Saturday, January 16, 2021

Peter's Problem - Mark 14:26-31 - January 17, 2021

These are the Sermon Notes for January 17, 2020. We are meeting at the church with limited seating and specific procedures and protocols that need to be followed. Read our Covid-19 plan here. You can still watch our livestream service every Sunday at 9:37 am on our facebook page or watch the livestream recordings any time.

 Mark 14:26-31 Peter’s Problem

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Let’s pray.

That Psalm, Psalm 23, known as the Shepherd’s Psalm has brought comfort to millions. I think it’s read at every funeral, at the very least every funeral that I perform.

The beautiful thought that Jesus is the Great Shepherd of the sheep, watching out for us and caring for us, leading and guiding us right where He wants us to go.

Jesus is again portrayed as a shepherd in His parable in Matthew 18:12 and Luke 15:4.

If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.

It seems in our day that being called a sheep is an insult, blindly following and not thinking for oneself. I say that it’s not an insult if you’re following the right Shepherd.

1 Peter 5:4 and Hebrews 13:20 both refer to Jesus as the Great Shepherd. Ephesians 4:11 says that Jesus gave some to be, “poimen didaskalos,” shepherd-teachers, also known as pastors, Jesus’ under-shepherds.

We’re picking up our study in Mark 14 right after Jesus had instituted the Lord’s Supper. They had celebrated the Passover together in an upper room that scholars believe belonged to the father of John Mark, the human author of this Gospel. After singing a hymn, which would have been Psalm 113-118, Jesus led the disciples across the darkness of the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives. This would have been around midnight. It’s on this walk through the night that we pick up in Mark 14:27-31, page 851 in the pew Bibles.

27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

Here Jesus applies the title of Shepherd to Himself and He quotes Zechariah 13:7.

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,” declares the Lord of hosts. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered…”

Do you see any difference between how Zechariah said it and how Jesus said it? For you English nerds, Jesus changed the verb, “to strike,” from imperative to indicative, from “strike,” to “I will strike.”

It is the Lord of Hosts that will strike the Shepherd and the sheep will scatter. Not the devil, not the Sanhedrin, not the Romans, the Lord of Hosts. God Himself will strike the Shepherd Jesus, pouring out His wrath on Him for us.

I don’t know if the disciples knew their Old Testament well enough to notice the difference but I’m sure Jesus did. Jesus death was not a surprise to Him, it was the plan from the beginning, as was His desertion by His friends.

But even here in our short text Jesus reminds His disciples that He will not be stricken for long. Verse 28 says, “But after I am raised up, I will go before you into Galilee.” Jesus’ role as Great Shepherd would continue after His death and resurrection and He promised to meet them back where this all started, in the back woods of Galilee.

Unfortunately this promise from the Great Shepherd fell on mostly deaf ears. The disciples missed the part about being raised up after being stricken, they only heard the part about being scattered.

So up steps Peter. 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.”

Ever stop and think about that statement? Even though the rest of these guys are not strong enough, not loyal enough, not courageous enough to stand with you, I will stay strong, I will not fall away.”

But as we know, Peter was not courageous, he was thoughtless. Peter foolishly boasted because he was not wise enough to carefully examine himself. He overestimated the strength of his will and character to which Jesus responds in verse 30, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

Peter claimed that his loyalty was greater than the rest but in truth, his failure was greater than the rest. Jesus predicted that they would all desert Him but Peter would disown Him, not once but three times… that night… sometime in the next four or so hours! The rooster crows just before the sun comes up and it was already after midnight.

Since we have the added benefit of perspective, we are standing back considering this moment, what should Peter’s response to Jesus have been?

Lord, I don’t want to do that. How do I not do that? He should have asked Jesus for help to stand firm and not deny Him!

John Calvin wrote, “Believers ought, indeed, to be prepared for the contest in such a manner that, entertaining no doubt or uncertainty about the result and the victory, they may resist fear; for trembling and excessive anxiety are marks of distrust. But, on the other hand, they ought to guard against that stupidity which shakes off all anxiety, and fills their minds with pride, and extinguishes the desire to pray. This middle course between two faulty extremes is very beautifully expressed by Paul, when he enjoins us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God that works in us to will and perform…”

Instead of counting on the Lord to help him avoid denying Him, instead of asking Him for help in the trial, in his stupidity and pride he flat out told Jesus that He was wrong, and that there was no way that he would ever deny Him, even if he had to die with Him, and all the other disciples chimed in and said the same.

Now, as we have already seen, even in this short text, that it was the will of God to strike Jesus the Shepherd, we know that His death means salvation for us, but that does not free Peter nor the disciples from bearing responsibility of their own actions.

We can see the list of failures right here in our text: foolishness, pride, they thought more of themselves than they did of Jesus, in fact, they trusted their own ideas, their own plans over His, over the Father’s.

They were all idiots!

But the Lord has proven, time and time again, through the disciples and through me that being an idiot is not an insurmountable problem. But they also didn’t have the Holy Spirit, also not an insurmountable problem. All we have to do is skip ahead to the first two chapters of the Book of Acts and see how the Lord solved it.

And it’s that solution that I think we need to focus on, that’s the one point to this sermon. Peter and the other disciples, at this point in the story, did not have the Holy Spirit within them. They had the advantage of being face to face with Jesus, yes, but they did not have the help of the Holy Spirit to overcome their weaknesses.

And this is a weak point in Peter’s life. His pride and arrogance blinded him to the will of the Lord. Jesus said, “I will strike the Shepherd and the sheep will scatter. You will all fall away,” but Peter foolishly boasted of his own strength, which, we will see, failed him… miserably!

I can’t say what I would do if I were in his shoes, it probably would have been a lot worse. But, in truth, we are in those shoes all the time. Peter and the disciples didn’t have the faith to trust Jesus when things didn’t go according to their plan… When has anything gone according to our plan?!

The difference is, we have the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus.

Ezekiel 36:24-28 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

1 John 4:13-15 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

Romans 8:9-11 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Where Peter failed, by the power of the Holy Spirit we can succeed. Where he foolishly boasted of his strength, we can trust the Lord in our weakness.

The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 10:7 wrote:

So to keep me from becoming conceited… a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

May every hardship, along with every victory, every twist in the road, along with every straightaway teach us, even force us, to rely on the Holy Spirit.