YOU CANT STAND ALONE!
As we continue our study in Mark chapter 14 this evening, keep in mind that Jesus and the 11 apostles, Judas has already departed from them at this time, were heading to the Mount of Olives, to the Garden of Gethsemane. And as they are heading there Jesus is going to share some disturbing news about their faith, news that they will reject!
Now before we get into Mark chapter 14, lets look at John chapter 13, which is a prelude to what is happening in our study this evening. And lets begin looking at verses 31-33 of John chapter 13. We read "So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, "Where I am going, you cannot come," so now I say to you."
Jesus is not only speaking of His death and His resurrection, but that He will be glorified once again. And as He finishes saying that He tells them beginning in verse 34, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35.
Why would Jesus talk about love at a time like this? Because these men that He has poured the last 3½ years of His life into, were now going to be representatives of Him on this earth. Thus, the love He showed them and the other people, they were now to show. Now the question is, "What kind of love is Jesus talking about?" AGAPE love or unconditional love. It is a love that benefits others! And example of this kind of love is given to us in Romans 5:8, which says "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Thus, that same love God has given to us, undeserving love, we are to manifest to others!
Now if someone is mean to you, you dont have to love them, right? Wrong! If someone makes fun of you, you dont have to love them, right? Wrong! If someone takes advantage of you, you dont have to love them, right? Wrong! It is unconditional love and a great example of this love manifested into action is seen in I Corinthians 13:4-8a, in fact it is really a definition of Agape love. Paul tells us this kind of love is spoken of in this way, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails..."
To see how well you are doing, place your name in those verses every time you see the word "love." For instance, "Joe suffers long and is kind, Joe does not envy, Joe does not parade himself, is not puffed up..." and-so-on. How did you do? You see, you cant do that on your own, only God can give you that kind of love as you surrender your life to Him! You see, it is His love that He gives to us. Think of it like this, "Jesus suffers long and is kind, Jesus does not envy, Jesus does not parade Himself, is not puffed up..." and-so-on. It fits Him perfectly and that is what He desires in each of us. You see, that kind of love we have for others is a witness of our faith in Jesus Christ!
Back in John chapter 13, we read beginning in verse 36, "Simon Peter said to Him, Lord, where are You going? Jesus answered him, Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward. Peter said to Him, Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake." John 13:36-37. This is how it got started, and now back in Mark chapter 14 we are going to see how Jesus responded to Peters stance of willing to die for the Lord, that he would stand at the Lords side no matter what. Jesus is going to deal with that here in Mark chapter 14.
1. Now we see Jesus tell His men that not only will Peter stumble, but all of them will stumble because of the things that will take place this night. The Lord will be the stumbling block to each of these men! The Greek word for "stumble" is SKANDALIZEN which speaks of taking offense at someone or something and turning away and falling into sin. Because of the situation that was quickly coming before them they were going to fall into this trap.
2. Jesus is not saying they might stumble, but they will, and this will be a fulfillment of what the Scriptures say, specifically Jesus quotes from Zechariah 13:7. Thus, as the Shepherd, Jesus Christ is taken away, His sheep will all be scattered, and that is exactly what happened! Do you think this was a discouragement to these men? I think so, their Lord was telling them that they will all blow it, they all will stumble. But before they can say anything, Jesus gives them these words of encouragement found in verse 28.
1. Here we see Jesus looking beyond the cross, His eyes are set upon His resurrection and His return to glory. And the encouragement He gave to His men was that He would meet them in Galilee, He was coming back! Now I dont believe they heard Jesus say this, because they cant get beyond the fact that Jesus told them they were going to stumble. So these words went in one ear and out the other, which leads to Peters statement in verse 29.
1. Now do you think Peter meant this, that He would not forsake the Lord! I think so. I think Peter was very sincere, he loved the Lord and thus, he would not forsake him. That is how Peter felt, he was strong and despite what the others might do, despite their failures, he would be right there with the Lord, he would never fail Him! Peter believed that with all of his heart, he really meant it. This was not an empty promise, at least Peter felt it wasnt. Peter desired to love the Lord this way, but he was not going to be able to do this in his own strength.
2. You see, Peter didnt realize the spiritual battle that was going on around him. In Luke 22:31 we are told "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat." Do you see the battle that was going on for Peters soul, and it is the same battle that is going on for your soul! And the Lord is telling Peter to wake-up, pay attention, because Satan wants to crush you, break you, destroy you!
3. Now dont lose heart, for the Lord says in verse 32, "But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." I like that, the Lord is not only praying for Peter, but also for each of us. And for Peter, even though he will stumble, he will blow it big time, the Lord will pick him up and restore him. And Peter is to take those lessons and use them to help others with. You see, God is not in the business of destruction, but restoration. In I Peter 3:18 we are told, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit." On the other hand, Satan is not in the business of restoration, but destruction! In John 10:10 we are told that Satan, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy..." But on the other end is Jesus, and we are told that He has "...come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
4. Why does God allow trials, difficult things to come into our lives? To test our faith, to get us to trust in Him, to purge out some of the garbage that is in our life like pride, and-so-on. You see, the work that God has begun in you He will complete it, the only one who can truly get in His way is YOU! All you have to do is allow Him to work in you so He can work through you. Dont resist the work He is doing. For Peter, he found out that it was not going to be by his strength that he would stand, but by the grace of God. In I Peter 5:10 Peter tells us what he learned, when he said "But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you." It is by the grace of God that we not only stand, but we live and breath, may we not forget that!
1. Peter thought he knew better than the Lord, he thought he knew himself better than the Lord did, and that was and is a big mistake! You see, God knows us better than we know ourselves. God knows what is in our heart and as trials come our way, we see some of that ugliness that rises to the surface, something we thought we conquered, and the Lord shows us we need to purge out that garbage from our lives and give it to the Lord. Peter thought this was his strong area, courage and boldness, and yet it was the area he was going to fail in. You need to be careful because pride comes before a fall!
2. One other thought before we move on, and that is our sin looks so evil when someone else is doing it! We may see someone lie and we would say, "I would never do that! I wonder if they are even saved?" And yet if we lie we come up with all kinds of reasons to justify our actions. Be careful, for what you try to cover, God will expose.
3. Remember the sin of David with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, and David refused to repent of that sin. So the Lord brought Nathan the prophet to him to try to awaken him out of his spiritual sleep. In II Samuel 12, beginning in verse 1 we read "Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him. So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity. Then Nathan said to David, You are the man!.." II Samuel 12:1-7a. Do you see how our sin looks so bad on others, but we tend to downplay it in our own life. Be careful! The Lord wants to be the strength of your life, let Him. If you stand alone, you will fail and fall, as Peter did!
1. Peter still didnt get it. He was going to fall this very night, not maybe! You know, it is sometimes easier to die for the Lord than to live for Him. Peter found that out. Peter felt he would stand up for the Lord no matter what, and that very night he was going to be intimidated by a servant girl who asked if he knew Jesus. He is going to tell her that he never knew Him, and He even began to curse that he never knew Him! Peter is going to find out that he is not going to be able to do this on his own, it will be the Lord who will restore Him and it will be the Lord who will keep him standing.
2. We must understand that in the flesh dwells no good thing. And it is only the Lord who will strengthen us in our daily life. And it is not only Peter who feels this way, the others join in and say they too are ready to die for the Lord! What happened? In Mark 14:50 we are told "Then they all forsook Him and fled." The Lord was right, big surprise, they all were made to stumble that night because of the Lord! It is as Paul said in I Corinthians 10:12, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." If you think you are beyond sin, be careful, you are setting yourself up for a fall! If you think you stand by the grace of God and it is only as we submit to Him can we stand, you are where you need to be, humble before Him!
3. What things are in your life that are causing you to stumble in your relationship with the Lord? Friends? Pride? Drugs? Lies? You may feel you are strong enough, that you can handle it, but so did Peter, and he fell big time and so will you. Give it to the Lord, stand strong in Him. I love the way that Jude puts it when he says "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen." Jude 24-25. Who can keep us from stumbling? The Lord! Who will present us faultless before the Father? The Lord as His righteousness has been given to us by faith. Peter thought he knew better than the Lord and he was wrong, and if that is the way you feel, you are wrong. But let me leave you with this, THE LORD IS PRAYING FOR YOU!