Sunday April 27, 2014 | Jeremy Jernigan
31 “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 33 And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”
54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. 55 When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56 Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, “Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
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.
“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.