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Mark 14:54; 66-72
THE FALL AND FORGIVENESS
OF A SINNING SAINT
Intro: Our study of Mark's Gospel has brought us to one of the saddest and most tragic passages in the Bible. Every time I read this story, I am reminded of how fast and how far a saint of God can fall. Yet, in this tragic account of Simon Peter's fall, I find a message of hope and encouragement. That may sound strange, but there is a great blessing in this text if we will allow God to show it to us.
Every time I have ever preached this story, or heard it preached, the emphasis has always been the old Simon's failure. Today, I want to consider these events from a very different perspective. I want us to look at this story through the lens of God's forgiveness.
Peter failed God, and he failed God in a big way, we all know that. I do not believe that any other saint of God in the Bible ever sinned as deeply, or fell as hard as Simon Peter did on this occasion. Even David with his adultery, his murder, and his lies, did not fail God as bad as Simon Peter did. Peter’s sin, to my mind, even eclipses the sins committed by Judas Iscariot. The reason I say that is because Judas was a lost man sinning against the Lord. Peter was a saved man, and the sin of a saved man is far worse than the sin of a lost men!
I said there was hope in this passage, and there is! Peter’s story does not end with him failing God. Even though Peter failed God in a big way, he was forgiven, he was restored, and he was used by God in a mighty way. So, while Peter’s story does deal with a despicable and heinous sin, it also showcases the grace and forgiveness of Almighty God. Today, we will consider both the negative and the positive aspects of Peter story. We will look at his fall and why it happened, then we will consider God's forgiveness and restoration.
Peter’s story is important to us, because we all find ourselves in the place of failure from time to time. When we do, it is a comfort to know that our heavenly Father is a God of boundless love, unending mercy, and absolute forgiveness. It is a blessing to know that, just because we are down, does not mean we are out. Just the fact that we have failed the Lord and sinned against Him, does not mean that we are doomed to end our lives in that condition. I want you to know that there is hope for the sinning saint of God.
I pray the Lord will speak to our hearts to challenge us, to warn us and to encourage us for His glory. If you are in trouble, I want you to see that there is a way out. If you are headed for trouble, I want you to be able to recognize the warning signs. If you have ever been restored, I want to remind you of God’s great grace in your life.
I want to preach about The Fall And Forgiveness Of A Sinning Saint. Let’s consider the aspects of Peter’s fall and forgiveness together today.
I. PETER AND HIS REJECTION
· It might be helpful at this point if we set the scene. Jesus has just been arrested by the Jewish leaders. They were aided in His arrest by Roman soldiers. Jesus has been taken to the palace of the High Priest, where He endured a sham trial, in which the Jewish leadership did everything it could to guarantee that He received a guilty verdict and a death sentence.
When Jesus is arrested, everyone of His disciples run away in fear for their lives, v. 50. Two of them, Peter and another whom many believe to be John, follow the mob as they take Jesus to stand trial.
When these two disciples arrive at the palace of the High Priest, John, who is known to the High Priest is allowed to enter the palace with the Lord Jesus, John 18:15. John goes back out and speaks to the girl who is watching the door and convinces her to allow Peter in as well, John 18:15.
At this point, John disappears from the narrative and Peter becomes the focus of the story. By the way, it was his admission into the courtyard of the High Priest’s palace that was the beginning of Peter’s problems that night. John was an unwitting contributor to Peter’s fall.
· This brings us up to where our text begins today. As Peter sits at a fire in the courtyard warming himself, v. 54, he approached by a woman. John 18:17 tells us that it was the same woman who kept the door. She comes up to Peter and she identifies him as one of the Lord’s disciples, v. 67.
You can imagine that she did not walk up to him and whisper her accusation to Peter. She said what she said in a voice that everyone who was nearby could have heard.
· When Peter hears her words, he immediately denies any connection to the Lord Jesus. He gives this loud denial saying, “What? I don’t know what you are talking about! You’re crazy! Then he walks away, v. 68.
As soon as Peter makes this first denial, the sound of a rooster crowing can be heard in the courtyard, v. 68. That rooster was a warning to Peter.
Jesus had told him very clearly that before the rooster could crow twice, Peter would deny his Lord three times, v. 30. When Peter heard that rooster crowing, he should have walked out of that courtyard. He should have removed himself from danger.
At this point, Peter was not thinking about roosters, he was just trying to deflect attention from himself. I can imagine him standing around trying to look nonchalant; just trying not to draw attention to himself.
· Peter’s attempt to hide himself failed. No sooner does he walk away than another girl sees him and yells, “This is one of them!, v. 69. Again, she says it loud enough to draw the attention of everyone within earshot, Matt. 26:71.
Peter denies any ties to Jesus for the second time. According to Matthew 26:72, this time Peter denied the Lord with an “oath. This means that Peter swore before God that he did not know Jesus. He may have said something like this: I swear before God that I do not know Jesus of Nazareth! I do not know this man! What a tragedy! This time Peter did not just lie, he told a double lie. He lied when he said that he did not know Jesus and he lied when he swore that he wasnt lying!
According to Luke, when Peter was confronted by the second maid, a man also approached him and identified him as one of the Lord’s disciples, Luke 22:58. So, the heat is on! Peter has been recognized. The people in the courtyard are on to him now. His secret is out. His identity has been revealed.
Peter is angry, confused, frustrated and embarrassed. More than anything, he is afraid. He knows that his life is on the line.
· Peter is left alone for a while. Luke 22:59 tells us that an hour passes. By this time, surely Peter has started to relax. He may think the people gathered there have forgotten about him. He could not have been more wrong.
· Peter is approached for the third time. He is accused of being one of the Lord’s disciples again, v. 70. Peter’s accent has identified him as being from Galilee, the place where every one of the Lord’s disciples but Judas called home.
· Apparently, this group was led by a relative of a man named Malchus. He was the man who’s ear Peter cut off when Jesus was arrested. This relative leads the delegation that approaches Peter with this third accusation, John 18:26. They might have said, “Hey, I know you! You’re the man who attacked Malchus!
If you are from the south, you know how that is. You can go out west or up north and simply speak to someone and they immediately want to know where you come from. Your accent gives you away!
When Peter hears this accusation, he loses all hold on himself. Peter begins to “curse and to swear, v. 71. This does not mean that Peter was using vile, vulgar, gutter language. It does not mean that Peter was talking like so many people who live around us. It does not mean that Peter grew a “potty mouth.” It does not mean that Peter began to use slang words.
What Peter did was far worse than using a little bad language. What Peter did was far worse than saying a vulgar slang word or two. What Peter did was to take the name of the Lord in vain in the most serious way imaginable.
When the Bible says that Peter began “to curse and swear. It means that he invoked God as the ultimate witness to his denials of knowing Jesus. Peter may have said something like this: May God Almighty damn me to Hell if I am lying! If what I am saying to you is a lie, may God Himself take my life right now.
· Peter is on dangerous ground. He has fallen fast and he has fallen far. He has come to a place where he has no fear of God. First Peter lies. Then he tells a double lie to cover up the first lie. Then he tries to prove his lies by taking God’s name in vain. It is just the grace of God that Peter was not struck down by the Lord where he stood that night.
I. Peter And His Rejection
II. PETER AND HIS REASONS
· Peter would have never believed that he could have done what he did. Jesus tried to tell him, but he refused to believe the Lord. Peter fell and he fell fast!
Yet, there he stands! This man who was the leader of the disciples. This man who swore that he would die for Jesus before he would deny Him, v. 31. This man who had tried to defend Jesus with his sword just a short time before, v. 47. There stands the same Peter calling down curses upon himself and swearing before God that he knows nothing about Jesus Christ. The text suggests that he kept on cursing and swearing.
· Peter would never have believed that this could happen to him. He would never have believed that he could come to such a place in his life. What happened to bring him to this place? That is what I want to investigate for a few moments.
· There are some clear signs that show us that he was headed for trouble in his spiritual life. These signs can also reveal the presence of spiritual problems in our own lives.
· Here are few of the signs that should have served as a warning to Peter.
Ψ Self-confidence After Jesus and His disciples finished the Passover meal earlier in the evening, Jesus told His men that they would all forsake Him that very night, v. 27. Peter spoke up and told Jesus that the rest of them might leave, but he never would, v. 28. Peter believed that he had reached a place in his spiritual life where failure was an impossibility! That is a dangerous place to be.
I would just remind you that the Bible warns us again and again about thinking we have reached a place where we are immune to failure. (Ill. Pro. 16:18; Pro. 29:23; 1 Cor. 10:12)
Never think that what happened to Peter can’t happen to you. You might not can conceive of any circumstances where you would deny the Lord, but neither could Peter. The fact is, you are as prone to sin as anyone. You are one thought, one act, one word from being right where Peter was. It is the grace of God alone that we haven’t failed like Peter and others.
By the way that is why we need to be very careful about how we judge the things other do. We need to learn to extend love, grace and forgiveness instead of judgment.
Ψ Defiance Even though Peter was told very clearly by the Lord what would happen, Peter rejected the Word of the Lord, v. 31. Even though Jesus quoted Old Testament prophecy, Zech. 13:7, to prove that what He was saying was going to happen, Peter denied it. He was defiant in that he stood in open opposition to the clear Word of God.
Verse 31 says that Peter “spake the more vehemently. This means that he got in the face of Jesus, and in no uncertain terms, told Him that what Jesus was saying would never happen! It was like picking up a Bible and saying, I don’t care what this book says, it will never happen to me!
Another sign that a believer is headed for trouble is when they refuse to listen to the Word of God. You can do as you please, but the Word of God will always be right! If you want to be right, line up with the Book. If you want to fall into trouble, stand in defiance to this Bible. Any believer is in trouble when they refuse to obey the Word of God!
Ψ Prayerlessness and Indifference In verses 33-38, Jesus went to pray and told His disciples to pray with Him. They were indifferent to the needs of the moment and instead of praying they fell asleep. They fell asleep not one time, but three times! They showed a callous indifference to the warnings of the Lord. They refused to pray and seek God, which would have served them well when the attacks of the devil and the flesh came.
Friend, you are headed to trouble when you allow your prayer life to die. When you stop seeking God’s face and show clear indifference to His will and His Word, you are headed for failure in your spiritual life. When the inner man is allowed to become indifferent and prayerless, the inner man is beginning to crumble. Beware when your prayer life starts to suffer!
Ψ Impulsiveness Jesus told His men that He was going to be arrested and that it is the will of God that this happen. When it does, Peter reacts impulsively and strikes out with his sword, cutting off the ear of a man named Malchus, v. 47.
Peter was operating outside the revealed will of God. He was doing what he thought was right with no thought for what God was doing around him. Peter was out of sync with God and with God’s plan for the Lord Jesus. Jesus did not need Peter to defend Him. He could have summoned a limitless number of angels to protect Him. He could have defended Himself. He had just spoken and a thousand men had fallen to the ground, John 18:4. His arrest, His trial and His death were part of God’s perfect will for His Darling Son. Peter refused to accept it that attitude contributed to his fall.
We are headed for a fall when we walk impulsively. When we take no thought for the will of God, we are headed for trouble! When we take no thought for what God is doing around us, we are headed for trouble. When we walk like we want to, we are headed for trouble. When we do the things we want to do, we are out of sync with God’s plan, and we are headed for trouble. We are not walking with Him and when we are not walking with Go, we are headed for trouble.
We need to be deliberate and prayerful as we walk through this life. Impulsiveness says, “I can do this on my own. I don’t need your help Lord. Prayerfulness says, Lord, I need Your help to find Your way through this life. The latter attitude leads to blessing, the former to failure.
Ψ Following, but afar off We must give Peter credit. His love for Jesus refused to allow him to stay away. He followed the Lord, but we are told that he followed afar off, v. 54. The physical distance between Peter and Jesus was a picture of the moral distance that was opening up between them. When Peter was near Jesus, he was filled with confidence and faith. When he was separated from Jesus, he was filled with fear and doubt.
The same is true for us. The Lord’s will is that His children walk as close to Him as possible. When we are close to Him, we will live clean, holy lives. We are given faith, power and love. We have the faith to stand for Jesus, the power to work for Jesus, and the love of Christ that will lead us to serve Him and the world around us for His glory.
When we walk afar off, we do not serve Him, love Him and obey Him as we should. When our love for Him and our desire to be close to Him fades, we are headed for a fall. Many in this very room are following Jesus, but you are following Him afar off. Get back to Him today, before you fall into deeper sin!
Ψ Bad Company While Jesus was being tried, spit upon, and beaten, the chief of His disciples was warming himself at the enemies fire. Peters downfall was accelerated because he found himself in the company of people who had no love for Jesus.
When we surround ourselves with people who do not honor the Lord, we are headed for trouble. When you find yourself spending more time with lost people than you do with the Lord’s people, you are headed for a fall. The company you keep reveals where your heart is.
Wrong company will result in wrong living, wrong loving and brutal falls. 1 Cor. 15:33, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 1 Cor. 5:6, “...Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Pro. 13:2, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
· I challenge every believer in this room to examine your life in light of Peter’s experience. He failed because he allowed these things to live in his life. The same does not have to be true in your life! It’s time to make a change if you have identified any problem areas.
I. Peter And His Rejection
II. Peter And His Reasons
III. PETER AND HIS REMORSE
· Peter denies the Lord three times. As soon as he does, a rooster crows for the second time, just like Jesus said it would, v. 72. When this happens, Peter instantly realizes what he has done.
According to Luke 22:61, when Peter denied Jesus this last time, the Lord Himself turned and looked at Peter. When their eyes met, Peter remembered the Lord’s words. He remembered that Jesus had told him he would do what he had just done.
Do you think the Lord’s eyes were filled with anger and hate? Do you think the Lord looked at Peter with a look of judgment? I am sure the Lord’s eyes were filled with hurt. But, I am just as sure that the Savior’s eyes were filled with love, grace, forgiveness and compassion. I think that look said, “Peter, I tried to warn you, but you wouldn’t listen. You denied me, but I still love you. You denied me, but I will never deny you.
· When Peter saw those eyes, the Lord’s words came back to mind. When Peter remembered, he ran from the courtyard and “he wept. We are not allowed to watch Peter as he weeps his way back to the Lord. This is a time of private repentance and it is none of our business. The phrase he wept literally means that he broke down. He lost all control of his emotions. He was a broken man and he fell before the Lord in tearful, sincere repentance!
· What does this say to us? It simply reminds us that the Lord sees us in our waywardness too. He sees the sins we tolerate in our lives. He sees the evil attractions we follow after. He knows all about the forbidden friendships we keep. He looks upon everything we do. He hates the sins that drag us away from Him, but He loves us in spite of our sins and He calls us to come back to Him with a broken, repentant heart.
If we will come to Him confessing our sins, He will forgive us. That is His promise, 1 John 1:9. If we refuse to come back, He will have no choice but to send chastisement into our lives in an effort to bring us home, Heb. 12:6-12. If we repent, we will be blessed, if we refuse, there will be a higher price to pay, 1 John 5:16.
I. Peter And His Rejection
II. Peter And His Reasons
III. Peter And His Remorse
IV. PETER AND HIS RESTORATION
· Here is where this story begins to be a blessing. There is no question that Peter failed the Lord in a huge way. There is no question that the fall was his fault. There is no question that Peter was way out of God’s will. But, there is no question that when he truly repented, Peter was forgiven and restored. The facts prove this to be true.
After Jesus rose from the dead, the angel who came to the tomb said this: Mark 16:7, “But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
A few days later, Jesus met Peter by the Sea of Galilee, John 21:15-17. While they are there, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him. Three times Peter affirms his love for the Lord and Jesus promises to use Peter. This promise is fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when Peter is filled with the Holy Ghost, and when he preaches the Gospel, three thousand souls are saved. Then, all the way to the twelfth chapter of Acts, Peter is the dominate figure in the early church. Yes, Peter failed God, but he repented and he was forgiven and restored by the very God he denied.
· What the Lord did for Peter, He has done for many in this room. There are people sitting here who have walked away from the Lord, denying Him by the words they spoke and the lives they lived. But, some of those people have come back to Him. When they did, they were forgiven and they were restored and God is using them again for His glory.
Now, some of the people around them haven’t forgiven them or forgotten what they did. But, the Lord has and that is all that really matters. Those who refuse to forgive the failures of others are walking in pride themselves, and they too are headed for a fall, Gal. 6:1-2.
· If you have wandered away from God, you can come home. If you will, the Lord will receive you and He will forgive you. He will do more than that, He will restore you and He will use you again for His glory. If you are not where you need to be, or if your relationship with Jesus is not as close as it used to be or should been, come home today! Don’t delay, get to Jesus!
Conc: This time in Peter’s life was a time of extreme embarrassment and spiritual pain. Did Peter take anything away from this time of failure? Did Peter really learn any lasting spiritual lessons? I think he did.
If you will read the books of First and Second Peter, you will see that Peter addresses some of the problems that led to his own failure.
· He Writes About Pride: 1 Pet. 5:5-6
· He Writes About Disobedience: 1 Pet. 1:2; 3:1; 4:17
· He Writes About Prayerlessness: 1 Pet. 4:7
· He Writes About Compromise: 1 Pet. 3:15; 2 Pet. 3:17
· He Writes About Diligence 1 Pet. 5:8; 2 Pet. 1:10
Peter learned his lesson and he repented and he was restored. The question is, have you learned your lesson? Are you ready to come home? Aren’t you tired of wandering around out there in sin? Come home child of God, come home!
Can you see the danger signs in your life today? The fact is, some of you are headed for trouble and you don’t seem to realize the danger you are in today.
Listen to Luke 22:61 again, “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. If the Lord could see Peter, then Peter could see the Lord! Get this in your mind. Peter could see them as they spit in the face of Jesus. He could see them hitting Him, mocking Him and abusing Him. Peter could see the Lord! He was that close and he still fell.
You are not that close to Jesus today. What makes you think you are immune to failure? Turn around and make whatever changes you need to make. Get away from the danger before you wind up in serious trouble
Have you been restored by the Lord? Have you thanked Him lately for His love, His grace and His forgiveness? Today would be a good day to do that.
Are you saved? If not, you can be. Come to Jesus now, if He is calling you.