One of the great things about Jesus is He loves you and is committed to you even when He knows you are going to stumble and make decisions from time to time that do not honor Him. Because of your personal weaknesses, He knows you are going to make bad decisions under certain pressure and situations. Even with that, He still is dedicated to you and does not give up on you.
Today, we are going to look at some things about Jesus. We are going to review and look at some new things today.
On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same. (Mark 14:27-31, NLT)
This is the third week we have taken a look at this. We are dissecting this because I think it addresses something important for all of us. If you missed the first two, I would suggest you go back and listen to them. Let’s review and then take a look at something new.
Jesus lovingly knows you
Number one, Jesus lovingly knows you. He knows your weaknesses. He knows the sins you struggle with. He knows how much pressure you can take before you give in. He knows every good thing, bad thing, and evil thing about you. Even though He knows all this about you, He still loves you.
Mark tells us in verse 27, On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’” The word desert (skandalizo) means to fall into a trap, to cause to stumble, or to cause to fall. It has the idea of falling due to circumstances and pressure. Some translations describe this as falling away. This type of spiritual stumbling is not due to rebellion, but due to weakness.
For example, some of you have really good eyesight. It’s 20-20. Some of us do not have good eyesight. Without glasses I have visually weak eyesight. Everything is blurry. Weak eyesight is not a sin, it’s a weakness and limitation. Without my glasses it is hard for me to read things, see things, drive, and not step on things or trip over things when I’m walking. If I do not have my glasses, I’m limited to what I can do and see. With glasses or corrective surgery, I can see much better.
Spiritually, the same is true for all of us. Some of you have better spiritual eyesight. Over time God has corrected your vision.
- You see God at work quicker. You see God’s plan and will faster.
- You can see how God can take what looks like a defeat and turn it into a victory.
- Because your spiritual eyesight is stronger you can see through all the smoke and mirrors the world places in front of you.
- You are able to recognize what is of God and what is not.
- You don’t get overwhelmed by what you see, because your spiritual vision is strong and it makes things clear.
For some, their spiritual vision is not that clear. They have a hard time seeing God at work in the middle of a life crisis, a death, a job loss, or sickness. They can become quickly overwhelmed and disappointed with God. Because of the weakness of their spiritual eyesight, they stumble. This is not due to rebellion, but to weakness.
This is what Jesus is talking about when He says, All of you will desert me. He knows they are weak. Jesus knows they are not going to be able to see what God is doing. He knows that what they are about to go through will overwhelm them and because of their weakness they will desert and fall away. Jesus lovingly knows your limitations and knows there are going to be times you are going to be placed in situations that you cannot handle, but He loves you anyway.
Jesus graciously speaks to you
Number two, Jesus graciously speaks to you. When Jesus told them they would desert Him, I’m sure that hurt. They didn’t want to hear that, but they needed to. There are things in the Bible that are true, some of it will sting, some of it will hurt. You will not want to believe it. You will want to deny it. However, God graciously speaks to you His truth. He is going to tell you the truth about you as a wife, as a husband, as a father, as a woman, and as a man. God not only tells us about heaven, but He also tells us about hell. He graciously does that.
How did Peter respond to Jesus’ statement about all of them deserting Him? Mark says in verse 29, Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” That statement by Peter reveals more about him than he realized. It revealed his spiritual pride. He had good intentions with the statement, but it revealed several things.
- For example, it revealed that he thought he knew better than Jesus.
- It revealed he was looking at himself rather than what God’s Word said and that he believed he loved God more than others.
- He also showed that he thought he was stronger than he was.
We looked at all that in detail and how that applies to us today.
Remember, our point is Jesus graciously speaks to you. What was Jesus’ response to Peter’s expression of commitment to Him? Mark tells us in verse 30, Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.”[i]
One of the things that Jesus often used to place emphasis on something He was about to say is the phrase I tell you the truth. It means listen up, pay attention, don’t miss this. Jesus is about to say something very significant to Peter and He wanted Peter to listen very carefully. I also think that Jesus is about to say something significant to you today. Something you need to hear. Listen carefully, pay attention, and don’t miss what God is saying to you.
What significant thing does Jesus say to Peter? What truth does Jesus tell Peter? Jesus says, This very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.
The phrase before the rooster crows twice can refer to two things.
- It can refer to a certain time during the night called “the cock crow.” During that time the night was divided into four parts: evening (six to nine), midnight (nine to twelve), the cock crow (twelve to three), and the morning (three to six). Jesus could be saying that before daylight Peter would deny Him.
- The other view sees this as an actual rooster crowing. Jesus is saying that before you hear the rooster crow twice tonight you will have already denied me three times. Either way, Jesus is saying to Peter that he will deny knowing Him before the night is over.
Here is what this statement by Jesus does for us.
First, it tells us that Jesus knows our weaknesses in great detail. You can tell God whatever you want. You can promise Him whatever you want. You can tell Him how much you love Him and are willing to do anything He asks. But the bottom line is, He knows how weak you are, and He knows how much or how little pressure it will take for your declaration of commitment to mean nothing. He knows your breaking point when it comes to your faithfulness to Him. He knows your weakness in detail. When it came to Peter, Jesus knew when Peter would deny Him – this very night. Jesus knew what time Peter would deny Him – before the rooster crows twice. Jesus knew how many times Peter would deny Him – three times. Jesus knew the nature of Peter’s deny – that you even know me. Jesus knows your weaknesses in detail.
Second, it tells us that the Lord’s knowledge of your weakness and failures is overshadowed by His commitment and love for you. Even though Jesus knew that Peter was going to desert Him and deny Him, Jesus was still going to meet Him and the other disciples after the resurrection in Galilee in order to reconcile with them, encourage them, equip them, and put them back on mission. Peter’s failure will not be final. Peter’s weakness will not define him. The Lord’s victory would ultimately define Peter and the Lord’s Spirit would empower Him. Jesus was not finished with Peter. The same is true for you. You may have failed Jesus in a night of weakness, but He will still meet you, restore you, reconcile with you, equip you and empower you with His Spirit and truth. Your failure does not define you. Your weakness is not your identity. Christ is your identity. You are in Him and He is in you. It tells us that Jesus does not quit on us even when He knows we are going to quit on Him.
The main point I want you to see is that Jesus graciously speaks to you. Peter said something about himself that he believed to be true and wanted to be true. Peter said, Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will. I want to say that for me. I want that to be true for me. There are things you believe about yourself that you want to be true, but it’s not. Jesus graciously comes along and speaks truth to you even when it hurts. This is what Jesus did. Peter said something great and wonderful about his commitment to Jesus. Jesus graciously spoke truth to Him to bring Peter back to reality about his own weaknesses. Peter did not understand his own limitations, but Jesus did.
This happens when you are reading God’s word or listening to a sermon or having a discussion about what the Bible says. You are discussing what the Bible says about being a husband and loving your wife, then God’s Word points out that you are not loving your wife as much as you think you are. Pride makes us think we are more committed than we really are, more spiritual than we really are. God’s truth penetrates that pride so we can actually work on who we really are. God’s Word not only tells you that you are more than a conqueror in Christ, but it also points out the limitations and weaknesses in your life that you must deal with.
Look at how Peter responds to Jesus gracious but blunt truth in verse 31, “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” I believe that Peter was convinced of this. However, he was blinded by his own pride and overconfidence. Before the night was over, he would become an example of Proverbs 16:18 which says, “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall” (NLT).
The Greek language indicates this was something Peter said repeatedly with gestures and body language to drive home his point. In this case, to be emphatic about something is to use your body, face, tone and volume of voice to force your point.
Here again, we see Peter’s self-confidence blinding him to his own weaknesses and to what Jesus is saying. He felt he was too loyal and too strong to deny Jesus. Yet the Bible says Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (ESV). Because of this you are never in greater danger of falling than when you are confident in your ability to stand. Listen carefully to 1 Corinthians 10:12, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall” (NLT).
So, what do we have so far? Jesus lovingly knows you. Jesus knows where your weakness is, and your limitations and He knows there will be times in your life that your weakness and limitation will be no match for the trial you will go through. Due to your weakness, you will stumble. Jesus still loves you.
Jesus will also graciously speak to you about your weaknesses. He will confront you on it. He will address it, but also give you hope. This takes us to number three.
Jesus victoriously leads you
Number three, Jesus victoriously leads you. Look at verse 28 closely where God’s Word says, But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” The Lord’s victorious leadership is seen in three ways.
Jesus leads us to hope
When Jesus said, But after I am raised from the dead, He was reminding them that He was giving His life for them, and that death would not conquer Him. He would go into death and conquer it from the inside out.
I am about to say something that is going to sound funny, but I don’t know how else to say it. Once I say it then I will explain it. God’s Word is full of BIG BUTS. When it comes to the Bible, I like big buts and I cannot lie (I couldn’t stop myself). One of those big buts in the Bible is right here. Jesus says, BUT after I am raised from the dead. On one side Jesus is dead, but on the other side Jesus is alive. On one side there is desertion, but on the other side there is reconciliation. I once was lost, but now I am found. I once was blind, but now I see.
This statement is a statement of hope, but AFTER I am raised from the dead. I love the word after. It means something else is coming. After work we can go play. After the main meal we can have dessert. Jesus says, after I am betrayed, after I am arrested, after you fall away, after you watch me beaten and tortured, after I am mocked and humiliated, after I am nailed to a cross, after I die, after I am buried, after you think it’s all over I will be raised from the dead and after I am raised from the dead we got something amazing to do.
After you think Jesus is done there is more coming. After you think you have learned it all, there is greater growth ahead of you. After you live this life, there is a greater life ahead of you in heaven. The word after is a word of hope. After your failure, God is still going to use you. After your financial collapse, God is going to use you. After your divorce, God is still going to use you. After your illness, God is going to use you. After your die, God can still use you because of your legacy. The word after is a word of hope. When it comes to God, when you think it’s over its not. There is more after.
Jesus leads us in the mission
When Jesus said, I will go ahead of you to Galilee, He was letting them know He would put them back on mission.
Jesus just told them he would rise from the grave and have a reunion meeting with them in Galilee. Even though they would see Him die on the cross, Jesus is telling them to mark their calendars for a meeting afterwards. This week, every time you put an appointment on your calendar, think of Jesus putting this appointment on the disciples’ calendars to meet them in Galilee AFTER he rose from the dead.
The phrase go ahead of does not mean that Jesus will arrive first in Galilee or walk ahead of them on the road (see Mark 10:32). In reality, the disciples get there first before Jesus shows up. What Jesus is saying, “I’m going ahead of you to Galilee to prepare everything. I’m setting up everything as it should be so I can send you the Holy Spirit and send you out as my representatives.”[ii]
After the disciples stumble in their walk with God due to their weakness Jesus went ahead of them and met them in Galilee to reassure them, He loved them, accepted them, and they had a significant part in God’s plan of reaching new people. I think the same is true for you. When you stumble and walk away from God due to your own weakness the Lord will go ahead of you and meet you at some point to remind you that He is your resurrected Lord, He has a mission for you and He is not done with you, and to reconcile and restore the fellowship you need with Him. For the original disciples He met them in Galilee, but for you He may meet you at church and something about that song, about that sermon, or something about that place God uses to restore, rebuild, and redirect your life. It may happen at home. God goes ahead of you and is waiting in your living room or back porch. When you sit down, a thought comes to your mind and something inside of you begins to stir, you begin reading God’s Word again, you begin talking to God again, and you begin gathering with God’s people again. It may happen while you are at a store or restaurant and someone comes up to you and sincerely says, “Missed you a church” or “I’ve been praying for you.” When you fall away due to your own weakness God will be waiting on you down the road and He will bring you back to Himself. He loves you too much to let you go.
The phrase go ahead of also means to be out front. God never sends you into a situation alone. He always goes before His people, as he did with the children of Israel when he led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. You do not serve as His advance troops in a foreign and hostile situation. He always goes ahead of you in any situation you encounter. God is never caught by surprise by your experience; He has already been there. He is prepared to meet every need because He has gone before you and knows exactly what you will need for your journey (Deut. 31:8).
Not only does God go before you, but He also stands beside you and behind you, to provide protection and comfort (Psalm 139:7-12). Jesus knew His disciples would be totally bewildered by His crucifixion, so He assured them in advance that no matter what happened, no matter where they went, they could go in confidence that He had already gone before them.
If you are going through a confusing time and looks like you and God are losing, take confidence that your Lord has gone before you and He is present with you and is waiting for you at the same time. He is fully aware of what you are facing, and He is actively responding to your need.
Jesus leads us in confidence
When Jesus said, I will meet you there, He was reassuring them that their falling away due to their own weakness would not be the end of their relationship with Him. The Lord would remain faithful.
This statement by Jesus to the disciples was another way Jesus was reminding them that everything that would happen to Him and them was a part of God’s plan. Nobody was taking His life from Him, He was giving it willingly. Their failures and weaknesses had already been added to the equation of God’s divine plan.
[i] This statement by Jesus to Peter is a prophecy regarding Peter. All prophetic statements are not encouraging. Some prophetic statements can be alarming and serve as a warning.
[ii] The Lord’s promise, that He would go ahead of them to Galilee, was precisely fulfilled after the resurrection (cf. Matt. 28:7, 10, 16-17). It was in Galilee that the resurrected Jesus again emphasized His divine power when he commissioned His followers by saying, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, NLT). After their falling away, He would go ahead of them to Galilee to remind them of His resurrection and who He is and kick start the rest of the mission of making disciples and followers of Christ.