PETER DENIES JESUS
As we continue our study in Mark chapter 14, Jesus is before Caiaphas, the high priest. Charges are being made against Jesus to then be presented before the Sanhedrin so they could then bring Him to Pilate to be put to death, at least that is what they were hoping for.
Now, of the remaining 11 apostles, Judas having already betrayed Jesus, only 2 of them followed Jesus to the home of Caiaphas. In John 18:15 we are told, "And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest." This "other disciple" was John. And John was allowed into the courtyard of the high priest, in the area where Jesus was taken. And the reason he was able to get in so close was he knew the high priest.
Now dont come to the conclusion that they were close friends, I dont believe that for a minute. I think their relationship was based upon the business that John was in, fishing. You see, the upper class, those with money, loved the fish from the Sea of Galilee and the fish eggs, and John was able to supply them with those things. So John is able to get as close as possible to Jesus at this point, without being in the same room, but he was close.
On the other hand, Peter also went to the area where Jesus had been taken. The difference between Peter and John is that Peter followed Jesus at a distance, and you cant follow Jesus at a distance and not fall and fail. You are setting yourself up for disaster. If there truly is a relationship with the Lord it needs to be up close, intimate, or it is not truly a relationship. Distance only separates you, it doesnt draw you closer. And we will see that as we look at Peter this evening.
One other thing to keep in mind before we dig into Mark chapter 14 this evening. Remember earlier on in Mark chapter 14 how the Lord told Peter that he would deny Him 3 times before the rooster crows twice, in fact it would be that very night! And do you remember the response of Peter? He said "...If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!..." Mark 14:31. Keep that in mind as we look at these verses this evening for it will show you that the spirit was willing, but the flesh was very weak!
1. This servant girl stared at Peter for a long time. She wasnt sure and she was trying to figure out if Peter was the guy who was with Jesus. And the question she asks, the way she phrases it, was to get a negative response. Sort of like "You arent the one, are you?" And that leaves the door wide open for Peter to say, "No way! You have the wrong guy! You have to be kidding me!" And it is very possible that through this all Peter rationalized this in his mind, thinking "What good would it do if I told them I was with Jesus?" "It would only cause trouble if I spoke up!" So he denies knowing what she is talking about and the rooster crowed. Now Im not sure if Peter recognized that, but I would tend to lean towards the fact he did, because he is relating this story to Mark.
2. I want you to notice two big mistakes that Peter made that caused him to respond like this. First of all he was following Jesus at a distance. He was far away from the Lord and that distance tends to cause you to live differently than if you were walking with Him. Secondly, he was standing and then sitting in the camp of the enemy and begins to warm himself by their fire. In John 18:18 we are told "And the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself."
Understand this, anytime you try to warm yourself by the enemies fire, you will get burned! When you try to be like the world you will lose, you will fall, you will fail. Warming yourself by the worlds fires only leads to compromise, as we see with Peter.
3. Have you ever been put in a situation where you thought denying the Lord would be better, it would be easier than confessing you are a Christian, not telling them that you dont want to hear their dirty jokes, that you are not going to run from the activities they are doing? Many times it is easier to try and blend in, like Peter did. And God put this lesson in here so we would read, we would hear, we would understand how dangerous this kind of activity is, and thus, the Lord wants us to apply this to our life and not deny Him or warm ourselves by the enemies fire, because we will get burned. And the idea, of course, is that we are not to hide our light under a basket, there are no secret agent Christians, so let your light shine, for if you dont you will be miserable!
4. Now this fire illuminated the face of Peter and this servant girl thought he looked familiar. So Peter, trying to hid himself, moves away from the fire, to the porch, where it was dark, thinking he can hide himself and just blend in with the world! And understand the reason Peter was doing this. All these people were up and in this courtyard area for one reason, the arrest of Jesus. It was still very early in the morning and thus, these people are talking about Jesus and His disciples, and Peter does not seem to fit in, although he is trying.
1. According to Matthew 26:71, another servant girl saw him and this girl is pretty sure that Peter is one of the men who was with Jesus. And now she is getting the others involved, telling the people around her that he is the one. And picture in your mind what is going on, she is pointing over towards Peter saying, "There he is, that is the one, he is a disciple of Jesus!"
2. Now Peter is in trouble here. It is not just a servant girl, but a crowd of people are looking right at him. He was backed into a corner and so what else could he do but deny the Lord, his life was on the line! Sin causes us to rationalize and justify our actions, and it is one step at a time as we head down that path that is leading towards destruction. If you talk to people that have been backsliding, that have fallen, when they come to their senses and repent of their sin they are always amazed how far down that path of sin they have traveled. Learn the lesson, dont go down that path, for it will not only affect you but your family.
3. A good example of this is Lot, who chose to live in Sodom. First he saw the beauty of Sodom, then he coveted Sodom and then he took it. And we can see this as he walked down this path. He first pitched his tent towards Sodom, just enjoying the beauty from a distance. Then he got closer and moved into Sodom. And finally he sat at the gate of Sodom, becoming part of the system. And in the end, that kind of lifestyle, that influence upon him and his family, destroyed most of his family. Even when the angel came to destroy Sodom he had to pull Lot out, it was difficult for him to leave it all behind. By our actions how many people are we leading down a path of destruction when we should be pointing them to Jesus?
4. Again Peter denied the Lord but this time it was more intense. In Matthew 26:72 we are told, "But again he denied with an oath, I do not know the Man!" Now he is swearing by God that he doesnt know Jesus. Peter was ready to die for the Lord, but here he cant even admit that he knows the Lord!
1. Now in Luke 22:59 we are told that about 1 hour passed, and I would think Peter is feeling pretty good, maybe taking a deep breath of relief, thinking this is finally over, they bought the lie! He doesnt have to worry anymore, that taking an oath before God that he didnt know Jesus convinced them. He was in the clear, or so he thought!
2. But now things all of a sudden get a lot worse for Peter. An eye witness recognizes Peter, and that is not good. In John 18:26 we are told "One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, Did I not see you in the garden with Him?" This guy was a relative of Malchus, the guy whose ear Peter cut off, and this man now recognizes Peter! "This is the guy I told you about, he cut off Malchus ear! I saw it with my eyes, and I would never forget the face of the man that did this!" Obviously this guy was mad at Peter for what he did, even though the Lord put the ear of Malchus back on. And in Luke we are told that this man kept repeating that Peter is the one, that he is a disciple of Jesus. In fact, His Galilean accent gives him away!
3. Peter, in big trouble now with this eye witness, is not using swear words here but he is cursing with an oath. In other words Peter is saying, "If I am lying may God strike me dead!" Im not sure I would want to say that, but Peter saw no other way out. The crowd was turning ugly at this point. And now Peter is 3 for 3, and what do you think the next thing Peter is going to hear? A rooster crow!
1. In Luke 22:60 we are told that while Peter was still speaking, as the words of denial were coming from his lips, the rooster crowed! It was then he realized that he failed. He was not strong enough. Peter was truly broken at this point. Again, in Luke 22, this time in verse 61, right after the rooster crowed, we read "And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times. So Peter went out and wept bitterly." Luke 22:61-62.
Understand the events that are leading up to this. Jesus was spit upon, blindfolded, beaten with their fists, and mocked. And as the rooster crows, the blindfold is removed from Jesus just in time to look up and see Peter, the eyes of Jesus met the eyes of Peter, and it was just too much for him, and Peter went out weeping bitterly. He saw the Lord beaten and bloody, and he could not even stand for Him, to admit that he was a follower of Jesus, and it broke his heart.
2. In saying that, what kind of look do you think Jesus gave to Peter? Was it a look of anger at Peters failure? I dont think so! Was it a look of disgust at his inability to speak the truth? I dont think so! Was it a look of disappointment in that he could not even admit he knew Jesus? I dont think so! I think it was a look of love that pierced the heart of Peter. The Lord knew Peter would fail, it was not a surprise to Him, and thus, I see Jesus reaching out to Peter in love, Agape love, unconditional love to a man who was now truly broken. Peter realized he couldnt do it on his own, by his own strength, and thus, he was at the place the Lord wanted him to be, dependance upon Him!
3. And Jesus will not leave Peter in this broken condition. On resurrection morning an angel tells the women at the tomb "But go, tell His disciples-- and Peter-- that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you." Mark 16:7. And publicly Jesus restored Peter also. He said "So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him, Yes, Lord; You know that I love You. He said to him, Feed My lambs. He said to him again a second time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? He said to Him, Yes, Lord; You know that I love You. He said to him, Tend My sheep. He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You. Jesus said to him, Feed My sheep." John 21:15-17.
Jesus asked Peter "Do you Agape Me?" It is a unconditional love, and Peter in his weakness, said, "Lord, I Phileo you!" It speaks of a brotherly love. And finally, the Lord asked Peter "Do you Phileo Me?" And Peter said, "You know Lord that I Phileo you, that is all I can do!" And God tells Peter to Feed, tend and feed the Lords sheep.
The point being made is the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. He will bring us to the place where we will see we cant do it on our own, and then He can work in us, for it wont be by our power or might, but by His Spirit. As Paul said "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13. You see, you dont have the strength to walk with God without His help. Look to Him to be the strength of your life. Look to the Rock that is higher than you!
4. As we conclude Mark chapter 14 this evening, just a couple of things to think about that we saw in Peters life that lead to his fall, his failure.
A. PETER WAS SELF CONFIDENT.
B. PETER WAS SLEEPING WHEN HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN PRAYING.
C. PETER WAS WILLING TO FOLLOW JESUS AT A DISTANCE.
D. PETER TRIED TO FIT INTO THE WORLD BY PUTTING OUT HIS LIGHT AND WARMING HIMSELF BY THE WORLDS FIRE.
E. PETER WAS LIVING A LIE BEFORE THEM, THEY WANTED THE TRUTH, HE GAVE THEM LIES. THAT IS HYPOCRISY!
5. Lessons to learn from so we dont travel down the same path! God has warned us, may we listen!