Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Road Down

The Road Down

Intro.: One of my greatest fears is falling.

  1. Sandra and I were remembering a family vacation we took a number of years ago.

  2. This was before Jonathan moved back from Minneapolis and we had traveled to visit him.

  3. That summer, he was working at an amusement park located outside the city of Minneapolis. And, of course, with two teen age boys, we had to visit. We also spent a day at the amusement park inside of the world's largest mall, The Mall of America.

  4. On the way back we stopped in Sandra's and my first home, Waukegan, IL. There we stopped for a day at the Great America Amusement Park.

  5. Finally, on the way home we had to stop at one more amusement park – Darian Lake.

  6. My worst experience that summer was my son's decision to ride the “Great Flyer” - a rope hung from a very high point above the ground. They would strap my son to that rope and pull him up to a position almost horizontal from the top of that high point and drop him. He would the become the weight of a pendulum as he swung back and forth. He though it was great; Dad could barely watch.

  7. Just as my son went from a very high point to a very low point, something similar can happen to us spiritually. It did to Paul.

Read: Matthew 26:69-75


T.S. Let's look at how Paul came from being to one Jesus' closest disciples to deserting his Lord and Savior.

  1. Make a full commitment to Jesus

    1. Becoming a believer begins with our commitment to Jesus. It worked that way for Peter. Jesus had called him three years earlier while he worked on his boat, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” I bet he was curious to know what this man meant – and he followed Jesus.

    2. Sometime in the next three years, he found himself believing in the man Jesus. Oh, I expect he didn't understand everything that Jesus said – but he believed Him to be the Son of God.

    3. And, now, it seems that as Jesus is approaching the end of his life, Peter again affirms his faith.

    4. You remember the events of a few weeks ago – the first Lord's Supper has been served. Jesus tells his friends, “Tonight all of you will desert me.” It was a statement that Peter could not ignore, “Even if everyone deserts you, I never will.” Jesus' response was to tell Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed the next morning. “Not even if I have to die with you! I will never deny you!”

    5. Though within 24 hours the story would change, for now Peter was fully committed to following Jesus.

(Ill.) When I think about men who were fully committed, certainly Peter and Paul come to mind. But then there are men like St. Francis of Assisi, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley. Men who loved the Lord and wanted to win their world to Him. Yet in 1860 Henry Varley said to D L Moody, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man who is fully committed to him.1 The story goes that the day Moody heard that statement, he vowed to be that man. I, in no way, want to be critical of those who went before Moody. I don't even know if Moody was that man.

(Appl.) I do want to make it clear that, like Peter, we need to begin our Christian life by being fully committed to Jesus Christ.

  1. Make a partial commitment to Jesus

    1. Peter started fully committed to Jesus.

    2. But when he, along with James and John, go up to the Garden of Gethsemane, his resolve slips. Here is Jesus at his darkest hour, and Peter falls asleep.

    3. It had been a long day. Jesus' news that day was depressing – He would be arrested, one of His closest friends would desert Him. Now in the midst of the night, He asks Peter, James, and John to pray. And they fall asleep.

    4. Jesus was disappointed with them. It was not what he wanted – it was not what he expected.

(Ill.) Jesus had no problem with sleep. I mean, do you remember the night that Jesus and the disciples were on a boat and a storm came up. The disciples were scared for their lives, but Jesus slept.

(Appl.) The point is this – our sleep can be a measure of our spiritual health. Anybody with training in psychology will tell you that sleep problems (whether it be to much or too little) can be a symptom of depression. Sleep can also be an indication of how our relationship with God is going. It did for Jesus as He slept through the storm. In some small way it was a precursor of what Peter was going to experience in the next few hours.

    1. But Peter is has not completely deserted Jesus – in just a few minutes he will pull his sword and steps into the midst of Jesus arrest. It comes at the wrong time – but it shows that though he is not able to do all that Jesus wants, he does want to follow Jesus.

  1. Make no commitment to Jesus

    1. Peter still had further to fall.

    2. He followed the procession that took Jesus to Caiaphas' home. He sits and listens to the trial.

    3. But as he waits for the results three times he is questioned about his relationship to Jesus. His responses are as hard to hear as they were for him to remember: When a servant girl challenged Peter with the words, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean”, Peter replied, “i do not know what you mean.” Later another servant girl pointed him out to a bunch of bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Peter swore, “I don't know this man.” and finally a few of those bystanders came up to Peter and said, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” And Peter, once again, betrays his friend and Lord, “I do not know this man.”

    4. And then the rooster crowed.

(Ill.) Have you ever planned something. Carried it out and immediately knew you did it wrong. Maybe you made a cake and left out the egg. Or maybe you were trying to get to Sams Club, but ended up at Walmart instead.  Or, maybe, like my wife, you found out you left the frozen giblets in the Thanksgiving turkey you were making for friends.  And then, when you realize your mistake, there is this nasty hole in the pit of your stomach. That was some of what Peter felt when he heard the rooster crow.

    1. Peter had blown it – Jesus had been right. They would all desert Him that night. He would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed.

    2. Peter had hit bottom.

  1. Jesus makes a full commitment to us

    1. So how do we avoid Peter's mistakes. Let me suggest five steps:

      1. Make a full commitment to Jesus

      2. Watch and pray

      3. Be obedient to what you know – Peter was not able to obey Jesus' command to “watch and pray”

      4. Remember, though our commitment to Jesus may be faulty, His commitment to us is perfect.

    2. Jesus did not desert Peter. Peter repented and continued to follow Jesus all his life. Jesus' forgiveness was bigger than Peter's fall.

(Appl.) Jesus' forgiveness is bigger than any sin we may commit. Think of a sin – Jesus' forgiveness will cover that sin. Think of a worse sin. Yep, Jesus is there as well. Is there worse sin yet? Probably – and Jesus offers forgiveness to every single one.

Conclusion:Today is the day to make that full commitment to Jesus.


1Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (272). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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