John 18’s where we’re going to be today, John 18 this morning. This text description that we’re going to dive into today, I want to preface it this way, because this is an interesting passage, and quite honestly, it’s a little bit difficult to teach, because there’s two storylines intertwined together. And oftentimes, when people approach this text, they kind of segment it out, and divide it into two different messages, because you’ll see, starting in verse 12, you’ll see how Jesus is carried off by religious leaders and he’s put on trial, and then intermixed with this, is this interaction with Peter. Verses 15-17, and verses 25-27, Peter kind of peppers this story, so people look at it, and they can’t really determine what to do with two different stories, and how they’re intersecting. But I think I’ve figured it out.
This is what we’re going to do this morning, we’re going to talk about how these stories intersect. And what makes this story a little bit challenging is, it’s a polarizing story. I find when people read this, the common demeanor that we walk away with is, a good guys versus bad guys. It’s kind of like, “Here’s the bad guys and what they did with Jesus, and I’m team Jesus, and so I’m the good guy, and we don’t like those bad guys.” To the point that some people have read a passage like this, and they walk away with, kind of a anti-Semitic flavor in their attitude, that they have such disdain for the way people behaved towards Jesus. And I don’t think that, that’s God’s intentions or God’s goal for us in this passage and scripture, rather what I find is, there’s this internal challenge with us to pursue God in the midst of adversary that we face.
When I say it like that, there comes times in our lives where we can be put in a position of compromise, and what we choose to follow is oftentimes determined by the foundation that we have built our lives upon. That’s really where you find Peter in this story. He’s in this moment that’s putting this pressure on him, and Peter actually makes a poor choice at the end of it. But I’m going to approach this text, not as if we’re here to make an enemy of anybody, I really want to talk about our own vulnerabilities as human beings, that leave us susceptible towards bad decisions and walking down the wrong road in life. That’s what we’re going to title it here, is, The Wrong Road or the Right Path, how do we… Rather than go down the wrong road, how do we find the right path? And this is what we start to see in the life of Peter, as he is presented with this same challenge.
There is this mob of people going down the wrong road, and Peter’s being influenced to take that road with them. It leaves me to think, when you get a group of people together, you can oftentimes see a lot of great things happening, with a group of people, as long as their scope is healthy, right? The trajectory that they’re on, as long as it’s pointed in the right direction, a lot of great things can happen, but if you take another group of the same size and you put them down an unhealthy path, it can become very destructive. That’s what we see in this story. So I’m going to talk about this morning, three ways where we have a tendency to be influenced toward the wrong road, and then we’re going to talk about three ways to break free of that, as we see the struggle that unfolds in this passage or scripture.
In verse 12, begins for us the section that says, “So the Roman cohort, and the commanders and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound him, and led him to Annas, first, for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year.” If you picked up the notes this morning, the first part of your blank, starts to highlight the first way in which this group of people is being influenced to the wrong road.
Let me just say this, before I give you the blank. What you see, these individuals, they’ve gone towards Jesus, and we looked at this last week. They went to the garden to arrest Jesus, and they came with hundreds of people angry at Christ, and they’ve come to arrest Christ. The question I’m going to ask is, what’s motivating this group? Why is there such a disdain for Jesus, that they’re choosing this moment to bind him and lead him and themselves, down this wrong road. I think the answer, very simple… And it could be masked under another word, but let me just give you the blank here; it’s fear. I think when you start to look at these passages or scriptures, and you see how these individuals are behaving as a group, the thing that’s motivating their decision is, a lot of it’s driven by fear. And we could maybe say, and also a little bit of pride, but the pride honestly, is lending itself into fear.
We, as people, make a lot of dumb decisions when we’re afraid. Probably, we could say, some of the worst decisions we could make in life, happen out of a response to fear. And I would say the same thing for these individuals. They come together, this group, with this disdain towards Jesus, and a lot of what’s motivating their behavior, is driven by fear. I got to say it like this, one of the reason’s they’re so concerned about Jesus, is that Jesus is bringing this tension into their way of life, and they don’t like it. It’s creating this divide between the peace that they have built with Rome, and Jesus is changing things from what they’re accustomed to, and they’re not comfortable with the change. Jesus is coming at the Old Testament, and he’s highlighting certain things that are different than what they’ve been practicing within their own culture, and honestly, some of the things they’re practicing are contrary to what God intends, and they don’t like it, and they’re afraid of losing it.
And out of fear, they respond to Christ. And maybe motivated by their pride, not wanting to lose the identity they have, and therefore they cling to fear, over the idea of loss, and it leads them down this road.
Number two, the thing that you see a little further from this, in verse 14 is, “Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people.” Number two, the thing that motivated them down the wrong road, in addition to fear, is this idea of acceptance. Verse 14, you see it here when Caiaphas steps in. Caiaphas being the high priest, he’s the leader of the Jewish people, he’s the one that they would look to for answers. When they think of godliness, this picture of Caiaphas is what comes to mind, and after all, he’s the priest of priests, for the Jewish people. Caiaphas gives this comment about his response to Jesus. He says… Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for a man to die on behalf of the people.
Here’s what he’s saying; “If you disagree with what I’m saying, it’s because you’re not Jewish enough. You’re not one of us. And if you want to be one of us, you need to get in line and listen to what all of us are about, otherwise, you don’t belong. You’re not Jewish enough.” And when it comes to us as people, we all have that desire to want to fit in, to feel like we belong. When we talk about acceptance, I know when we consider having a conversation with our teenagers or our children about being accepted and finding the right crowd, we start talking about peer pressure, right? “Don’t give into peer pressure. Let’s not bow to peer pressure.” It’s unhealthy to do things because of peer pressure, but when we talk about us adults, we’re too good for peer pressure. We don’t use words like “peer pressure,” we start to say things like, “It’s not great for my reputation.” A more honorable word, isn’t it? We’re grown up now, we’re no longer giving in to peer pressure, we’re all about our reputation.
We need to think about our reputation, but what you see in this passage is, Caiaphas is challenging the Jewish identity. In a minute, you’re going to see that Peter even struggles in his identity with the Jewish people when the pressure is put on him; “Where are you going to belong to, who are you going to side with,” and Peter starts to worry about his reputation. In Israel, the leadership here, they’re using their fear of Jesus and their pride toward their national identity, as a way to fuel the people to embrace the group, over godliness. We could even maybe taut it like this, “You aren’t American, if you don’t,” right? Try to stiff arm and strong arm people into a certain decision, to follow after the group, even though what the group may or may not be doing, is godly. The group’s influence by fear, driven by trying to be accepted… You look at a verse like verse 14, and it just reminds us, it’s far more important to know who God says you are, than to strive to be who others want you to become; to choose Jesus over groups.
The third is this, in verse 19… I’m going to skip a little bit ahead, and we’re going to come back to the other two verses in a minute, but the third way that the group is driven down the wrong road, verse 19; “The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples, and about his teaching. And Jesus answered him, ‘I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught you in synagogues and in temple area, where all the Jews congregate, and I said nothing in secret. Why are you asking me, are those who have heard what I spoke to them… Look, these people know what I have said.'” But when he said this, one of the officers who was standing nearby, struck Jesus, saying, “Is that the way you answer the high priest”.
I’m just going to go out on a limb and say this, that, in whatever decision in your life, and whatever path you choose to follow, if your path includes binding Jesus, killing Jesus or hitting Jesus, it’s the wrong path. Right? They’re in the middle of the story, but the third way that we know that these individuals are walking down the wrong road, and the third way we’re often influenced towards the wrong road, is that we are emotionally driven. You see this in the life of the individuals that arrested Jesus here. Jesus is talking to them reasonably, and their response in verse 22, is to turn around and smack Jesus. They were very much driven by their emotions and their decisions here. But here’s the catch 22, when you think about the misleading of our emotions and how oftentimes we buy into our emotions, and it’s usually not until after the fact, that you realize how much you’ve given into your emotion, and then you regret it. Nobody in the midst of their emotions would describe themselves as being overly emotional. Everything thinks that their emotions are justified, right?
“I can give you 100 reasons why I’m so angry right now, and everything with my anger is, ‘Okay to be angry.'” Until after the fact. But how do we know that our emotions have gotten the best of us? I don’t think there’s anything in and of itself that’s wrong with emotion. I don’t think necessarily, there’s nothing specifically wrong with the idea of fear and acceptance. All those things can be used in a godly way or for godly purposes, if they’re honed the right way, but it’s not intended to be the primary guide to our life. Emotions aren’t intended to be the driving force for the basis of your decisions. Emotions are a great part of life, and I want to enjoy life, and I want to do it with great excitement and rejoicing, all of that. God made emotions. He’s the maker of emotions, right? There’s reasons that God wants us to go through life, and delight with things. He tells us to walk with Thanksgiving. Emotions can be a good thing, even bad emotions, or maybe I should say, more negative emotions.
There’s the warning signs that God has given us in life, when we walk down the wrong path, that just indicate, maybe this is the wrong path. But how do we know that our emotions are tending to lead us more than what Christ desires? How do we know it’s our emotions, and not the spirit? I found a lot of people confuse the idea of emotion with spirit. I mean, God is certainly a God of joy, but how do we know we’re not giving into emotion, rather than the spirit of God? Let me just give you a few thoughts.
When you think about the fruit of the spirit, the Bible says, “the fruit of the spirit,” right? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness. Just a couple of thoughts. Maybe you’re justifying, or maybe we tend to justify our response, in an emotional way. And the way that we find that we discover in ourselves that we’re doing that is, the fruit of the spirit is patience. And when I’m driven by impatience, maybe it’s an indicator to me that maybe God is for what I’m about, but the way that I’m about it… Or maybe I feel justified in my actions, and rather than lead with kindness, what’s starting to come out in my life, because I’m so inpatient about what I’m seeing, is unkindness.
I can look at probably the Jews in this story, and they probably feel completely justified in what they’re doing, because they’re afraid of what they might lose. And so in being justified in their fear of what they might lose, and their stand against Jesus, what you can see very plainly in verse 22, no matter how justified they have felt, where they’re going is leading them to a place of being unkind, and not exercising patience. Perhaps this is a great place to have some warning bells that they’re walking the wrong road.
So in our lives, when fear drives us, when our longing to be accepted by others more than Christ, is guiding us and we’re all caught up in our emotions, how do we respond? I don’t know if any of you has ever seen this diagram before, of like, when we’re emotionally led, there’s a way that we tend to think religiously, that is unhealthy towards our relationship with God. Meaning, we tend to, if we led by our emotions, tend to sometimes stop thinking rationally, but for some reason within the idea of belief or faith, we have allowed emotion to dictate decision, over what’s right or what’s true. And religious groups will tend to taut this. This is how it happens in our lives. A great leading down the wrong road, is to base your faith off of how you feel, to base your faith off of emotion.
Let me just give you an example why. Lots of different religions in this world, and let’s say I present three of them to you this morning. Let’s say we have a Muslim, we have a Hindu, and we have a Buddhist that come forward, and we ask them all the same question; how do you know what’s true. And this is not to be disrespectful to religious beliefs, but let’s just say we present those three in front of us this morning, and we ask them, “How do you know what’s true,” and the response to justify their faith is, “I know what I believe is true, because of the way it makes me feel.” And if you just listen to what I have to say, and you pray about what I’m telling you, if you feel good about it, then what you hear from me is true, and that’s how you know it’s true, because of the way you feel.
The problem with that is, if all three religions say the same thing, all three religions can’t be true. And the reason they can’t be true, is because all three religions teach a different religious system, and a different God that they base their belief systems on. They can’t all be true. They can all be wrong, but they can’t all be true, because all of them are talking about a different God. Yet, all of them claim to have positive feelings.
There’s a saying I like to say, that, “Faith is more important than just to base your pursuit of God on feeling,” because there are some things about God that you may feel make war with your soul, but are completely true. And when you read that story about the Jews in this passage and scripture, that’s exactly where they are. Given over to their feeling, driven by fear, want to be accepted by their people. And because of that, rather than walking in patience to what Christ is saying, rather than being kind and considerate, they attack him.
And this is generally how it goes; we have a positive spiritual feeling, which brings to us a spiritual witness that it might be true, which then we confirm is the Holy Spirit, which then we determine, must be a spiritual truth, which gives us spiritual feelings again. And it becomes nothing but circular reasoning. There is no basis for factual data or physical proof, but I want you to know that, when it comes to the Christian faith, our faith is far more important than just simply basing your life off of some sort of feeling. You’re talking about your identity. You’re talking about your eternity. You’re talking about why you exist, like, how you live your life. The pursuit of forever, that’s what we’re talking about. This is a significant thought, and more important than just simply, to base it off feelings. Because here’s what happens with feelings, eventually, they leave. Eventually, like Peter will see in just a moment, eventually you’re going to be put in a hard place.
And in that moment when there are no positive feelings, or it’s difficult in those feelings, and those feelings flee, where do you go? You crumple. That’s one of the most beautiful things that I love about the Christian faith, is to recognize that God created us; body, soul, spirit, mind. And when God gave us a mind, God gave us a mind for the purpose of thinking. Faith should not be driven by feeling, though feelings can be an important part, faith should be driven by fact, by truth.
And so three wrong ways that we walk down this road, but let me talk about then, three ways that we can break free. By the way, one of the worst times to talk to somebody about their feelings, is when they’re all caught up in their feelings, right? When we’re all in an emotional state, you don’t look to someone and say, “You know what you need to do? You need to calm down,” that’s like the worst thing that you can do when someone’s all… “I feel like you’re too into your feelings right now.” That’s only going to flame the discussion. Recognize that sometimes we can become creatures of feeling, and we can be given over to our feeling. It’s more important to lay the foundation of life, before those feelings come. That way, when those feelings come, you can undergird it with what is right, what is true, what is honorable.
So three ways then, that we can break free from those toxic paths in life, that can lead us down the wrong road. The away from fear, and the need for other people acceptance, and emotionally driven. Chapter 18, verse nine, let me tell you the answer first, before we get into it. Three ways to break free, number one. Number one is, humble truth.
Number one is humble truth. When I say “humble truth,” I want to be clear in recognizing, I don’t mean weak truth. Sometimes when we think about the word “humble,” we think, “spineless, coward, wimp.” I don’t think that’s the biblical word of humble. The biblical word of humble, is really all about confidence. It’s someone that need not prove themselves, that can take the position of a servant, because they’re completely secure in their own identity. They are completely resting upon a truth claim, that is not going to rock their world, when someone else comes along and makes a different statement, that’s contrary to it. Confident people are humble people. And it’s not confidence in us, it’s confidence in Him, and everything that he has created and proclaimed for us, and about us.
The reason I want to just highlight that idea of humble truth not being a weak truth, is just look in verse 19, at Jesus’s response here. If you imagine, in the middle of this moment, Jesus is being attacked by his own people. They’re making a “Jesus or Jewish, which are you,” so the world is turning against Christ, and even Rome is coming against him at this point. And in verse 19, look at this, “The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples.” The high priest wants to start pulling in the disciples with it, and take them down, right? He’s coming after Jesus. He’s saying, “Let’s now talk about, not just you and what you taught, but let’s talk about your disciples too.”
And in verse 20, Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world, and I always taught in synagogues, and in the temple area, and where all the Jews congregate. And I said nothing in secret. Why are you asking me? As those who have heard what I have spoken to them, look, these people know what I have said.” But when he said this, one of the officers who was standing nearby, struck Jesus, saying, “Is that the way you answer the high priest”. Jesus here, responds in humble truth, but humble truth is not weak. Jesus is not like, “Oh, you’re right. They were in it too. Take the attention off me, and let’s get these others in here.” Jesus stands boldly, and puts it all on him. “You want to talk about disciples? Let’s not make it about more than what it is. This is about what I said. This is about who I am. This is about the truth that I proclaimed.” The way to break free from walking the wrong road, is humble truth.
And Jesus, in these moments, he does it boldly. And then in verse 21, what he’s pointing them back to, is the way to discover the truth. The Jews that have come to arrest him, they’re making all these accusations of Jesus, they’re walking in the fear, they’re trying to find their acceptance among their group, not among God. “You’re not Jewish if you don’t do this.” Caught up in their emotions, and Jesus says, “Why are you asking me? Ask those who have heard what I have spoken to them. Look, these people know what I’ve said.” But when he said this, the officer who was standing by, struck Jesus, saying, “Is this the way you answer the high priest”. Then verse 23, “And Jesus answered him, ‘If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if rightly, why do you strike me”.
What Jesus is actually doing, is he’s pointing back to the Jewish law. Jesus knows that there’s certain rights and laws, in Jewish practice, when someone is brought on trial, that need to be observed. And those laws include that if someone’s making an accusation against him that, that person making the accusation, needs to bring forth witnesses, that truthfully accuse them of the wrongfulness that they’ve done. And Jesus is saying, “Look, obey your own laws. You’re caught up so much in this, that you’re not even observing what you’re told to do, what is true to do, what is right to do. You need to walk through this in the right way, to listen to what other people have said about what I have taught. Stop in your emotions and use your mind. Just consider. Don’t worry about just trying to necessarily identify with people, but listen to what’s been told to you. Listen to what God’s spoken. Humble truth.”
Jesus, in the story, points them back to the truth. There’s a reason there is a process. They don’t want to just put people against one another, the world’s had enough of that. Your side versus the other side. Let’s walk with kindness and patience, and humble truth. Not only is it important to see that Jesus is pointing them to the truth, but in verse 23, Jesus is also doing this graciously. He points to this truth, graciously. Jesus doesn’t respond to their emotion with emotion. Jesus doesn’t respond to their, “Might makes right,” by flexing his muscle back. Jesus doesn’t scream, Jesus doesn’t create a scene, or Jesus doesn’t make enemies. He’s loving, and he’s truthful.
You guys know, no one’s ever gotten in the middle of an argument and started in a shouting match and one person looked at the other and said, “Oh, thank you so much. I wasn’t understanding, until you yelled even louder. And now that you’ve yelled louder at me, I am more convinced that you are true.” That’s not what our arguments are helpful in. They don’t help anybody, right? And Jesus, in these moments, rather than raise his voice in response back, he walks in humility, with truth. Guys, when we share truth with people, but we lack humility, we become just like them. Like, if you know someone’s plainly wrong, in something they’re doing or saying, and you come at them like a force with truth, matching their power with your power, and you lack humility, you become just like them.
I love the way that Jesus, he’s touching us through modeling here, in this moment. When I think about the beauty of this moment, and historically, how God’s people have stood throughout history, one of the most famous interactions, Martin Luther, who I’m glad, if there’s one fad that did not continue, was Martin Luther’s haircut here. He was certainly led down the wrong road when it came to his barber, but this is a picture of Martin Luther, and this is in… Martin Luther, if you know anything historically about him, he led the Protestant Reformation, and he did so, on October 31, 1517. Five hundred and four years ago, to this day, Martin Luther took a stand for truth, and he took a stand that was contrary to how the rest of the world was really going, in a lot of ways.
He was a minority, I should say it like that, for truth. It was on October 31, 1517, that he tacked the 95 thesis to the door in Wittenberg, to the castle in Wittenberg, for a debate over things that he recognized, just people were not walking in accordance to God’s word. But then it was in, April 19th, of 1521, 500 years ago, that Martin Luther was brought before Charles V, and laid out before Martin Luther, was all of the works that he had written about the truth of God’s word. And it was and this moment that Martin Luther gave a statement that I find to be the statement, that I feel has really provoked what has became the Protestant Reformation. And the reason I think that this statement became so memorialized in this condition, is because of the way Martin Luther composed himself in these moments.
Martin Luther, before… He’s got religious leaders around him, he’s got the king in front of him. Martin Luther, in this moment, could have very easily had his head cut off right after this, but I think that he walked into this moment with the grace of God behind him in such a way, that he was able to at least articulate a thought that really fueled, I think, what the Protestant Reformation became, and he said this, he said, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the scriptures, or by clear reason, I am bound by the scriptures I have quoted, and my conscience is captive to the word of God. I can not and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe, nor right, to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.”
You know what you see in this [inaudible 00:30:08]? Humble truth. It’s humble truth. Martin Luther could have gone in this room and been like, “You’re wrong, and you’re wrong and you’re… ” He could have called out names. He could have done all that, right? But he didn’t. He’s saying, “Look, this is how I discovered where I’m at, and this is how you can discover where I’m at. And unless I can be convinced logically, of where I’m at, being wrong, I don’t want to walk that road. Cause at the end of the day, what I have to deal with, is my conscience. And therefore, what I must stand on, is truth.” That’s a beautiful phrase that just brings together, in a glorious way, humility and truth.
How do we break free from the wrong road? It’s humility and truth. Feelings can be misleading. There is a prison not too far from here, full of people, who felt really good about the decision they were making at the time, driven by their emotions. Emotions are a God given thing, but emotions aren’t given to us to determine what’s true. Truth transcends us. Truth, God is the creator of, and finding truth in Him, is far more important than the emotions that guide us as people. Humble, humble, truth.
Number two is fear over faith. I’m going to show you this real quick. In verse 15, Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple. Now the disciple was known to the high priest, and he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper and brought Peter in. Then the slave woman, who was the doorkeeper, said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” And he said, “I am not.” In verse 25, now Simon Peter was still standing and warming himself, so they said to him, “You are not one of his disciples as well, are you,” and he denied it and said, “I am not.”
And one of the slaves of the high priest, who was related to one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with him,” and Peter then, denied it again. Fear over faith. Now I know, when you read this story, you’re like, “Okay, if your point is faith over fear, this is definitely fear over faith.” We want to have faith over fear, not Peter, in this moment, is having fear over faith. And so when you understand the truth of what God calls us to, we certainly want to have fear over faith, but Peter is doing the exact opposite. So how do we take the story of Peter doing the exact opposite, and encourage us to not do what Peter’s done, right?
When I read this, I want to give Peter just a little bit of credit. When you read this story, you realize, all the other disciples have long since disappeared, except for two. There’s one that’s named, which is most likely John, who wrote the Gospel of John, and then there’s Peter. And at least Peter’s willing to show up. At least Peter’s willing to put himself out there, and he knows that there’s risks involved, but Peter falls, and Peter falls hard. He denies God three times. And when you read a story like this, cause I think if Peter, whom Jesus called the rock, is able to fall and to do it three times, I’m mean, we’re capable of the same thing. We can get all puffy in our position, and the next thing you know, when you think that we’re something special, we can fall as well.
And not just once, like once you repeat a cynic, it becomes easier to do it, two, three times. And that’s what Peter does. He starts just spitting off at the mouth and denying Jesus, right? One, two, three times, he denies Christ. That’s why Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard your heart, because from it, the well springs of life. Sin can destroy us, and for Peter, Peter falls here, because the cost was too much. He gave into fear.
We think, just a little bit ago, Peter was taking out a sword to fight 600 plus people. Now all of a sudden, he cowers at the slave girl. Peter’s afraid because the cost was too much. And actually, chapter five, verse 29, we see a little bit later that Peter, in the very near future, finds himself before religious leaders. And Peter says, in chapter five, verse 29, “Shall we not obey God, rather than man”. Peter finds a place to stand for the Lord, but I want to remind you, in 2 Timothy 1:7, guys, it says, “God does not give you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of sound mind.” If you’re reacting out of fear, most likely, you’re not being led by faith.
God’s interest is not in pulling you from things that you need to run from, but rather drawing you into things that you’re to live your life for, things to pursue in him. God doesn’t give you a spirit of fear, but of power and love, and of sound mind. And here’s where Peter finds the right road. In verse 27, Peter then denied it again. And immediately, a rooster crowed. Who would have thought a rooster crowing would have been a marker of God intervening in our life, but this is what happens for Peter. He comes to this moment and he’s giving into fear, rather than faith, and then all of a sudden, a rooster crows.
In Luke chapter 22, verses 61 to 62, this is, I think, written wrong at the bottom of your notes. I think it’s written as John, but it’s in Luke, chapter 22. There’s no John 22. In Luke 22, verses 61 and 62, it tells us, “In that moment, when the rooster crows, Jesus actually looks at Peter, and Peter realizes what happened. And he runs out, weeping.” And in John chapter 13, verse 38, Peter was told this by Jesus. Jesus comes to Peter and the rest of the disciples, and he said, “Guys, I’m about to die,” and Peter’s response to Jesus was, “Over my dead body that’s going to happen, Jesus.” If you’re going down, we’re all going down, right?
And Jesus says to him, the very last verse of chapter 13, he says, “No, Peter. I need you to know that before this night’s over, you’re going to deny me three times before the rooster crows.” And all of a sudden, this rooster crows, and Peter realized what he’s done. And Jesus looks at Peter, Peter runs out, weeping. But I want you to know, this is a very gracious moment by God. When Jesus looks at Peter, he’s not coming at Peter to realize, “Peter, you’re a failure.” He foretells to Peter that Peter’s going to turn his back on Jesus, so that when the moment happens, Peter realizes that even knowing that Peter’s going to deny Jesus, that Jesus did nothing in that night, other than just continue to love Peter. Knowing Peter was going to reject Jesus, Jesus still loved Peter.
Guys, when I think about our journey in this world, I realize that we’re not going to live life perfectly. When I think about… Sometimes we can be given into our emotions, and we are unkind, and we can be impatient, and we do want the crowd’s acceptance over God. And we let fear led us, rather than faith. I want us to realize, when we look at the story of Peter and this rooster crowing, that it’s not just a story for Peter, that it’s a story for us too. That all of us have our own chicken, and I want you to see, the place that I got this chicken actually. There you go. Been looking for a way to work this in for a while, but you never know when your rooster moment’s going to happen. It could be in the middle of Nowhere, Africa, all of a sudden someone comes to you, and they’re like, “We want to give you a gift, and here’s a rooster.”
I’ll be honest, when I was almost 40 years old, this is the first rooster that’s ever been given to me. And when you’re in the middle of a jungle and you’re around a village of people, and they come to you with a rooster, you want to pretend like you’ve been there, right? And they come up to me and they want to give me a gift. I didn’t know they wanted to give me this gift, but all of a sudden, they just scoop up this rooster and they hand it to me like it’s a gift. I want to pretend like I’ve been there, so I just grab the rooster like I have held a rooster before, but this is the first time I’ve ever held a rooster. And so, I’m holding the rooster like they handed it to me, and I’m looking all confident in picture one like, “Yeah, here’s my rooster.”
And then you look at picture two, and then the rooster tucks its head, that little devil bird… I didn’t know that roosters could turn so well, but he takes a glance down at my midsection, I’m like, “Man, I’m in the middle of a jungle, about to take a woo, on a rooster.” You never know when your rooster moment’s going to happen, right? And I think then the same thing with Peter. Same thing with Peter.
Peter braved, just a few minutes before. And then all of a sudden, he is before a slave girl, and all of a sudden, his bravery is gone. Guys, when I look at this story with Jesus looking at Peter when this rooster crows, I think it’s very easy to tie this story to us. Let me just tell you why. Quite honestly, I know it’s funny to look at the pastor getting pecked by a rooster here, but the rooster isn’t actually a real rooster. And what I mean is, in the Jewish temple, there was a position called the temple crier, and often he was referred to as the crower or the rooster. His job was to sound a horn when different positions were being taken in the temple. He would sound the horn at times when the alter was to be cleared of the sacrifice. He would sound the horn when the priests were supposed to come to the temple for the day, to start the worship. He would sound the horn when people were cleared to gather in the temple for sacrifice.
On this particular night, not only is the rooster recognizing when Peter failed, but it’s also a cry that’s supposed to recognize when the worship is supposed to begin in the temple. Because if you think about the significance of the moment, this is Passover. This is when the priest is supposed to be walking to the temple to receive the lambs for sacrifice. This is the moment that they’re supposed to be clearing the alter for the lambs, for this great festivity. But on this night, what you see in this passage of scriptures, rather than the high priest going to the temple for the busyness of one of the most important holidays that the Jews celebrate, rather than go there to receive the lambs, the high priest is about to receive the lamb. His name is Jesus.
Caiaphas is about to have delivered to him, the lamb. That rooster becomes the mark for our lives. That when we think about the roads that we can walk in this world, there are many temptations that can lead us down the wrong road; fear, wanting to be accepted by others, caught up in our emotions. But then there are things that God gives us for the right road; humble truth, faith, and even these moments in these roosters. And the rooster represents for us, really a place of repentance. A place of recognizing that in Christ, because of his grace that never stops loving, we always have a place to turn. Because in Jesus, we always have that rooster moment, where God is completely aware of our failures. He sees us, but he never stops loving us, so that we can find ourselves in him, walking in the freedom for which he brings. Pursuing the right path.