Matthew 26:31-35 New King James Version (NKJV)
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
31 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”
33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”
34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
And so said all the disciples.
Life is good! But we may face a few failures.
--They had them in the Bible. We do. Peter did.
--Friend, thank God, failure is not final.
God is the only One who does not fail.
--Moses, under God, delivered Israel from slavery, out of Egypt, across the Red Sea on dry land. God did!
--Molding a new nation 40 years in the desert, supplying food, water. Shoes, clothes did not wear out!
--He said, "there failed not any good thing" God promised, "The Lord, He will not fail you, nor forsake" I read in Deuteronomy 31:1-6 KJV. God fails not!
After a holy life, a cross, some felt Jesus failed.
--In the tomb three days, all looked so dark.
--Ah! But Easter morn, Jesus arose, victorious!
--He had defeated the devil, death, and failure!
--In His resurrection power, we too may conquer these!
Maybe you've had a few setbacks, as I, and God brought us through .. so we may give Him praise.
--I met Mark Thallender recently, heard him play an organ in church with only one hand, as if he had two!
--His car hydroplaned in a storm, taking his left arm.
--He was organist 18 years at famed Crystal Cathedral.
--For a musician, what could be worse than lose an arm?
--But Mark Thallender had the Lord! Praying friends!
--Taught himself to use both feet for a missing arm.
--In the Lord, failure does not have to be final!
Some difficulties we cannot avoid. No fault of ours.
--But Peter had some of his own making! Was warned!
--He was a likeable fisherman, called to follow Jesus.
--Peter had a lot of good qualities. Needed more.
--He was first to know Jesus was the promised Messiah.
--At the Last Supper Jesus warned, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times" (Mt. 26:34).
That should signal a warning. Peter paid no heed.
--So Peter failed. And bad. After all his good.
--With God, failure is not final!
--Jesus helps us win over sin! To get us up, if down.
--Everyone needs be "born again" by receiving Him.
How could Peter make such a mistake? Or any of us?
--What can we learn, to avoid them - so Peter's failures will not be ours? Let's study Matthew 26.
I. AVOID OVER-CONFIDENCE IN OUR OWN ABILITY.
--Faith or confidence is good. Over-confidence, bad.
--Peter the fisherman, now apostle, chosen by Jesus.
--Heard Jesus teach, preach, pray, work many miracles.
--For three and a half years, with the Lord.
--He heard Jesus, say, "One of you shall betray Me."
--Peter boasted to Jesus, "Though all men shall be offended of Thee, yet will I never be offended" (v 33).
--Peter was over-confident in the flesh. That's bad. Over-confidence in the flesh can fail us, friend.
--Jesus warns, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times" (v 34). Peter was well warned.
-Jesus' warning, like many today, was ignored.
--To leave God out, trust only in the flesh, can fail.
--Be it in sports. Our work. Family, or marriage.
II. CARELESS INDIFFERENCE CAN BE ANOTHER DOWNFALL.
--It is in Matthew 26:38f, Jesus is in Gethsemane.
--He asks Peter, James, John, "watch with me." Pray.
--Facing a cross, Jesus needed their prayer support.
--Soon to be betrayed. Denied. By His own followers.
--Soon to lay down His life, to save a sinful world.
--"Watch and pray with Me." But found them asleep.
After His praying, He found them asleep, three times.
--"Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch, pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (v 40,41). Indeed it is.
The Lord's Day we can put our own comfort before God.
--Skip church. Bible study. Prayer times. Miss out.
--Ask, "God, bless our plans," instead of, "Lord, plan our blessings." Or pray, for our will, not His.
III. FOLLOWING AFAR OFF IS ANOTHER THING TO WATCH.
--Look at verse 58, "Peter followed Him afar off."
--Judas had betrayed Jesus. Jesus taken for trials.
--Peter "followed afar off," to see what happened.
--Following "afar off" Peter's fall and failure grows.
--He's on a slippery slope. Wake up, Peter!
When we "follow afar off" our troubles can grow also.
--Friend, let's keep with the Lord. And God's people.
--Be often in His House. In His Word. In prayer.
--To encourage others, and be encouraged, of God.
--To be "transformed by the renewing of our mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2).
--Following the Lord Jesus, we will not go wrong.
IV. FOLLOWING AFAR OFF CAN LEAD TO THE WRONG CROWD.
--Look at Matthew 26:69f, where Peter is now with the wrong crowd - the Lord's enemies!
--With the ones who plotted and put Jesus to death.
--Peter, you are in the wrong crowd, my friend!
Jesus said, "be wise as serpents; harmless as doves."
--This requires the Holy Spirit be in control of us.
--Later, Peter wrote, "your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walks about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8). The devil was after him, now.
Friend, if one is weak in faith, follows afar off, it is so easy to get with the wrong crowd .. go astray.
--You get unable to say, "No thank you," to sin!
--We need to be "born again," get the Spirit within!
--Keep close to Christ! Not "follow afar off."
--Sin is always packaged so attractively. Avoid it!
--Follow Jesus. He invites us, "Follow Me."
V. NEXT, PETER LIES, AND DENIES THE LORD.
--Do you see this path he is on, in the wrong crowd is asked, "You were with Jesus of Galilee." He lies!
--"I do not know the Man (Jesus)" (v 72).
--Three times Peter lies .. and denies. As Jesus said!
--Then "began to curse and swear." "A rooster crowed."
--Failures! The wrong crowd or life-style can do it!
The first Apostle to say to Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God," had failed.
--It is easy to fail. But failure is not final.
--There is love .. forgiveness .. restoration in Jesus!
That's the kind of God I want, and want for you!
--A God of love .. of grace! Of second chance or more!
--Friend, do you have that God? None better, for us!
The wrong crowd. Lies. Denials. Huge failures!
--Uses foul language of curses not used since saved!
--How low would Peter go? How low some go, today?
Listen to Moses, "God will not fail or forsake you."
--Like the prodigal son, Peter came to himself.
--Made a wise step, out of failure, unto the Lord.
VI. CONTRITION AND CONFESSION BRINGS RESTORATION.
--"Peter remembered the word of Jesus .. went out, and wept bitterly" (Matthew 26:75). He repented.
--For the child of God, failure is not final!
Let's fast forward to John 21, The Crucified is risen!
--Makes many appearances to His own, before ascension.
--One is to disciples on the shore of Sea of Galilee.
--Peter and some had fished all night, caught nothing.
--Jesus called to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some" (John 21:6).
--In fact, a "multitude of fish." Then, "Come, dine."
--The sleepy, tired, hungry men invited to breakfast.
--Jesus, Who had served the Last Supper, served them!
--"Come and eat breakfast," Jesus invites.
After breakfast, Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love Me?"
--Three times, "Do you love Me? Really love Me?"
--He was leading Peter toward God's forgiveness.
--Helping Peter forget his failures, as not final with the Lord, when we genuinely repent and forsake them.
God can do that for us! He forgave Peter. Forgave me.
--And Jesus gave Peter a great ministry of evangelism.
--Peter wrote two Epistles in the New Testament!
--When we "remember the words of Jesus," and repent.
We all fail at times. We all need a Savior to forgive.
--Give us a new start. A new life. New power.
--Begin by being "born again" by receiving Jesus.
--Jesus can save anyone - even one who has failed.
Abraham Lincoln lost many elections, before president.
--His failures were not final. He freed the slaves!
--Thomas A. Edison gave us many inventions we enjoy.
--Had many failures before his successes.
--Who knows what God would have you do, with Him?
--And for Him. In Christ.
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 913