Summary: A look at what our speech says about our relationship with Christ
The flames cast eerie shadows over the mixed group crowding in for warmth. The talk was of the man from Galilee who had been arrested by the temple guard for blasphemy. Who had seen him. what did they think. Was he God or was he the devil? And as they spoke someone pointed to the burly young stranger in the corner. "You, you were with the one called Jesus." "No you’re wrong." He said, "I don’t know the carpenter" but somebody else piped up "Sure you do, I’m positive of it" and this time Peter the fisherman ignoring the fact that he was in mixed company answered with a string of oaths. The group turned away from him and started talking amongst themselves when one broke away from the others and approached the scowling Simon Peter and said Matthew 26:73 "Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you."
Now we all know the story. How Christ told Peter at the Passover that He would deny him. "Not a chance" said Peter "I would die before I’d deny you!" "Oh yes you will" replied Christ, "and you will do it before the rooster crows this morning."
We all know how on three separate occasions Peter had the opportunity to stand up for Christ, and how he failed all three times. This morning we are going to look at the words spoken to Peter in Matthew 26:73 "your speech betrays you."
Now the literal meaning of this statement is that something that Peter said, or how Peter said it revealed that he was from Galilee. This is backed up by the way it is translated in the New International version where it says Matthew 26:73 A little while later some people standing there walked over to Peter and said, "We know that you are one of them. We can tell it because you talk like someone from Galilee."
Now one of two things happened. The first is that we are told that Peter denied that he knew Christ with an oath, and maybe this gave him away as a fisherman because I have known fisherman who could cuss the bark off a tree. This is kind of backed up in Matthew 26:74
74 Peter began to curse and swear,
More likely though the man was responding to Peter’s Galilean accent. You notice that different groups of people have distinct ways of speaking. Englishmen, Scots, the Irish, Australians, Canadians and Americans all claim English as their native language and yet they all speak differently. When we were in Australia a lot of people mistook us for Americans although every once in a while someone would say, "you must be from the east coast of Canada" and I’d say "how could you tell" and their response would be "You said out and boat"
And so the literal meaning of the passage is that Peter’s Galilean accent gave him away. But for a moment let us totally disregard everything that we know about interpreting the Bible and preaching Biblical sermons. Let me forget everything that I was taught at college about preaching. Because this morning we will proceed to take this text completely out of context, and preach about something that has nothing to do with the surrounding Scriptures at all. And so journeying into the area of conjecture, and leaving the historical, Biblical, doctrinally, and common sense of the context of the portion of scripture behind let’s venture forth into a topical message that won’t relate in any way to what Matthew was trying convey when he penned these words. But on the other hand it looks like it could turn into a pretty good message, so casting homelitcal caution to the wind let’s try it.
Because there is a very important message in these words , a message that cannot be ignored, and that is "your speech betrays you."
The way we speak and what we say reveals a great deal about our Christian character or lack of Christian character. The tongue is the most powerful influence in the Church and it is able to build people up or tear them down. I hear people say "you know brother those unknown tongues will destroy the church. I don’t know there sure have been a lot of churches destroyed by the known tongue. I told you the story last week of how when John Maxwell was pastoring Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego he was asked "Are you praying that your people will get the gift of tongues?" "No" he replied, "I’m praying they’ll learn to control the one they’ve got now."
The tongue is responsible for some of the most destructive and odious sins in the church and in the same breath it can build up believers like nothing else can. A.B. Simpson, who is not to be confused with O.J. Simpson or Bart Simpson, said and I quote "I would rather play with forked lightning or take in my hand living wires with their fiery current then to speak a reckless word against any servant of Christ, or idly repeat the slanderous darts which thousands of Christians are hurling at others, to the hurt or their own souls and bodies."