Summary: Apostles, Pt. 19
SAY WHAT YOU MEAN, MEAN WHAT YOU SAY (LUKE 22:54-62)
What would it take for you to change or switch your long-distance telephone company? Several years ago, telephone companies battle one another for the lucrative long-distance market, offers included 20% discount on calls to your 12 closest friends, free calling for a month or two and other gimmicks. In an effort to outdo its competitors, AT & T dangled an expensive carrot stick to attract potential customers by mailing $100 checks to a limited number of customers to persuade them to switch. By cashing the checks, the customers would automatically authorize AT & T to switch their service from other long-distance companies.
Without a doubt, the interest was high. Phone calls from customers, publicity from word of mouth and complaints from rival companies breathed more life into the story. Before too long, the media took note of the unusual method. A Los Angeles daily featured an honest interview with an AT & T spokesman about the promotion strategy. The journalist questioned the spokesman about the company’s marketing ploy, to which the AT & T spokesman unabashedly took the opportunity to garner more attention, defend its practice and slam the critics. He said defiantly, “The real question is, ‘What’s your price?’ Everyone has one.”
Peter’s denial of Jesus was due a lapse in judgment, a loss of faith and a fear of arrest. Jesus’ last two messages to Peter fell on deaf ears. Once, at the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus warned Peter of negligence, temptation and weaknesses: “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Mark 14:37-38) The last time, Jesus commanded the impulsive Peter, who had sliced off the ear of one of the captors: “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11). Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matt 26:53-54)
Why do people deny Christ? What is our response to threats by our enemies? How does the Lord deal with us when we compromise with the truth?
Identify with Christ in Your Conduct
54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. (Lk 22:54-55)
Many years ago, a wealthy man went duck hunting with a hired hand named Sam. They took a horse and carriage, and along the way a rim came off one of the wheels. As Sam hammered it back on, he accidentally hit his finger. Instantly he let go with some bad words. He quickly fell to his knees, asking God’s forgiveness. “Lord, it’s so difficult at times to live the Christian life,” he prayed.
“Sam,” said the man, “I know you’re a Christian, but tell me why you struggle so. I’m an atheist, and I don’t have problems like that.”
Sam didn’t know what to say. Just then two ducks flew overhead. The man raised his gun and two shots rang out. “Leave the dead one and go after that wounded bird!” he shouted. Sam pointed at the duck that was fluttering desperately to escape and said, “I’ve got an answer for you now, Boss. You said that my Christianity isn’t any good because I have to struggle so. Well, I’m the wounded duck, and I struggle to get away from the devil. But Boss, you’re the dead duck!”
Do you know a believer is not delivered from flaws, faults and failings?
Peter, who was so loyal, brave and outstanding in professing Christ with his lips, failed to confess Christ by his actions. He fell to pieces on his own and by his own doing. Skillfully, persistently and unceremoniously, Luke dissected Peter’s steps and missteps.
First, Luke exposed the calculated, premeditated design of Peter’s steps. Peter deserted Jesus and fled (Mark 14:50) once Jesus was bound (Jn 18:12), and though it seemed he returned later, he kept his distance (v 54). To be fair to Peter, he was not the only one standing as far away as possible. All those who knew him, including many women, watched “from a distance” (Luke 23:49, Matt 27:55). However, unlike Peter, the scattered disciples, the ladies and John (Jn 18:15-16) were never questioned – before or after the trial.
Luke, Matthew (Matt 26:58) and Mark (Mk 14:54), subjected Peter’s distance to intense scrutiny. Together, they unanimously and explicitly exposed the hypocrisy of Peter’s attitude, behavior and character. Peter surveyed the grounds, watched his steps and moved quietly among the crowd.