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Peter’s Denial

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 25, 2024 12:01 am

Peter’s Denial

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 25, 2024 12:01 am

Peter claimed to be Jesus' most devoted disciple. How could he deny his Lord three times? Preaching from the gospel of John, today R.C. Sproul considers what this somber moment can teach us about our own hearts and the source of our hope when we fail.

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And as soon as the third denial was out of his mouth, the rooster began to crow. What does this show us? I think it shows us something hideous. I think it shows us something we don't want to see.

It shows us the darkness of the human heart. Peter's denial of Jesus three times is a dark and somber moment in the life of Peter, in the Gospel account of the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion. It should cause each of us to pause, knowing that it's only by the grace of God that we don't deny our Lord. I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and this is the Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. As we approach Resurrection Sunday at the end of next month, we're featuring a short sermon series from John's Gospel, beginning last week with The Arrest of Jesus. You can study the entirety of John's Gospel when you request the hardcover edition of R.C. Sproul's commentary on John, which is based on these sermons.

You can learn more at renewingyourmind.org. What does Peter's denial of Jesus show us, and why was Jesus brought before the high priest at night? Open your Bible to John chapter 18 if you have one with you.

Here's Dr. Sproul. We're going to continue with our study of the Gospel according to St. John, and this morning I'll be reading from the 18th chapter from verses 15 through verse 27. So at this point I'd like to ask the congregation to stand for the reading of the Gospel. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. And then the other disciple who was known to the high priest went out and spoke to her who kept the door and brought Peter in. And the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, You're not also one of this man's disciples, are you? And he said, I am not. Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves.

And Peter stood with them and warmed himself. And the high priest then asked Jesus about his disciples and his doctrine. And Jesus answered him, I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing.

Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them. Indeed, they know what I said. And when he had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Do you answer the high priest like that? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil.

But if well, why do you strike me? And then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself, and therefore they said to him, You are not also one of his disciples, are you? He denied it again and said, I am not. And one of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, Didn't I see you in the garden with him? Peter then denied again, and immediately a rooster crowed. He who has ears to hear the word of God, let them hear it.

You may be seated. Let us pray. Again, our Father and our God, we look to you as the author and finisher of our faith, the source and fountainhead of all truth. And as we now come to contemplate the word of this gospel, we pray that you would give us understanding of it and application to our own hearts. For we ask it in Jesus' name.

Amen. There's a word in the English language that drips of pain. It is a word that sends shivers up our spine whenever we hear it and whenever we contemplate it and most especially whenever we experience it. And I'm talking of the word betrayal.

When I hear that word, I get a sick and empty feeling at the pit of my stomach because it suggests that kind of experience that is one of the most devastating experiences any human being can ever endure. And I know this morning that apart from the littlest ones among us, everybody in this room knows what it means to at some point in your life to have been betrayed. And everybody in this room at some point in your life has been also the betrayer as well as the one who has been betrayed.

I've said many times that it takes a long time to establish trust with another person, five minutes to destroy it. And this is our lot as people to be betrayed by those who are our friends, those who are members of our family, those that we have placed our trust and our hope. But beloved, when you're betrayed or if I'm betrayed, as painful as it might be, it can be understandable because no one of us is so flawless in our own behavior that we have to demand or require total loyalty.

And so when we betray each other, we can understand that. But tell me please how anyone who knew Him could betray Christ. And yet the biblical record of what happened on that Maundy Thursday night focuses the attention precisely on that problem of betrayal, not only at the hands of Judas but also by the lips of Peter.

I find it fascinating that when the Apostle Paul gives the words of institution in his first epistle to the Corinthians, he doesn't refer back to the Last Supper by saying, in the night in which our Lord broke bread with His disciples, nor does he say, in the night in which our Lord was put on trial for His life, nor does he say, in on that night in which He was arrested, but he refers to that night that will live in infamy as the night in which He was betrayed. And so interspersed in John's record of the elements and stages of the trial of Jesus comes this reminder of the treachery of Peter himself. This morning in our adult class, looking over the life of Jesus, we focused our attention on the transfiguration, indeed the highlight of the disciples' experience of Jesus during His earthly ministry, where Jesus went aside with three of His disciples, the inner core, Peter, James, and John. And there on the mountain He was transfigured before their eyes, and His face began to glow as bright as the sun, and His clothes began to gleam as white as the light. And when Peter saw that and saw Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah, he said, oh Lord, let me build a booth here. What was he asking?

He said, it doesn't get any better than this. Let's pitch our tent right here, right now, forget about going to Jerusalem, let's just bask in Your glory on the mountaintop. Do you see at that moment what Peter wanted more than anything else in the world was to be as close to Jesus as he possibly could get. And once being in that inner circle, he wanted to stay there permanently forever. How like us this is, are we not all in the flesh groupies? How we love to get close to the rich and famous, to those who are in positions of power and of adulation, until or unless they fall, and then when they fall we run for cover. Or once the criticisms are leveled at our heroes, we no longer want to be identified with them at all. So it was with Peter just a few days after the transfiguration, only a few moments after picking up his sword, rising in the defense of Jesus against this horde of soldiers that come to arrest him, now we find him cowering in the shadows, terrified of a question by a maid, denying Jesus publicly with cursing.

Let's look at it. Let me back up to the end of last week's text. When the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him, they led him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. And now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. Now why in the world would these troops, after they bind Jesus and arrest him, take him to the father-in-law of the high priest? Why don't they take him to the high priest? If they want to have Jesus judged and they want to set the thing in motion, they know that sooner or later he's going to have to go before Pilate, before the Roman authorities, and the link to the Roman authorities is not Annas, but Caiaphas. So why not straight to Caiaphas?

Well, the answer is simple. Because Annas was the high priest, and the Jews knew that. What the Romans didn't understand is that in Israel the high priest was appointed for life and could not be deposed. And so these Jews who were pious Jews, Orthodox Jews, they take Jesus in his arrest first to Annas because they recognize that he really is the high priest despite what the Romans are saying. And so what takes place at the beginning of this account of the trial of Jesus takes place in the presence of Annas. And we read in verse 15 that Simon Peter followed Jesus and so did another disciple. Notice that the other disciple is not named and there's a lot of debate as to who it was. Usually when John refers obliquely to himself in his gospel, he refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, but I am persuaded that he is referring to himself here because there's very much evidence to suggest that John the disciple was of a member of the family of a priestly group within the Sanhedrin. And if any member of the disciples would have had access into the priestly environs, it would have been John.

So even though he's not named here, that's my guess for better or for worse. But in any case, this other disciple was known to the high priest and he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. And the other disciple who was known to the high priest went out and spoke to her, this lady who was the keeper of the door, and brought Peter in. But then this servant girl, as Peter's entering, who kept the door, said to Peter, notice how she states the question. She doesn't say, are you a member of this man's group here in entourage? Are you one of Nazarene's disciples? That's not how she phrases it. She phrases it this way. You're not one of his disciples, are you? The way in which the expression is given here allows for only one possible correct answer. And Peter gives it. Well, no, no, no.

I'm certainly not one of his. Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coal stood there, for it was cold and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself. Phenonymously, of course, he's hiding in the shadows, but he didn't want to run out of the courtyard altogether.

He goes over to the fire where there's some other servants and where the soldiers are standing around, sort of listens in to what they're saying and gets warm in front of the fire. This tiny little detail is significant for John's account of the trial of Jesus because it points out that this thing was taking place at night. We knew that already with the lanterns and the torches that came into the garden where Jesus was arrested. But this calls attention again to the illegality of this Jewish trial taking place in the middle of the night while Peter's outside trying to stay warm around the fire.

It also verifies that we're still at Annas' place and not at the place of Caiaphas. But in any case, the high priest then asked Jesus what? About his disciples and his doctrine. The high priest asked Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine, about his relationships and about his theology. Now, again, we don't know for sure, but there is abundant Jewish testimony on how trials were to be conducted, and they were to be conducted this way, that the prisoner who was on trial was never required to bear witness or answer questions. Only witnesses were allowed to speak at the trial, the witnesses against the accused and the witnesses in behalf of the accused. And the procedure was this, that first the witnesses in behalf of the accused were called to testify to the integrity of the one who was on trial, and then those who wanted to bring accusations against the accused would do so according to the strict standards of Jewish law. But all of this is dispensed with as Annas proceeds immediately to begin to interrogate Jesus, asking him about his disciples and asking him about his doctrine. Now, notice that in the final outcome of this trial, when Jesus is later delivered into the hands of Pilate, the charge against him is political, not theological. But at this stage, the interrogation is about his theology. Here's how Jesus responds, Do you see what he's doing?

He's calling Annas on the illegality of this trial. If you want to know what I teach, ask anybody, because what I teach openly is no different from what I teach in private. I don't have a double agenda. What I say in the public square, I say in the cloakroom. So if you want to know what I teach, you ask my disciples or you ask the people, even those who are opponents to me, because whatever I've been teaching, I've been teaching openly and publicly. And again, he's challenging Annas to follow the proper protocol for a Jewish trial.

So why don't you ask them? That's the way it's supposed to be done. Now, when he said these things, one of the officers, he got the rebuke. He stood by, he struck Jesus with a palm of his hand saying, are you going to answer the high priest like this?

Who do you think you are? Smacks Jesus in the face. And Jesus said, if I've spoken evil, bear witness of the evil.

Give your testimony. And if I've spoken well, then why do you strike me? You see, if I've done something evil, you're supposed to bear witness to that, which you haven't done.

And if I didn't speak evil, then why are you slapping me? So now he challenges the servant who slaps him. While all of this is going on, we see that Annas is growing more and more frustrated, and so we read in verse 24 that he sent him bound to Caiaphas, the high priest. All right, all of the authority is vested now in my son-in-law, so I'm sending… I've heard enough.

I've heard all I want to hear. Take him to Caiaphas. Caiaphas is the one who has the authority now to deliver him to the Romans.

Obviously, that's why Annas is sending him back to his father-in-law. Now, while all of this is going on, listen to the text again. Now, Simon Peter stood and warned himself.

This is like reading a novel where the focus of the author as he develops the plot changes from one person to another, and after he leaves one of the people dangling over the fire for four or five chapters, they're out there in the ranch. Meanwhile… he'll say what? Meanwhile, back at the ranch, and so now he's saying, Meanwhile, back at this fire that's keeping everybody warm, he reassigns our attention to Peter. Therefore, they said to him, You're not also one of his disciples, are you? He denied it, and he said, I am not.

Then one of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, Didn't I see you in the garden with him? Peter denied it again. The other Gospel writers say this is the time that the denial was associated with a stream of cursing.

I don't know the blankety-blank man. His denial is emphatic. As Simon Peter, the rock who had made his confession of faith in Christ at Caesarea Philippi, Simon Peter, who later testified to seeing the majesty of Christ in the transfiguration, now three times, not in front of Pilate but in front of servants, betrays Jesus with curses.

And as soon as the third denial was out of his mouth, the rooster began to cry, fulfilling the warning of Christ. What does this tell us? What does this show us? I think it shows us something hideous. I think it shows us something we don't want to see. It shows us the darkness of the human heart. This shows us what people are capable of doing. Even after making a glorious confession, even after swearing allegiance to Jesus, I will be with you to the end, Peter bailed out, at the moment of truth.

That's one thing it shows us. As we will see later in this Gospel, it shows us something else, that this is the kind of person that Jesus died for. This is the kind of person that Jesus gave His ministry to, to bear witness to a dying world. This is a kind of person that Jesus forgave. This is the kind of person that Jesus restored. And this is the kind of people He invites to His table.

Not people who are always loyal, but people who are humble. Not people who are sinless, but people who are contrite and who have been forgiven. And He invites them to eat with Him and to drink with Him, to be strengthened by Him, to be brought deeper into the relationship He has with them. It's that event that Paul was referring to when he sat on the night in which our Savior was betrayed. On that very night He took bread, and when He had blessed it, He broke it and He said, This is My body given for you. Eat ye all of it. And after they had eaten, like manna He took the cup and He said, This is now the cup of the New Testament in My blood.

Shed for the remission of your sin. Come and drink. And so this morning He invites us to be strengthened and nurtured by Him in His real presence at this real table. Let's pray. Father, take these common, ordinary elements of bread and wine and consecrate them now, set them apart for our edification, that they may represent for us the body and blood of Christ who is here now. And usher us by Thy Spirit into His presence, that we may feed upon Him and be healed. For we ask it in His name. Amen. Isn't that good news, that Jesus died for sinners, even those like Peter who would deny Him?

That was R.C. Sproul on this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind, walking us through the events as recorded by John leading up to Jesus' glorious resurrection. John's Gospel is beloved by many Christians, whether it's because of John 3.16 or the I Am sayings of Jesus that John recounts for us. And you can study this Gospel line by line when you request R.C. Sproul's expositional commentary on John. Give your gift today at renewingyourmind.org and we'll send you the hardcover edition to add to your library. Whether you read it for Bible study or devotional reading, Dr. Sproul will help you see the riches of the Gospel of John. Respond today at renewingyourmind.org as this offer ends at midnight. Early in the morning, after the events we heard about today, Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, and that's where R.C. Sproul will pick up next Sunday, here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-25 02:48:55 / 2024-02-25 02:57:40 / 9

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