And turn to John chapter eighteen. We're going to continue in our series through John, and we've arrived at John chapter eighteen and verse fifteen. Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest. He went with Jesus into the high priest's courtyard.
But Peter had to wait outside the door. The other disciple who was known to the high priest came back, spoke to the servant go on duty there and brought Peter in. You aren't one of this man's disciples, too, are you? She asked Peter. He replied, I am not.
It was cold and the servants and officials stood round a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them warming himself. Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. I have spoken openly to the world Jesus replied. I always taught in synagogues or at the temple where all the Jews come together.
I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely, they know what I said. When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face.
Is this the way you answer the high priest he demanded? I said something wrong, Jesus replied, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, Why did you strike me? Then Anna sent him bound to caifus, the high priest. Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself.
So they asked him, you aren't one of his disciples too, are you? He denied it saying I am not. One of the high priest servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off challenged him. Didn't I see you with him in the garden? Again, Peter denied it.
And at that moment, a cock began to crow. Well, good evening. My name is Pete Woodward. If you're new here, good to see you on one of the passes of the church. If you're online, joining us keep that bible passage open.
Let's just pray for the help us now. So we look at this amazing intimate in many ways story. Of of Peter and Jesus and help us by your spirit to to learn what we need to learn from it. And we pray in Jesus name, amen. Well, let me remind you what happened previously.
So previously, We've had thirteen men gathered around a table. Twelve of them are disciples of Jesus, and one is the lord Jesus Christ himself. They gathered around this table and they've discussed many things. But their discussion now turns to who's the traitor and who's faithful. And that's what they're discussing.
And all of disciples are declaring themselves, we're the faithfuls. Where the faithful is. And as they're doing that, Judas, the traitor slips out into the night They don't notice that because none of the faithfuls think that he's the traitor anyway. And so the discussion turns around with who is the traitor amongst them around this table. Meanwhile, Peter is declaring himself as a faithful.
He's a hundred percent a faithful. There's no doubt about that. And in John thirteen thirty three, it says that he said that Lord, I'd laid down my life for you. And then in another place, it says, even if all of the others are unfaithful, I'm a hundred percent faithful I'm one hundred percent faithful. Then Jesus says these very revealing words around this table.
Which others should have picked up and Peter should have picked up with who's going to be a traitor and so forth. They should have given clues. Jesus said to Peter, will you really lay your life down for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cockroaches, you would disown me three times. They're devastating words if you think you're a faithful They're devastating words that should have made Peter think hard about what what he is.
But he couldn't see it. And he declares himself as a hundred percent faithful even though he's gonna discover he's a denier, which is pretty close to being a traitor. So this passage opens up all kinds of things, but what it really opens up, I think, is the real self what do we really like when it's a difficult situation? It's easy to make promises it's easy to stay faithful when it's easy. It's hard to be faithful when it isn't easy.
Isn't it? And I think this is what this passage opens up for us. Peter has this self belief and he's gonna be surprised that he is nearly a traitor. And we live in a world that's like that, isn't it? It's constantly telling us to believe in ourselves.
He he seriously believed in himself, clearly did. And we're in that world, and we know those songs. I mean, the best ones are the old ones. But, I mean, they're around all the in in all even more modern songs. But, you know, I believe I can fly those sort of songs.
You know, I believe I can touch the sky. It's only really drunkards to to do that and then often fall to their desk in hotel you know, in a hotel room. Reach for the stars climb every mountain higher, reach for the stars, follow your heart's desire. There are so many self help books and self help encouragement. Build yourself out, believe in yourself, and then you'll be able to achieve your tentures and you'll feel happier and you'll be fulfilled.
Here's here's a couple from the from the most famous. These are the most famous self help books. This is Robert Schueller's book. He says eight words that will absolutely totally, completely guarantee motivation and change in your life and mine. So these are the words.
Right? The apps absolutely gonna change you. So you're ready? Good job you're here, isn't it? Yeah.
Here we are. I am. I can, I will, I believe? It doesn't matter what you are, it doesn't matter what you channel can't do, and it doesn't matter what you believe. But as long as you say those words, should no.
So should we repeat them? Just see how powerful we are, but perhaps not. Norman Vincent Peale, one of the great sort of self help books. You get up in the morning and say three times. He's got a sort of different way.
You say three times, I believe. I believe. I believe. That's it. It say what you believe in, but it's self mostly.
Now I guess most of us we're gonna laugh at those extremes. Of course, we are. We know them. We know them well. We know those old songs.
Well, that's why I quoted the old ones because we know how silly they are. But nevertheless, I think that whole self confidence and self belief has crept in even to Christianity. So we we we can even think I can make it. I can be a Christian. I can do it.
If only I can just pull myself together, if only I can believe a little bit more in myself and and and then and then I can follow even Christ. I think that's in more than we know it. But we're going to learn a lot from Peter here, and we're going to learn that Peter will see his real self and that under the surface of self confidence and self belief will see what he's really like because it's testing and trials that really see where you're really at that you believe in Jesus? Or is it just a self help thing that you're believing in Actually, what's going on here? And you probably noticed it in this passage, is two trials of two Peter of of two people.
You've got Jesus on trial and you've got Peter on trial. Do you notice it? The way John's written this, you go from one to the other, from one to the other. So there's two people and they're being questioned in this passage, Peter and Jesus. Two are on trial in different ways.
And then the question is, how are they going to respond? So you get Peter being questioned, and then you go back to Jesus being questioned and then back to Peter being questioned. And it's the sandwich sort of idea. So Jesus is on trial between Peter being on trial being questioned. And John is getting us to do to think like best.
Compare and to contrast these two people. And he's asking the question, who's the real faithful and who's the traitor here? Who's a real faithful and who's the traitor here? And then the story sort of the narrative splits into inside the house and outside the house. You've got all of that sort of stuff going on.
Inside Jesus on trial, outside Peter on trial, and it's going backwards and forth like that. But here's my first point. And we've already seen it. But I just want to make sure you get it as a point. Peter's self confidence, and it's very high at the beginning.
Peter's self confidence. Even though all will fall away, I will not. I will lay my life down for you. Jesus, I'm the bloke that you can you can guarantee he's gonna be with you mate. You know, all the others may be a bit sort of, you know, fall away very quickly, but I'm the bloke you can rely.
And I want you to know, I'm a reliable bloke Jesus. So he's full of self confidence in following Jesus. So much full of self confidence in being a follower of Jesus that he won't actually listen to Jesus. It's just strange. Isn't that strange?
I'm so self confident that I will follow you, that I won't listen to you When Jesus says, you're going to deny me. It's sort of like, Lord, you know what you're talking about when it comes to the kingdom of God. You know what you're talking about when it comes to salvation and you know what you're talking about when it comes to the the Pharisees and the sadducees and the teachers of the law. But you don't get everything right, well, you do. You're gosh, you're the lord of rights and truth.
But you're wrong about me. I don't know about you, but isn't that so real that that we we think he's the lord and we think he's right about everything but not me. I I think I can do it on my own. So that's the sort of thing that's going on here. It's not that Peter hasn't got anything good about him.
He's tremendously brave. He's way better than the other's disciples than perhaps other than perhaps John who it seems to be John the one that knows the high priest and leads him into the courtyard. But everyone else run away. So he can compare himself with them and think, I'm pretty cool. And I think he really did want to fight for Jesus.
And at one point lay his life down, but in a way that Jesus didn't want him to lay his life, he took a sword out. He was whacking an ear off. You know, I don't know where he was aiming for the middle of the head or whatever. But you've got to remember that it's the right here we're told in John, which is quite interesting. And unless Peter was left handed, which I assume he wasn't because I think we might have been told that, he's gonna go across like that, isn't he?
There's the blokes facing him. He didn't do his left here, he didn't do his right here. So he's sort of, whoa, he's a rubbish sword, but he went for it. And we we we've we've learned that there's there's a lot of soldiers there. Roman soldiers there.
So there's a lot going for him isn't there. He's enthusiastic in one sense at that point, he was perhaps prepared to lay his life down. But he's got everything wrong. And that leads me to my second point. He's confident in himself even against Roman soldiers, but he's got a misunderstanding of Christianity.
So he's confident in the wrong thing. So look at verse ten of chapter eighteen. Then Simon Peter who had a sword drew it and struck the high priest servant, cutting his right ear off. The servant's name was Melk Jesus commanded Peter, put your sword away. Shall I not drink the up the father has given me.
We've already dealt with this once before, Peter, when you were trying to stop me going to the cross. You're trying to stop the work of God, and the work of God is that I give my life in sacrifice Christ to save others, not kill people to save myself. You've totally misunderstood Christianity here. Yes, I am the king of glory, but the king of glory is gonna lay his life down. You're thinking on the king of glory and I need a whole load of soldiers like you to attack the Romans and the and the and the and the temple guards.
You you you've got it right. You've got You've got Christianity wrong. Yeah, you look brave because you wanna fight, but I don't fight that way. Peter. You've got it wrong.
You've and you've misunderstood. I am the king of glory. And the king of glory is gonna give his life for his enemies. What are you doing here? Have you not heard me?
You're misinterpreting the whole of Christianity. And so so Peter has got so much wrong here. He misunderstood what Jesus was about. He misunderstood. But he was confident that he knew.
I mean, so confident he took a sword out against a whole load of of soldiers. You see that? But he had a misunderstanding Christianity. And when Jesus rebukes him, it just goes all wrong in in in his mind. His teaching is, in his mind, that he had confessed Jesus as the Christ.
He professed that he would die for him. But his interpretation of Christianity was so wrong that Jesus rebukes him and now he falls apart. He falls apart. It's very interesting, isn't it? He's thinking that he has something to do with keeping Christianity going.
And he hasn't. And he gets the whole thing wrong. Very, very interesting. He thinks that he's strong enough to fight for Jesus and he isn't. He waxes off the high priest servants ear.
And in his mind, well, this is a this is a great fight. In his mind, he's being faithful, but he's dangerously overconfident. He's misunderstood the basics of Christianity, which is to lay your life down. And pride comes before destruction as the proverb. Let him who thinks he can stand, says Paul, take he lest he falls.
And he's going to fall. So that leads me onto the third point. Peter follows then at a safe distance. So it all goes wrong. Jesus rebukes him yet again.
He's not sure what to do. What is manliness? And so he follows at a distance. And and then becomes part of the crowd. And I think this is quite interesting in how this works.
So it's a sort of another part of his downfall though. I I just sort of want you to see here. So it it's not he doesn't follow Jesus. He does follow Jesus. But he follows Jesus as a distance and then gets himself into the courtyard.
But then look at verse eighteen, look how it's put look how John puts it. It was cold. And the servants and officials stood around a fire that they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them warming himself. This is just an interesting phrase.
He's standing with them. Then look at verse twenty five. Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there, warming himself. So they asked him, you you aren't one of those disciples too, are you? And he denies it saying I am not.
Instead of saying I am, he says I am not. Jesus said I am, he says I am not. So there's all this stuff going on that John sort of puts down. But did you see what it is? He he's he's with them.
Yeah. He's with them. He's not with Jesus. He's with them. He's on the outside.
He's cold. He's lonely. And so he tries to warm himself with them. I think John is trying to show us that. He's a bit of a broken man because he doesn't understand what Jesus wants.
He thinks he's following Jesus. But in the end, you see that he's out in the cold warming himself with these people that are not Jesus followers. So he's trying to get comfortable in the crowd. And as he does that, he denies Jesus. He denies Jesus.
He denies Jesus. There's something of that going on here. Do you see that? He's misunderstood Christianity. He thought it was manly to take a sword out and fight.
He doesn't really know what Jesus wants now. He wants to follow Jesus, but he ends up in the crowd outside denying Jesus. That's where he's ended up. So that leads me to my fourth point. Peter sees the real, Peter.
He sees the real pizza. Jesus in his kindness has exposed the real Peter. It's hurt. It's hurtful. It's painful.
Look at verse twenty six, one of the high priests servants a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off challenged him. Didn't I see you with him in the garden? Again, Peter denied it, and at that moment, the cock began to crow exactly what Jesus said. It's at that moment Peter sees who he is. The great leader, the great preacher, the great disciple, the want to be martyr, now denying Christ He never thought he'd be the traitor of the denier.
He didn't pick up the clues Jesus said around the table. It's him. He's the Denaliyah. He saw Judas and it must have totally disappointed him, but now he's very close to Jews, isn't he? He boasted too much.
He had too much self confidence. He listened too little. He prayed too little. He acted too fast and didn't ask the lord about the sword, but hid it. He followed too far away and he mingle too long.
And now he's a denier. So what happens isn't it? Self confidence, denying. Says it's a big thing. That's the crunch, isn't it?
And it hits Peter. And breaks him actually. And it's not until John twenty one that we see him restored. And that's a wonderful a wonderful passage to to preach later on. We talk about finding the real me and there's all this stuff, isn't there so much about and you know that and we try to expose that quite a lot in our preaching.
Well, Jesus exposes the real me. And it isn't isn't beautiful actually. It's not as bold and as courageous as manly as we thought we were going to be. Jesus uncovers us, convicts us, where we think we're better than others and may well be better than others. He then exposes what we're really trusting in.
Does that hit you at all? What's the real you? Imagine if you googled the real me and Google was honest. Yeah? The real me.
Yeah? Can you see the real me? That's a great song by the who, by the way. I can't get that in my head now. Can you see the real me shouts out?
Roger Daltry, can you see the real me. Real me. Went down to the doctor. Oh, the guy said such a soul The drumming on that song changed my life. Can you see the real me, real me?
Yeah. Anyway, went to the doctor who gave us some pills, tried to find out the real me. But imagine you've googled the real me, what what actually would come up is all his surface stuff. And then underneath, what are we really trusting in? Christ.
Mhmm. This is where Peter I think understood himself for the first time. The bible teaches us that we are weak. So don't think you're strong. The bible teaches us.
Just that we were a weak. That's that we have fallen, that we're sinful, that we're corrupt, we can't trust ourselves. So stop it. We can't trust our own flesh, To fail, to distrust yourself is a very dangerous position in. To walk out into the world thinking I can still be a Christian on my own.
When Jesus says you can do nothing without me to have confidence that you can even keep as a Christian, Well, you'll find yourself in positions where you're warming yourself and denying Jesus. We can't do it on our own. And he had to learn the lesson. It's the the deadly consequences of self confidence and belief that we can live the Christian life without prayer, without listening to Christ, without loving him, without having him as our big picture is a disaster. And this is the turning point in Peter's life.
He'd been with Jesus three years and this is the point where he really understands that he really is a failure that he really is a failure. And as I say in John twenty one, he's restored. But let me come to my fifth point, the real Jesus. And this is why this is, you know, these are all connected going from one to the other. What's the real Jesus?
Well, the real Jesus is faithful You noticed the parallels with Peter going on here. What did Peter do? He took a sword out to whack the wack the bloke's ear off. What what happens to Jesus? He gets whacked around the year.
You've got these things going on. So how is Jesus response? Peter fails under pressure. He had confidence in himself and he's a failure underneath. But look at Jesus, he is really the hundred percent faithful one.
Look, meanwhile, verse nineteen. Meanwhile, the high priest questions Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. I've spoken openly to the world Jesus replied. I've always taught in the synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together, I have said nothing in secret. Why question me?
Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said. I've told the truth. I've always told the truth. You've always had the opportunity to ask me questions.
I've always told the truth. I've not changed when Jesus said this, one of the officials near nearby. Slapped him in the face. Yeah? Peter takes the sword.
He gets slapped. Is this the way that you answer the high priest he demanded? If I've said anything wrong, Jesus replied, testify as to what was wrong. Everything I say is true. It's truth.
I stand up to scrutiny. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me? Then Annas sent him bound to caiaphas, the high priest. Here's Jesus. He's bound And the suggestion is that that's a very painful binding.
He's in hostile territory. Nobody likes him. He's surrounded by enemies. He's beaten. It's an illegal trial that's going on.
It's that's going on here. They already know what the outcome of the trial is. So it's a mock trial. It's a joke of a trial. It's what they call a kangaroo trial.
There is no way Jesus is ever gonna get out of this. So he doesn't look to sort of justify himself. He doesn't try and work harder manipulating the truth or lying a little bit to get them on his side? No. They're gonna kill him.
He doesn't buckle. He's gonna stay with the truth. Under under all this questioning at night and the way they've beaten him up, Jesus is authentic right to the core. He is faithful. A hundred percent the faithful one.
He is the authentic person. You can do what you like with him. Beat him. Lie about him. Put him through a mock trial.
Stab him. With with nails and shove him on a cross, spit at him, lie about him, Jesus is authentic to the core. His blood is pure. He is authentic. A hundred percent faithful.
Peter falls like a House of Cards, He's in the courtyard relatively safe. He isn't bound. He's free. He's warming himself by the fire. Peter fails.
Jesus doesn't. What's that all about? Well, it's to remind us that we're all traitors and desires and failures There's only one in the world that's a hundred percent faithful. And in this passage, look at verse fourteen, it's just a remarkable little sentence. It says, Ciaphas was the one that's the high priest that he's now sent to.
Ciaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good for one man to die for the people. We saw that last time. One man to die for the people. That is a picture of a Christian faith. That is what Jesus Christ came to do.
That is what what Peter in his wrong understanding of Christianity was trying to store. It's the cross that's at the center of Christianity. It's self denial that's at the center of Christianity. It's laying your life down for your enemy that's at the center of Christianity. One man dies for the people If you put those two trials together, who's the guilty one?
Peter denying the truth Jesus telling the truth. Who should be executed? But Jesus, the faithful one, is gonna die for even people like Peter. And that's what he had to understand for him to grow as a Christian. He's a sinner.
He's a failure. He can't even follow Jesus. But Jesus is faithful to him and will restore him and make him a follower. That's that's what Christianity is about. So let me finish then.
Here's my six points. Can can you see the real view? Should sing single who song. Does anybody know that, but me? Do you know it?
And then, oh, gosh, you do. Yeah. Gosh, you do. Yeah. The drumming on that is superb isn't it?
Dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun. That's what I aspire to before I was a Christian. Yeah. Can you see the real me? Can you?
Do you wanna see the real you? Well Jesus wants to show you the real you. And actually, it's very often at times of testing that you see how hideous you are, that's Christianity for you. It's not feel good religion, is it? How hideous you are?
How dark the human heart is. Have you ever known that? What are we capable of doing? I will lay my life down for you And in one sense, in some circumstances, it looks like I'm a real man. I don't know about you, but when I became a Christian, I sort of I I actually thought I thought you became a Christian, and then you sort of lived for a few months and died.
Because the only thing I'd read was the martyrs and I assumed, oh, you just preached gospel and then you die. That's what happens. And so I was sort of looking forward to death And as it wasn't coming on, I was sort of getting reuter and reuter to the police and saying, come on. Arrest me then. I remember being outside Windsor Castle preaching.
And copper said, you can't preach here. Why? Why? Why? You know?
Thinking, oh, he's gonna club me. Come on, club me because then I'll die for Jesus. And he didn't. He was too nice, and it was extremely annoying. And and I've always assumed that's what happened.
Well, I haven't always, but I did then. But it's a much harder thing to love, isn't it? Your enemy? And to pray for those who persecute you. Kill them.
That's Islam. That's easy in it. Let's kill our enemy. But to bow your head to Jahadi John, who's going to stick a knife in the back of your your neck. And pray for him just before he does it.
That's power, isn't it? That's power to forgive and to love. And so Peter thought he could do it and he failed at the moment of testing. Denial and betrayal are horrible things to deny Christ. Is a horrible thing when you're in the warm with people around you.
Are you his? Are you his? No. No. You might deny that in your actions.
It's very interesting that and we were discussing this at the elders away day. I think we were somewhere we were discussing this. But Paul, when he comes to describe the Lord's supper, says on the night he was betrayed, and he doesn't say on the night he was arrested or on the night that he was put on a false trial, It's on the night he was betrayed. He took bread. It's interesting that that Paul picks on the word betrayed.
It's a horrible thing betrayal and deny. If you if you've been betrayed, if you have people turn against you, you know how painful that is, isn't it? Your mates turn away from you, your loved ones that you were committed to, turn against you. That's the pain. That we would have be a denier of Jesus.
We need to know who we really are and then we'll ask God for the help that we need. If we don't know who we really are, we'll we'll be confident in going out into the day. We're miserable sinners. Those old those old prayers in the com a book of common prayer. They're pretty good because they always use the word miserable sinner as a great word, isn't it prone to wonder, miserable sinner.
If we say we have no sin, if we go confidently thinking that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in it. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We go out praying the Lord's prayer. Give us today our daily bread. I need this your sustenance to help me, lead me not into temptation.
So know who you are and you'll pray those prayers. And you won't be confident that you can handle tomorrow morning or your boss or the situations that you're going through. You need to pray. Help me be a Christian here. Help me be a follower here.
Help me love you. Help me stand by you. Help me die to self and live for you. But then here's another application. We make promises so easy.
Don't we? I mean, so easily. You make a promise so easily. Without really thinking about asking for help to carry those promises out, it really should be God willing with God's help. Think of the thousands of marriages that make amazing promises on that wedding day, don't they?
For better, for worse. It's alright when it's for better, but when it's for worse, it's a different problem. I mean, you know, I didn't know he was gonna be like this or she was be like that. My goodness. Satan is so worse than a thought she was.
When I married her, she was beautiful, but look at her now. You know? So it was for better, but now it's, oh, gosh, I didn't really realize worse was gonna be like this. So we've made promises to God, and then when the sudden the temptation comes, the difficulty comes, the battle comes, we deny what we've said before god. Extraordinary, isn't it?
What a terrible thing that is? Think of the promises we make so easily to god of the sermons perhaps, or even as a church member, I promise I'm gonna do this. Promise to be committed to the fellowship and to pray and to hear the word of God. But, you know, when when difficulties come, just give up. Turn away.
But then the passage also teaches us this amazing thing. That Jesus died for failures. That Jesus restores failures. He wants you to see who you really are, the real me. So he can say, that's exactly why I, the faithful one, needed to die for you.
And when you know that, it gives you the confidence to go into the world knowing your love, even you a sinner and a failure. They're the lessons, I think. From this. Why don't we spend a few minutes on our tables discussing and then praying? What hit you and then what you want to pray about.