Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller


When We Fail God

Matthew 26:69-27:10

Peter was by far the most outspoken members of Jesus rag-tag group of disciples. He put his foot in his mouth so many times that he had to buy sandals with a lip balm attachment. But he was also the one who first publically acknowledged that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and how many other disciples actually walked on water?

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Peter spoke first and asked questions later. His fleshly loyalty to Jesus was unquestioned. So it\'s not surprising in chapter 26 that when Jesus predicted His men would flee from Him that Peter said he would never run away. Even after Jesus told him he would deny Him three times (Matthew 26:34) Peter said \"I will never deny you.\"

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Just a few short hours have passed, but already Peter has begun to realize that all the theoretical loyalty in the world is simply not enough when faced with a real test and a real enemy. We also see the end of Judas\' rebellion and betrayal. Interestingly, Peter and Judas are alike-in that they both failed God. But they are not alike in one aspect that makes all the difference. We, in fact, are either like Peter or like Judas. We all fail God. The question is: what do we do with that failure?

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26:69 - 75

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Peter, as we saw last time, obtained entrance to the outer courtyard of the high priest, actually the courtyards of Annas and Caiaphas\' homes. The girl at the gate who let John and Peter in apparently recognized Peter in the firelight and asked if he was with Jesus. At first he feigns ignorance and moves away from the fire. But now another one comes up and doesn\'t ask but insists to others standing there that Peter was indeed with Jesus. This was getting dangerous so Peter ups his denial by declaring with an oath that he does not know Jesus. This would be like an oath taken in court to tell the truth.

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Next another person comes up and not only insists that Peter was with Jesus but gives evidence-his Syrian like Galilean accent. This time Peter says essentially \"may God strike me dead if I\'m lying.\"

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Instantly a rooster crows, just as Jesus predicted. Luke 22:61 tells us that at that moment Jesus looks down and makes eye contact with Peter. And that was it-the bravado, the bravery, and the realization of failure all collapse in on Peter and he runs, again, and weeps bitterly.

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We contrast that now with Judas, but first, the religious leaders have to rubber stamp their in-the-middle-of-the-night illegal condemnation of Jesus.

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27:1 - 2

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This meeting of the Sanhedrin was to legitimize their illegal capital sentence handed down in the middle of the night. Capital criminal proceedings could only happen in the day so the elders are covering themselves. So let\'s see, we have a sham trial in the day to make sure our murder plot is done legally. The problem they faced is that the Romans took away their ability to perform executions. So they\'ve got to appeal to Rome in a way that gets Jesus sent to the cross (which is just where Jesus wants to go but it has to be man condemning Him there). They want him on a cross because it brought a curse from God (Deut 21:23). So they tie Jesus up partly to make him look like a dangerous criminal and partly I think to humiliate him and show him to be powerless to the people who counted him as a political Messiah.

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Instead of a theological charge of blasphemy, they need a political charge to get him executed, and that charge is treason.

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3 - 5

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It\'s possible that Judas really was trying to force Jesus\' hand and make him be a political Messiah by using His supernatural powers to deal with the religious leaders. When Jesus was instead condemned and did nothing, Judas, Jesus\' chief accuser, wanted to drop the charges. But it was too late. Judas wants to return the money but he cannot undo the damage.

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He admits his wrong but the priests and Pharisees feel no compassion for him and basically tell him \"you\'re on your own.\" How hopeless a situation Judas finds himself in.

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Matthew tells us that Judas then goes out and hangs himself. Acts 1:18 says he fell from a tree branch (or it broke) and his dead body split open.

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6 - 10

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This would be so funny were it not so tragic. The religious leaders would pay a bribe to commit a murder, but will not accept that bribe money back because it was used to commit murder. Talk about a double standard! They overlook the sins that don\'t fit within what their flesh wants to do. We as humans do the same thing. When we want to sin then suddenly that which the Bible clearly calls sin is no longer, but when it serves our purposes to be justified before God or ourselves, then righteousness become very important.

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They purchased a field that may have been known for its clay soil (probably in the Kidron Valley). Here the religious leaders buy the land. Acts says Judas bought it but since it was bought with Judas\' money so either is correct. Luke seems to indicate that the name \"Field of Blood\" came more from Judas\' body than the fact that it was blood money, but again, either or both could be correct.

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The actual prophecy comes from Zechariah 11:12-13 but is also alluded to in Jeremiah 18, 19, and 32.

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Conclusion

So in conclusion I\'d like to look at what Matthew places between the series of six trials that Jesus underwent-the accounts of Peter\'s and Judas\' betrayals.

Judas

Acts 1:25 says Judas \"left to go to his own place.\" The assumption is to hell. Why?

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Judas was \"remorseful\" which isn\'t the same as repentance. The word used here means a change in one feels about an event, rather than a change of consciousness or heart. Things didn\'t go as Judas planned so he was sorry. Being sorry it doesn\'t work out isn\'t the same thing as being sorry you did it. Judas confessed his sin, but to the wrong person. He should have gone to Jesus and asked forgiveness, which he would have received (had he really repented). But he refused to bow himself before Jesus in repentance.

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Finally he killed himself. Suicide is the ultimate selfish act because it takes life given to us by God and destroys it. People today feel driven to suicide, but mostly it is out of desperation. If you are in that place know that God always has an answer for your situation, no matter how hopeless, if you reach out to Him.

Peter

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Peter too failed God. When push came to shove he did the wrong thing (try to rescue Jesus), ran away, then denied Jesus all together. Peter betrayed Jesus by not standing by his promises. Peter ran from the courtyard scene and wept bitterly.

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This was a life-changing moment for Peter. He would no longer be the self-assured quick-to-speak assertive leader. After his denial of Jesus he would be a repentant and humble servant. Would that we all come to the same transformation!

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The last time Peter is mentioned by name is in verse 75 of chapter 26. In Mark\'s gospel, an angel tells Mary \"go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.\" Uh oh-is Peter going to \"get it\" for his betrayal?

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Luke\'s gospel (Luke 24:12) has Peter running to look into the empty tomb and then going back home \"marveling at what had happened.\" A little hint at what\'s coming shows up on verse 38 when Jesus, who had suddenly appeared to His disciples says \"Why are you troubled?\" John 20:3 - 10 tells us that though John and Peter went to the tomb, they thought someone had taken Jesus\' body and did not yet understand that He had risen.

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When Jesus appears before the disciples in John, Peter is not mentioned by name at all. No more do we have to upfront, always the first to speak disciple. He now tries to blend into the background.

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When next we meet Peter, it is sometime later but before the ascension. Peter basically says \"I\'m goin\' fishin\'.\" (John 21:3). \"I\'m going back to my default position because I\'ve basically messed up this new thing with Jesus so bad that He just can\'t love me or use me anymore.\"

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If you know the story, Jesus shows up on the scene and directs the fishless Peter on where to get a catch so big it threatens to sink the boat. Notice what happens-Peter rushes to Jesus\' side, not knowing the kind of reception he is going to get. Jesus invites him to breakfast and His only real question to Peter is not \"why did you deny Me?\" but \"do you love Me?\" \"If you do, Peter, then be a part of what I\'m doing in and through you - feed my sheep.\"

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Here we have Peter\'s restoration. All that matters is that he loves Jesus. Peter can\'t make it right, only Jesus can-and did, on the cross. It points up the two-fold reason for our existence, to 1) have relationship with Jesus and thus become more like Him through His transforming power, and 2) to be a part of His great plan to bring redemption to the human race which has also betrayed Him by sin.

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So what is the difference? Judas ran away from God and removed himself from relationship and refused to bow. Peter ran towards Jesus and reaffirmed his love and commitment.

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So what happens when you fail God (and you will)? Instead of cowering and avoiding God\'s glance, admit to what you have done, run to Jesus, weep if you have to, talk to Him about it and receive His love and forgiveness that he won on the cross.

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Let Jesus bear your rebellion and the price of it. It is a death blow to our pride but necessary for everyone who truly wants to be an apprentice of Jesus.

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What do you do when people single you out as belonging with Jesus?

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If you find yourself avoiding the conversation or changing the subject, It may be time to look Jesus in the eye and take stock of your relationship. This is especially true as the stakes for admitting that relationship grow.