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NEVER SAY NEVER!
Intro: Did you know that it is possible to find hypocrisy in any forest? In any great forest you will find many huge trees. They tower above the other trees and they appear to be the very picture of strength and maturity. Still, experienced loggers sometimes will not even bother to cut down these huge trees. To look at them, you would think this makes no sense. After all, the big tree must have two or three times the wood of the smaller trees around it.
The reason is simple. Huge trees are often rotten on the inside. They are the hollow trees that raccoons live in. They are the trees that are often blown over in a strong windstorm because, while they appear to be the picture of strength, their hollowness makes them very weak.
There is an old saying that goes like this: “The bigger they are, the harder they fall. That truth applies to trees and it applies to Christians too!
A lot of us are like those big trees in the forest. We like to think that we have made great strides in our walk of faith. We would not want to admit it, but we often judge others by measuring their lives against the life we live.
You know it’s true! We look at others and we see the things they do, the places they go and we hear the things they say. We look at them and we say, “I would never do that!
Yes, we would not own up to it, but we think there is something special about us. We often act as if we really believe that we are the true standard of faith.
The problem with most of us, however, is this: we, like the trees I mentioned before, are rotten on the inside! We are just not what we think we are. We don’t live the kind of lives we like to think we do. In truth, we spend our days deceiving ourselves and trying to deceive those around us.
In this passage Jesus deals with some men who saw themselves as big trees in the Christian forest. If you had asked any of them, they would have told you that they were sold out for Jesus. They would remind you how they had left everything to follow Him. They would tell you, as they are about to tell Jesus, that they would never fail Him or forsake Him. Jesus, on the other hand, is about to reveal to them the truth about themselves and their fickle hearts.
The verses before us today give us a small taste of the conversation Jesus had with His men as they walked from Jerusalem, down through the Kidron Valley, on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was during this conversation that Jesus revealed to His men that they would all forsake Him before the night was over. It was also during this conversation that His men made their adamant declarations that they would never do something like that.
If you had come to any of these men and asked them, “Do you think you will ever fail the Lord? They would have looked at you and said, Never!” They were about to learn the truth that “never wasnt as long as they thought it was!
These verses remind us that self-righteousness, hypocrisy and spiritual failure are a possibility for any of us. These verses teach us that we should live every day with an honest understanding of our true spiritual condition. These verses teach us that we should “Never Say Never. Notice the truths contained in this text that showcase the dangers of thinking we have arrived.
I. v. 27 SOME PROPHESIES
(Ill. As I said earlier, Jesus and His disciples are on the way to Gethsemane. When they arrive there, Jesus will pray the great prayer of John 17. Later, He will be arrested and carried away for trial by His enemies.
On the way to Gethsemane, Jesus has some things to say to His men that they need to hear. We also need to hear what Jesus had to say to His men that night.)
A. A Prophecy Of A Fall Jesus says, All ye shall be offended because of me this night... The word offended means to make to stumble, or fall away. Jesus is clearly telling His men that they will stumble and fall, because of Him, that very night.
We get our modern word “scandal from the word translated offended. The Lords disciples would be scandalized by the things that would happen to Jesus that night. Like all Jews, they were offended by the thought of anyone dying on a cross, much less, anyone they knew and were associated with, 1 Cor. 1:23.
The events of that night would cause them rethink their association with Jesus and their allegiance to Him. Before the night ended, every one of His disciples would abandon Jesus out of fear for their own lives, Mark 14:50.
B. A Prophecy Of A Fulfillment Jesus tells them that their failure would be the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy, Zech. 13:7. Just as the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot had been a part of the divinely ordained plan, so would be their abandonment of the Lord.
Jesus was their Shepherd. When He was taken away from them, they quickly lost their way. They wandered from the path of closeness and they strayed farther than they ever thought possible.
(Note: This verse showcases the Lord omniscience. We serve a Savior Who knows all things. The disciples surely thought that they were close to the Lord and secure from failing Him. His words were designed to show them that He knew them far better than they knew themselves!
The same is true with us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we are capable of. He knows the depths of the sin that resides within our hearts.
We deceive ourselves into thinking that because we are saved, we have reached a place where we are no longer tempted to fail. We seem to think that others may fail, but we never will.
The truth is, it’s just the grace of God that we are not out of God’s will and out of church today! It’s just the grace of God that keeps us in His will from moment to moment!
Don’t miss this! God knows you better than you know yourself! He knows the problems you have with the flesh. He knows the potential you have to sin, He knows the pull of temptation and evil. He knows the full possibilities of sin in your life.)
I. Some Prophesies
II. v. 28 SOME PROMISES
(Ill. On the heels of His shocking prophecy, the Lord gives His men some precious promises. When Jesus told them they would forsake Him, they were shaken to the core. They were upset and they needed something to bring peace to their hearts. What He said to them next spoke peace to their troubled hearts. His words still bring peace today!)
A. A Promise Of Resurrection After I am risen Jesus has just told His men that He is going to die for their sins, vv. 22-25. His body is about to be broken and His blood is about to be shed. Jesus is on His way to the cross to give His life a ransom for many, Mark 10:45. Surely, they are startled to hear that Jesus will die, but they are comforted by the promise that He will rise from the dead.
The cross was not our Lord’s final stop! He would die on that cross, pay for sin and satisfy all the righteous demands of God toward sin. He would give His life, the innocent for the guilty, so that lost sinners would have the opportunity to be saved by God’s grace, 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:18.
His body would be taken down from the cross and buried in a borrowed tomb. His body would lie in that ground for three days, and then He would rise from the dead, and walk out of that grave in victory. His resurrection is of supreme importance, Rom. 4:25; Ill. 1 Cor. 15:12-20! (Ill. This is a promise that gives hope for today, for tomorrow and for all eternity!)
B. A Promise Of Restoration I will go before you into Galilee Jesus has just told them that they are going to forsake Him. He has told them that they will be scandalized by Him and they will leave Him, even falling away from Him for a time.
However, His words here promise them restoration and forgiveness on the other side of failure. These men would fail God and they would fail Him in a big way. Peter would deny Him, but all would forsake Him. Yet, Jesus would restore them, and use them to literally turn “the world upside down for the glory of God, Acts 17:6.
I can’t speak for you, I can only tell you how I feel. I do not want to fail my Savior! He died for me and He saved me when I called on Him by faith. He has blessed me, used me and done more for me that I will ever understand. His grace has been sufficient for every valley. His love has never wavered. His Word has always proven itself to be true. He has given me everything and I owe Him absolute love and devotion in return. I do not want to fail Him!
But, I know that I have failed Him and that I know that I will fail Him in the future. When I do, He convicts be of my sin. He chastens me, because He loves me and desires to draw me back to Him. When I repent of my sins and return to Him, He responds in complete forgiveness and restoration, 1 John 1:9. I will have to face the consequences of my actions, Gal. 6:7, but God offers complete forgiveness to those who will come back to Him! (Ill. Jer. 33:8; Eze. 36:25; 37:23.) Thank God for restoration and forgiveness!
I. Some Prophesies
II. Some Promises
III. v. 29-31 SOME
A. v. 29 A Denial When Peter hears the Lords prophecy, he responds with a clear denial of the Lords words. Peter say, These other fellows might fall away, but I never will! You can’t trust them, but you can trust me Lord. I will never fail you. Lord, You can depend on me! Others might leave you, but I will always be there! Peter probably believed every word he spoke that night! He had no intention of failing the Lord. He did not leave his old life to fail; he left his old life to succeed in the service of the Lord Jesus.
B. v. 30 A Declaration When Jesus hears what Peter has to say, He gets real personal with Peter. The Lord tells him that before the sun comes up in the morning, Peter will deny Him three times. As we will see in a few weeks, that is exactly what happened, vv. 66-72.
C. v. 31 A Debate Peters response is typical Simon Peter. He refuses to listen to what the Lord is saying and he reaffirms his promise to stand with the Lord.
This time, Peter states that he is even willing to die for the Lord if it comes to that. We are told that he makes this assertion “more vehemently. The phrase means out of measure. I get the picture that Peters voice is raised, his eyes are bulging, his jaw is set and he is doing everything he can to make his point. The other disciples join in with Peter and they all voice their determination to stand with the Lord come what may!
After this night, they would all back away from their commitment to Jesus to a certain degree. Some would briefly abandon His call on their lives and try to return to their old life as fishermen, John 21:3. Regardless of what they believed in their hearts, they would fail Him because they refused to heed His warnings and deal honestly with their flesh.
(Note: These men would all abandon the Lord, v. 50. They would forsake Him. Only two, Peter and John, would be there for some of His trials and for His crucifixion, and one of these would conceal his identity out of fear. The rest would be in hiding until after His resurrection.
Why did their walk with the Lord turn out this way? Why did over three years of intimate communion with Jesus end with them abandoning Him? Why did they run away in fear that night?
I think the reasons they failed Him lie behind all of our failures as well. Let me suggest a few reasons why I think these men failed. As I mention these things, take a moment to look into your own heart. It may be that some of these things have taken root in you.
· Pride They never thought they could fail! They believed that they were above all of that. Ill. Pro. 16:18; Pro. 28:14; Rom. 11:20. The fact is, the best among us is only one heartbeat away from denying the Lord; only one step away from the far country.
· Self-Deception The disciples had convinced themselves that they loved Jesus more than anything in life. They were about to find out that they still loved themselves more than they loved Him. (Ill. Gal. 6:3) You are capable of anything! Never let yourself believe that you are not. (Ill. Paul – Rom. 7:14-25)
· Fear These men were confident that they would go with Jesus even to the death. They were about to be brought face to face with the power of fear.
Fear has caused many of God’s children to back away from their testimony. Fear has caused many to be silent when they should have spoken up. Fear has caused some fall in with the crowd instead of taking their stand with the Lord. Fear has magnified the power of Satan and minimized the power of Almighty God. Never underestimate the power of fear.
(Ill. Fear is a great motivator. However, we should not fear people, Satan, or demons. We should fear God alone, Matt. 10:28; Eccl. 12:13; Heb. 12:28-29. The reason many people live like they do is because they do not fear God, Rom. 3:18.)
· Ignorance The disciples were ignorant of the power of Satan and of their own weakness. Satan was behind this failure, Luke 22:31-34. They thought they could stand in their own power. Such self-confidence is deadly, 1 Cor. 10:12. We can stand in the evil day, but we must stand in Him, Eph. 6:10-13.
Conc: Never say never! There are people in this room who never thought they would be living the life they are living today. When you were saved, you promised the Lord that you would live for Him and that you would be faithful to Him, His house and His Word.
Now, you have little more than a passing acquaintance with the things of God. You don’t pray, you don’t read your Bible, you don’t live for Jesus like you used to, you don’t come to church like you know you should. Sunday School, Wednesday evening and Sunday Night are almost things of the past in your life. You never thought it would happen, but it has. You are doing things, and allowing things in your life, that would have been off limits before.
What should you do? Exactly what Jesus told the church at Ephesus to do when they failed Him, Rev. 2:1-7. You need to come home. You need to confess your failures. You need to repent of sin. You need to renew your vows and commitments to the Lord; you need to get right with God. Come home!
Others have been flirting with things that you know are dangerous. You are headed for trouble! You need to come back to the Father today and ask Him to help you stay close and clean. Come home!
Others have witnessed the falls and failures of believers around them and have said, “I will never do that,” as you looked down your nose at them. Be careful! If you have that attitude, you need to get to God and repent of that sin! If you hold someone’s past over their head, just because they did something you haven’t done yet, you need to get that right with God! It might be you tomorrow, Gal. 6:1-2.
Still others have never been saved. The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross to make a way of salvation for whosoever will. If you will come to Him today, He will save you and cleanse you from all your sins.
Has the Lord spoken to your heart today? If He has, please come to Him right now. Trust Him and let Him do His work in your heart and life. Will you come as He calls?