Beware of Thinking You Can’t Mess Up (Mark 14:27-31)

Monday, February 2nd, 2015
Sermon Series: Led to the Cross, Mark

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Beware of Thinking You Can’t Mess Up

Pride before the fall, from the gospel of Mark 14:27 to 31

You’ve heard them, and you’ve probably made a few of your own–proud and errant statements. History is full of them.

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers,” (1943, Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM).

“The telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication,” (An 1876 Western Union internal memo).

“I’m just glad it will be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face, not Gary Cooper,” (Gary Cooper, on his decision not to take the leading role in “Gone with the Wind”).

“A cookie store is a bad idea. Market research says Americans prefer crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make,” (a response to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies).

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out,” (1962 Decca Recording Co rejecting the Beatles).

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction,” (1872, Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology).

“Who wants to hear actors talk?” (1927, H.M. Warner, one of the Warner Brothers).

“640k ought to be enough for anybody,” (1981, Bill Gates).

Proud and errant statements are also sown all throughout the Scripture, made by unbelievers and believers alike. As you open your Bibles to Mark 14:27ff today, God exposes the arrogant and wayward statements of Peter and the disciples, as they react to our Lord’s certain prophetic predictions about their coming denial and unfaithfulness to Christ. As we read these verses, notice it’s a dialog starting with Jesus, then Peter, back to Jesus, then Peter, and finally the disciples.

They have now left the Upper Room and are on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. And while they’re walking, Jesus shocks His men with these words. Mark 14:27 to 31, “And Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away, because it is written, “I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” 28 But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ 29 But Peter said to Him, ‘Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.’ 30 And Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.’ 31 But Peter kept saying insistently, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And they all were saying the same thing also.”

These are very humbling verses–do they speak to you? If the great apostle Peter can be this arrogant and fail this badly, where does that leave you and me? This passage . . .

1  Stands as a WARNING–if you’re ever tempted to think you’re above sinning, failing, betraying, or denying Christ. It attacks pride.

2  Warns LEADERS they’ll be attacked the hardest.

3  Reminds you, when you stand for Christ you’ll be ATTACKED.

4  Shows you, when you COMPARE YOURSELF to others it’s PRIDE.

5  Points out that YOUR WORDS display what’s in your heart.

6  Tells you, it’s best NOT TO DEFEND YOURSELF.

7  Reminds you, FAILURE is NOT fatal.

8  Exposes the incredible heart and CHARACTER OF CHRIST.

9  Serves as a warning against PRIDE.

Jonathan Edwards said, “Pride is a person having too high an opinion of himself. Pride is the first sin that ever entered into the universe, and the last sin that is rooted out. Pride is the worst sin. It is the most secret of all sins. There is no other matter in which the heart is more deceitful and unsearchable. Alas, how much pride the best have in their hearts! Pride is God’s most stubborn enemy! There is no sin so much like the devil as pride. It is a secret and subtle sin, and appears in a great many shapes which are undetected and unsuspected.”

In this passage, you’re going to see much of the humility of Christ, and the sick pride of Peter, the disciples and you. Each of these five verses is aimed right at your heart. There is an amazing view of Christ here that must cause you to love Him more and worship Him more passionately. There are also helpful principles here you need to hear and to heed every day. Five verses make up the five points of my outline, beginning with . . .

#1  A heavy PROPHECY and truism  Verse 27

Jesus just seriously invested Himself into His men in the Upper Room. After designing the departure of Judas the betrayer, the Lord finished the last Passover and began the first Communion while teaching His men awesome truths found in John 13 to 16.

And now verse 27, Jesus and His eleven men leave the Upper Room, possibly around 10 pm to midnight. Walk with them out the Temple Gate, cross over the Kidron Valley where the Kidron Brook would be flowing at this time of year. Today the waters are red and undrinkable because of all the blood from the slaughtered lambs, which would drain down from the Temple Mount to this brook.

Many houses would be lit with candles, because the Passover would bring friends and family into town, and because those who lived in Galilee would all be celebrating the Passover meal this Thursday evening, then those in Judea would celebrate Friday pm. Crossing the brook, the Roman road of stone would climb up the western slope of the Mount of Olives. But before they arrive at their place of prayer, the place where Christ will be arrested, the Lord drops another bomb on His men.

They just learned one of the disciples himself will betray Christ. And now another slug to the gut, but this one really folds them in half and leaves them gasping. Verse 27, “And Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away, because it is written, “I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.”’”

What a foreboding prophecy! While our Lord will drink the bitter cup of God’s wrath with courage, the disciples will scatter in cowardice. Can you see their response? Are you watching their mouths drop open with a silent, “WHAT? NO WAY!” passing from their lips? This can’t be happening! “You really didn’t just say that, did you Jesus? We are going to FALL AWAY?” The Greek verb is skandalizo–to cause to stumble. It’s the Greek word where we get the English stumbling block–something you trip over. The Greek word gets its roots from the idea of an animal trap and a tripwire which triggers the trap and catches the prey.

Jesus is telling His men they will be caught, trapped and overwhelmed by what is about to happen to Me, your Master. The Lord’s soon and sudden arrest, then trial, will freak them out. “Fall away” here is also a passive verb. The disciples do not intentionally defect, but external forces expose their weakness, cause them to trip and fall flat on their faces. Rather than being alert like Mark 13 just called them to be, the disciples were caught sleeping, literally. Then waking up to face a life-threatening circumstance caused them to trip all over each other and scattered like sheep without a shepherd.

They don’t lose their salvation, or fall away from the faith–they do what every Christian in this room has done. They failed to confess Christ publicly–they stumbled in fear. Their response is not the same as Judas.

Judas betrayed the Savior, but the eleven disciples failed in weakness.

Judas sold His master out, but the eleven disciples ran away in fear.

Judas denied Christ as God, but the eleven disciples momentarily doubted.

Judas’s unbelief was permanent–the disciples’ failure was temporary.

Judas hung himself, but the disciples were martyred for their faith.

Judas’s shame was eternally damning, the disciples’ shame was short-lived.

In verse 27, Jesus predicts the eleven disciples will run away. They’re going to trip in their walk. They will stumble in fear. They will not stand with Christ or for Christ in this harsh hour. This is a heavy prophecy–look at the next three phrases in verse 27. The details of the text here tell us three amazing things.

First  Because “It is written” their desertion was PLANNED–prophesied!

Second  “I will strike down the shepherd”–GOD is the one who strikes down Christ

Third  “The sheep shall be scattered“–these loyal men will ABANDON their Savior

First  Their desertion was PLANNED, “because it is written

How did Christ know they would abandon Him? How did Jesus know His men would fall apart when He was arrested? How did the Lord know they’d trip over His coming suffering and death? For two reasons–first, Christ knows everything, He is omniscient. And secondly, their failure was already prophesied in the Old Testament.

Christ knew it, and it had been written down in Scripture. “It is written” is a common New Testament reference to the Old Testament. Jesus even quotes the Old Testament Scripture in verse 27, from Zechariah 13:7b, “Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered.” Jesus already knows all the events and the details of the future, and Jesus knows the true meaning of the past. The Lord knows what’s coming because He knows everything, and He knows how to interpret and understand Zechariah 13:7.

Friends, Christ knows your tomorrow, knows this year for you, every day is numbered, measured, and under His sovereign hand. Psalm 139:1 to 3, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.”

Matthew 10:29 to 31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Jesus Christ knows exactly what’s coming.

The Lord could see Judas selling Him out, hear the schemes of the Jewish leaders, watch the denial of Peter, and see His disciples flee–all at once. He could already see the soldiers come to arrest Him. He could already feel the kiss of Judas on His cheek, and fully knew the coming torture, mockery, injustice, suffering and crucifixion. Already in advance–it was all before Him as if it were right now. That is omniscience–all knowledge.

Which highlights the amazing courage of our Lord Jesus. Christ knew His own future–He knew He’d be struck down, which would cause His men to be filled with terror and scatter. Christ knew, in detail, what He is about to face. And Christ knew He’d bear it alone, suffer alone and die alone. Christ knew all His friends would run away. He knew it! Yet our Lord continued to go to the cross.

Our Lord would bear the hatred, accept the pain, embrace the indignity, endure the betrayal, receive the betrayer’s kiss, face the crucifixion and bear our sin–utterly and completely alone. I can’t stand to eat alone, I can’t even imagine what it was like for Christ to bear this agony alone. Talk about courage. His men would run–it was prophesied and planned, it was written. And in verse 27, Jesus adds . . .

Second  GOD is the one who strikes down Christ, “I will strike down the shepherd

The person who strikes down the shepherd from Zechariah 13:7, and from verse 27, is God the Father. Who causes Christ to go to the cross? Not the empty religious leaders, not Judas the betrayer, nor the political Romans–it’s God. A study of Zechariah 13 will show you God the Father “will strike [put to death] the Shepherd [Jesus], and the sheep [the disciples] will be scattered in all directions.”

I will strike” is first person singular, speaking of God–God will strike down Jesus, the Shepherd. The Bible affirms this–Isaiah 53:10, “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him.” Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all.”

Jesus Christ was struck down, not by Pilate, Caiaphas, Herod or Satan, but by God Himself! The One who loved Christ the most hurt Christ the most. The most evil act ever perpetrated by men was the most loving act ever perpetrated by God. The worst miscarriage of justice in history by men was the greatest satisfaction of justice in history by God. Before the foundation of the world, the cross was planned, then prophesied in the Old Testament, and now about to be fulfilled in a matter of hours from this moment—“I will strike down the shepherd.”

Jesus tells His men they’re about to trip up spiritually when God the Father strikes down their Messiah, and as a result . . .

Third  These loyal men will ABANDON their Savior, “the sheep shall be scattered

When a shepherd is killed, the sheep scatter in every direction, for they’ve lost their rallying point. So also, when Jesus is captured then crucified, His followers will panic and flee–which is exactly what happened. Mark 14:50, “And they all left Him and fled.”

At Christ’s arrest in the Garden, they will scatter. This incredible group of eleven basically dissolves–they run and hide. This explains why Thomas is missing on Resurrection Sunday night, or why two disciples were wandering off on the road to Emmaus, or when the Lord appeared to His men in Galilee, there were only seven of them at first.

Picture it–these men had been inseparable for three years, but now they’re fragmented and hiding in fear. They literally disperse. Suddenly it became dangerous to be connected to Christ. Since they’ve come to kill Christ, it was reasonable to conclude their close connection to Christ meant they were next to die. In one moment it became life threatening to be a disciple of Christ, and they were not willing at this point to put their lives on the line, when the life-threatening cost became a reality.

It’s easy to follow Christ when it costs you nothing. It’s another thing to follow Christ when it costs you everything. In just hours, Jesus says they will scatter because the price is too high. The moment was just too scary. So they fled to safety. Cowardice took control and they ran. There’s a truism in these statements by Christ you must not miss. Attack the shepherd to destroy the sheep. Wreck the pastors and elders and destroy the church. Ruin the discipler, hurt the disciple. Mess with the RMG leader and damage the RMG.

Each of us need to remember we’re in spiritual warfare, but teachers, leaders, disciplers must never forget, you’re the bullseye.If the enemy can tempt you to be divisive, slanderous and unrepentant, then the enemy can damage a lot more people than you. Leaders, stay on the alert–the enemy is subtle. And all of you, encourage, protect and pray for your leaders.

Verse 27 is shocking but beautiful. Even though the disciples will fail, the Lord loves them just the same–and in the same breath predicts He’ll return from the dead and gather His sheep back together.

#2  A hopeful PLAN and promise  Verse 28

But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” I’m coming back after death, and I’ll meet you at home. Verses 27 and 28, points #1 and #2, belong together. Christ predicts their coming failure, but in the same sentence He tells His men their failure is not fatal. Their coming failure is not permanent but temporary. Christ will die on the cross, but He will rise from the dead and re-gather His men back in their homes in Galilee.

Their ministry is far from over–it’s just beginning. This is hashtag awesome–in the same sentence where Christ tells His guys they’ll fail, He tells them that it will not be fatal. Failure is not fatal. You will trip, fall, and scatter, but when I rise from the dead I will gather you together back in Galilee. Christ’s dire prophecy of their fall has a very positive culmination.

Verse 28, “But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” Jesus already told His men at least three times He will die then rise again, in Mark 8, 9 and 10. But this fourth time He comforts them–how? He’ll meet them in the very region where all their homes are–in Galilee, where the Lord originally called them to Himself.

This is a joyful promise. After His crucifixion, Jesus promises a glorious resurrection, and a great reunion with His men in Galilee. Our Lord is telling His men that the death of the Shepherd and the scattering of the disciples is not the end of the story. The resurrection of Jesus Christ will not only be the vindication of God, but also the restoration of the disciples to our Lord.

And this promise was fulfilled in Mark 16:7, “Go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’” In the midst of their failure, the Lord restores them again. He’d forgive them, then use them greatly–what a promise!

Twitter this–this is also proof of the power of Christ. Omniscience/all-knowing tells us Christ knows He will die, but omnipotence/all-power tells us Christ will rise from the dead. Jesus has power over death. He just raised Lazarus from the dead, and Christ Himself will rise from the dead. Christ is over/controls death!

Why did the disciples run? Because they feared death. But Christ affirms here He has the power over death. The Bible says in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” And Revelation 1:18, “I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” In John 11:25 Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.”

Jesus has all power—omnipotence–including death! By implication He’s telling His men, there’s no need to fear death. There is no need to run away because of fear of death–I’m over death. Do not fear death–I am the Lord of death. You can’t die unless I will it. No one dies prematurely, no one dies by accident, no one dies from persecution, no one dies young, no one dies as a victim of violence, or because he couldn’t get medical help in time. When you die, it’s because Christ willed it—it’s God’s perfect will. Christ alone has the keys to death. No one unlocks death’s door but Jesus.

It might be a close friend, your dad or mom, sister or brother, or sadly, a son or daughter or grandchild, a mentor, someone close. Next time you stand over a casket, remember, death comes to all, death comes because of sin, and death is in the hands of Christ! And let me remind you of the obvious–only Christ rose from the dead. No other religious leader rose from the dead, only Christ. Only Christ is God. Christ alone is the path to forgiveness, and Christ alone is the road to Heaven.

Jesus then adds in verse 28, “But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” Literally, it means I will lead you forward. It doesn’t mean, “I’ll go there and sometime you’ll show up.” No, “I will lead you there, personally, I will shepherd you into Galilee.” He makes a promise to return after His death, and personally bring together the scattered sheep and personally bring them all together.

It didn’t take long. In Matthew 28, Christ brought them all together—verses 16 through 20, “But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”

The Lord got the band back together. They were all together when He ascended, and all together in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit came and the Church was born. He recovered them all. He restored each one of them. This was not an irreparable kind of defection, like Judas. This was not apostasy. This was a momentary failure, weak faith, lack of love and cowardice. But our Lord recovered them all. Jesus promised He’d re-gather them, and He did.

So in the same breath of informing them of their coming failure, Jesus also promises to rise from the dead and gather them back together, in order to turn the world upside down. But it’s almost as if the disciples didn’t hear the promise. They heard point one, verse 27, but not point two, verse 28. Just like you and me, Peter focused on the negative statement–he failed to grasp the promise. And motivated to declare his loyalty, to counterbalance the announcement of a betrayer, to reassure his Lord, Peter ended up manifesting . . .

#3  A hurtful PRIDE and presumption  Verse 29

But Peter said to Him, ‘Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.’” This smells like Putin saying, “We have no troops in Ukraine!” Or Clinton, “I did not have sex with that woman.” Peter says, “’Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.’” Again, Peter focuses on the first part of the prediction, verse 27, “’You will all fall away,’” and not the second part in verse 28, “’But after I have been raised.’”

The positive promise went right over his head, and he focused on the negative statement about himself. And in typical fashion, he inserted his foot and chewed–“’Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.’” This is the worst kind of pride–it’s the pride of defiance, disbelief, comparison and self-inflation.

First  The pride of Defiance

Jesus directly told Peter in the Upper Room he’d deny Him three times. John 13:38, “Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.’”

FBC–if Jesus looked you in the eyes and said that to you, instead of defiantly declaring, “No way, Lord, that won’t happen,” like Peter, the humble response should have been to say, “Lord how can I avoid doing that?” But Peter defiantly declares, “You told me, but I defy you, Lord. Even though you say I will do that, I won’t. I will never do that.”

Second  The pride of Disbelief

Jesus just said, “’You will ALL fall away,’” but Peter declares in pride, “I don’t believe you. It won’t be me.” Peter openly contradicts Jesus. Not all will fall away–not me!

Third  The pride of Comparison

Peter compares himself with the other disciples, and elevates himself above them in pride when he says in verse 29, “’Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.’” As I compare myself to them, I am better than them. Everybody else will bail out, but not me. I’m above that! Peter declares to Jesus and the eleven, “I am the blessed exception.”

Fourth  The pride of Self-confidence

Peter doesn’t know himself at all–he has an inflated opinion of himself. He trusts himself. He is just hours from denying Christ, yet verse 29 says, “’Yet I will not.’” The reference to “I”, “yet I will not,” the “I” is emphatic in the Greek text–emphasized. I will not deny you. “I” is at the center of “pride”. So out of love for Peter, the Lord becomes even more specific.

#4  A hard PREDICTION and denial

Verse 30, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.’” Look at verse 30 in detail, phrase by phrase. Jesus gives Peter the same warning again, a second time, but now with greater intensity. The Lord is emphasizing the certainty of Peter’s denial by saying, “Truly I say to you.” Peter’s denial was not only certain, but imminent, “this very night.”

Before the cock crows twice–the Romans divided the night into four parts, #1 evening was 6 to 9, #2 midnight was 9 to 12, #3 cock crow was 12 to 3, #4 morning was 3 to 6. So cock crow was the name of a period of time from midnight to three in the morning, because that’s when the cock would crow. Right now it is nearly midnight, so Jesus says in a few hours, before 3, before that rooster can crow two times you will have already denied Me on three different occasions. Ouch!

Jesus points out, “Peter, you, you yourself will deny the Master you claim to be loyal to, and claim to be devoted to.” Deny is a synonym for being ashamed. To deny is the opposite of confess–it’s to refuse to recognize, to literally disown Christ. The verb tense is future–this denial is in the near future. The voice is middle–Peter will do this denial all on his own, to himself. And the mood is indicative, meaning this denial is a certainty.

Three times, not once, not even twice, but three entire times you will deny Me–not merely a slip up, but again, and again, and again. And the point is, a triple denial is not merely a little mistake. This denial was an overt, repeated act of trying to disown Christ. But instead of breaking Peter’s heart–instead of crying out for help, Peter’s pride continues to dig his own grave, and moves him toward the certainty of his denial, as Peter expresses . . .

#5  A hallow PROTEST and defensiveness

Verse 31, “But Peter kept saying insistently, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And they all were saying the same thing also.” See the word “insistently”? That’s vehemently–passionately! Peter is stubbornly rejecting our Lord’s perfect knowledge of Peter’s own weakness and the predicted difficulty of the coming test.

But Peter says, “You don’t know what you’re talking about Jesus! I can do this! You already told us [in Mark 8:34], ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.’ I’m your man, Lord, I can handle it; You’re wrong, I’m right! I can stand with You!” Peter openly exposes his pride here.

Are we any different when we think, “Lord, you can’t use me”–when He’s already spiritually gifted us to serve in the church. “Lord, I can’t share the Gospel, I am just not mature enough”–when you knew enough of the Gospel to respond to it personally. “Lord, I’ve nothing to give you”–when you just gave Christmas presents to your entire family, eat three meals a day, have more than enough clothes, a warm house and a Starbucks in your hand?

And Luke informs us the Lord’s warning to Peter was even more specific. Luke 22:31 to 34, “’Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.’ 33 But he said to Him, ‘Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!’ 34 And He said, ‘I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.’”

Peter hears, “Satan wants to sift you”–Satan wants to shatter your faith. Satan can’t destroy saving faith, but he will try. From Job we learn Satan needs permission to attack Peter, and he gets it from Christ, but Christ prays for Peter, so when Peter recovers he can help his brothers deal with temptation and failure.

But don’t you think Peter should be a little afraid? Sure–Peter should be saying, “Help me, Lord, I can’t do this.” With “sift you,” the “you” is plural, so the Lord is talking to all His men. But instead of crying out for help, Peter, especially, thinks he’s more than a match for Satan, exposing dangerous pride in his heart. He is being proudly independent—“I can do this on my own, Lord.”

So look at Mark 14:31–Peter is vehement, passionate, extreme. “I will die for you, I will not deny you–I can stand on my own. I can fight and win. I will not fail you. I will stand strong.” He sounds just like Satan when he fell. “I will . . . I can . . . I will.” Peter’s pride is also manifested by trusting in his own strength, verse 31, “I will die before I will deny You.” He’s relying on his own gifts and strengths and will.” Peter’s not merely proud, he is emphatically proud, ardently proud.

And the other ten disciples join right in with Peter. Verse 31b, “And they all were saying the same thing also.” Jesus predicted that they would all fall away in verse 27, yet all the disciples lived in the illusion of their spiritual strength. They’re enamored by their years of experience with Christ. “I’ve got this down.” They’re confident in their gifts, abilities, and their history with Christ. We can do this–we can resist the enemy and stand for you Jesus!

But the Scripture warns each of you here this morning–in the context of the failures of Israel and that example to us, 1 Corinthians 10:12 says, “Let him who thinks he stands, take heed that he does not fall.” We are here looking at the example of Peter and must respond. Within hours Peter will disown Christ with an oath and a curse. Peter will deny Christ, and he’ll deny Christ with the same vehemence he displays here, in saying he won’t deny Christ!

And in just hours all the disciples, Mark 14:50, left Him and fled. Not one disciple remained faithful–each one of them went AWOL. They are so proud, they contradict the Lord–they overestimate their own spiritual strength. They’re unprepared for what’s coming. Yet against that ugly pride is the amazing humility of Christ who faces the cross. Forsaken by them, hated by His own nation, and now alone Christ’s great humility contrasts with their pride. Are you as hateful of pride as God is?

1  Pride prevents SALVATION

Why do many reject Christ? Pride

Why are there those who say they follow Christ, but don’t live for Him at all? Pride

An unwillingness to confess sin? Pride

An unwillingness to turn from sin in repentance? Pride

A refusal to submit to Christ, admit a need for Christ daily? Pride

The rooster crowing was a means to bring Peter to repentance. Christ’s words to Peter in today’s passage were burned into his mind after he denied Christ the third time. The rooster crowed and Christ made eye contact with Peter. Then the remembrance of verses 27 to 31 burst into Peter’s mind, and Peter wept in repentance. Which team do you truly belong to–team self-reliance with its pride, or team trust in Christ with its humility?

2  Pride stops GROWTH

The disciples were restored. Christ did bring them back together after his resurrection. And by the time of Acts 5 each one of them was willing to suffer and die for Christ. What made the difference? Acts 2, the coming of the Spirit–the permanent indwelling, then filling of God’s Spirit. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in Me.” “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.”

After the Spirit came, they were never ashamed of Christ again. They went out and boldly proclaimed the Gospel, and all of them [but one] willingly gave up their lives in martyrdom for Christ. But Spirit empowerment demands dependence. Filling of the Spirit requires dependent obedience to God’s Word.

Spirit power requires humility, reliance, admission of sin and the willingness to serve, give, share and give all glory to God. Pride prevents the Spirit’s empowerment, and stifles growth. Luke 14:11, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

3  Pride is difficult to IDENTIFY

Are you blessed in business, or responsible in our church? Are you the queen of homeschool or in charge of the boosters? That is when the devil whispers in your ear, “You are somebody. Look at you. People have recognized your abilities. You’re skilled! Wow, you’ve worked hard, and now it is all paying off.”

Pride is being stuffed full of yourself. And like Peter, pride is seen most in what you say–slander, gossip, comparison, a critical tongue. Your heart can become presumptuous. You begin to rationalize. “I can handle this relationship with this guy. We’re only dating. I can handle these medications. I only look at pornography once a month. My spouse was mean, so I’m allowed to respond this way.” Proverbs 29:23, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.”

Nancy DeMoss says this, “Pride manifests itself in so many subtle, but lethal ways… In a hidden desire for the praise and admiration of men, an insistence on being ‘right’, the desire to be noticed and appreciated, fear of rejection, or just pre-occupation with myself, my feelings, my needs, my circumstances, my burdens, my desires, my successes, my failures. These are all fruits of that deadly root of pride.”

James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” Ask yourself, ask your spouse, ask friends, “Where do you see pride in my life?”

4  Pride can be FORGIVEN

The restoration of the disciples after the resurrection is a great encouragement to each of you and me who’ve failed in sin, who’ve wimped out, who ran away, who didn’t step up or speak out. Anyone here done that? You can find forgiveness in Christ and be restored to a place of usefulness.

And this morning, the Lord’s Table is that place—it’s for sinners. It’s a table of forgiveness–a table where sin is confessed. A table where we reaffirm our desperate need for Christ and the power of the Spirit every single day. If that’s you, then pray with me and prepare our hearts. Let’s pray.

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church – Murrieta.

Tough Stuff
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