We can all too often identify with Christ's passionate but clumsy disciple Peter. Our mistakes, like his, can look like dramatic blowouts, but usually they stem from slow leaks in which we have gradually stopped walking with Christ. Listen to learn about a consistent and earnest walk.
Ten Questions Driving Home One Point
The Day Heaven and Hell Agreed
This Was No Blowout. This Was a Slow Leak.
Pure, Unadulterated Hell: Dealing with It in This Life & Avoiding It in the Next
A Tale of Three Sacrifices
Well, that is not a wakeup, for those of you who are still an hour behind. That is a sound that will forever be associated with the one who is the main subject of our time together this morning, the one who, if he was a Texas Ranger, when he came to bat this would be the song they'd play behind him. Clumsy.
His name is Peter, and a lot of us can relate to him. How would it be…you think about this…if every morning the very first sound you ever heard reminded you, reminded the church, reminded the world, and reminded all who would live in history after you of your greatest failure, your darkest moment, and your worst hour?
If you've been around the Bible even a little bit, every time you hear a rooster crow, you'd think of one guy, Peter, and every time that brother woke up, he was reminded of the very worst sound associated with the very worst moment of his life. There wasn't a day Peter lived that he wasn't confronted with that.
How would you like that? How would you like to be faithful or largely faithful for a long time, and then one night you make a bad decision? You have a few too many drinks. You jump in a car, and you get racing home, and you run through a red light, and there was the screeching of brakes and metal slamming against metal followed by sirens and wailing and a mother yelling in your face, "How could you do this to my child?" How'd you like to wake up to that sound every morning?
That's what happened to Peter. When you hear a cock crow, you think of that guy. How awful would it be for the first sounds the world hears every morning to remind them of your failure and to be reminded yourself of your failure? On the other hand, what I'm going to make a case for is that was an incredibly gracious thing for Peter to hear, and if it was possible for you to have a sound associated with your greatest failure, I would you encourage to buy a tape recorder, put that sound into it, and make it your alarm clock.
Why would I say that? Because of what we're going to look at this morning. Because that sound of our greatest failure or that sound of our darkest moment or that sound of our worst hour can also become a sign as a reminder of our great need for our great God, the one who has told us we can do nothing without him. That sound should remind us of what happens when we run away with our flesh and don't look to him in dependence and ultimately deliverance from where we will go if we are left to ourselves.
Peter, every time he heard a cock crow, goes, "Oh, yeah! That's what Simon does. That's how the guy who is left to his own devices will fail. Yeah, that sound reminds me of when I denied the one who loves me and the one I had said I would love with the strength of my flesh, but I couldn't do it, and I can't serve him again today, and I will fail him again today if I try to be faithful for him today in the way I tried to be faithful to him then on the top of a lot of ecstatic emotion and personal bravado. My flesh doesn't work, so today to not fail him I need to depend on him."
Now, this is a meaningful text. For one reason, it's a pet text. It's a favorite text of a guy who means a lot to me personally and has meant a lot to, frankly, anybody who has listened to much radio Bible teaching or has been influenced by very many men who graduated from 3909 Swiss Avenue, Dallas Theological Seminary.
There's a little guy down there people call Prof. His name is Howard Hendricks. Whenever Dr. Hendricks is asked to come speak, there are just a handful of messages he'll default to if they don't tell him what to teach on, and this is one he will consistently run to, because I am sure he is convinced in this little section of Mark 14 there are truths he knows we all need to be reminded of continually.
If you have your Bible, turn to Mark 14 with me. We're going to start back in verse 26, reminding ourselves in this section we just got through where Jesus was celebrating this new event Passover was to look to where his body was the one that was to be broken and his blood was the cup of the deliverance and renewal and thanksgiving bringing forth great fruit.
It says, "After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them…" *"Listen! I'm going to tell you guys something." *"'…it is written, "I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered" But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.' But Peter said to Him…"
This is one of Dr. Hendricks' favorite things to say about this. What he does when he does this passage is he makes a very quick point. He says, "The great thing about this section is it shows you that God wrote this book." How do you know that? The reason we know that is because men love to cover up failure. They love to whitewash sin, glance over it, and gloss over it as best we can, but God isn't like that. God acknowledges sin, and he deals with it.
You're going to find out this chapter is filled with one of the greatest failings humankind has ever known. In fact, when you think of betrayal and failure of intimates, you think of two people, and one of them you're going to find right here in this chapter. If you think of three, two of the three you're going to find right here in this chapter. This is a book that is not ashamed of human failings. In fact, this whole book is about human failings being dealt with and restored to a place of forgiveness and grace where they can be redeemed to a useful life.
The other thing Hendricks says about this book that is so great is that the God who wrote this book is a God of grace. It shows you that he wants you to learn from other men's mistakes, and he wants you to be encouraged by the way he has dealt with the mistakes of other men. Every time he teaches this little section of Scripture, Prof just boils it down to four simple points.
The first point is Peter spoke too much. The second point is he prayed too little. The third point is he acted too soon. The fourth point is he thought too late. That makes up his 40 minutes when he takes a swing at this. His first point when he says that Peter spoke too much, you find it right here in verse 29.
I wish you could know Dr. Hendricks. He's so funny sometimes with what he does and the way he can personalize this stuff. When I've heard him teach this text before, he says, "Jesus says, 'Even though you're all going to betray me and you're all going to fall away,' Peter speaks up and says, 'Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.'"
It's like Peter is over there in the corner, and Dr. Hendricks always goes, "I understand what you mean, Lord. I'm not sure I even trust the other 11 myself." Prof always says this. It's one of his favorite lines. He says, "Peter is one of those guys who would always put both feet in his mouth and wonder why he couldn't walk." He spoke way too much. His was a problem, Hendricks would tell you, not of insincerity but of ignorance. He did not understand the frailty of his flesh.
I was humbled a number of years ago that one of the guys who was a great influence in my life, a guy by the name of Tom Raley, when he was evaluating his life at the end of the year, one of the things he came across… This is a guy who everybody goes to for wisdom. I mean, one of the great joys of my life was him making himself available to me that I could ask him questions and learn from him.
One of the things Tom learned well into his 70s was simply this. He said, "Todd, do you know what my problem is? I speak too much and don't listen enough." I thought, "My goodness! What does that say about me?" James says, "Be slow to speak and quick to listen." Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said, "A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind." One commentator said, "That's the double trouble of a fool. He has an open mouth and a closed mind." He's really in trouble.
That's Peter, constantly sticking his foot in his mouth going, "I understand, Lord. They don't look too trustworthy to me either, but not me. I'm in this one till the end, boss," to which Jesus says, "All right, Pete. Let's you and I talk one on one now. I'm going to tell you that before the cock crows twice, you will deny me thrice." Peter had a real problem with that because Peter didn't understand Prof's second point. He prayed too little, which is my first. I'll say it simply like this.
1._ Passion is never a substitute for prayer. I used to work at a place called _Kanakuk Kamps. I'm telling you Kanakuk is one of the most… It's like Pine Cove. It's like T Bar M. It's like every Young Life Camp. It's Frontier. It's Castaway. It's Wood Leaf. It's a great place for kids to get introduced to the Savior.
When I would work at Kanakuk these 10 summers, we'd have kids often for 26 days, and we'd always do this thing about the twenty-fifth day called Say So, when the kids would all have a chance to do what the Scriptures tell us in Psalm 107. It says, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so…" These kids would stand up, and it was almost something you could bet on, that certain kids would always stand up during Say So. You could hit play, and they would do exactly the same thing this year that they did last year. It would sound something like this.
"This has been the most unbelievable 25 days of my life. I'll tell you what. I love Jesus, and you need to love Jesus. I had a tough year. I stood here last year and I said I was going to be faithful. I love my counselors. You guys are great in my cabin. This is the greatest place. I love Jesus. Last year, I went home. I said I was going to live for him, and I didn't. I drank, and I was a fool, and I threw up on my girlfriend. I mistreated my girlfriend. I made bad decisions. Joe told me not to make bad decisions and I made bad decisions, but this year is going to be different, man!"
I'll be dadgummed if next year they stand up… Now, I don't want to mock those children. I don't want to do that. I don't want to mock you when you get fired up at Promise Keepers or you get fired up at Watermark or you get fired up when you listen to a good message or go to a retreat. I don't want to mock you on your bus ride home from some Young Life Camp, but you need to know something right here. Our passion is never a substitute for prayer.
You have to understand. Prayer is an attitude of contriteness and dependence upon the God who said that apart from him we can do nothing. That is why we will gather tonight corporately as we often try and do and once a month do to pray together. We have this little thing called Raise the Mark because we believe prayer is a physical reminder and is an intellectual exercise which is not something you just do in your closet on your knees for a moment while you work through a list.
Prayer is an attitude you live in continually, and there are times it's appropriate to gather together corporately to physically remind ourselves and to participate together in this act of humility, submission, and surrender, asking God to consistently live, exist in, and minister to and through us, as we should do individually, but even when you stand up and you move forward, the Scriptures admonish you to pray at all times without ceasing and to pray at all times in the Spirit.
You go, "How in the world do you do that?" Like one guy said, the army of God marches on its knees. I don't know if you've ever seen me walk up here on my knees. It might be a good physical reminder for me sometime to say, "I am dependent upon God for any good thing he might do during this hour and, frankly, throughout the week."
The point is, whether I walk on my knees or not, what is going on inside of my heart is the important thing. Am I firmly convinced that no matter how excited I am to teach and live for you, love my wife for Christ, and encourage people with my surrendered submission to him, if I try to do that because of my career, because of my devotion, or because of the great message I just heard or the great song we just sang, I'm going to crater and I'm going to cave?
We talked about this a little bit last week. It's the main point of Peter's life. What Hendricks does a great job of saying in this and what he titles this message, is basically Peter's Slow Leak. What he means by that is that when we hear that cock crow, we go, "There was a blowout in Peter's life! That was a huge collapse."
Well, no, it wasn't. It was the result of a pattern that had been built into this man's life that gave him a flat at the moment of truth when he needed to crank up the wheels. It's a slow leak and, frankly, that's how most of us blow it. When you have a blowout… In fact, a blowout is typically the result of the lack of maintenance and general care on that which you use to get you around.
If there is such a thing as a good tire blowing out, what happens? It is front-page news! Have you ever noticed that? There are blowouts all of the time around Dallas, Texas. Now, I have been fortunate enough to never have a blowout. Part of that is God's goodness and grace in my life, that I've never had to drive a set of tires until they have 120,000 miles on them.
I've had the means to be able to rotate my tires and replace them when they get to be about 60,000 to 70,000 when the head of Lincoln starts to not make it down through the tread, but there are folks who that's all they can drive on (bald tires), and when they have a blowout on 75, we go, "No wonder!"
If, on the other hand, you buy a new Ford Explorer and that tire blows up and it flips your car and rolls over, it's front-page news, and people go, "There's something radically wrong here. This is a defect. It is not as it should be. This is not truly a tire." Lawsuits upon lawsuits and headlines upon headlines capture that. That's not what happens most of the time. Almost all of the time mistakes look like blowouts, but they're not. They are slow leaks.
This same Dr. Hendricks coupled with a guy named Dr. Swindoll coupled with a guy named Dr. MacArthur did a study of 256 men who did what I do and did what Prof does and what Pastor Swindoll does and what Pastor MacArthur does, but they absolutely lost it. They fell into sexual immorality. They asked these 256 men basic questions about their lives, and they found four common characteristics in their lives among all of these men.
First, those men said, "I quit walking with Jesus. It wasn't like I made a decision overnight to do this. I was going through the motions. I was doing my job. I was still preaching. I was still running the church. I was still going to elder meetings. I was still doing all of these things, but I was not daily depending on him. I wasn't walking in an attitude of humility and brokenness and prayer. I wasn't reading the Word. I wasn't memorizing the Scripture. I wasn't journaling. I wasn't wrestling with God on my own behalf. I wasn't doing any of those things."
Secondly, if you're interested, about 86 percent of them got in the habit of counseling women. Now, I want to tell you something. If you put those two things together (not depending on Christ's wisdom and hanging out with women alone when they're emotionally vulnerable and look to you as a great healer), I am shocked they didn't fall sooner. That's why I don't meet with women alone. Nobody on our staff does unless they're a woman. I don't care how filled with God's Word I am. I don't want to put myself in that position. I never have and never will.
Thirdly, these men did not have community or folks around them who could say, "Your life sounds like you're a little thin." There was no accountability and no real depth of relationship in their lives. Fourthly, they thought it would never happen to them. Of these, we're not sure what kind of accountability Peter had.
I don't know how much he hung out counseling women, but for number one and number four see also Peter. He prayed too little. "I don't blame you, Lord. They look like a suspect bunch to me. Not me." You kind of see Don Knotts over there, don't you? "I'm here, Andy." If there is ever a message that is good for my high-school friends who are down here, you guys want to live for Christ. I know you do, and I know you want to be faithful to him, and you're committed to doing it.
You're going to go tonight to Going Deep at the Johnston's house, and you're going to hear a great message from Braun, and you're going to be fired up, and you're going to make a commitment. Some of you guys are going to take vows of chastity until you're married. Some of you are going, "I'm just going to say, 'No,' to drugs all the way through," and sign the little stuff at school, but I'm going to tell you.
I don't care how motivated you are. If you don't walk with Christ, and I mean daily depend upon him, you will not make it through high school much less Sodom and Gomorrah University. You won't make it. It's called the University of Missouri where I'm from. Plug in your favorite college.
You can leave with all of the zeal in the world, but I'm telling you, gang. I don't care what camp you go to, who your youth pastor was, or what church experience you have on Sunday morning. If you don't deeply cling to him, your passion is not going to get you through those eight semesters. It's never a substitute.
When you look at Peter and the way he is portrayed, he's always portrayed as a nose tackle. Next week, we're going to watch a video clip of some of the sufferings of Christ in one of the most famous movies of the life of Christ that was ever made. Guess who played Peter. Not Don Knotts. Ernest Borgnine. You'll see him right up here next week. Big, thick-fingered, rugged, tough, kick your rear-end Ernest Borgnine. That's Peter. He's a nose tackle. He's a fisherman who used to clean out the bar and knock people's heads off who talked about Momma wrong.
Peter said, "Jesus, when the tough get going, I'm coming in, baby!" Jesus was saying to Peter, "Look! That ain't going to get you through, and you need to learn that, and all who need to learn that are going to learn it from you. I'm glad you want to be tough, and I'm glad you think you're strong in your flesh, but before the cock crows twice, you will deny me thrice."
Jesus said, "You're going to cave." In chapter 13, verse 33, he says, "Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come." The idea here is the moment of your testing or the hour of truth for you… You're not sure when it's going to come. In verse 35, he says, "…be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows…""You don't know what time of day that moment is coming, so you have to be clinging to me."
Verse 37: "What I say to you I say to all, 'Be on the alert!'" Verse 34 of Mark 14. Three different times right there in the garden, "He said to them, 'My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death…'" Just like yours is going to be, and you're not going to make it if you don't keep watch! I would observe from this text…
2._ Unless you pray, you are liable to do the reasonable thing and not the right thing_. What do I mean by that? This same account in Mark 14 is told in Matthew, chapter 26. Let's look there together in verses 50 through 54. "And Jesus said to him[Judas, when Judas walked up], 'Friend, do what you have come for.' Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear."
Isn't that interesting? In verse 51, there were two swords among the disciples (we know from Luke 22) and somebody grabbed one of these swords at this great moment and lopped off an ear. Matthew doesn't tell you. Mark doesn't tell you. Luke doesn't tell you. It's as if this is a big massive cover-up.
John is happy to tell you who it is. He's probably just thrilled it wasn't him. He's so glad he hangs out with an Ernest Borgnine. He's so glad there's a nose tackle, a Lawrence Taylor, or a Junior Siavii amongst the group who is just always thrust into the moment. It was Peter! It was Ernest Borgnine. He grabbed the knife and went right for Malchus' ear, John tells us, and just lopped it off.
Look at what Christ says to him. Doesn't that seem the reasonable thing to do? If you're a guy like me, you like to take control of the situation and just charge in… He likes to use his physical size or his intensity to kind of captivate and control a moment. Doesn't that seem like the right thing to do?
This is your buddy. This is your running bud. This is the guy you love, the guy you've committed yourself to, and now there are all of these folks coming to him, and they are telling him he's going to go with them. That's when you step up and say, "Nuh-uh, baby! You have to go through Peter to get to Jesus."
It seems like the reasonable thing to do. It's the right response of his flesh. Now, let me tell you. Some of you guys can't relate to Peter like men. "No, that ain't me." You're nothing like that. In fact, you're the kind of person who wouldn't speak up if your life depended on it, because that's what seems reasonable to you.
When you're sitting around the water cooler and somebody says, "Don't those Christians just drive you nuts? I saw a guy on the news last night. He was saying this, this, and this, and Christians are now trying to take the Scriptures and say this war is just or war can be just or this or that. How can they be so inconsistent? Don't they know?" You're like, "Yeah, they're confusing people."
Somebody in your office said, "My life is a wreck. I'm so frustrated with my husband I don't know if I want to stick in there with him. I just wish I knew how to handle the situation," and you go, "That's a toughie," because that's the right and reasonable thing to do for you. You're not going to get involved. That's where your flesh defaults.
"I don't want to be too personal at work. There are laws here about proselytizing. I don't want to lose my job. I can't be a light where I don't work. Yep! Yep!" You kind of work your way out and go, "See you! I'll pray for you." You walk away really quickly, because it seems like the reasonable thing to do to you.
If you're not filled up and if you're not a person who walks with God and truly depends upon him and an individual who is preparing the way that God tells you to prepare it, it's always the sins of omission that lead to sin of commission. If you're not an individual who has learned how to articulate the gospel clearly and concisely, you will never take the opportunity in that friendship you have formed in an authentic way to take the next step and share your faith because you don't know how to do it. You don't know what to say.
While the Jehovah's Witnesses are making their way down the street, you go out the back door and run down the alley and act like you need milk because you don't know what to say to these people. It seems like the reasonable thing to do instead of embarrass yourself again. What the Scriptures exhort us to do is to be individuals who say, "I'm not going to default to where my flesh defaults. I'm not going to wait until the moment to try to figure out what to do in my flesh. I'm going to abide with Christ. I'm going to discipline myself."
We consistently hear from folks who take our Outbreak class this specific statement: "I am shocked how many times I have had an opportunity this week to tell somebody about the Lord and his love for them." Do you know what the truth is? We don't always like to tell them this right away, but this is the truth. Do you know those opportunities have always been there? You just have avoided them like the plague because you didn't know what to say. Thank goodness! Now, you're looking for opportunities because you feel informed enough to speak into the moment.
You'll always do what seems reasonable if you're not a person who is depending upon him and praying, and it seemed reasonable for Peter to pull his sword out and say, "Let's have a throw-down right here!" I'm sure Jesus would have said, "Peter, if I'm going to be jumped by a couple of thugs in the back alleys of Jerusalem, you're one of the top three to be in there with me. You are one bad apple, one bad hombre. You are strong from pulling in the nets. You're a fisherman by trade. You're usually sleep deprived, and you're always willing to say something. I'll take you, Peter, in those alleys, but look here, Peter. You're missing it again."
This is the second time you're about to see that Peter cannot get through his skull that God knows what he's doing in regard to the cross. It made no sense to Peter, so Peter didn't respond well to it. This is what Jesus says to him. "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword."
He's basically saying, "Be careful, Peter. Easy with that sword. If you keep messing with that sword… I don't know if you noticed, but that is 600 trained Special Forces from Rome. It's a Roman cohort. It is the drilled of the drilled of Rome. There are 600 of them and only 12 of us. Unless I'm going to do something out of character here, we're going to need 12 resurrections and not one if you keep this angle you've got going on. They're going to run us through. We're like the Republican guard. We can't fight those mugs, so let's just let it go."
Jesus is not saying right here, "Peter, I can't handle the situation." What he's saying is, "Peter, ultimately you're doing what seems right to you. It seems right to me to want to fight them, but you don't understand what's going on here." Jesus telling Peter to back off was the same as when Jesus said, "I'm going to be delivered over to evil men," and Peter said, "God! No! Forbid it, Lord!" and Jesus said to Peter, "That is satanic. Get behind me! Sheathe your tongue."
It's the exact same thing he had to do here, because Peter was a guy who responded rightly in the moment of Jesus saying, "I'm going to go to the cross." He said, "No, you're not! I'm going to stop it." He said, "That's satanic. You don't have a clue what you're talking about because you're not a spiritual man, Peter. You're a strong man in your flesh, but you don't walk with my Father yet. Listen to me, and we'll get you there."
The same scene now a few years later when Jesus tells Peter, "Sheathe your sword, soldier. Now isn't the time. I am going to go, and I'm going to tell you in a minute that I'm the one in control and not them." It seems reasonable to quit sometimes, to compromise, to go with the flow, to not expect more of yourself than the world does, to give up, to grab the reigns of your life.
If God hadn't brought you a mate by the time you were 30 or 35 or, God forbid, 40, you'd better lower your standards and not lengthen your patience because it seems reasonable to default there, and if not go ahead and get married it at least seems reasonable to give your flesh a few sexual indulgences because God's plan of faithfulness, chastity, and purity… Once you reach a certain age, "I may as well get some going in while the going is good." Doesn't that seem reasonable?
To a man who doesn't pray and to a woman who doesn't pray, you bet it does. To come up with a coping strategy and technique that will destroy your life and will give you momentary joy through a lustful decision or through a fleshly indulgence and to be with your pain that way seems reasonable, doesn't it? You're going to always fail at that moment of crisis if, as a pattern, you do not depend upon him, but Peter needed to remember this.
3._ No matter how bad things get, no matter how out of whack things look to my reasonable response, God is always in control_. Say it another way. No matter how bad things get, never forget the wicked are not ultimately in control. If you'll look at Mark 14, verse 27, let's just remind ourselves of this.
"And Jesus said to them, 'You will all fall away, because it is written, "I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered."'" This was prophesied way back in Zechariah. " But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.[…]And He came the third time, and said to them, 'Are you still sleeping and resting?'"
Here's the point. Jesus says, "Listen to me. You're going to get scattered. This is the way it's going to go down, but after I have been raised… Listen! I am in control. I know the Roman cohort is going to come. I am in control. Don't you cave at that moment! You need to think like me and understand beyond the next three days that your flesh is going to freak out because you don't understand what I've told you. You neither know nor understand, so listen to me. You're going to scatter, but after I've been raised, I am going to go to Galilee."
In other words, "This thing is all part of my plan. I am in control. I know it looks like I'm out of control. I know there is no way it makes sense to you that you would deliver yourself up to wicked men, but no matter how bad things get, you guys remember I'm in control." I shared with the first service that there was a time in my life that only my belief in this and my awareness of the sovereignty and the goodness of God got me through some nights.
In the area of lost love, I wasn't a guy who went in and out of a lot of relationships, but I can remember a couple where I kind of said, "This one will do, Lord. This one will do." There was one in particular who I was pretty sure it was time for me to say, "We'll just go there." I didn't really consult God. I informed him that this particular relationship would and should work.
Listen, my single friends, because what I'm going to tell you right here will save you much, much heartache. You have to get your arms around God's sovereignty and faithfulness. There was a little relationship I just knew was going to work and should work. It was going to provide for me, I was certain, all that I wanted in a relationship and all I wanted with the glory of being associated with one such as I was potentially going to be associated with.
Then, all of a sudden one night in a way that I never saw it come my little legs were chopped out from underneath me, and I was shocked. I mean to tell you I was shocked. "This is me! What are you talking about?" "Lord, what are you doing? I haven't abused women. I haven't run through them and tried them on like shoes. Now, when I'm ready to go this direction you're going to tell me, 'No,' and to not go there."
I went home that night when I was aware of the fact that my little heart had gotten a little ahead of my walk with Christ. I was shocked. I went home. I was stunned. I was numb. My wife knows who I'm talking about (that little curly-haired cheerleader from Kansas State). I went home, and I got on my knees, and I thought, "What are we going to do now?"
Because my adrenaline was running like it was the first snap of the biggest game I ever played in my life, and I thought, "There is no way I'm going to rest for about six days." My heart was thumping like one of those little cartoons. I picked up the phone. It was one of the wisest things I've ever done in my life. I picked up my phone.
I called Denton, Texas, where my close friends lived at the time (James Skinner, Jimmy Vice, Tommy Nelson, and some other guys). I called their house, and I said, "Guys, I'll tell you something. I don't want to go into it. I don't have time to go into it, but you all need to pray for me because I am right now numb. I know God is good, and I know he's in control, and I just want to believe his Word, and I want to go to bed."
My wife will tell you I can fall asleep at any given moment, but I sleep in about 45-minute periods. It's just the way I work. I can fall asleep in a second, but I don't sleep very long, and I wake up. I go back to sleep, and I toss and turn and make her life generally miserable, but that particular night when I went to bed about 10:00 that night, I don't remember waking up until well in the morning, and the reason I didn't is because I knew people prayed for me to a God who loved me who I believed can channel the hearts of kings in whatever direction he pleases.
I thought, "God, if you can change Nebuchadnezzar's heart and if you can change the hearts of all of the men in history, you can handle a little curly-haired chick from Manhattan, Kansas. You'll either turn her heart where it needs to be or you'll turn my heart some other direction or you'll get me through this, and if this ain't good enough for me, then I glory in what is ahead. I don't care if that's 40 years of singleness, because I know you're good, and I know you're not ripping me off here."
I have to tell you something. I believed that, but I also needed men to pray that I'd believe that. I thank you, Lord, that you turned away that sweet little girl who is faithfully serving Christ right now, and I celebrate what good things God is doing in her life, but she ain't this, my sweet bride who comes from Waco. I'll tell you. If I wasn't married to this day, I know my God is good and I could say the exact same thing, though there wouldn't be a ring on my finger.
You need to know when you can't make sense of circumstance that your God loves you and is sovereign, and he can turn things, and he who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all, can he not also with him freely give you all things? The argument of Paul is, "If Christ died on the cross for you, for goodness sake, don't you think if what you needed was a relationship to make it through this life in a full and abundant way, he could work that out?"
Don't you think if what you needed was a different diagnosis from the doctor, he could work that out? Don't you think if you needed your child to get well, he could work that out? You have to know sovereignty, or you will do the wrong thing that seems reasonable and lower your standard or indulge your flesh or develop bitterness or develop a coping technique which is ultimately going to ruin your life and bring hopelessness and destruction to those who are around you. You have to get your arms around the sovereignty of God in situations where you can't see it.
It will allow you to sleep and rest in him. I have to tell you something. I slept well. Did I wake up the next day and have to make that same decision? You bet, so I prayed again the same way the next night, and for about the next three to six months I worked with that girl. I saw her everyday for eight hours, and God was good.
Not because in my flesh I turned on a dime and said, "I will never have feelings that way again," but because I said, "Lord, you need to get me focused on you and not on some feelings I want reciprocated. The hearts of kings are like channels of water in the hands of the Lord, and you direct them wherever you please, so if those hearts aren't changed, Lord, fill my heart with your love. That's what I want." My problem was I wasn't focusing on that to begin with. Amen.
Let me say to you another point. It's stuck right here in this little section that we're going through in Mark 14. In fact, if you have your Bible, turn to Mark 14, and look at verses 43 through 45. We're going to run into a guy now by the name of Judas. Judas is going to do what is reasonable to him, which Jesus was not working out the way he thought he would, so he may as well at least make 30 pieces of silver off of him if he cannot make him into a radical who will deliver Israel from Rome. Judas betrays Christ. We have the denial of Peter in this section, and we also have the betrayal of Judas. You're going to find out right here…
4._ A proper word is never a substitute for a proper walk_. Judas is going to say all of the right things, but you're going to find out that a proper word is not the same thing as a proper walk. Mark 14:43-45 says, "Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, 'Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.'"
In verse 45, we see, "After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, 'Rabbi!'" It's a word of great affection and praise, a word of great respect and surrender meaning, "The one I learned from," or master. Then, he bowed, "…and kissed Him." We're not sure if it was on his feet. We're not sure if it was on his hand. We're not sure if it was a sign of intimate greeting on the cheek. It doesn't tell us where, but does it really matter?
Every one of them is basically saying the same thing. "I'm going to do the right thing. I'm going to go through the external motion of looking now like I should. I'm going to do a proper thing here. I'm going to say the proper words about who you are, God. I'm going to be at the proper place at the proper time and do the proper thing," just like scores of folks will be in this country this morning.
Just like Jesus didn't go, "That's so kind of you, Judas. I really appreciate when you identify me rightly. I so am moved by your physical acts of worship. Attaboy, Judas! You will be with me in eternity." Right? Of course not, because just like a rooster is associated with Peter, what is associated with Judas? A kiss. Judas and Brutus are the two great betrayers in history. "Et tu, Brutus?" Whenever one of your closest friends just stabs you in the back, you say, "You're like a Judas. You're like a Brutus to me."
I want you to get this, and I want you to understand this. I'm not going to dwell here long. I just want you to understand this. A said faith is not the same thing as a saving faith. A profession for Jesus is not the same thing as the possession of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. You can say the right things, go to the right places, and do the right works of worship. You can cry at Say So. You can take Communion. You can be baptized. You can walk forward at a Billy Graham Crusade. You can check a box on the Watermark News, but if it does not match up with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, it doesn't get you anywhere.
Look what it says in Matthew, chapter 7. Verse 21 says, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven…" That's the one who is going to enter with the proper walk. It's the proper walk. It's not works that save you. It's a faith that is not dead that bears evidence by its living itself out in your life.
You are saved by grace through faith period and alone, but the Scriptures say the great mark of salvation by grace through faith is faithfulness. Now, notice this. Don't miss Peter here, because you go, "Wait a minute, Todd! Peter was not faithful. In the moment of need, he turned back into a linebacker and not one who followed the Master."
You're right, but watch the difference between Peter and Judas. Judas walked in darkness. Peter fell into darkness. You don't want to walk in darkness. What Peter is going to teach us is we're all going to fall into darkness in a particular moment if we don't cling to Jesus, if we don't stay on alert, if we don't watch, if we don't keep watch and pray, if we don't practice the disciplines, and if we don't find ourselves in a constant attitude of dependence.
"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not…'""Did not we do specific things in your name? Didn't we work in the nursery? Didn't we work in parking? Didn't we greet and usher? Didn't I give faithfully? Didn't I do miraculous things? Didn't I even lead Bible studies?" "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you…'"
"I know what you did. I know what you did in my name." "Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness." What you do is you cloak yourself sometimes in acts of righteousness, but you practice self-dependence, self-exaltation, and manipulation of appearances, because when it gets right down to it, you trust in you and you live for you.
Who are those people who go to church every single week who look spiritual who do what I do, who give, who serve, who profess, but in their heart of hearts are not really Christ's? Who are they? I have no idea, but they exist, and the point here is don't you be the one. Don't you find yourself consistently practicing in the integrity and the loneliness of your heart lawlessness! Don't you just have a person who has a sterling reputation but a rotten core! God does not go on what men see, but he judges on what he knows to be there.
The question you have to ask yourself this morning is not what Todd or anybody else thinks of you, but it's…Who are you? The very first song we sang this morning is, "Creed." ("And I believe what I believe is what makes me what I am. I did not make it, no it is making me.") Do you understand what that is saying?
It's saying, "I'm not making this up. I'm not inventing this religious myth. I'm not inventing these religious truths. That is what I'm becoming. No. I know what I believe. I did not make it. It is making me." In other words, because of what I believe, I'm being changed. Because of who God is and because of my dependence on him, something is happening.
James, the brother of Jesus, not the one who did not keep watch praying in Gethsemane, said it this way. "You believe that God is one? Well, that's fine. That's fantastic, but you need to know this. Even the demons believe also. In fact, they shudder at the conviction of their belief." They don't just know it at a certain level intellectually; they experience it in their hearts, and there are not going to be very many demons…there aren't going to be any…at his table. A proper word is never a substitute for a proper walk.
Now, one last thing about our buddy, Peter. Let's go back and look at Mark 14. Let's pick it up in verse 46, after Judas left with Jesus. It says, "They laid hands on Him and seized Him." **Then, you look down in verse 50,"And they all left Him and fled."** Then, in verse 53, watch what happens. It says,
"They led Jesus away to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes gathered together. Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any. For many were giving false testimony against Him… And the officers received Him with slaps in the face."
Do you notice what's going on here? Jesus is being received with lies and slaps. Peter is warming himself by the fire. Jesus is alone in darkness. He is being lied about and slapped about, and Peter is hanging out making s'mores with young children. Which of these two do you think is going to be unfaithful to God?
The answer is the one who did not pray. The one who did not watch. The one who did not stay on point. The one who did not understand that if the Father did not endure with them they would not, no matter what their encouraged and excited devotion was, prevail for him. This story is so set up to show you that when you're with God you can prevail in any circumstance no matter how unfaithful the environment might encourage you to be, but if you're not walking with God, it can be easy street and you're going to cave.
What happens to Peter? Verse 66 tells us. "As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him…" **A little girl, a little 10-year-old servant girl said,"'You also were with Jesus the Nazarene.' But he denied it, saying, 'I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.' And he went out onto the porch."**
A rooster crowed. Now, think about that. You think of what just happened. What should that have reminded Peter of? "He said I would deny him three times before the rooster crows. I'm not going to go there." That is a gracious reminder right there. The rooster crowed. "I just choked with a 10-year-old girl."
Look what happens. Even when reminded that you shouldn't go where you have gone, if you have a slow leak, baby, and if that's the way you live your life, you can't turn it even when you are reminded that where you are going ain't the place to go. Have you ever felt that way with your hurt, your hang-up, or your habit? It just has you. You're clumsy, and you're going to go there again. Do you know why? Because you don't have step one down. You don't know you're utterly powerless if you're not poor in spirit. You don't run to him.
If Peter would have gotten on his knees right there and said, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner! I cannot do it apart from you. Give me the power to speak your name before governors and before the synagogue leaders and before even 10-year-old little girls. Lord, help me and enable me." If he would have done that, he would have done it, but that's not what Peter did. He ran out.
"The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, 'This is one of them!' But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, 'Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.'""We can tell by the way you talk." "But he began to curse and swear, 'I do not know this man you are talking about!'"
Peter became a model of what they made future believers do in the midst of persecution. "You curse the name of Jesus, and if you curse the name of Jesus, we'll spare your life." Many people understand what Peter did right here. He said, "He's a blasphemer! Don't you all know it? I wasn't one of his followers. I'm here to see him get crucified."
How low did he go to get to that point? Well, he didn't get there because he had a blowout. What's the point of this message? "If you don't abide with me, baby, you cannot live for me. Apart from me, you can do nothing." Jesus had been telling these guys no less than six times in the last chapter.
"Watch and pray! Be on the alert! Beware! Get on your knees! Depend upon me." Three times less than six to 12 hours ago he was with those guys, and he said, "Watch what I'm doing. You have to go to the Father. Can't you stay awake for one hour?" and they couldn't, and we can't if we don't walk in humility and dependence upon Jesus Christ.
5._ Peter's denial and weeping are, therefore, both a warning to us and a source of welcome to us_. What I mean by that is don't let your life end this way! Don't let your week go this way. Don't remember too late. It says that after Peter heard the cock crow the second time he remembered then the words of Jesus.
If you remembered this stuff too late, if you think it can't happen to you until it happens to you, and then you go, "Oh! They told me if I didn't think it could happen to me it probably happened to me. Maybe I shouldn't have counseled those women. Maybe I shouldn't have taken that gal in my office to lunch because I cared about her. Maybe I shouldn't have let my boyfriend stay over until 2:00 in the morning once the movie was over. They told me it would happen to me no matter how devoted we were, and dadgum! It sure did." Let Peter be a warning to you.
Secondly, and please hear this, let him be a source of welcome to you. What do I mean by this? In Mark 16, verse 7, watch this. We'll look at this again on Easter morning when we have friends here. "But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'"
This is the angel talking to the woman at the tomb and the women who are there. What happens at that particular moment? The angel saw the women there and said, "He's gone just like he said to Galilee. He's raised! Go tell the disciples! Come on back here. Make sure you tell Peter." Max Lucado does a beautiful job with this. He says that it's as if all of heaven had seen Peter fall, and now all of heaven was delighting in watching him being raised up again.
This ought to encourage you. Have you blown it this week? Have you choked when you had an opportunity to share your faith? Have you in your flesh charged into an argument or a conversation you shouldn't have? Are you clumsy? Well, then, quit the slow leak. Get on your knees and depend upon him and know that Jesus is risen and alive, and you can reconcile with him, and now you can serve him again. Come home, but stop the cycle of motivation and bravado and depend upon him.
This Peter went ahead to preach the gospel boldly, and he was so blown away by his second chance, Lucado says, that he took the gospel of the second chance all the way to Rome where they killed him. Have you ever wondered what made Peter so willing to die for Jesus Christ and that being crucified upside down? I think you have the answer right here, because it's not often that you meet somebody who will give you a second chance much less someone who will give you a second chance every day.
The lovingkindness of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never fail. Great is thy faithfulness! Do you all see why we sing and why we worship him? Do you see why we cannot just go out here and motivate ourselves to live for him? Can't you even do it for an hour? No! "Trust in me."
Father, we want to this morning learn from Peter, and, Lord, in this book we are reminded that we didn't write it. You did. You don't hide behind sin. You face it. We are reminded that the God who wrote this book is a God of grace, a God of second chance, and this is a congregation full of people who need a second chance, some of us because we've never looked to you or depended upon you, so we look this morning.
We look to trust you and depend upon you for the first time. The second chance is our first realization that you are God and we are not, that you are our Savior and we are filled with sin, so we will come home. For others, Lord, we have blown it this week, and we feel more than clumsy. We are prone to wander. Lord, we feel it. We are prone to leave the God we love, so we say, "Lord, take our hearts. Take and seal it and let us live for our God above."
May we learn from Peter that if we don't pray and live in a consistent attitude of brokenness we will not love in marriage, we will not be faithful in business, we will not be pure in thought or deed, but we will be clumsy, and we will join him and only remember when the cock of disaster crows. May it never be! Come, Lord Jesus. Fill us with your blessing, and theologically let me state it correctly. Let us yield ourselves to you. Amen.
The most influential person in history is also the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Two thousand years after He walked the earth, Jesus of Nazareth is still a mystery to many people. Whether you admire Him, worship Him, despise him or simply don't know about him, it's difficult to deny that any other single person has had more influence on our world than Jesus has. But how do we come to understand a man who is so commonly misunderstood? In this, the last volume of the sermon series devoted to the Gospel of Mark, Todd Wagner, pastor of Watermark Community Church, looks at the final week of Christ's life and what happened next. You'll see how one man changed the entire course of human history and how He can change the course of every individual life that understands and responds to the events described in Mark 14:1-Mark 16:8.