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19 Jul 2020

Fallen But Not Forsaken [Matthew 26:69-75]

Overview

In life, we will make mistakes. And we long for a second chance. Praise God He is a God of the second chance, for He is the God of all grace. Peter messed up, but Jesus will mend him up. This is the story of you and me too. Discover from this sermon how God can lift you up and use you for His Kingdom. May you be encouraged today!


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Sermon Transcript

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A very good morning to all of you, welcome to Gospel Light Christian Church and our Sunday morning worship service. Glad you can join us, as we continue our study through the book of Matthew. We are in this series called, “48”, that follows the events that leads up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

This is a picture of Second Chance. It's a famous brand or it was a famous brand here in Singapore. I remember it fondly when I was growing up. Not that I bought anything from that chain of stores, but I remember the name very fondly - Second Chance.

Because that's what we all need in life, isn't it? We are not perfect. We all make mistakes and we all appreciate second chances, whether it's a second chance at a basketball shot, a second chance at a computer game, a second chance for your exams, a second chance at school, a second chance with a girlfriend or a boyfriend, a second chance in a job interview or a client presentation.

We want second chance. We want a second chance even for life. There are some people today who are criminals, they have been - gotten into trouble with the law and they want a second chance in life. And maybe even as followers of Jesus Christ, we have messed up and we now want a second chance in serving God.

Second chance. Well, I want to tell you today that our God is a God of second chance. We're going to see this in the life of the Apostle Peter. Peter was a man, who I think frankly, didn't do very well at a particular juncture of life. He messed up. He made a mistake.

And I'm sure in his mind, he longed for a second chance. He longed to be able to get back with Christ, his Master. He longed to be able to serve Him again. Will he get a second chance? Well, that's what we're going to look at today.

It's a sermon that is not quite expository in a sense, because we're not just going to look at Matthew 26, which are the verses presented before us. But we're going to take a more biographical approach, going to look at the life of Peter, from not just Matthew but from other parts of Scripture.

Because I want to share with you what it means to be fallen, but not forsaken. What it means to be someone who would receive grace from the God of second chance. A God who is so gracious and generous towards fallen people like as we are.

Maybe today you are discouraged. Maybe you are filled with guilt and shame and fear. I want to, from this message, bring hope and comfort to your soul. So, let's look at this subject of what it means to be fallen, but not forsaken. And we're going to look at the life of Peter.

1] How Peter Messed Up
So first of all, let's look at how Peter messed up. How did he make that mistake?

We see in Matthew 26 in verse 69, that, “Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard.” You remember Jesus was being apprehended and He's being tried at the residence of Caiaphas. Peter wanted to know what's going to happen and so he sat in the courtyard, waiting for the developments.

I want to share with you that there's a little difference or a little more detail given by Luke, in chapter 22:55. “And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard …” I just want to point your attention or bring your attention to this fire in the middle of the courtyard.

Whether it's significant or not, I really cannot be dogmatic. But I just want you to register that, at about the time Peter was waiting at a courtyard, at a time when he was about to deny Jesus, there was a fire that was lit in the middle of the courtyard.

At this point of time, while he was waiting, the Bible tells us, “… A servant girl, came up to him and said, 'You also were with Jesus, the Galilean.'” So the little girl, a servant girl, came to Peter and says, “Hey! Aren't … aren't you the one who was with Jesus in time past?”

And the Bible tells us, “Peter denied it before them all, saying, 'I do not know what you mean.'” I can imagine Peter now, like in a panic. He is caught off guard. And he was fearing that if he was to be identified with Jesus, he too will be caught, he too will be tried and he too might be killed.

And so we call it here in Singapore, ‘chik chok lok kio’. He was caught in a panic, off guard. And he just blurted out, “I do not know what you mean. Huh! I do not know what you're talking about.” The immediate first response of Peter is to deny Jesus, in order to save his own skin.

The book of Mark 14:68 tells us, “But he denied it, saying, 'I neither know nor understand what you mean…'” And it is at that point of time, that the Bible also tells us, “… He went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed.” That's found in Mark 14. So Mark tells us the rooster crow the very first time when Peter denied it, or denied Jesus the first time.

Now, the story goes on, “And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, 'This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.'” [Matt 26:71] And again, Peter responded in a similar way, but this time, “He denied it with an oath. 'I do not know the man.'” [Matt 26:72]

So he raises the bar, he denies it with an oath. He swears, “I do not know Jesus. No! No! No! No! You must be mistaken!” Well, the Bible tells us, “After a little while the bystanders came and said to Peter, 'Certainly you too, are one of them, for your accent betrays you.'” [Matt 26:73]

Now, ‘after a little while’, how long is this ‘little while’? Luke 22:59 tells us, “It's about an interval of about an hour.” So Peter has had time to think about what he just did - his lies, his denial, his cowardice. He has that time, I'm sure to think about that in that one hour.

But when the test comes again, when some people come and say, “Surely you're one of them.” This time, he responded again, in the same way. “He began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, 'I do not know the man.'” [Matt 26:74] What he's saying here is, “May God punish me, if I am with Jesus.”

Well, you could say that Peter is now in full-blown denial. He feared men and not feared God at all. And after this, the Bible says, “And immediately the rooster crowed.” [Matt 26:74]

And actually, this is specifically mentioned by Mark 14:72, that, “The rooster crowed a second time.” So many of us, we have read this story and we thought that the crow only - or the rooster crowed only once. But no! It's actually two times, when you look at Mark's record.

"And Peter, remembered how the Lord had told him that, 'before the rooster crows two times, he will deny Jesus three times.' And he broke down and wept.” [Mark 14:72]

So this is an account of how Peter messed up. How quickly things turned, isn't it? If you recall, Peter was so bold and courageous in the Garden of the Gethsemane. The soldiers came, 600 soldiers came, and Peter drew a sword and wanted to hack at Malchus. I think if Jesus did not stop him, he might just go on and hack everyone else, if he could.

Why was he so bold and why is he so cowardly here? How quickly things change! Well, I could only tell you that I think Peter certainly learned about how fragile one's faith is, when he later on wrote, perhaps in the epistle to the fellow Christians, “That Satan is like a roaring lion, and therefore we must be sober, we must be vigilant.”

I think he learned about how quickly things turn in one moment. Peter messed up. “He … he … why did he mess up?”, you say. Well, because he was cowardly, he was weak. But why was he cowardly and weak?

If you trace it a bit further back, you will recall how Jesus had already anticipated this and told Peter, “Peter, you will deny Me.” But Jesus also heard from Peter saying, “Lord, I will never deny You, even if they all will deny You, I will never deny You. Even if I were to die, I will not deny You.”

So Peter was arrogant, he was confident in himself, he was proud of his own strength. And therefore, I think when he went into the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus told the disciples to pray, he didn't bother to pray, he just slept.

He didn't understand, as we have learned the last time, that even though your spirit may be willing, your flesh is weak. So Peter fell into sin, because he did not take heed. He did not understand that in his own flesh, he is weak and powerless. So Peter failed the Lord right there and then. He messed up.

Maybe some of you are like Peter; you thought you were strong enough to resist those temptations. You thought you would never fall because you have had a good walk with God. You're reading the Bible. You're going to church, or at least you are attending services online. You're praying at home.

But you thought that you were up to it when it comes to facing temptation. You did not pray specifically for God's protection and guard upon your life. So you thought a little conversation at the water-cooler with your secretary is fine. You thought that a little friendly, flirty text message with someone of the opposite gender would do no harm.

You thought you can handle all these. But who knows; in just a turn of a moment you fell into sin. You have an affair, and now you are filled with guilt and shame and fear and remorse. You messed up! How quickly things turn.

What are we to do when we mess up? Well, let's look on, because I think the Bible records for us not just how Peter messed up.
2] How Peter was Mended Up
We're going to see secondly, how Peter was mended up. See, this is the amazing grace of God, that He will restore Peter back to fruitful ministry.

The Church fathers record that it is said, “Peter could never hear the cock crow again without having his eyes welled up in tears.” He was devastated by it. But this is the grace of God touching his life, restoring him.

You see, the denial of Peter was no surprise to Jesus and Jesus actually had already prepared for it. That restoration, that mending work of Peter was done even before Peter ever knew it.

We see in Luke 22:31-32, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat … ”, he's going to shake you up in your life, in your faith. “… But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

So Jesus prayed specifically for Peter's faith, that it will not fail. And not only is there a prayer that is offered here, there is a promise, “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” So Peter will be restored. Why? Because Jesus was praying for Peter.

And then not only before the event, but at that very event itself, when Peter would deny Jesus, you know something, Jesus made sure He's going to reach out to Peter. How? We read in Luke 22:60-61, “Peter said, 'Man, I do not know what you're talking about.' And immediately while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.” But what's interesting is next, “The Lord turned and looked at Peter.”

This is fascinating! Peter denied the Lord. Jesus knew it. And right at that moment Jesus turned to look at Peter. You say, “Why did you look at Peter?” Well, the Bible doesn't tell us what kind of a look it was.

Perhaps you might think, this is a look of despise. “Hah! This Peter, he's lousy, he failed.” I think not. I mean, Jesus already knew that Peter would deny Him. So this look, it's not a look of despise.

I don't think this is a look of anger. I don't think this is the look of disgust. It just is so out of character with what we've read in the earlier verse, that Jesus is praying for Peter. Could it be a look of disappointment? I think not. Could be - could it be a look of ridicule, adding salt to wounds?

Well, I think even though the Bible doesn't tell us what kind of a look it is, or it was, I suppose it would not be any of these options. I believe it would be a look of love. It would be a look that communicated to Peter, “Peter, even though you would deny Me, I would not deny you.” It's a look that reached out to Peter. It's a look of love.

How is Jesus going to mend Peter up? Well, He prayed for him and He still looked to him with love, at the point of Peter's denial.

And then thirdly, I'd like us to think a few days after this very event, the book of John records for us that Peter now together with the disciples had gone fishing. I am not sure what's going on in Peter's mind.

Maybe he must be so disappointed, so disillusioned, disgusted with himself that he says, “There's no way I'm going to be a fisher of men anymore, like what Jesus told me. I'm just going back to my old career. I'm just going back to fishing. That's what I do and I think I've just blown my chance of ever serving the Lord.” Maybe that's what he's going through his mind.

But on that morning, Jesus would look for Peter and the disciples by the beach. And when the disciples had finished fishing, “When they got out to land, on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place with fish laid out on it, and bread.” [John 21:9]

I … I just wanted to draw your attention to this charcoal fire. Remember the fire at the courtyard. I'm not sure if I were to link the two of them together, but maybe that familiar scene of fire, that familiar smell of fire, might provoke some kind of déjà vu for Peter.

You see, it might be that Jesus is recreating a scene for Peter. Because we read, “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' 'Feed My lambs.'

He said to him a second time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' 'Tend My sheep.' He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' Peter was grieved because He said to him, the third time, 'Do you love me?' and he said to Him, 'Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.' 'Feed My sheep.'"

Almost every commentator understands that Jesus is not asking this because He's naggy. But Jesus is asking Peter the same questions, three times to parallel the three denials of Peter. He's saying, “Peter, …” He's giving Peter a chance, “… do you love me?” “Yes.” “Do you love me?” “Yes.” “Do you love me?” “Yes.” “So go feed, go tend, go take care of My sheep, My lambs.”

See, Jesus is intentionally restoring Peter. Giving him an opportunity to profess his love and commitment and giving him the charge to do God's work these three times, even though Peter had failed the Lord, three times.

So we read today that Peter messed up but wonderfully Peter was mended up. He was restored. He was healed. Like I said, maybe some of us today, we have messed up. We have made mistakes, we have sinned against God, in a way we feel we can't even forgive ourselves.

But our God is a God of grace. I want to tell you that our God specializes in using broken humbled people, like you and me. And today I like you to hear the voice of God. You know that the Bible tells us about the unchanging strong love of God.

I mean, we have been looking at passages like Romans chapter 8. How the strong love of God is, so unbreakable! Nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Remember those words in Hebrews chapter 13, where the Bible says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God is saying, actually in the Greek, five times, five negatives – “I will never, no, never, no, never leave you.” I like you to be reminded today, he tells us, “If we confess our sins …” 1st John 1:9, “… He's faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

My friends, God is not just a God of second chance, He's a God of third chances, fourth … fourth chances and so on and so forth. Because if we confess our sins, if you will just do that. If you will just humble yourself, even though you have sinned greatly against God. If you desire, fellowship and communion with Him, He says, “If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just.”

You see, He cannot not forgive you. Why? Because Jesus paid the price for your sins on the cross. And we are appealing to the faithfulness and the justice of God. He cannot punish Jesus and still lay that sin on you. So our God is a God of amazing grace.

I want to say to you that, “The church is a place, is a people of grace.” Do you know that? Because the Bible tells us to restore one another in a spirit of meekness. If we see a brother overtaken in a sin, overtaken in a fault, we are to restore them. Restore one another in a spirit of meekness, of gentleness.

Whether it's the promise of forgiveness, whether it's the voice of God communicating to you His unbreakable love, whether it's the church community, God is saying to you, “Come back to me, because I'm a God who will mend you up.”

Like I've said, the Kingdom of God is not made of perfect people. It's made of broken people. People like Moses, people like David, people like Peter, who sinned against God, but who are healed by the mercy and grace of God.

So, we see how Peter messed up. Maybe it's a picture of how you and I messed up. We see Peter mended up, and I hope this would be a picture of how you and I could be mended up.

3] How Peter Manned Up
But finally, I want to share with you how Peter manned up.

He lived a courageous life thereafter. You know, it's not easy. I think Peter, after hearing Jesus' says … saying to him, “Go feed My sheep. Go serve My people.” He could easily have said, “No! No! No! Lord, I failed You. I will not do it again.”

Because it's probably easier for him to wallow in self-pity, than to rise up as a servant of God. But I think he made the right choice, he manned up. He remembered the Words of Jesus in Luke 22:32, “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” And he took the command of Jesus very seriously to feed the lambs, the sheep and to tend to them.

So we read in the Bible, right after this, Peter became a fearless, powerful preacher on the day of Pentecost. He would preach that sermon where thousands would come to faith. He will endure persecution before the religious leaders. He would not be deterred even if he was incarcerated in prison.

And according to a church tradition, again, we read that Peter was faithful to the very end of his life, where he was crucified upside down. You say, “Why upside down?” Because apparently, Peter said he is not even worthy to die the same way as his Master Jesus Christ. So he requested an upside-down crucifixion.

See, he manned up! Here was a man who failed, but who is restored and who was faithful for the rest of the days of his life.

My friends, this is the way God works. He uses broken people, even Christians who still sin against God. He wants us to come to Him, be washed in the blood of the Lamb to experience grace upon grace upon grace. And then let us go out and be a blessing to those around us.

I think about Moses. Moses, a great servant of God, but do you realize he also messed up in life? It is said that Moses lived three trimesters, three stages of 40 years. The first 40 years he was the Prince of Egypt. He thought he was a somebody. So he took things into his own hands and killed the Egyptian soldier.

The next 40 years of his life, he learned that he was a nobody. He was banished to the wilderness to be just a shepherd. But then, after that humbling, he was used by God in the last 40 years of his life. And there he learned that God can use anybody.

You see, when we think that we are somebody, God would show us that we are really nobody. And then we will realize our God of grace can use anybody.

Isn't that the story of Peter too? He thought he was a somebody, but he was reduced to a nobody after his sin. But then he realized God can use anybody, who's willing to, who is washed in the blood of the Lamb.

It's the same for David. David was so filled with pride and arrogance, that I think he fell into complacency and therefore the sin with Bathsheba and Uriah. Then he was broken, he was messed up, he must be so guilty and agonizing in his heart.

But the Bible also tells us that when he came to God in repentance, in Psalm 51:12-13, he said, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will return to You.”

You know what I learned about David here? David messed up, but David also was mended up, restored, and he knew that he needed to man up. He needed to take this experience and bring it and help others and teach transgressors God's ways. “Well, it is good for me that I was afflicted that I might learn Your statutes.” [Psalm 119:71]

Maybe the messes in our lives are not without purpose. I am not saying this so that we can indulge in sin and say, “It is alright to sin.” No! Far … far from it. God forbid. But if you should have fallen into sin today, please don't think that it's the end of the story with God. He still loves you, if you are truly His. And He still wants to use you.

In fact, maybe it is now more suitable that you should serve God, having experienced a humbling in life. It was Piper who says, “A thousand sorrows prepare a man to preach.” I think it is a thousand sorrows, mistakes and messes and failures in our lives that also teach us how to minister, to minister out of a position of authenticity, of humility, of empathy.

So, Peter was a man who was fallen, but he was not forsaken. In fact, I think he became fruitful, he became faithful. And my friends today, you can't change yesterday. You can't change what you did yesterday, but I think you can do something about your life today.

You can come to God in repentance, in humility, asking for forgiveness. And you can ask Him for fresh grace that He might use you once more. You can do that! And I pray that Peter's story, Peter's life will encourage your heart to come back, to man up, to serve Him.

But you know, the Book of Matthew is really not just about Peter. In fact, I think it is not even about Peter to say the least, it is about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Think about Jesus! Contrast Him with Peter. Peter fell, but you know something, Jesus never falls. He lived His life perfectly. In fact, let me say this, “There was no way Jesus can fail because if he fails, if he were to fail, if He were to back off from the cross. If he were to sin, one sin, you know what, there will be no more salvation for any one of us. God's plan will be foiled and God's attribute of grace would never be shown.”

But here it is, we have Jesus Christ, who cannot fail, who must not fail, and he did not fail. That's the Gospel! Because the Bible tells us, He went to the cross and He could say, “It is finished.” “All the sins of those who believe on upon on me would be fully paid for.” And salvation will be blessed upon those who believe upon Him.

Jesus cannot fail. But you know something, He was forsaken. This is the strange thing. This is the amazing thing. That the perfect sinless Son of God never failed, but He was forsaken. Because on the cross, He was forsaken by everyone. And most of all, He was forsaken by the Father, when He cried out, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken me?”

The perfect Son of God is forsaken, so that we, who are separated from God might be brought back to Him. What an unfair transaction, that He who knew no sin was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him!

My friends, this is what the message of the Bible is all about. We are a people who will keep sinning and sinning and sinning and yet God loves us. He gave His Son to die for us. His Son lived a life of perfection and He gives us, He credits to us the perfect record of Jesus Christ. And Jesus suffered on the cross, burying our rotten record of sin.

Would you today, come to God through Jesus Christ, believing that He's the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world? And so today, even as Christians, once again, I'm not saying that “We Christians are now free to sin. Far from it!” If you really are born again, you will have a heart that loves Him and you won't want to sin.

But if you do because of the weakness of the flesh, Jesus was forsaken, so that you will never be forsaken. Come back to Him, repent of your sin, drink in the Gospel of grace. And then live it out and live a life that will give it out. May this encourage you, we are fallen sometimes, but never forsaken. God bless.

Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

Father, we are thankful today, You are not man, that You should think and act like men. But You are the God of amazing grace indeed, that while we were yet sinners, You would send Christ to die for us. And even after we've come to know You, so often we fail You in our lives. Yet You will never, no never, no never forsake us.

Lord, we are a people greatly indebted to Your grace. And so, I pray that even this morning, for some who may be discouraged, guilty, fearful, they would find solace, not in their own worthiness, but in Your amazing glory. That they will trust that You are the God of all grace. They will respond as You have commanded them in the Bible to come, confessing their sins.

I pray that You will then bring healing and joy into their hearts, assurance because of the Gospel, into their hearts. And I pray then that they will teach transgressors Your ways. They would step up, they will man up to serve You and be a blessing to many more people from a position of humility and authenticity.

Father, we want to pray today for friends who are hearing us, or hearing your words for the very first time. Would you also work in their hearts to see this amazing message of the Bible that Jesus is the Lamb of God sacrificed to save us from our sins? Bless them with repentance and faith. We commit ourselves to Your hands. Continue please to build up this church for Your glory. We thank You in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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