Gospel of John #48: an exposition of John 18:12-27. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, January 22, 2012.
Betrayal. The word itself makes me mad. Inherent in the word is the breaking of trust, the denial of relationship and the violation of confidence. It is ugly, offensive and deserving of scorn. Yet when you are betrayed by one you love the primary emotion is not hatred. It is not anger. It is hurt. A deep, genuine sorrow caused by the loss of relationship. That’s if you are the one betrayed. When you are on the outside looking in well, that’s another matter. I must admit when I read the text I get upset. I just can’t believe what I’m reading. How could he do it? What kind of worthless degenerate are we dealing with? How could you do that to Him after all He has done for you? How could you be so calloused? Have you no heart? Have you no conscience? Have you no decency? After my initial burst of self-righteous indignation I then settle down and think it through. It is then I get uncomfortable. I start to realize that he is really no different than me. Reflecting on the context I’m forced to consider how often I’ve been guilty of the same betrayal. How often I’ve played the coward and practiced the fine art of denial. Suddenly the tables are turned. I’m no longer angry with him in fact I’m sympathetic. I understand how difficult it must have been. As I seek to justify his, and in turn my own, failure I am overcome with a since of shame. Then I’m grateful, once again, for the Gospel. I’m grateful for the love and grace of God that secured my redemption. The grace that removes my sin and says, “You’re loved. You’re accepted. You’re Mine and forever will be.” I’m grateful for the truths revealed through failure. Our text this morning is found in John’s Gospel chapter 18 beginning with verse 12.
Text: John 18:12-27
We are marching toward the cross.
Judas has completed his treacherous work.
Our Lord is in the custody of the Jewish authorities.
Now begins the mockery of a trial that will lead, in hours, to His brutal death.
John, as he has done throughout his Gospel, provides us with another contrast.
This time the contrast of the strength of Jesus and weakness of Peter.
The fact that it is Peter who denies the Lord is part of what is so shocking about all this. Had it been Nicodemus we would not be shocked. He came at night and there seemed hesitancy on his part. If he were to deny Jesus we’d not be shocked. If it had been the Rich Young Ruler we would not think much of it. After all he loved the things of this world. But Peter? Earlier that evening Peter said, “Lord even if I must to die with you, I will never deny you!”
As we work our way through this text I want us to see that…
- Thesis: Peter’s monumental failure serves to teach us valuable truths about ourselves and our Savior.
Before we get to the lessons we can learn let’s set the scene.
Our Lord has been arrested and we begin with this mockery of a trial.
- Peter and John (another disciple) followed the authorities and because of John’s connections were able to gain entrance to the courtyard (18:15-16).
- Peter’s first denial – 18:17-18
- Jesus before Annas – 18:18-24
- Peter’s second and third denial – 18:25-27
What do we learn from this?
Peter’s failure reveals the depth of the perversion of the human heart and warns of the danger of an overconfident faith.
Peter’s failure serves to reveal the depth and the wonder of our Savior’s love.
You must not walk away from this text without hearing Luke 22:31-32:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,
32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
Following the resurrection Jesus said to Mary, “Go tell my disciples and Peter…” (Mark 16:7).
Then comes that passage in John 21:15 when our Lord commissions Peter, “…feed my sheep.”
Peter’s failure becomes a means for teaching us great truths about ourselves and about our Savior. Apart from the grace of God there’s nothing we would not do – be warned. Take heed less you fall. Yet our Savior is a gracious merciful God whose love never fails. That’s the Gospel. Therein is our hope.