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Peter-My Kind of Failure (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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August 29, 2022 6:00 am

Peter-My Kind of Failure (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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August 29, 2022 6:00 am

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When Jesus said, Who do you say that I am? Peter said, You are the Christ, Son of the Living God. Everybody else was quoting somebody else.

Peter stepped up and got it. I read these things about this man and I say, Would I have been the silent one in the bunch? Would I have spoken up? Would I have realized this?

How would I have realized this? Why would I have gotten it and all the Pharisees missed it? Matthew's Gospel, chapter 14. This study is entitled, Peter, My Kind of Failure, as we are examining God's successful failures in a series of messages on characters from both Old and New Testament.

Men and women alike, our text is Matthew's Gospel, chapter 14, verses 30 and 31. And there we read, But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid. And beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him and said to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt? Of course, this is that section of scripture where Jesus spooked the disciples in the boat, walking on the sea in the midst of a storm in the dark. They thought it was a spirit coming to take them to Sheol, but it was Jesus Christ. And, of course, there's so much that belongs to this, but this section, our text, captures for us a moment of failure, life of a believer, something that is relevant to all of us.

We all can identify with this. My outline I'd like to talk about briefly, an intro, of course, then the man Peter, his deep failures, his becoming an unlettered dynamo, in contrast to Paul, a lettered dynamo. And then the conclusion, when we'll see if there's anything else this man has to say to us through his life, by the hand of the Holy Spirit. Peter is anything but boring, his character. And he has several names in the New Testament. We know him as Simon. You know the Jews pronounce Simon Shimon. And we know him as Peter. The scripture also records that his name is Cephas.

And we'll get to all of those if time permits. Most of you may know it already. But when you add up the amount of times the name of Paul shows up in the New Testament, now you have Paul, you have Saul of Tarsus, you have Paul the plural, in plural that is. It's about 186 times thereabout. But when you do Peter's name, I find those who tally lists, I think they've made a mistake in their tallies. They come up with about 168 thereabout. And that is factoring in Cephas and factoring in Peter and the plural of Peter, of course.

Well, not the plural, sorry, the obsessive, the apostrophe. But they don't factor in Simon. And when you do that, my record, or my tally, comes up to almost the same amount of times as Paul. And they're very significant to the story, to the man, and to all that he means to us. Because for me, especially in studying the scripture, to give a presentation, you know, certain things fly out at you. You who teach the children in the children's ministry, you know this to be the case also.

Things come out that you would have missed if you were just doing it, reading for yourself. But more than any other mortal in the New Testament, I could not imagine my New Testament without this man, Peter. That's how powerful I think he is. We meet him in the beginning, in the early stages of the gospel, walking with Christ.

Paul, we get to know later. And we are indebted to God for both of these men, and so many other figures within the New Testament, and old alike, for sure. But I'm saying all this to say that I think Peter stands out in a way that maybe we miss and we're not mindful of. But as we go through it, I think we'll realize, you know, this is one of those unsung heroes.

Superheroes, I should say. Because he is a hero. I also see him as a superhero of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament preserved for us. And if you've known sin, and if you've known sorrow, if you've known failure, and bitterness, and grief, or the bitterness of grief, then you can identify with Simon Peter. If you also know repentance, and the joy of forgiveness, and great grace, you can identify with Peter.

Just a side thing on him, for example. When Jesus was talking about forgiveness, Peter said, Lord, how often should I forgive my brother? Seven times? Peter thought he was making a profound statement.

I would have said something like, two times? That he even says seven to me is significant. It tells us something about his heart, his outlook on himself and others, and how he interacted with them. I think Christianity seems drawn to a guilt complex. I think many Christians have a guilt thing going on, instead of continuance of grace.

Guilt complex, grace continued. Which will it be? Which will it be for you, the Christian? Will you make your decisions based on guilt? Will your theology be shaped by guilt, or will it be shaped by grace? And Peter forces us to speak grace, to think grace. He is known as the disciple who failed his Lord.

Who isn't? I'm bothered by how many great men of God, when it comes to a character study on Peter, are quick to beat up on him and call him a coward. I don't see him as a coward once, not once. Thomas, I don't see Thomas as a doubter, not once. I don't approach it that way.

Now, I'm not saying that to say I'm better than the other men, not at all. But I'm sharing with you what I go through in my own preparation time, when I read comment after comment how they felt this man Peter was a coward, or how Thomas doubted. I think they're missing the bigger picture, the human experience in the life of Christ at the time these things were going on. And Peter is also considered to be a big, blundering fisherman.

And I think that this, too, is a shallow portrayal of the man. I think that when Jesus picked this Peter and he picked that Thomas, he knew just what he was doing. And that the church may have missed it in her commentaries over the centuries, or not, is irrelevant.

What is relevant is what it does to me once I come in touch with certain insights from the scripture by the Holy Spirit. I think one thing that supports what I'm saying about Peter is this. Every time a list of the apostles shows up, without exception, his name is first. Every time. And the list changes. But every time, in the order that is in the list, every time Peter is first. Not by mistake. It's precise.

It is a work of God. There's a lesson in that alone. I think that there is a lesson in the fact that the first apostle to see Jesus risen was this man, Simon Peter. Yes, his character was such that he always struck when the iron was hot. Sometimes when it was too hot or too cold, but he was quick to swing. Quick tempered person.

Not in a negative way, but he was always quick to act. Well, let me put it this way. If Peter was a policeman, and you were running from him, it would go something like this. Bang! Halt! Like, thanks. Quick on the trigger.

Aren't we all at times, aren't we all a little bit too fast to judge someone else? You get the feeling whenever the Lord spoke to Peter, spoke to the group of apostles, of disciples, that Peter was right up front. And that Peter was really the one being spoken to.

And everything that hit Peter bounced off and hit everyone else also. For example, the night that the Lord was betrayed there in the Garden of Gethsemane, Matthew and Mark write this, I'm reading from Mark's account, Mark chapter 14 verse 37. Now the disciples, the three, Peter, James, and John, that inner circle had gone farther into the garden, deeper into the garden with Jesus to pray. And they all fell asleep, the three disciples. And then Jesus came and found them sleeping and said to Peter, Shimon, are you sleeping?

Could you not watch for one hour? What about the other two? It speaks of Peter's leadership. It speaks of his charisma, how he impacted his environment without even trying.

That makes me sad. I'd like a little bit of that. I'd like a dose of Peter, please, in me. This is a man of action.

Beyond the rest, he always went further than everyone else. When it was time to act, Peter went a little bit farther than the rest of the apostles. Turn with me to John's gospel, chapter 20. And there, beginning in verse 1, we read, On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciples, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him. Peter, therefore, went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. Then he, that is John, the other disciple, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there, yet he did not go in.

Verse 6, Then Simon Peter came, out of breath, no doubt. Following him went into the tomb, and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also, and he saw and believed. You see, John ran up to the tomb, didn't know what to do after that. He's there, he looks inside, Peter catches up, he goes inside the tomb. Then John follows Peter. He's the kind of man he was all of his life.

He's a man of action. There on Galilee, as our text is, capturing for us in the storm, when they all realized it was Jesus, the others were in awe. Peter, Matthew 14, verse 28, Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.

Everyone else is like, ooh, it's not a ghost, we're not going to die, it's the Lord. Peter's like, Lord, if it's really you, ask me to come out, I'll come out to you. It doesn't say, it didn't happen this way. Matthew writes, and Peter answered him and said, but that's not what happened.

Well, that is what happened, but that's not what was said. When this was going down, as we would say, Peter just blurts out past everybody, Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water. Regardless of what happened after that, no one else stepped out of the boat. Not on those waves.

Even if the waves weren't there, no one else was willing to step out. At another time, at Caesarea Philippi, while the others quoted others, you see, Jesus said, who do men say that I am? They all began to say, well, some say you're John, some say you're Jeremiah, some say you're Elijah. And then Jesus said, well, who do you say that I am?

Matthew 16, 16, it's recorded for us. Again, the narrative, Simon Peter answered and said, but that's not what was spoken. When Jesus said, who do you say that I am? Peter said, you are the Christ, son of the living God.

Everybody else is quoting somebody else. Peter stepped up and got it. I read these things about this man and I say, would I have been the silent one in the bunch? Would I have spoken up? Would I have realized this?

If I, how would I have realized this? Why would I have gotten it and all the Pharisees missed it? I think that we find out in Luke chapter 5, I'll get there in a minute, but one cannot in the presence of God, cannot be in the presence of God and not sense the great weight and darkness of the fallen nature. You cannot be in the presence of God and know you're in the presence of God and not sense your own sin and the darkness that sin speaks of. You see, the world would like to say sin is just error, but the Christian knows it's much deeper.

It's damning. In the Gospel of Luke, after Andrew had brought Peter to Jesus and Jesus had said, you are Cephas, the rock, we'll get to that momentarily. On another occasion, Jesus had preached and he had told them to throw out their net and they said, we've caught no fish, it's pointless, but we'll do it anyway and they throw it out and they get more fish than they could pull in. Peter realized he was in the presence of not just greatness, but God's greatness. Before all the others could really grasp it and articulate it, Peter articulated it in speech and in action, Luke 5-8, when Simon saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. He fell down in front of everyone. It wasn't like this was Jesus and Peter somewhere at night by themselves.

Right in front of his friends and his co-workers and strangers, he falls down. He's unashamed. That's how the man was. This is a great man. It is not, again, by accident that the Lord chose him specifically.

This is the need of all humanity. It's personal. It was personal for Peter. It was like no one else existed at that moment. Depart from me, I'm a sinful man.

Everybody was blocked out. The Gospel tells man where he can have his needs met. In Christ Jesus, but it is personal. You cannot inherit salvation.

Not in the sense that you get it from your parents. Years later, not too many years later, just a couple, when everybody else was departing Jesus. The same Peter who said, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man. When Jesus said, Are you two going to leave? Again, there's Jesus talking to the group. Peter steps up and answered him, John chapter 6 verses 68-69, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and to know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. He repeats his confession from Caesarea Philippi.

It's repeated, it's stated twice, two different occasions. He got it. It was deep inside of Peter.

Where we wanted to get for us, the story's not even half over with this man. On the Sea of Galilee, after the Lord had been crucified and risen again, while Jesus was on the shore calling out, Lads, have you caught anything? It was springtime.

The Sea of Galilee is still cold in the springtime. While others were blinking and glowing at the realization, it's the Lord. Peter went.

He went on a mission. We read it. Let me read it to you this way, John chapter 21.

In fact, let's turn there. You're at John 20. John 21 verse 7. And there we read of John writing about this. He says, Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, that's John speaking to Peter, when he realized this was Jesus on the shore, he says, It is the Lord.

I'm going to read it to you the way it's written, then I'm going to read it to you the way I think it happened. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his garment, for he had removed it and plunged into the sea. That is how John remembered it, with much more excitement than he wrote it. And it's captured here in the verse. One of the most thrilling moments in all Bible verse histories when you see it this way. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord.

Now when Simon Peter heard that, splash! Yeah, there was that moment, that moment where he reached for his garment and pity the man who was in the way between Peter and that garment. Can you see the immense intensity on his face at the realization that this was his Jesus?

This is after the denial, after the crucifixion, after he had saw him risen already. Catch the thrill in John's voice as he writes this, looking back almost 60 years ago, as if it were yesterday. When Simon Peter heard that, when Simon heard that, it's like time stopped. He reached for his garment, he plunged into the sea, in the midst of cold, and swam to the Lord. Powerful moment. Yet there were deep failures in this same man.

And that's the part that connects me to him. You see, I can read all these wonderful things about Peter, but to read them and also understand that he had deep failures also. And in the midst of those, well, with those failures, none of them took away, in the end, from who he was with our Jesus. At Caesarea Philippi, to the north in Israel, not Caesarea by the sea, where Paul stood and gave his confession before being taken to Rome. This is Caesarea Philippi to the north.

It is a place where pagan temples existed, in the worship of the god Pan, the false god, of course. And there, with this big rock in front of him in that area, Jesus, of course, gave us those powerful words, upon this rock I will build my church, but preceding that statement from the Lord. Of course, when Jesus said, who do you say that I am?

Jesus said, you are the Christ, the son of the living God, and the Lord says, upon this rock I will build my church. Not long after that, in fact, shortly after that, because the scripture tells us, from that time forward, from the confession of Peter and the statement of Jesus, Jesus headed towards Jerusalem and began to expound to his disciples that he was going to be crucified. Peter did not care for that message.

The idea was something to be corrected. And so we read in Matthew's Gospel, chapter 16, verse 22 and 23, Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. Now he's not screaming at him, but he's correcting the teacher, saying, far be it from you, Lord, this shall not happen to you. But when he turned, the Lord that is, but he turned and said to Peter, get behind me Satan, you are an offense to me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but of the things of men. Man, you go from being the one that, when everybody is wondering and quoting others, and you step forward and you say, you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and the Lord says, flesh and blood did not tell you that, Simon Peter, but my Father in heaven, he has told you that. And then shortly after you go to being called the devil.

I mean, that's not right, but this is how it is. The Lord corrected him. He received the correction. Not only does Matthew write about it, but Mark writes about it, which is significant because we believe, with all the evidence, forensic literary evidence, to say that Mark's gospel is Peter's account. Peter telling Mark, Mark putting it into print.

Peter tells Mark the very story, the stories, I should say, that he lived. And so, yes, one of the deep failures was this rebuke in Caesarea Philippi, and then there was the great denial in Jerusalem. I want to again make it very clear that my understanding of the Scripture concerning Peter's denial is that he did not deny as a coward, but he denied as a confused man. What would you have done? Would you have even continued to follow? They all did not follow.

John followed because he knew people within the court. Peter, he was a stranger. Matthew chapter 26, verse 33, Peter answered and said to him, even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.

What would happen if that was never recorded for us? Would not we be the ones? I'll never fail the Lord. But we never say that. We're not for Peter.

We would rush and make the same claim, but because of Peter, we receive lesson. You've been listening to Cross-Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Pastor Rick is teaching from God's word each time you tune in.

As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, this teaching is available free of charge at our website. Just visit That's We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross-Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can do so at or search for Cross-Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app store. That's all for today. Join Pastor Rick next time for more character studies right here on Cross-Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-04 19:10:17 / 2023-03-04 19:19:32 / 9

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