Denial of Jesus Christ

Luke 24:54-62

Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance.  Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.  And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.”  But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”  And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.”  But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”  Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”  But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!”  Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”  So Peter went out and wept bitterly.

We often speak negatively about Peter’s denying Jesus in His hour of need.  Yet, believers often deny Jesus in their daily lives.

What causes denial?

  • Following “afar off.”  Not focusing on Jesus, not identifying with Him, not having our mind fixed on Him.
  • Sitting “down among them.”  Following Jesus from a distance will lead us to become involved with sin.

2 Corinthians 6:17-18; 7:1 – Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord.  “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty.

Holiness – “hagiosune” – “the process, quality and condition of a holy disposition and the quality of holiness in personal conduct.  It is the principle that separates the believer from the world.  Hagiosune consecrates us to God’s service both in moral dedication and life committed to purity.  It causes every component of our character to stand God’s inspection and meet His approval.”

Denial of pretense – Pretending not to know Jesus

The servant girl “looked intently” at Peter.  There appeared to be no imminent threat to Peter.  The servants were just standing around talking about the events of the evening.  Perhaps they were curious to know more about Jesus.  If he had acknowledged that he was a disciple of Jesus to this crowd, probably all he would have experienced was some mockery.  Of course, there always was some danger of being persecuted also, but probably in this crowd it would have only led to ridicule.  This may have been an excellence chance for Peter to tell them about Jesus.  Perhaps someone in the crowd would have believed in Him.

Matthew 10:33 – But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

1 Pete 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

Denial of discipleship – Denying that one is a committed follower of Jesus

When Peter was confronted with the words, “You are one of them,” he quickly stated, “I am not one of them.”  At this point, he is not just denying Jesus, he is denying that he is one of those who “followed” Him.

Mark 8:38 – For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

2 Timothy 1:8 – Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,

Denial of ignorance – Claiming to know nothing of what is being said, to know nothing about the Bible or its truths

Peter’s final claim was “I do not know what you are saying.” 

Answer to denial

  • Remember the Lord’s Word
  • Spend time alone with the Lord
  • Truly repent

Personal inventory

  • I have (or have never) denied Jesus by my words or actions.
  • I have (or have never) denied that I was a Christian or went to church.
  • I have (or have never) pretended that I did not know what people were talking about when the Bible or its truths were discussed.
  • I have (or have never) denied Jesus by remaining silent when I should have spoken up.
  • I have truly and sorrowfully repented of those times that I denied Jesus.
  • I have determined to never again deny Him.

Follow Me

Matthew 4:19

Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

A Christian hymn you might be familiar with has the lines, “I will follow, follow Thee My Lord, follow every passing day.  My tomorrows are all known to Thee My Lord, I will follow you today.”  Another hymn has the line, “I traveled down a lonely road and no one seemed to care.  The burden on my weary back had bowed me to despair.  I oft complained to Jesus how folks were treating me, and then I heard Him say so tenderly.  My feet were also weary as I traveled Calvary’s road.  The cross became so heavy, I fell beneath the load.  Be faithful weary pilgrim, the morning I can see.  Just take My hand and follow close to Me.”

  1.  The call of the disciples

Matthew 4:18-22 – And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.  Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Matthew 8:18-23 – And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 9:9-13 – As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.  Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Mark 2:14 – As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.

Luke 5:27 – After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.”

There are several stories we could talk about in these brief passages, but the story I want you to see in each of them is as follows:

  • In the first story, Jesus called Peter and Andrew to leave their life’s occupation, their means of support and follow Him.  He told James and John to do the same, to leave their life’s occupation, their means of support as well as their father and follow Him.
  • In the second story, Jesus saw two disciples who were eager to follow Him.  Jesus told them both that they would have nothing if they followed Him.  The second one He told basically to not let anything, even the death of a loved one, prevent him from following Jesus.
  • In the last three scripture portions Jesus called Matthew, also known as Levi, the tax collector, to leave his very lucrative occupation and his sinner friends and follow Him.
  • The words of a hymn state, “Jesus is tenderly calling today, calling today, calling today.  Why from the sunshine of love will you roam farther and farther away?  Calling today, calling today.  Jesus is calling, is tenderly calling today.”
  • It does not matter what your occupation is, where you live, what your social standing is.  Jesus is calling for you to follow Him.  You may to need to leave your occupation, leave your family and friends, your grief and certainly your sin behind.  Make no mistake.  Jesus calls to each of us and He wants nothing else but for us to follow Him.  He calls all of us to follow Him in a closer daily walk with Him. 

The Universal Call – What is Required?

Mark 10:21 – Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Matthew 10:38 – And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

Mark 8:34-37 – When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Luke 14:27 – And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple

Luke 9:23 – Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Luke 9:61-62 – And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”  But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

In these brief passages, you must go back and read several verses to get the full impact of the story.  Basically Jesus is calling us to follow Him, but more than just follow Him.  He is calling us to a life separate from the world and wholly His.  This means more than saying “yes” to God and “no” to sin today and then going our way and forgetting all our promises to Him.  He is calling us to more than being baptized or joining the church or just sitting in the pew.

  • He calls us to take up our cross and follow Him.
  • He calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross DAILY and follow Him.
  • He says that unless we forsake all, unless we forsake family, occupation, cares of the world personal desires, rid ourselves of everything, take up our cross daily, deny ourselves and follow Him, we are not worthy of Him.
  • This is a big thing He is asking.  Or is it?  Basically all He is asking is for us to put Him first in our life.  To put Him before riches, family, things of this world.  Is that too much to ask if we are to be His disciples, especially after what He did for us on the cross.
  • Jesus found Phillip and Phillip found Nathaniel.  He asks us to reach others.
  • He said His sheep will not follow a stranger, only Him.  We cannot listen to others.  What He speaks to us we must listen and follow in obedience.  If you have doubts about who is speaking to your heart, consult Him in prayer and in His Word.  The enemy would not call you to follow Christ.  It is Christ who calls you today.  Do not turn Him away.

The hymn referred to at the beginning continues with this line:

“I left the throne of glory and counted it but loss.  My hands were nailed in anger upon a cruel cross.  Just take my hand and follow, follow Me.”

Revelations 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  

The Church at Corinth

Acts 18:1-18

Corinth was a major city of Greece.  It was on a peninsula at the southern tip of Greece.  The land at this point was only about five miles east to west.  Bordered by two harbors on either side, all traffic north and south passed through the city.  It was known as the lookout, the guard, the eye of Greece.  Made up of Greeks, Romans, Jews and adventurers who dwelt in business transactions during the day and parties in the night clubs by night, the city was a pleasure-made city.  The goddess of fertility, Aphrodite, had her temple here.  It was home to the Isthmian Games, second only to the Olympic Games.    It was to this sophisticated city that Paul came to spread the gospel. 

Paul was apparently discouraged when he came to Corinth (1 Corinthians 2:3).  He had been run out of the three previous cities where he had ministered – Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea.  In Athens he had seen little success.  In Corinth he was facing a proud, intellectual, busy and immoral populace.  Silas and Timothy had remained behind in Macedonia to minister, so he was apparently alone on this part of the trip. 

God met Paul’s need.  He appeared to Paul in a vision and assured him of His presence and His protection (Acts 18:9).  He led Paul to the path of two believers, Aquila and Priscilla (husband and wife team), who were also tentmakers like Paul.  Expelled from Rome along with all the other Jews by Emperor Claudius, they had just recently arrived in Corinth.  Paul was able to live with them and work alongside of them to provide for his needs.  Later Timothy and Silas joined him, bringing news of the strong faith of the believers in Thessalonia. 

Strengthened by God, Paul remained in Corinth for 1 1/2 years with great success in sharing the gospel.  The chief ruler of the synagogue became a believer along with a great number of Gentiles.  The Gentiles of that time were often attracted to the Jewish religion, especially the well-to-do women.  They lived in an immoral world that gave no rights to women.  Thus, they found great security in a religion of high morality. 

There were wealthy converts also.  Gaius was Paul’s host (Romans 16:23).  Erastus was the chamberlain (treasurer) of the city.  Chloe was probably a lady of extreme wealth with business interests in both Corinth and Ephesus (1 Cor. 1:11). 

But it appears the majority of believers were average people who came from very sinful backgrounds.  Paul clearly says, “…not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble were called:  But God has chosen the…base things of the world and the things which are despised…” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Evangelism and Discipleship

  • Paul left Athens where his reception was unproductive to go to another area to preach the gospel. 
  • Matthew 10:14 – And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
  • Matthew 7:6 – Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Paul found and developed people. 

  • Matthew 28:19-20 – Go and teach (make disciples of) all nations.
  • 2 Timothy 2:2 – And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Ministry vs. Secular Labor

  • Minister should be supported in his labor. 
  • 1 Corinthians 9:13 – Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar.  Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
  • Bottom line:  word of God must be given. 
  • Acts 4:20 – For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:16 – For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me, yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

Preaching-Teaching-Witnessing

  • Like Jesus, Paul was in the house of God on the Sabbath.
  • Paul “reasoned” – presented sound, thoughtful, logical points, answered and settled questions in a reasonable way. 
  • Paul “persuaded” – prevailed, urged, induced, pleaded, begged, sought to move and bring about a change of heart and mind. 
  • 1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify (set apart) the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

Sharing the Gospel May Bring Rejection – Requires Effort

  • Paul was “compelled” (sunecho – to grip tightly – describes affliction of pain or fear, being held fast).  The love of Christ leaves us no choice but to live our lives for Him and share the gospel with others. 
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14 – For the love of Christ compels us because we judge thus, that if One died for all, then all died.
  • Paul was rejected.  When the message we share is rejected, we are not to give up.  We are to simply try another person.  Rejection does not feel good – but we must press on and share with others.
  • Matthew 10:12-14 – And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
  •  Acts 13:51 – But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium

The Lord Will Always Encourage His Servant

  • Do not be afraid.
  • Speak.
  • Do not keep silent.
  • I am with you.
  • No one will harm you.
  • There are others on your side.
  • Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
  • Isaiah 43:1-3 – But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned.  Nor shall the flame scorch you.
  • 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
  • Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:6; Psalm 28:7; 2 Peter 2:9; Isaiah 54:17

Forward in Christ

Philippians 3:1-4

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.  Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:

THE CHRISTIAN’S MAIN RESOLUTION:   Forgetting sin and moving forward in the power of His strength and might by the power of His shed blood within us and the Holy Spirit within and upon us.

Simply say NO to sin and YES to God!

  • “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”    —Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet
  • What is on the inside of us that will stand the test of time?
  • You cannot expect to reap a harvest if you have kept the seed in the barn.
  • If you lay down with the dogs at night, don’t expect to get up without fleas.
  • If you run with the goats on Saturday night don’t expect to smell like a sheep on Sunday morning.
  • We always have time for the things we put first.  What about the things of God?  They are first priority.

Switzerland originally was a part of the German Confederation/Holy Roman Empire, and along with Luxemburg and Lichtenstein are the only three countries that remain intact as countries from WW I.  (I say this about that little bit of world history….they too shall pass away but there is a kingdom that shall never pass away.)  They had proclaimed neutrality.  They remained nations because they did not have to choose sides.  We must, however, choose sides – to live for God or face eternity in a devil’s hell.

Our religious/spiritual neutrality is threatened whenever someone we know well takes spiritual commitment seriously and refuses any longer to play hide-and-seek with the living God. 

GET THIS IF YOU DO NOT GET ANYTHING ELSE FROM THIS MESSAGE – Lethargic, complacent, lukewarm, pew-warming Christians will be expelled from God’s presence. 

Revelations 3:16 – So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

Footnotes:

  1. Revelation 3:16 NU-Text and M-Text read hot nor cold.

If we as INDIVIDUALS, BELIEVERS, FAMILIES, A CHURCH, A BODY OF BELIEVERS, are going to do something for Christ that will make a difference…the time is NOW.  NOW.  NOW.

  • You think about that and try to fit it into your schedule
  • You think about that and try to squeeze it in to your routine, your day, your calendar
  • It really isn’t too convenient you think to yourself

It was not convenient for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to leave His Father and home in heaven and come to this earth, live as a man while yet being God in the flesh. 

  • for Him to take the stripes upon His back…
  • for Him to have His beard plucked out…
  • for him to be spat upon, to be jeered at, to be ridiculed, and to be tried as a criminal…
  • for Him to have the crown thrust violently upon His head…
  • for Him to have nails driven into His hands and feet. 
  • for Him to be crucified and have all the world turn against Him.

But, He did.

He did for you and for me.

How dare we even think of looking at our calendar or schedule and debate within ourselves about whether or not we can fit in something God is calling us to do?  How dare we!  We all should be ashamed for we are all guilty of neglecting to do some thing God has called upon us to do.  Maybe it just isn’t convenient.

THE TIME IS NOW TO ACT….THE SONG SAYS…

Souls are crying, men are dying,

Won’t you lead them to the cross?

Go out and win,

Rescue from sin,

Day’s almost done,

Low sinks the sun.

Souls are crying, men are dying

Win the lost at any cost!