From Failure to Action

         "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near."

From Failure to Action

John 18:15-18,25b-27;21:15-19;Acts 4:13,18-20           Oct.28 2012

Peter is shown to be a very human and complex person. He is brave and at one moment ready to fight against overwhelming odds for his Lord. Yet at the next moment, his courage collapses when he is questioned by serving maids outside the high priest’s house.How like us Peter was. Christians have faced martyrdom bravely. Yet many still hesitate to witness for the Lord when threatened only by ridicule or indifference.This individual had been high priest from A.D. 6 to 15. Although he was deposed by the Romans, he was able to control the post through four of his sons who succeeded him, and through his son-in-law, Caiaphas. Caiaphas was actually high priest from A.D. 18 to A.D. 36, when Christ’s public ministry took place. Annas’ influence is shown in references to him as high priest (cf. Luke 3:2 ) and in the control he exercised over Jesus’ movements that last night. It is likely that John was the “other disciple” who, with Peter, trailed Jesus to Annas’ home. John says he was “known to” the high priest’s household and so was able to observe Jesus’ trial from inside the house. But what a contrast between Peter and Judas. Peter wept bitterly and turned back to Christ. Judas despaired rather than repented. God can forgive our failures if only we turn back to Him.

1.    1.Christ before Annas and Caiaphas. (John 18:15-27)      

John 18:15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another  disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. 16 But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. 17 Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you? ”He said, “I am not.”18 Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.

John 18:25b Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you? ”He denied it and said, “I am not!”26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.        

                         Simon Peter denied his Master. The particulars have been noticed in the remarks on the other Gospels. The beginning of sin is as the letting forth of water. The sin of lying is a fruitful sin; one lie needs another to support it, and that another. If a call to expose ourselves to danger be clear, we may hope God will enable us to honour him; if it be not, we may fear that God will leave us to shame ourselves. They said nothing concerning the miracles of Jesus, by which he had done so much good, and which proved his doctrine. Thus the enemies of Christ, whilst they quarrel with his truth, wilfully shut their eyes against it. He appeals to those who heard him. The doctrine of Christ may safely appeal to all that know it, and those who judge in truth bear witness to it. Our resentment of injuries must never be passionate. He reasoned with the man that did him the injury, and so may we.

2. His discourse with Peter. (John 21:15-19)      

John 21:15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of  Jonah, do you love Me more than these? ”He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You. ”He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You. ”He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me? ”And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You. ”Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. 18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

Our Lord addressed Peter by his original name, as if he had forfeited that of Peter through his denying him. He now answered, Thou knowest that I love thee; but without professing to love Jesus more than others. We must not be surprised to have our sincerity called into question, when we ourselves have done that which makes it doubtful. Every remembrance of past sins, even pardoned sins, renews the sorrow of a true penitent. Conscious of integrity, Peter solemnly appealed to Christ, as knowing all things, even the secrets of his heart. It is well when our falls and mistakes make us more humble and watchful. The sincerity of our love to God must be brought to the test; and it behoves us to inquire with earnest, preserving prayer to the heart-searching God, to examine and prove us, whether we are able to stand this test. No one can be qualified to feed the sheep and lambs of Christ, who does not love the good Shepherd more than any earthly advantage or object. It is the great concern of every good man, whatever death he dies, to glorify God in it; for what is our chief end but this, to die to the Lord, at the word of the Lord?

3.Peter and John refuse to be silenced. (Acts 4:13-20)     

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

All the care of the rulers is, that the doctrine of Christ spread not among the people, yet they cannot say it is false or dangerous, or of any ill tendency; and they are ashamed to own the true reason; that it testifies against their hypocrisy, wickedness, and tyranny. Those who know how to put a just value upon Christ’s promises, know how to put just contempt upon the world’s threatenings. The apostles look with concern on perishing souls, and know they cannot escape eternal ruin but by Jesus Christ, therefore they are faithful in warning, and showing the right way. None will enjoy peace of mind, nor act uprightly, till they have learned to guide their conduct by the fixed standard of truth, and not by the shifting opinions and fancies of men. Especially beware of a vain attempt to serve two masters, God and the world; the end will be, you can serve neither fully.

Summary

Temple officials rush to investigate the crowds that gather after a cripple is healed (Acts 3 ) and detain Peter and John for questioning . When the Sanhedrin meets to investigate . Peter boldly asserts that the miracle has been performed in the name and power of Jesus, “whom you crucified” . Peter’s courageous speech stuns the leaders. Yet all know Peter and John have performed an “outstanding miracle.” The best thing seems to be to frighten these “ordinary men” and “stop this thing from spreading any further” . But Peter and John are unimpressed . When released, they gather the church for a prayer which serves us well as a model today. It is filled with praise and expressions of confidence in God, which leads to a request which, when fulfilled, will truly glorify God . That prayer is answered , and the church, united in faith in love, continues to witness powerfully to God’s grace .