[SW381] 6/1/2019 message notes by
Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019
Text: Matthew 26:31-35, etc.
Peter and the rest told Jesus Christ they would never fall away by denying Him. But He had already told them they would deny Him! And they did. Why? And why does it matter to you? I will show you what the Lord showed me.
Verse 31 —
Jesus Christ’s Twelve were with Him. They were the ones whom He had chosen, the ones who had stayed with Him from the beginning of His earthly ministry. They had remained loyal to Him for 3-1/2 years!
They were all together, in the upper room, on the night before He was to be crucified. He had just given them the bread of His body, and the wine of the new covenant in His blood. Then they had followed Him to the Mount of Olives.
And He spoke to them, saying, “You will all fall away from Me this night, for it is written (in Zechariah 13:7), ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”
The Spirit-inspired Zechariah spoke these words of the Lord over 500 years prior to that night in the upper room. And when the Lord speaks, it will surely come to pass.
Why would they fall away and deny Him? First, they loved Him with natural, human love. They loved Him as a friend (John 21:15 and forward). That love is insufficient. It would fail them, when persecution came.
Second, it was because they saw Him as an earthly Savior who would free them from Roman rule and put them in charge, under Him. But He never said such a thing.
Indeed, Peter was given revelation from the Father that Jesus was the Christ (Matthew 16:16). Certainly, Peter and the rest of the Twelve refused to leave Him, saying they would stay with Him because He had the words of life (John 6:68).
But Peter and the rest still saw Jesus’ salvation as salvation from Israel’s earthly slavery to Rome. Even in Acts 1, after Jesus Christ had risen from the dead and for 40 days, had explained to them the Old Testament scriptures about Him, the disciples were still looking for an earthly salvation, restoration of Israel from Roman rule. Listen to their question —
Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”
How would they ever see Jesus Christ as He truly is? Jesus hints at it, in the next verse.
Verse 32 —
“But after I have been raised,” said Jesus, “I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” Something would happen, when He was raised! Even though He knew they would fall away by denying Him, He promised them they would see Him again! Then they would be able to repent before Him.
God the Son knows every heart, and He knew His Father’s plan from before time began. He knew He would rise from the dead, ascend, be glorified, and pour out His Holy Spirit.
He knew that on the day of Pentecost, in a moment of time, the Twelve and the rest of the 120 in the upper room would be filled with His Holy Spirit and His divine love.Their hearts would be purified — cleansed of the sin nature — so they would never again deny Him!
He knew that when they were filled, they would see Him as He truly is, not as the earthly Savior into which they had fashioned Him. They would see Him as the One who saves us from ourselves!
Verse 33 —
Peter and the rest were always unable to grasp His words when He told them that He would be crucified and then raised on the third day. So when He spoke those words to them, they said nothing. But Peter rebuked Him once, for speaking those words, and Jesus immediately rebuked Peter —
Matthew 16:22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
Do you see it? Peter still saw Jesus as an earthly Savior. But how could He save them from Roman rule, if He was killed? That was why he rebuked Jesus.
Because Peter had fashioned Jesus into an earthly Savior, He was offended and objected when Jesus said, “You will all fall away.” He was offended and objected when Jesus said, “You will deny Me.”
So Peter again contradicted Jesus’ words, and Zechariah’s prophecy. He exclaimed, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away!”
His words revealed that he not understand that he was rejecting the truth Jesus spoke, and denying the truth of the prophecy that Zechariah had received from the Lord. And the rest said the same thing, too (see Verse 35). So, they all rejected and denied the truth. He was not speaking to them as the earthly Savior they thought He was!
Verse 34 —
When Peter said, “never,” the Lord answered him, saying, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Again, He knew Peter, and all of them, would deny Him. But Peter would deny Him three times!
He would deny Jesus because he did not want to die. He feared for His life. He would deny Jesus because the Jesus that Peter had fashioned was not supposed to die, but reign in Jerusalem after He had set them all free from slavery to Rome.
Verse 35 —
So Peter rejected Jesus’ words, saying, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” As I have said, all of the disciples said the same thing.
But He had told them all that they would indeed fall away by denying Him. So, by saying they would never deny Him, they all rejected His truth twice, and denied Zechariah’s prophecy twice.
I say again that what the Lord speaks will surely come to pass. They all denied Him, and three times, Peter denied knowing Him, in Matthew 26:69-73. Peter heard the rooster crow after He denied Jesus. He remembered Jesus’ words about the rooster. And he wept. But Peter still did not understand who Jesus really is.
What does Jesus want the church and you to learn from this?
I tell you the truth, after I was saved, I loved Jesus with natural human love, but I had no idea who He really was. I heard bits and pieces about Him. I did not hear any of His so-called “hard words.” I thought the Holy Spirit was an ethereal ghost who hovered in the upper right corner of the sanctuary’s ceiling.
So, like the Twelve, I fell away and denied Jesus many more than three times. I had fashioned Him into something that was certainly not Him, but something that was pleasing to me.
After I was saved, I believed He came to many cultures over thousands of years — that He came at one time as Buddha, another time as one of the millions of India’s gods, and so on. I believed that all the gods were Jesus, but that for each culture, He had come in a way that would be acceptable in their culture. Like the Twelve, I fashioned Him into what I wanted Him to be. I had already fallen away by denying Him in that way.
And I see that today, many believers are like I was. They have fallen away and denied Him in the same way I did, after I was saved. Many entire denominations have done the same.
So, for today’s church, I will interpret this passage of scripture again.
Verse 31 —
You have been saved. You attend church. You love Him with human love, even as a friend. That love is insufficient. You will not have the power to stand, when persecution comes. Therefore, you will fall away by denying Him.
You have fashioned Him into One who gives you what you want, or One who will save you from all the troubles of this life. By doing so, you have already denied Him. You are just like the Twelve!
Therefore, Jesus Christ says you have fallen away. He says you are denying Him even now.
These words offend you. You tell Him you will never fall away by denying Him!
Again, what He says has, and will yet, come to pass. He says the end time, which I believe is upon us —
Matthew 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations (peoples) because of Me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Why will you fall away by denying Him? Why will your love for Him grow cold? Because your love for Him is mere human love, and because you have fashioned Him into a false Jesus. You have made Him into what you want Him to be.
Verse 32 —
But here is the good news, Beloved! Jesus has risen, and ascended and been glorified at the Father’s right hand! He will give you your own personal Pentecost, and you will see Him as He truly is!
He will fill you with His divine love so you will have the power to stand against persecution. You will know that His promise of eternal life is true, for His eternal life will be in you! And I tell you the truth, you will never deny Him again!
Verses 33-35 —
You will say, I have never denied You, Jesus, and I will never deny You! But you have and will yet do so. And much of the church has and will yet do so. Beloved, you are denying and will yet deny Him because you have received today’s Jesus, a false Jesus who bears little resemblance to the Jesus of the Word of God.
Just as Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24:9 and forward, many false prophets have appeared and they have deceived you. These false prophets teach wickedness by altering and deleting Jesus Christ’s words and the rest of the Word of God.
They do so in order to make Jesus completely unoffensive to the world system that denies God. They have fashioned Jesus into what they want Him to be.
Because you love a false Jesus, the love of many of you will grow cold, when persecution comes. Because you love Him with human love, you will not stand, but will fall away and deny the real Jesus. And you will be offended when your heart is pricked by the words of ones who tell you that surely, you will fall away.
Hear His commands by which you will stand firm in the midst of persecution, and will see Him as He truly is, beloved —
Luke 24:49 “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Acts 1:4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The power you will receive is the power to stand in the midst of persecution, the power to never deny Him again, regardless of the threats of the world system that defies God, and the world that is in the church! You will be filled with His divine love! You will have power over sin, for your heart will be purified!
What a difference in the Twelve after they and the rest of the 120 were filled with the Holy Spirit, in Acts 2:4!. Before the Twelve were filled with the Spirit, they hid from the Jews (John 20:19). They still feared persecution and death. They were still in a state of having fallen away by denying Him.
But when He commanded them to stay and wait, the Twelve and 108 others stayed and waited! They were filled with His Holy Spirit! Their hearts were purified! They were filled with His divine love! The Father and the Son and the Spirit came to fully dwell in them, permanently! They saw Him as He truly is!
Then they never denied Him again! Instead, they boldly proclaimed Him and called everyone to repent! Listen to their words, after they were filled. Peter and the rest went up to the Temple, no longer hiding for fear of the Jews. They stood with Peter, who said —
Acts 3:13 “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.”
Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord . . .”
And when Peter and John were captured and brought before the Sanhedrin and had been commanded not to speak the name of Jesus —
Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Again, they were brought before the Sanhedrin, and exhorted not to continue teaching in the name of Jesus, they said —
Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 31 “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
Those who love Him obey Him. Those who do not love Him do not obey Him. (See John 14:23-24.) Will you obey Him?
I tell you the truth, Jesus Christ longs to hear words of true repentance. He is waiting for you to obey Him! Therefore, abandon the false Jesus that you have fashioned and that so many false prophets teach, in today’s church! Obey the real Jesus today! Stay and wait and be filled with His Spirit!
When you do, I tell you the truth, you will never deny Him again. You will become His bold witness, even to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). You will boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. You will not be able to stop speaking about what you have seen and heard.
You will speak the name of Jesus regardless of the consequences, obeying God who empowered you to speak and be Jesus Christ’s witness, rather than man. And you will not teach or accept teaching of a false Jesus. Many will be saved by His work in and through you!
Lord Jesus, may the eyes of many be opened, may their hearts receive the truth of this word You have given me to speak. So be it. Amen.