Study Guide: Giving Up Good Intentions

Sunday April 27, 2014 | Jeremy Jernigan

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Have you ever noticed that we tend to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions? In this sermon, Jeremy Jernigan shows us the story of Simon Peter, and how our faith can be get stuck when we think about our past failures and that faith happens in the disappointment of failure.

Extended Summary:

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” This is a common saying in our culture, and it means that even if we have good intentions that they can lead us down a bad road. The passage of Luke 22 shows Simon Peter, one of the strongest men of faith and intentions, at his worst. Peter had every intention of following Jesus and yet we find him denying Jesus three times. And, if we’re honest with ourselves, we know we’ve been transformed by Christ but still do some of the “old us” things in our lives.

Peter’s intentions were to follow Jesus to prison and to death. And those were really his intentions—we have no reason to doubt that Peter was sincere in his promise to Jesus. But Peter had no idea what was coming, and Jesus told Peter that after he turned back to strengthen his brothers. Jesus knew what was coming because Jesus understood humans and understood Peter.

After Jesus was taken, Peter denies Jesus 3 times. Peter, who had promised to follow Jesus to prison and death, was now too scared to even tell a little girl that he followed Jesus. The guy that walked on water is now afraid. When Peter was at his best, his intentions were good enough. But when he became vulnerable, his intentions were tested. And when he failed the test in that moment and made eye contact with Jesus, Peter was overwhelmed with shame and self-disgust. He left and wept bitterly.

But Jesus wasn’t concerned with Peter denying him. He was concerned that Peter would lose his faith as a result of denying him. Jesus was worried that Peter would beat himself up so much that he would lose his relationship and faith with Jesus. Because Jesus knows that failure is impossible when you keep the faith with him, and our faith has not failed until we abandon it.

The Bible has a parallel between Judas and Peter. Both of them failed Jesus. Yet, Peter kept his faith in the process. Peter’s faith wasn’t defined by his failure in that moment. However, Judas was defined by his loss of faith. By keeping his faith intact in spite of failure, Peter remains and begins to build Jesus’ Kingdom.

Peter gets restored and goes on to be the forefront of the birth of the Christian Church and that makes it difficult to define him as a failure. Just like Peter, don’t get stuck in your disappointment. If you’ve done something you’re ashamed of, accept the forgiveness and love that God offers you and leave your shame behind. If you’re disappointed with something God did or didn’t do, confess this to God and ask him to give you the strength to trust in Him moving forward. Satan would like nothing better than to keep you grounded in the past and away from the future God has for you. Faith happens in the disappointment of failure.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. In what ways has your past made you feel like a failure?
  3. Have you ever felt like your faith wasn’t good enough after that failure? Why or why not?
  4. How does knowing Peter failed and was forgiven help you forgive yourself?
  5. Who in your life might need forgiveness from you? Who do you need to forgive in your life?