit and drive who want action and who accept a challenge, rather than being bored and not sure what to do about it!

So, caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee, Peter and the other disciples see Jesus walking out to their boat…on the water. They’re scared. Jesus assures them it’s Him. “Don’t be afraid. It’s Me!” What does Peter say? “Prove it!” Now, I might have liked proof too, but I think I might have given Him a quiz – you know, “OK, Jesus, how many hairs are on my head?” “What’s Bartholomew’s middle name?” - things like that. Not Peter. “Jesus, if it’s really You, have me walk out on the water to You.” OK. He does. But somewhere between stepping over the side of the boat and getting to Jesus, it occurs to Peter: he’s walking on water in the middle of a storm at sea! Ever seen road runner cartoons where Wyle E. Coyote runs out off of the cliff and suddenly realizes that there’s no road under him and he looks down and drops? That’s Peter here. He sinks, and Jesus saves him.

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