Have you ever had someone make you a promise and not keep it? Or maybe you are the one that didn't keep a promise and had to deal with the consequences. Today's sermon told us about what happens when we try to rely on our own flesh and blood instead of on God. The outcomes can be dangerous. They can cause us to come up short, hurt feelings, tarnish relationships, and who knows what else. The empty promises we make start and end with us, not with God.
Matthew 26:31-35 ESV
Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written "I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." Peter answered him, "Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away." Jesus said to him, "Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." Peter said to him "Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!" And the disciples said the same.
Now let's unpack what just happened. If you know the story of Peter, you know that he does end up betraying Jesus. How can someone so sure about something go back on their word? Peter even told Jesus that he was willing to die with him. The trouble here is that Peter was relying more on himself than he was on Jesus.
When we put our faith in anything other than Jesus, it will always end in destruction. I mean, personally, if I had Jesus standing in front of me, I would be agreeing with everything he said and taking notes. Instead, Peter is making an empty promise to Jesus that he will stay faithful and will not deny him. Not only does Peter have Jesus telling him what will happen, it is even prophesied in Zachariah 13:7 that when the shepherd is struck, all the sheep are going to scatter.
Proverbs 3:5 ESV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding
We know that Peter was not trying to be defiant, but he was definitely relying on his own understanding instead of what Jesus was telling him. This is where as humans, we fail. We have been taught through our society that it is important to be strong and independent. A lot of good can come from those two things, but we also have to realize that God is with us. He knows more about us than we know about ourselves. Which also means, that he is right. Our God is an all knowing, all seeing God and according to Proverbs 3:5, we need to trust him with everything that we have.
Can you think of a person in your life who has never broken a promise to you? I know I probably can't. People fail because they are imperfect beings. God though, God never breaks his promises. God will always keep his promises to you.
Matthew 26:58 ESV
And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.
As you continue to follow the story of Peter, you will notice the Bible says Peter was following at a distance. It's part of human nature to want to be comfortable in your surroundings. That is exactly what Peter was doing, he wanted to stay a distance away from Jesus and be comfortable. The problem with being comfortable, is that you never get a chance to grow. You grow and learn when you trust God and step out of your comfort zone. God can use His followers in so many ways if we will just trust him, and accept the idea of being a little uncomfortable.
Ask yourself: How closely are you following Jesus? Are you following at a distance or are you following right behind Him?
Ask yourself: What can you do to continuously make adjustments to ensure you are following close to Jesus?
Matthew 26:75 ESV
And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.
If you continue on reading Matthew 26 you will find that just as Jesus said, Peter betrays Jesus. What is most interesting to me about this particular passage is that the text says that Peter remembered the saying of Jesus. It seems that Peter had already dismissed what Jesus told him. Until he heard the rooster crow, he had forgotten what Jesus told him.
Ask yourself: Who is it better to put your trust in? God or man?
Luke 22:31-32 ESV
"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. And when you have returned again, strengthen your brothers."
Yes, Peter betrayed Jesus, but that is not where his story ends. Not only does Jesus forgive Peter for his betrayal, he then sends him to encourage others. In Luke 22:31-32, we see that Satan was after Peter, and that Jesus prayed for him. How amazing does it make you feel knowing that Jesus is also praying for you? As Christians, we can go through our days knowing that our Lord is living inside of us, wants good for us, and is praying for us. That is a powerful feeling!
Sending Peter to encourage others is proof of how amazing Our God really is. You see throughout the Bible where Peter goes on to preach and encourage others in Jesus. This is what He expects you to do too. We are called to bring people to Jesus. How do you do that you ask??? Start with God in everything you do. Our empty promises aren't the end of our journey either. We have the chance every day to follow and listen to God.
Prayer: Lord, I pray that I am able to use the information from this sermon to start with you in mind. I know that making a promise from the flesh will also end with the flesh, but that a promise made with you and your will in mind will be carried out. God we know that you are good and that you always keep your promises. Help me to not scatter like sheep, but to follow closely behind you so that I may be like you. Lord help me to put my faith in you and not in the things of this world. Thank you for keeping your promises to your people, and for our hope of eternal salvation. Amen.