Summary: This sermon examines the ups and downs of the life and ministry of the Apostle Peter.
Introduction: A few weeks ago I preached a sermon entitled “The Agony of Defeat.” In that message I made the point that we have all given in to temptation and sinned against the Lord. When that happens the Devil begins to attack and calls you a no good for nothing rotten sinner that will never amount to anything.
In the spiritual realm there are two types of Sins. There are sins of commission, which are those things that we know we shouldn’t do, but do anyway. But there are also sins of Omission, which are things that we know we should do but for one reason or another we don’t. Such as reading the Bible, praying, sharing our faith, or serving the Lord.
But we are not the only ones who struggle with sin. The Apostle Paul also struggled with it. In Romans 7:14-15 he said, “I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Then in verses 18-19 of the same chapter he says, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing.”
Even the disciples who were closest to Jesus, like Peter, James and John, weren’t perfect. There were times when Jesus chastised them for their lack of faith. If you recall a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Jesus asked them to ‘keep watch and to pray’ while they were in the Garden of Gethsemane. But they didn’t do it, instead they went to sleep. When He came back and discovered that they were asleep He was disappointed in them, and ask them again to ‘watch and pray’ with Him so they wouldn’t fall into temptation. He also warned them saying, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” This of course was not only true in their lives but in our lives as well.
Just a few minutes later the soldiers came and arrested Jesus and His disciples scattered into the night. But according to the Bible, Peter and John followed at a distance and were there in the courtyard of the High Priest observing the ‘mockery of a trial’ that was going on. I want to show you a short video clip from the Movie the Passion of the Christ that dramatically portrays this scene.
In the video the actor does a good job of showing the guilt and anguish that overwhelmed Peter after denying the Lord three times.
Peter was a strong man, but even he wasn’t strong enough to stand up for Christ at that particular time and under those particular circumstances. He became one of the main leaders in the Early church, and would eventually be crucified upside down because of His faith in Jesus Christ, but on the night Jesus was arrested Peter didn’t feel like a leader, he felt like a failure.
We know more about Peter than any of the other disciples. He is mentioned by name 200 times in the New Testament. He is the central character in the first 12 chapters of the book of Acts.
We know that Peter was one of Jesus’ first Disciples. We also know that his brother Andrew is the one who introduced him to Jesus. We know that Peter was an uneducated Fisherman from Galilee who left his nets lying on the seashore to become one of the Lord’s Disciples.
Whether he took on the roll or whether it was thrust upon him by the other disciples we aren’t sure, but he became the leader and spokesman for the Disciples. He was the first of the 12 to confess his sinfulness to the Lord. And of course He was also the first to recognize and proclaim that Jesus was in fact the Son of the Living God.
But despite his love and commitment to the Lord the fact still remains that Peter denied the Lord three times in a very short period of time.
Illustration: During a Pastor’s Conference, a pastor was asked to give a testimony. Yet what he had to say surprised many of those who heard him speak. He walked up to the platform and said, “I am a lay pastor of a small, not-growing church. I am not ordained. I am not seminary trained. I was asked to leave both Bible colleges I attended. I am divorced and remarried. On any given day I am capable of being a jerk with my wife and family. I am terminally insecure, which causes me to compensate with bouts of arrogance.