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WORDS ARE CHEAP, BUT OUR TRUE VALUE RESTS UPON OUR LIVES

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
American Baptist - United Methodist

31 MARCH 1996

By: Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Matthew 26:31-75
John 18:10
1 Corinthians 2:16

We all know of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

And this morning we have reminded ourselves of this event through the word and music.

But the real significance of this Triumphal Entry is the Passion that took place later, and it is here that we are going to look this morning.

And for the most part, we are going to look at it through the eyes of Peter.

If we come to understand Peter, and his feelings, then we should be better able to understand our own relationship with the Lord.

Like us, Peter said a lot of things, much of which he couldn't fulfill until after Jesus' resurrection.

In his heart he wanted to do them, but because of fear he could not.

Come, and walk in the shoes of Peter, as we begin our spiritual journey in the Gospel according to Matthew, 26:31.

31. Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, 'I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.'

32. "But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee."

The majority of us believe we are true Christians, true followers of Jesus Christ; just as the disciples must have thought; just as Peter thought.

And being told by the Lord that he would fall away must have made Peter quite sad inside.

33. But Peter answered and said to Him, "Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away."

34. Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you that this very night, before a cock crows, you shall deny Me three times."

35. Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You." All the disciples said the same thing too.

I don't doubt that they were sincere in what they said, any more than I would doubt any of you.

But words are cheap, and we are not always strong enough to live up to the words we speak.

We may want to, but we don't always do it

36. Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."

37. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed.

These are the same three who went with Him up to the Mount of Transfiguration.

Remember how we discussed, last week, the fact that the Lord has emotional feelings just like ours?

Feel what He feels, as well as what Peter and the others feel.

It's all part of having the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

38. Then He [Jesus] said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."

To keep watch, in this context, means to pray with Him, to support Jesus in His time of trial, but at a short distance.

39. And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt."

No one wants to suffer the agony of the cross, not even Jesus.

And in this time of His mental anguish, even Jesus needed the support of His friends.

40. And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?

41. "Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

We should all heed this warning for ourselves. And, Jesus doesn't mean that such a weakness is acceptable.

42. He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done."

43. And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.

44. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.

45. Then He came to the disciples, and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.

The disciples are still spiritually weak, for they are unable to overcome the weakness of the flesh.

When we spend more time watching out for the schemes of the devil, and praying for spiritual strength, and exercising our faith, we are less likely to find ourselves in trouble and not being able to stand firm.

46. "Arise, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!"

47. And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up, accompanied by a great multitude with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people.

48. Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, "Whomever I shall kiss, He is the one; seize Him."

49. And immediately he went to Jesus and said, "Hail, Rabbi!" and kissed Him.

How could anyone be so hypocritical?

I don't understand!

But there are far too many people just like Judas in the world.

50. And Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you have come for." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.

51. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

John tells us that this was Peter (18:10).

Why would Peter do this?

Had he not just said that he was even willing to die with Jesus?

Peter did this because he was afraid for their lives, and in particular, his own life.

He was trying to defend himself.

So, what does Jesus do?

52. Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.

53. "Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

54. "How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?"

Many people believe that this is saying that Christians are not to take up arms or fight, even to defend themselves, and I believe they are correct.

55. At that time Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me.

56. "But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled." Then all the disciples left Him and fled.

Can you feel their fear?

It's as though they are saying, "If we cannot even defend ourselves, and Jesus is also unwilling to defend Himself, and He is even unwilling to call for heavenly help, then we are doomed. Let's get out of here while we can."

A typical reaction of giving in to the fear of the flesh.

Yet we must remember that this is before they were in-filled with the Holy Spirit.

They did not yet have the power that came with Pentecost.

They didn't have what believers today have what you and I have, or should have.

So, I ask you, "What is our excuse for falling away, as so many Christians have?"

57. And those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together.

58. But Peter also was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome.

59. Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, in order that they might put Him to death;

60. and they did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward,

61. and said, "This man stated, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days."'

Who do you think is preventing these false witnesses from being able to sound credible?

Is it not the power of heaven?

The leaders are going to have to condemn Him themselves, openly.

62. And the high priest stood up and said to Him, "Do You make no answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?"

63. But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God."

64. Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."

65. Then the high priest tore his robes, saying, "He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy;

66. what do you think? "They answered and said, "He is deserving of death!"

67. Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him,

68. and said, "Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?"

These are probably some of the same people who saw, or knew, that He had opened the eyes of the blind man,

These are probably some of the same people who used that incident to chide Jesus before He raised Lazarus from the dead.

And these are some of the same people who saw Lazarus raised from the dead, and gave glory to God for the miracle.

But that was yesterday.

And today is today.

And these are many of the same people whom Jesus came to save.

And Peter, sitting on the sideline, had to know this; yet he was still weak in the flesh.

69. Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a certain servant-girl came to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean."

70. But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about."

Can you feel his fear?

71. And when he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth."

72. And again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man."

Now Peter sees himself being condemned along with Jesus, and fear grips his heart.

73. And a little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; for the way you talk gives you away."

74. Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know the man!" And immediately a cock crowed.

Not only did the cock crow in Peter's ears, but like a sword the crowing pierced his heart.

75. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, "Before a cock crows, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.

I believe it's time for all Christians to weep bitterly for our having denied Christ, and for not having stood firmly against the hypocritical and ungodly ways of the world around us; and most importantly, its time to stand as Jesus stood before His accusers.

If you take the palm branch when you leave here, you also take with you this responsibility.

Amen?

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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