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The Perfection of Peter

Luke 22:31-38, 54-62

v    CS Lewis “Mere Christianity”

(Jesus) warned people to "count the cost" before becoming Christians. "Make no mistake;' He says, "if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life … I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect - until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.

v    I think that books like “Mere Christianity” and “Knowing God” by Packer and others like them are enduring classics because they tell the truth…

Ø     However difficult!

§        Here Lewis is talking about how God wants to perfect each and every one of us

·        That is his overriding goal

¨     To sanctify us

¨     To make us more righteous

¨     To drawing out the dross

¨     To Perfect us

v    Simply put…

Ø     That is what the Christian life is all about

§        A process whereby we become more and more like Christ

·        It has been said:

¨     “God is not so much interested in the ends but the means”

Ø     Our “ends” is guaranteed through Christ’s finished work on the cross

§        We are justified

Ø     But our “means” is what God is interested in

§        The process between here and there

v    And in our text today I would like to take a look at the process by which Peter is perfected

Ø     Many read the three-fold denial of Christ and see a failure

§        Yes…it certainly was

·        But if we look more closely, we to get a picture of Christ’s perfecting work!

v    Look back with me to Luke 22:31-34

Perfection Foretold

v    It is here that we see Peter’s Perfection Foretold

Ø     We return once again to the upper room

§        Where a fight had just broken out over who is the greatest among them

·        Peter must have been one of the ones suggesting he was the greatest

¨     For Jesus turns and addresses him specifically

READ V. 31-34


v    Here we have a JOB-like experience

Ø     Remember, Satan requested to afflict JOB and God allowed it

§        Here we have the same thing going on

·        Satan asking to sift Peter

v    This brings us to a difficult question

Ø     Does God allow us to be tempted?

§        JOB is a difficult book because it appears that this is the case

·        The Biblical answer is…

¨     YES!

Ø     God is sovereign and thus allows temptations in our life

§         But, we have to remember 1 Cor 10:13

·        No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it

·        The Message puts it this way

¨     No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it

v    God allows us to be tempted for a reason…

Ø     To make us more righteous

Ø     To sanctify us

Ø     To perfect us!

§        You see…

·        That was Jesus’ plan all along in Peter’s case

¨     Look @ v. 32

Ø     Satan may have asked to sift Peter

§        But Jesus was with him through that

Ø     Satan may have asked to tempt Peter

§        But Christ was not going to let him break

Ø     Satan had Peter’s demise in mind

§        But Jesus had Peter’s victory in hand!

v    It may look like Peter broke

Ø     He denied him!

§        But total breakage would have been if Peter had left the faith and not returned

·        And Jesus was encouraging Peter before he even fell

¨     Look what Jesus says…

Ø     “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers”

Ø     Jesus was not going to allow him to be tempted beyond what he could bear

§        Because Peter was one of the elect

¨     Jesus could say…

Ø     “when you have turned back”

Ø     That is the great and wonderful comfort found in the doctrine of election

§        Many say it is a cold and cruel doctrine

·        But to that I say you don’t understand it

¨     The doctrine of election as simply stated in Scripture is…

Ø     He has chosen us

Ø     We are his

Ø     And he will not let you go!

v    And this is the great comfort for us…

Ø     Elect children of God

§        You will go through tests and temptations

§        You will resist some

·        You will succumb to many

§        You will turn toward God some of the time

·        And you will turn away from God some of the time

¨     But know 1 thing for certain:

Ø     You can never lose your faith

§        Jesus always says to you and me…

·        “And when you have turned back…”

¨     You can never think anything that Christ cannot pardon

¨     You can never do anything that Christ will not forgive

¨     You can never say anything that Christ cannot absolve

§        Always remember...

·        Christ constantly says to you and me…

¨     “And when you have turned back…”

v    After this interchange in the upper room

Ø     Jesus then takes his disciples goes to the Garden of Gethsemane

Ø     He prays (I wonder if any of his prayer included Peter?)

Ø     The contingent led by Judas approaches

Ø     Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus

Ø     Jesus heals him

§        And in verse 54 it says…


READ V. 54-55

Perfection Fumbled

v    It is this courtyard that we learn of Peter’s perfection fumbled

v    However, to Peter’s credit, he was one of two disciples that followed Jesus

Ø     To the house of the Caiaphas, the High Priest

§        Mark tells us that the elders, teachers of the Law and the high priests were assembled there

·        And inside Caiaphas’ courtyard some people gathered to await the outcome of this private trial

¨     As Peter warmed himself

Ø     He saw people being shuttled inside

§        The false witnesses whose testimony could not agree

Ø     He heard inaudible questions being asked

§        But no reply to any of them by Jesus

Ø     He heard yelling and shouting and ripping of cloth

§        As Jesus answered “I am” to Caiaphas’ point blank, question

·        “Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed One?”

Ø     He heard blows being given, spitting and mocking words

v    As all this was occurring inside, Peter’s anonymity was being undone outside…


READ V. 56-60a (end: Man, I don’t know what you are talking about!)


v    The 3 denials

Ø     First denial ~ Knowing Jesus

Ø     Second denial ~ Being associated with the disciples of Christ

Ø     Third denial ~ Denying any association whatsoever with Jesus

§        Luke goes easy on Peter

·        Man, I don’t know what you are talking about!

¨     But Mark 14:71-72 tells us what he actually said…

Ø     He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about”


v    This kind of makes us cringe, doesn’t it?

Ø     Here Peter literally apostatizes

§        J. MacArthur defines apostasy as…

·        Somebody who knows the truth, has all the information about the truth, and willfully turns his back on the truth

¨     That certainly describes Peter!

Ø     Think about it…

§        He was probably standing right next to Jesus when he said

·        “I am the way, the truth and the life…”

v    And here Peter swears up one side and down the other that he has no relation to “The Truth”

Ø     But just as the words leave his mouth…

§        2 Things happen


READ 60b-61


Ø     1) The rooster crows

§        And Peter’s memory is jogged…

·        You will deny me 3 times before the rooster crows

¨     The same man who said one day on a stormy sea

Ø     “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water”

§        Also said, “Woman, I don’t know him”

¨     The same man who said, “I am ready to go with you to prison or to death”

Ø     Also said, “I am not one of the disciples!”

¨     The same man who said, “You are the Christ the son of the living God”

Ø     Also called down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about”

The second thing that happens is…

Ø     2) Jesus turns and looks at him

§        We don’t know the logistics of how this happened

·        Perhaps it was an open widow

·        Perhaps it was at that instant that Jesus was being led out

¨     Whatever the circumstance

Ø     Peter’s lifts his eyes after this realization

§        And their eyes lock

§        I love what William Hendricksen says in his commentary at this point

·        We must not forget that the look of Jesus would have been wasted on Peter if it had not been that Peter was looking at Jesus


Ø     Oh boy, that teaches us a lot!

§        So many times as a Pastor I see people at their lowest points

·        And the flesh’s reaction is to turn from Jesus

·        Not to look into the face of their savior

·        When failure is the greatest and they need Jesus the most…

¨     They look away out of shame or pride

Ø     Peter, to his credit, actually looks toward Jesus

§        And I believe that Jesus’ look was…

·        Not one of condemnation

·        Not one of blame and disapproval

·        Not one of stern rebuke

¨     Not one of pain…but of pardon

Ø     And that is what Jesus wants you to know today, sitting right where you are

§        No matter what you have done

·        Jesus’ gaze toward you is full of pardon

v    And that look makes Peter leave the courtyard and weep bitterly!

Ø     It makes him weep the tears of repentance and shame

§        And Peter was forgiven…

·        But the shame lingered

v    Isn’t that the case with us so many times!

Ø     We ask and receive forgiveness but we keep hold of the shame

§        For Jesus, there is no shame after forgiveness

·        It is done

·        It is gone

·        It is not on his mind anymore

Ø     But Peter’s shame was on his mind and it lingered…

§        It lingered through Saturday into Sunday that week

§        It lingered in his mind as he ran to the empty tomb that day

§        It lingered as Jesus appeared to them and put Thomas’ fingers in the nail and spear holes on his body

·        It lingered for days and days until one day on the shores of the sea of Galilee Jesus appeared once again to let Peter know that his…

Imperfection was Forgiven! (Turn with me to John 21)

v    Explain the situation

Ø     7 Disciples fishing

§        (Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James, John and two others)

Ø     Jesus appears on shore

Ø     John recognizes him

Ø     Peter jumps in and swims to shore

Ø     Jesus shares a meal with them

§        Bread and fish!


READ John 21:15-19


Ø     It is here that Jesus is once again jogging Peter’s memory

§        3 times “Feed my sheep”

·        Jesus wants Peter to remember the upper room…

¨     Before the rooster crows you will deny me 3 times…

Ø     But when you have returned, strengthen your brothers

§        Jesus is in effect saying…

·        Peter, you have returned

¨     You have been through the furnace and come out stronger

¨     You have been refined by the perfecting fire of God

¨     Your dross is removed

Ø     Now it is time to once and for all…

§        To not turn aside from the plow

§        To leave your mother and Father, sister and brother and

·        Follow me!

v    And from that point on we see a total transformation of Peter…

Total Transformation

v    Peter is no longer the covert disciple

Ø     Hiding in the shadows

Ø     Denying association with the disciples

Ø     Swearing that he does not know this Jesus

§        He is a fearless, courageous, outspoken advocate of Christ

v    Turn one page with me to Acts 2:22-23, 36

Ø     Holy Spirit has descended

Ø     People begin talking in different tongues

§        There is mass confusion over what is going on

·        And Peter…

¨     The man who hid in a courtyard of 30…

Ø     Stands in a crowd of 3,000 and declares who Jesus is!

v    Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross… Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.

v    Peter no longer cares about the consequences

Ø     He no longer cares about what they could do to his body

§        Peter has been perfected by the “fire of temptation”

v    CS Lewis…

Ø     Mere Christianity

§        Though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. (His love) is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us…at whatever cost to Him

v    The cost to Peter for his perfection was were bitter sorrow and lingering shame

Ø     However…

§        We have to remember the cost to Jesus for our perfection…

·        His life!

Ø     John 15:13 says…

§        Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

·        Our imperfection and sin cost Jesus his life

¨     Peter realized this and dedicated the rest of his life to him

v    Peter Surveyed the Wondrous Cross

Ø     And concluded as Isaac Watts did…

§        Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.


v    Opening Illustration

Ø     Image: The Graph

§        Spiritually speaking…Where are you on the graph?

Ø     Christ wants your life in him to be an ascension

§        Christ excels at perfecting his saints

v    We all want to follow Jesus at no cost to us

Ø     Jesus knew what was going to happen to Peter

§        And he was going to use this terrible temptation

·        Use this terrible experience

·        Use his thrice denial

¨     To draw out the dross in Peter’s faith

·        For his own Glory

¨     This is where remembering one thing helps

Ø     “It is not about us, it is about God”


v    To encourage Peter in this, Jesus says…

Ø     V. 32 ~ I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail

§        He is with us

§        He is praying for us

v    But bold Peter tells Jesus

v    Here Peter goes from considering himself one of the “first” of the disciples

Ø     To be told that he will be the “worse” of the disciples

§        ‘You will deny that you even know me’

·        And we have all felt remorse for not being a better witness

¨     Or even tarnishing the Glory of God

Ø     But I cannot imagine the feeling Peter must have had when Jesus looked right at him

v    We have all let the Lord down at times in our life

Ø     Whether it is succumbing to sin

Ø     Resisting the inner prompting to witness to someone

Ø     Or just plain acting unchrist-like in public

§        We have all denied Christ in these ways and many more

·        So Peter’s denials simply remind us of our own


·        Imagine the blow to Peter’s esteem!

¨     Christ himself telling him that he will turn his back on him

v    But what is very interesting is v. 32

Ø     And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers

v    V. 54-55

Ø     Peter following Jesus

v    V. 56-60

Ø     3 denials

§        Cf. Matt & Mk with swearing that he does not know Jesus

v    V. 61-62

Ø     Turned and looked at Peter

§        Jesus does not let you get away with it

Ø     1) Jesus is praying for you

§        Jesus is with you

§        Jesus is one your side

·        And whatever the odds

¨     One plus God is always a majority

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