Boasting In Your Weakness   Leave a comment

Robin Boisvert preached today on Matthew 26:69-27:10. This is the account of Peter’s denial and Judas’ remorse, and it was entitled “A Denier Restored, A Betrayer Rejected.” I just wanted to post some of my thoughts on it and from it. If you want to listen to it yourself, you can find it here.

We can learn a great lesson in Peter’s denial of Jesus Christ. And the lesson isn’t: Don’t deny Jesus. The lesson is regarding your assessment of yourself. As John Calvin said, “There is no one who does not cherish within himself some opinion of his own preeminence.” That is at the very heart of the problem of mankind… the pride in us that keeps us from submitting to God but rather choosing to go our own way apart from His caring guidance.

Here was an excerpt from Boisvert’s sermon, a portion that I thought was at the heart of his message for me and for the church:

“Peter needed a Savior, but before that could happen, Peter needed to know he needed a Savior… The same is true of you and me. But as long as we’re strong in ourselves; as long as we’re adept at saving ourselves, what need we of Christ?… This entire incident was engineered by God to show Peter that self-confidence and self-trust are entirely at odds with the humility that trusts in Christ as Savior. Peter was so strong… in his estimation of himself that he didn’t think he needed Christ… This experience was actually a severe mercy from God for Peter which he would never forget.”

Now, if you haven’t read the incident in Matthew 26, here is a short recap. Jesus said, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered'” (Matthew 26:31). Peter’s response is classic Peter–and, unfortunately, it looks a lot like classic me and classic you: “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away… Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You” (Matthew 26:33, 35). Jesus told him that before a rooster crowed in the morning that next day, Peter would deny Jesus not once, but thrice. But, Peter thought, Jesus is underestimating my faithfulness and my loyalty. Because, if He knew how good I was, He would know that I could never fail Him like that. And, sadly, I have that same feeling all too often. Even if Peter failed, I wouldn’t have failed in that same circumstance. Oh, how the history of my life is so oft and quickly forgotten.

Peter ends up denying Jesus three times. He gets caught off guard, and, when he is first accused of being with Jesus, he pretends that he doesn’t understand the accusation. Then, upon another accusation shortly thereafter, he makes an oath that he doesn’t know Jesus. Then, after another accusation, he starts calling down curses on himself if he is lying about not knowing Jesus. Then, the rooster crows and he meets Jesus’ gaze. “And he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75).

“Since our Lord Himself could not give us an instance of human infirmity, He has given it to us in the person of the most exalted of His pastors [Peter], that all may fear and none may presume and all may hope.”–Isaac Williams

I thought of this in the way I and so many others, whether Christian or not, exalt people in our day and age. And God is so kind to remind us that people, left to their own power and their own self-will, aren’t as good as they believe themselves to be. Think of the church leaders who have fallen to adultery, the world leaders that have fallen to adultery and financial corruption, and the celebrities who have become addicts of drugs, gambling and sex. It is just another reminder that we are not good enough to save ourselves. That is a reminder come straight from above… and it is a gracious reminder because it points all of us to the saving work of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to take away the punishment for our sins that all those who would believe in Him would be saved eternally.

But you have to come to Jesus genuinely, and you have to come to Jesus wholeheartedly. It’s not enough to feel remorse over something you did, but that remorse has to turn you to Christ. A sad and sober reminder is Judas, who deeply regretted turning Jesus over to the Romans for he had “sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). What’s the difference between Peter and Judas, when they both turned against God and was devastated afterwards? The difference is in where their sorrow took them. Judas didn’t turn to Jesus, but went back to the Pharisees to relieve his conscience… on his own terms and by his own powers. He gave the Pharisees back their money and, still feeling bad but not wanting to turn to Christ, he hung himself (Matthew 27:1-10). Peter, on the other hand, turned back to God eventually. When Jesus, upon His resurrection, asks Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”, Peter’s response is a humble and contrite one: “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You” (John 21:17).

I needed this reminder that I’m not nearly as great as I sometimes think myself to be. My only sense of worth is found in Jesus Christ. So, I will echo the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:9: “I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

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Posted March 21, 2010 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

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