HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
I’d like to share with you this morning some of the lessons I believe the apostle Peter would want us to learn from his own horrible failure in denying the Lord. And I believe the first lesson he would share with us is this:
1. NEVER PUT YOUR CONFIDENCE IN POWER OF THE FLESH.
I think he might say that it all started for him when I made that regretful boast to the Lord.
“You remember,” he’d say, “when the Lord made that horrible announcement that one of us would betray Him? And as you know, that person turned out to be Judas—who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. But you’d better believe that each of us examined our own hearts when he said that. ‘Lord,’ we each asked, ‘is it I?’
“Well; I did some examining of myself. And I resolved, then and there, that I would never do such a thing to Him! But then, after Judas left and as we were walking to the garden—where, as you know, it turned out that He was betrayed—our Lord surprised us further with another revelation. He said to the rest of us,
“Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.” (Matthew 26:31-32).
“Well; once again, I stuck my chest out and said, ‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.’ That’s when the Lord looked me right in the eye (He had to do that sometimes), and said to me, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this night before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And I thought to myself, ‘Doesn’t He believe me? Doesn’t He think I really love Him? So I said it even more firmly; ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ I guess I had some influence on the others; because they all said the same thing.
“Now let me assure you, brothers and sisters; when I said that, I really meant it! Do you remember that I even dared to take up a sword and strike the servant of the high priest? I’m ashamed to speak of it today; but believe me when I tell you—I wasn’t aiming for his ear! I was fully prepared to die for the Lord—and even help a few other people die for Him while I was at it! But that wasn’t our Lord’s way. He rebuked me; and told me to put the sword away.
“You see, brothers and sisters; that boast that I made on the way to the garden—that I would never deny Him—I was depending on the power of my own flesh when I made it. I was going to stand strong for Him in my own power—me, Peter, the mighty fisherman! Oh, how wrong I was! That is what happens with church folks who lean on their own understanding.
“So as the Lord sends you out into a hostile world, and calls you to make your stand for Him in the difficult days to come, don’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t get proud. Don’t make your boast in the flesh. Don’t try to stand for Jesus in the strength of your own power. You’ll fail if you do—just as I did.
“Instead, remember what I wrote in my first letter—
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:6-8).
“That’s where the real threat is coming from—from a powerful spiritual enemy. ‘Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.’ (verse 9). Trust in God, and don’t ever put your confidence in your own fleshly power; because if you do, the enemy will take advantage of you—and you will most surely fail.”
And I believe there’s more that the apostle Peter would say to us.
If you look at Matthew 26 and verses 57-58, you’ll read that
“And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.”
Peter was following the Lord—but you might say that he was following at a ‘safe distance’. I suspect that many of us do that whenever we’re in a situation in which we’re not sure how people will react to our faith in Jesus. We say that we’re following Him—but truth be told, we’re not really where He would have us be. Instead, we try to keep a ‘safe-distance’ so no one will give us any trouble.
But that’s when we come to the sad story of Peter’s actual denial of Jesus. He was found sitting outside the courtyard of the high priest’s residence. Then, along came a servant girl. In the original language, it specifies “one servant girl”—and that’s probably intended to put this one, single harmless little girl in contrast to the burly fisherman Peter. She looked at him, and said, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee” (v. 69). But Peter—the one who said that he would die for Jesus; the one who was willing to defend Him with a sword—lied. He saw that others were standing around, listening to the little girl’s question; and Matthew tells us that “he denied it before them all, saying, ‘I do not know what you are saying’” (v. 70).
I believe another lesson to learn from his experience is to . . . You will learn about the next thing about Peter when this message continues tomorrow.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW ….