GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 53
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2011|
|The events that contributed to the downfall of the apostle Peter and the mistakes he made along the way so that you and I can learn from his mistake, so that we don’t make the same ones.|
Sinning in the Presence of the Savior – Part 2
The title of the message this morning is Sinning in the Presence of the Savior, Part 2. This morning I want to show you from the text the events that contributed to the downfall of the apostle Peter and the mistakes he made along the way so that you and I can learn from his mistake, so that we don’t make the same ones. If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Mark 14:66. “And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest [That’s important] …came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, ‘You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘I neither know nor understand what you mean.’” By the way, this is the first time Peter is at a loss for words.
And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, ‘This man is one of them.’ But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’ But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know this man of whom you speak.’ And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.”
This is a continuation from last week and let me just kind of give you a background from last week. Jesus is brought before the council and main thrust of the passage last week was about Jesus being attacked from the outside. These were the outsiders. We couldn’t really resonate with these guys, because many of us would affirm that we are believers in Christ. Although this week we go on the inside and we see a denial from the inside and this passage hits close to home. Let’s be honest. Peter is a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I want to show you four progressions in the text, three in the negative manner, one in a positive manner. The first one is this: Peter’s problem was that he had a misguided motivation. Peter had a misguided motivation. I encourage you to take notes this morning if you are. Peter had a misguided motivation. Well, who is Peter? I have to give you a little background in order to bring to light this passage. The apostle Peter, or the disciple Peter at this point, is named first in every one of the accounts of the calling of the twelve. Did you know that? His name is always first.
Let me show it to you. Go to Matthew 10:2. In all the lists, he’s the top one. “The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter.” Go to Mark 3:16. “He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James [and] Andrew.” Go to Luke 6:14. “And chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John.” It goes on in Acts 1:13. Peter’s first, then comes James and John and Andrew.
His name is actually Simon. Peter was a name that was given to him by Jesus. His Aramaic name was Cephas, which means “stone.” The word “Peter” means rock. It was not something that he was, it was the desire of the Lord for who he would be. Jesus desired for him to be a rock. He wanted to take a spontaneous, rash, and reckless fisherman and turn him into a strong, steadfast, and stable disciple.
Peter and his brother, Andrew, to give you a little background, had a lucrative fishing business. They were pretty successful. They probably took it over from their father. Jesus comes by the Sea of Galilee one day and He says, Peter and Andrew, drop your nets and come follow Me. It’s interesting that one of the first excursions as the new disciples, Jesus takes them out fishing in Luke 5. You remember the story. Jesus says, let’s push the boat out a little bit into the deep to catch fish. What does Peter say back to the Lord? Lord, we’ve toiled all night and we’ve caught nothing. Jesus, I know fishing. You know teaching and stonemasonry. Don’t tell me about fishing. But at your will, Master, we’ll drop the nets. Well, you know the story. They caught an enormous amount of fish. They pulled the fish into the boat. It almost sank the boat. Peter falls to his knees and he says, Lord, depart from me because I’m a [what?] a sinful man.
Peter was privy to a lot of different experiences. Peter was the one when Jesus brought the disciples up to Caesarea Philippi, which was the Bourbon Street of that day. He brings them up there surrounded by all the false gods. He says, who do people say that I am? Well, John the Baptist. Some say you’re Elijah. Others say you’re a prophet. Jesus asked them a pointed question. But who do YOU say that I am? After a moment of silence, who speaks up? It’s Peter! Peter stands up and he says, you’re the Christ! You’re the Messiah! You’re the Son of the Living God. Did you know that Peter’s name is mentioned more than any other person in the New Testament other than Jesus? Peter is more often rebuked than any other disciple, and Peter speaks up for the Lord more than any other disciple in all of the gospels.
So Robby, what’s the problem with Peter? Here’s the challenge with Peter. Although he was a great speaker and had a lot of insightful questions, Peter rarely listened to the instruction he received. Peter had a foot-shaped mouth disease, if you will. He misunderstood not only Jesus’ words about Himself, but Jesus’ words about the coming kingdom. I’ll give you three issues with Peter’s life. Write them down.
Peter misunderstood, first of all, Jesus’ role. He never could wrap his mind around Jesus’ role. Jesus had to tell them on three occasions—Mark 8, Mark 9, Mark 10—I’m going to go to the cross, I’m going to be turned over to the chief priests and the elders. I’m going to die, be buried into the ground and raised from the dead. Peter couldn’t understand that; so much so that in Mark 8:31 Peter tells Jesus, why are you talking about all this death? Jesus looks at him and calls him out for following Satan. Get behind me, Satan! That’s what He tells Peter. Peter had a problem with Jesus’ role.
Secondly, he had a problem with his role. Remember when Jesus was attacked in the Garden of Gethsemane? Peter pulls out his little dagger, cuts off the ear of the soldier, thinking it’s game on. And Jesus says, not only is it not time for war, I’m going to heal the ear of the soldier and I’m going to willfully turn myself over to the authorities. Peter was perplexed. What? Jesus, you’re not going to destroy these guys? You’re going to surrender yourself to them? So if you’re surrendering to the enemies, what am I supposed to do? He was perplexed about his own role. He misunderstood Jesus’ role.
Thirdly, he had a misunderstanding about his own surroundings. Peter always put himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. My question is, what is Peter doing in the courtyard after he sees Jesus willingly turning Himself over to the authorities? Jesus just said we’re not going to take them by force. So what is Peter doing in the courtyard? Maybe he’s standing up for the word he spoke earlier that Jesus, I’ll never leave you. We don’t know. But he’s there.
But when Peter finds himself in the courtyard, he is surrounded by rejecters of worldly influence and rejecters of the command and the call of Christ. They’re not following Christ. They’re against Christ. He’s surrounded by unbelievers in the courtyard that night but he’s fully unaware of his surroundings. So we see it’s easy to understand Peter has a misguided motivation. He’s following Jesus at this point for the wrong reasons.
But not only did Peter have a misguided motivation, secondly, he has a missed opportunity. He has a missed opportunity. He has a chance to stand up for our Lord and he misses it. Verse 66: “And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, ‘You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.’”
In order for Peter to make it into the courtyard of the high priest, he had to be invited by someone who knew the high priest. We can guess it was probably John. Now, don’t miss this. Not only is Peter there. John is with Jesus even though it’s not mentioned here. As Peter enters the courtyard, he walks through a door and the girl standing by the door recognizes that Peter was with Jesus. She cries out, Hey listen! You were with Jesus. Shhhh! What are you doing? You’re going to blow my cover! What are you talking about? Look at verse 68: I neither know Him nor understand what you’re talking about. Peter is actually saying more than he’s intending to say there. Did you catch that? He’s says, I don’t know nor understand Jesus. You’re exactly right, Peter. You’ve never understood the mission of Jesus. You’ve always had a misunderstanding about who Jesus was. You’ve never understood His ministry, which ultimately leads to a continual denial of Jesus. That word deny Jesus is in the imperfect tense, which gives us the idea that he continually denied over and over and over.
There’s a great principle here that we must learn as believers. Your faith is not based on feelings, but it’s based on facts. Did you know that? Your faith has to be grounded on the facts of the Word of God. And in order for yours and my faith to grow, we need to grow in our knowledge of God. We need to grow in our knowledge of Christ. The more we grow in our knowledge of Christ, we mature as believers. That’s why Paul said in Colossians 1:9, And so from the day we’ve heard, we’ve not ceased to pray for you asking that you be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so as to walk in a manner worthy of gospel of Christ, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God.
So here’s the connection. When you grow in the knowledge of God, you walk in a manner worthy to please God. Peter in the courtyard in this situation was running on pure adrenaline. Peter was on emotion. Peter was excited and he was guided by the wrongs things. Because of that, he failed to comprehend Christ. The same goes for us. If your faith is based on feelings and feelings are driving the train, you’re headed for a derailing in your faith. Friends, our faith is built on the foundation of the Word of God. So if that’s the case, how do we grow in our faith? We need to know the Word. We need to be people here at Brainerd Baptist Church where we get into the Word of God until the Word of God gets into us. We need to be people of the book, wouldn’t you agree? If we’re people of the Word, our faith will not falter.
Verse 68. “And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, ‘[I’m telling you] this man is [with Jesus].’” It’s pretty amazing because the girl recognizes him. How does the girl recognize him? John tells us. John says that the girl replied, I saw you in the garden with Jesus. Peter can’t hide at this point. She was with the crowd that arrested Jesus, and she said I saw you. Now Peter doesn’t hear the warning call of the rooster. You and I in that situation? Okay, Jesus says the rooster’s going to crow twice. If I hear the rooster once, what am I thinking? Okay, I better get out of here because something’s about to happen. And as the rooster crowed for the second time, Peter realized that he had missed an opportunity to stand for Christ.
He had a misguided motivation. He had a missed opportunity. And he turned into a miserable failure, the third point. Verse 70, “But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’” One other version says, one other Gospel says your accent betrays you! Robby, you’re from Chalmette and we know it. We can tell by the way you speak. Peter, you’re from Galilee. We can tell by the northern drawl that you have.
And Peter says, I don’t know the man. He invokes a curse on himself and then he swears back in front of the people. Now, many look at the word swear and assume that he’s cursing, that’s he’s swearing. That’s not the case. To swear means to pledge extremely to something or someone. It means to take an extreme oath of truthfulness. I SWEAR I’m telling the truth. Now, Peter’s doing exactly what Jesus said never do. Remember in Matthew 5:33, “Again you’ve heard that it’s said ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’” Verse 34. “But Jesus says, ‘Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.’”
But the swear fades in comparison to the word curse. Curse is a strong word. Let me explain to you the word curse. It’s to call death upon oneself, if you’re telling a lie, from God. It’s to say, God, if I’m lying, damn me to hell is what he’s saying. If I’m lying, God, in front of these people, send me straight…. It is the worst kind of way that you can take the Lord’s name in vain. Peter’s denial of Christ is the most despicable way that you can sin against the Lord.
Friends, understanding the magnitude of Peter’s sin and his fall brings out the beautiful restoration of Jesus Christ and how remarkable it was that God took him back after sinning. As the accusations came in, Peter’s allegiance went out the door. They started to accuse him and the all of sudden the rooster crows for the second time. And it’s as if time stood still. Peter is standing in the courtyard being attacked from the outside. He hears the rooster. But he’s not the only one who hears the rooster, because Jesus, just a stone’s throw away, also hears the bird crow. And then Jesus doesn’t say word. That’s all it takes is a look. Jesus fixes His eyes on Peter as the spit is on His face, the blood dripping from His eyes and His face, bruises on His body. He looks across at Peter.
I want you to imagine the scene. Peter looks up. Jesus doesn’t do what we would do. I probably would have yelled at him at that point and said, Peter, what are you doing? Didn’t I tell you about this? What about all the time we spent together? What about all the lessons that I taught you? What about all the power that I entrusted you with? And you stand before these people and act like you don’t know Me? How could you? But Jesus doesn’t do that? All it says in the text in the book of Luke is that Jesus turned and looked. Peter knew at that point that he had committed a grievous sin against the Lord. At that moment, my friends, Peter the Rock crumbles into a pile of rubble.
There are two problems with Peter, and I want us to learn from these two issues in the life of Peter. The first one is this: it reminds us that, as believers—don’t miss this—it’s easy for us to profess faith in Christ when we’re surrounded by believers. I mean, it’s easy to say I’m a Christian within these walls. But it’s different when you’re isolated and alone at your workplace or in your family for the holidays. It’s different when you’re the only Christian in the room. If the world couldn’t get along with the holiest man that ever lived, why in the world do we think the world would ever get along with us? Have we compromised? Have we no spiritual stature? My friends, if you feel awkward and uncomfortable around unbelievers, praise God, because you should! That’s what Jesus said. If you’re not, then I would question if you’re really following Christ.
The first thing we see about Peter is that he was in a situation of unbelievers and should have stood up for the Lord. But the second challenge we should learn is this: as unbelievable as this even is that Peter would go against the words of Christ, it happens. And it’s played out in the lives of believers all over the world every single day. Friends, when we’re disobedient and rebellious to God’s Word and God’s will, it is the same as Peter in this sin. When we deny the words of Christ and we disown the Lord in action, mode, or speech, it’s the same thing. Peter denied Jesus in front of His very face. I mean, it’s one thing to deny Jesus in secret, but it’s another thing for Peter to be blatant and open when Jesus is watching.
I mean, think about that. Jesus is watching him. Don’t miss this. Every time you sin, get this, when you sin as a believer, it’s as if you walk into the presence of the Lord and commit your act for the Lord to see, and then you walk outside of His presence. Feel the weight of that. Every time you sin in stealing or lying or you gossip or you deny or you disrespect or you engage in any kind of immorality or sexuality or selfish act against God, He sees it all. You can’t hide from God. He takes every secret thing in the dark and He brings it to light one day. My friends, our sin is ultimately against God. Although we sin against people, our sin is against a holy God.
Listen to what Proverbs 15:3 says: “The eyes of the LORD are in every place.” He sees the good and the evil. David, when he committed adultery against Bathsheba and murdered Uriah, although he committed sins against people, he ultimately sinned against God. Psalm 51:4, Against you, Lord, you alone have I sinned and done evil in your sight.
Peter had a problem. He had a missed opportunity. He was misguided in his motivation. But he became a miserable failure.
If the story ended here, it would be really depressing. But I want to show you a high note as we end. Not only do we see a miserable failure, we see, finally, a merciful Savior. We see a merciful Savior. And although it’s not explicitly in the text, we can piece the stories together to find out how the story ends. Look at what happens to Peter. It says that after the rooster crowed, he broke down and he wept. Overwhelmed by his sin against Christ, he leaves the scene of the courtyard. We don’t know where he went. I can imagine he probably went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus just left and sweated drops of blood on the ground. I imagine Peter could have gone there, fallen on his face before the Lord and at that moment he would have realized that maybe there’s a connection between the three denials of Peter and the three times that Jesus came back and said, wake up, Peter. Wake up, Peter. Wake up, Peter. Any connection? I don’t know but, boy, it’s similar, right?
Peter, at that moment, realized that everything Jesus had said had come true about his life. I don’t know if you remember this, but when Peter professed Christ as the Messiah, the Son of God, do you remember the next words that Jesus said after that? Do you remember those words? This is what Jesus followed up to Peter. This is what He said. Peter, if anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulteress and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of Him when He comes in the Father’s glory with the holy angels. Peter probably meditated on these words and they literally crushed him. He had realized that he had fallen.
But I want you to understand. This was not a momentary lapse in Peter’s faith. The wheels had come off earlier. In fact, there are three events that led up to this fall. The first one is this: Peter says, all these guys may fall away. These guys are a bunch of chumps. But Jesus, not me. I will never fall away. If they all leave you, I will never deny you. That was the first problem. In a boastful, self-reliant appeal, he responds to Jesus. Secondly, he committed the sin of complacency. When he was in the garden, Jesus came to Him on three different occasions. Peter, can you not watch? Peter, can you not pray. Peter, can you not pray. And he fell. Then the third reason was he found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time in the courtyard.
But friends, instead of focusing on Peter’s sin, let us focus on Peter’s response to his sin. Peter does not turn his back on Christ. In fact, Peter is the first one that Mary Magdalene comes to after Jesus has risen from the tomb? Do you remember that? She runs and it says she finds Peter. Peter, Jesus has been raised from the dead. And it’s Peter and John who do what? Do you remember? They’re the ones who run to the tomb first and they come to see is Jesus really here? It’s Peter who Jesus meets on the seashore of Galilee, and three times, He restores him. Peter, do you love Me? Feed My sheep. Peter, do you love Me? Feed My lambs. Peter, do you love Me? Three times. And then it’s Peter in Acts 2 who stands before those religious leaders and preaches the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It reminds us in the text of the difference between a believer and an unbeliever. See, there’s a difference between an unbeliever and a believer and the way they respond to sin. Did you know that? Before the Lord saved me, I had no desire to serve Him and I had no conviction in my heart over sin. I sinned and loved it. I did. Many of you unbelievers, you were there. We sinned and we loved it. We didn’t care about it. We weren’t convicted. Yes, I had a conscience but I still did it.
However, after I was saved, there was conviction in my heart and I didn’t want to do those things anymore, and then if I did some of those things, God convicted me. That’s the difference between a believer and an unbeliever. An unbeliever has a conscience but no conviction of sin. A believer is convicted when the sin.
But there’s a second part. There’s a difference in the life of a believer between conviction and guilt. Did you know that? Listen to this. In the life of a believer, conviction happens and it’s the conviction of the Holy Spirit and it always leads you back to the cross and to Christ. That’s conviction. Guilt, on the other hand, is from Satan and it always causes you to be estranged from the Lord.
There are two examples in the Bible of this, clearly. The first one we saw today. It’s Peter. Peter, after sinning against the Lord, is convicted. He weeps. He mourns. But then he comes back to the Lord. He doesn’t turn away. He doesn’t throw in the towel. He comes back to Christ. The other example is Adam. When Adam and Eve sinned against God, did they go looking for God and say, God, we blew it. What did they do? They hid, right? They were behind a tree. Adam, is that you behind the tree? What are you doing? And then Adam doesn’t come to God in repentance. He says, God, it’s the woman that you sent! It’s the problem with this whole scenario right? He blames not only the woman but he’s ultimately blaming God.
I want to show you, the difference between conviction and guilt is the way you are facing. If after sinning, you’re running to the cross for forgiveness, it’s conviction. If after sinning, you run away from God in shame, then it’s guilt. Listen to the words of 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sin [if we turn to Him] he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. It’s not if you will sin, it’s when you will sin. The question is what will we do when we sin? And the answer is repent! Robby, how long should we wait after we sin against the Lord? If we deny Him, if we enter into immorality or sexuality or anger or depression, how long should we wait before we confess our sin? Never! You immediately confess your sin and you turn back to the Lord and you ask for forgiveness.
I want to encourage you this morning to remember that God has forgiven all of your past sins if you’re a believer. Did you know that? God has forgiven you of everything in your past that you have done. If that wasn’t the case for Peter, Peter would have never been able to stand up in front of all those people in Acts 2 and preach the gospel and say that Jesus is both Lord and God.
Friends, the final chapter of your life although it’s been bad and maybe it’s bad now for you or difficult or demanding, the final chapter of your life is yet to be written. God is not done with you. God uses all your triumphs and your failures to mold and shape you into the image of His Son and He’s still doing that. Amen?
Ravi Zacharias tells the story in his book The Grand Weaver of a father and a son weaving together saris. I don’t know if you’re familiar with a sari. Sari is an outer garment worn by women in India. It takes a father and son team to weave this garment. Basically what happens is the father sits by the wheel and he has all these threads around him. He’s sitting on a platform and he’s surrounded by all these brilliant colors—brilliant reds and bright oranges and yellow and purples. The most brilliant colors you’ve ever seen. Two steps below is the son who moves the shuttle back and forth under the nod of the father. So when the father takes the string or the threads, the son, knowing the father, as he nods he moves the shuttle to the left and to the right, to the right and to the left and the father weaves the threads together. The son gets so good at it that he just can do it instinctively. He knows when the threads are in the hands of the father. If you come back two or three days later, they’re still doing the same motion.
Now, if you come in the beginning and you watch the sari being created, you’ll see the unfinished product and it doesn’t look good. In fact, you’ll notice that strings are this way and strings are that way and colors are sitting out and you’re wondering how in the world is this ever going to come together to create a beautiful garment. But then you notice the weaver will take some of the string from here and he’ll weave it back in. He’ll take some of the excessive string and he’ll weave it back in. Nothing is wasted by the father, the master weaver.
Ravi Zacharias said after he noticed this he said to himself, I can do what the son does. I can move under the nod of the father, under the father’s will. I can go to the left and I can go to the right and I can go to the right and I can go to the left, but I can’t do what the father does because the father is the master weaver. My friends, like the father, God is the master weaver who takes every experience of your life, good and bad, and he weaves them together for His glory. It’s amazing how God, as the master weaver, holds the threads of our life in His hand and as we submit to the will of God, He alone creates the great pattern of our life.
That’s why Romans 8:28 is such a great verse for us as believers. He who has called us has worked everything together for His own will, for His own purpose, and for His own glory. God takes it all and He weaves it together. We serve this morning a merciful, forgiving God who waits patiently for you and I when we sin against Him to come back in repentance. Aren’t you glad we serve a God of second chances and third chances and fourth chances? Because I know I am.