Summary: We know more about the life of Peter than any other disciple which means we can trace his growth as a disciple. In a three section sermon we will see how Jesus helps His impulsive disciple to persevere, even when they fail.
Simon Peter – sifted, sustained, serving.
I recently went to a Men’s Shed Ministry where they were interviewing different men. One man told the story of his life. Which went like this:-
Married – divorced.
Married – divorce
Married – divorce
Married first wife
The end result is so great but … wow what a journey.
That is what discipleship is as well. A journey. And one of disciples in the Bible who we know quite a bit about their journey is Peter. Peter is one of the key disciples – he is part of the inner circle – some people call him “Saint Peter”. But this is a saint who see-saws in his commitment.
• One moment he is climbing out of the boat and walking on water – the next he is swimming with the fish.
• One moment he is saying Jesus you are the Christ, the Son of the living God … the next moment Jesus is tell Peter – you remind me a lot of Satan.
• One moment he is faithfully declaring Even if everyone falls away, I will not … the next he is denying Jesus three times.
That’s Peter. He is a disciple on a journey.
Today we are going to look at three passages of Scripture and see how that journey unfolds and what it means for us.
Reading:- Luke 22:31-34; 54-62
It is easy to idolise people isn’t it. Think about Tiger Woods. He was a golfing superstar and the man of the hour. Now … we see the real person and the shine comes off. He is just an ordinary man. Sometimes we can do the same with the disciples. We see them as some sort of spiritual superstars. But – at heart – they are just ordinary men. Men with faults.
Peter is an ordinary man who is sifted by Satan.
Peter was so sure wasn’t he.
Lord I am ready to go with You to prison and to death (Lk.22:33)
Even if all fall away on account of You, I never will (Mt.26:33)
Even if I have to die with You, I will never disown You (Mk.14:31)
No way was he going to let Jesus down. Unfortunately Peter hasn’t recognised the big picture.
We want to stand for Jesus.
We are firm that we won’t let Him down.
But there is another – another who is very determined – to see us fail. Simon, Simon Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.
Who is Satan? Satan makes us question. Satan prods and pushes and frustrates. Satan encourages us to make big claims which we can’t always back-up. Satan is after our soul. There is this cosmic battle. We stand in the middle. And we get caught. One moment we can be so confident - it seems that nothing will be able to knock the wind out of our sails. And then down we go.
Spiritual strength sapped.
It happens … it happens all the time.
I distinctly remember a discussion we had at college … it was during a “Pastoral Care” lecture. How we got onto the topic I don’t really know … but the discussion was about all the Christian Reformed Church Ministers who were no longer in ministry or who were in another denomination. As students we were all pretty critical and determined:-
"That will never happen to us”.
“You just have to be committed".
Admittedly I was one of the students – but you never know what happens in life.
Satan is sifting. When Satan sifts a lot of damage can be done. But in the middle of it all we need to remember the words of Jesus I have prayed that your faith may not fail.
Peter wasn’t on his own in this challenge.
Peter had all the resources he needed to meet this challenge.
The road of denial was only one of two options.
Jesus was not deliberately setting up Peter. God never deliberately sets us up for failure. The words of 1 Corinthians 10:13 are remarkably clear on the point.
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Yet despite the prayers … despite the promise … despite the encouragement of Jesus … Peter fails. Early in the evening, perhaps around 7 or 8pm, Peter was adamant about his commitment to the Lord. Less than 10 hours later all is so different. Woman I don’t know Him. Man, I am not one of them. Man I don’t know what you are talking about.
Why does it happen? Because we don’t effectively use the spiritual equipment Jesus gave us to stand firm.