Greg Laurie - A Second Chance In Life
I don't know if you read that story that was in the news about a man who had a hippo as his pet. He lived in South Africa and this man named the hippo Humphrey and he adopted him when he was a little calf, and according to this man, this 2.000 pound beast was like his pet. He would ride it after it got a little bit bigger, he would play with him, he would even brush its teeth which seems to be a daunting task, I think that would take a pretty large toothbrush. And the owner said, "He's like a son to me". And then he went on to say, "People think you can only have a relationship with dogs and cats and other domestic animals, but I have a relationship with the most dangerous animal in Africa". I think you can imagine how this story ended, I'm sorry to say that Humphrey, the hippo turned on its owner and tragically mauled and killed him. That's because hippos are not good pets because they're dangerous.
I remember years ago I was in Africa and I stayed in a little tinted camp and they warned me at night, be careful of the hippos. And I'm thinking, the hippos? Why would I have to worry about hippos? Oh, they're out running around at night and they attack and kill people. And they told me more people are killed by hippos than lions in Africa. I could hardly believe it, and sure enough that night I heard some noise outside of my tent, and I opened up the little flap and looked out and there was a hippo and those things move fast on land. So I don't think that the owner realized that Humphrey was a hungry hippo and he would strike.
Why do I tell this story? Because in the same way sometimes we may think that, well, this sin in my life I have control of it, it's like a little pet, I'm always gonna be able to not be overtaken by it. I'm sure when Humphrey was smallish, I don't know if he was ever all that small, but when he was smaller at least that his owner never thought he would get as big and aggressive as he became. And we think the same thing about sin, it'll never overtake me then one day it does. We have a story before us now in the Bible of a man who was overtaken by sin, a man who probably never realized that one thing would lead to another and through five steps he fell away from the Lord. And this man was a full fledged apostle of Jesus Christ, and his name is known to all of us, I wanna tell the story of Simon Peter.
Of course, Jesus gave to Simon his given name, a title. He said from this point on you're gonna be called Peter, which means rock. Now I think the other disciples might've had a little bit of a chuckle at that moment 'cause they're thinking, okay, there's a lot of things we could say about Simon, but we would not described him as a rock, he was sort of unstable at times and vacillating and impulsive, almost the opposite of a rock, but Jesus gave him a name that he knew Simon would grow into with time, and the same way we don't see the potential on our lives that God sees. We see a lump of clay, God sees a beautiful vase or vase. We see a blank canvas, God sees a finished painting. We see a piece of coal, God sees a refined diamond. We see problems, God sees solutions. We see failure, God sees potential. We see an end, and God sees a new beginning.
And so Peter was gonna have a fall and Jesus told him he was gonna have a fall, and maybe some of you have fallen spiritually in the last few months or in the last year, but listen, the past cannot be changed, but our response to it can be because God can take our endings and turn them into beginnings. Lemme say that again 'cause I know I'm talking to somebody right now that has made a mess of their life. I want you to know this, God can take your ending and He can turn it into a beginning.
So sort of to pick up where we last left off from the Gospel of Mark, we're in the upper room, Jesus is having His final meal, the Last Supper with His disciples, and He has revealed that one of the apostles is going to betray Him. Two of them, they say, is it me Lord? Is it me? And at that moment Judas Iscariot was dipping his bread at the same time that Christ was and Jesus identified the betrayer and He said to Judas, whatever you do do it quickly. The Bible says at that moment Satan entered Judas's heart. And so Judas goes out now to betray our Lord for 30 pieces of silver, and now we see what happened to Peter as this was all unfolding.
Look with me if you will at Mark 14, starting in verse 27. And by the way, I'm reading from the New Living Translation. "On the way Jesus told them, 'All of you will desert me, for this Scripture say, God will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.' But after I'm raised from the dead, I'll go ahead before you into Galilee and I'll meet you there. Peter said, 'Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.' Jesus replied, 'Well, I tell you the truth, Peter, this very night before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.' 'No!' Peter declared emphatically. 'Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!' And all the others vowed the same".
Now Luke's Gospel gives us a few more details about this conversation. Jesus turns to Peter and says this, "Simon, Simon, Satan has been asking for you that you would be taken out of the care and protection of God, but I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail, and when you have returned to me, you need to strengthen your brothers". Why was the devil targeting Peter in particular? Well, I think it's because the devil also saw Peter's potential. He could see that he was first among the apostles, and when Peter said he was gonna do something, they would all usually follow. After Christ died on the cross and they hadn't seen the risen Lord yet, Peter said, I'm going fishing, they all said, we'll go with you. He was sort of the leader.
The devil often targets leaders that's why you need to pray for those who are in leadership. Maybe you feel like you've been being tempted a lot and attacked a lot by the devil, maybe that's because he sees your potential as well, so wear it as a badge of honor.
Now there are five steps that led Peter down to his denial of Christ. Here's step number one if you're taking notes, his first step down was self confidence, self-confidence. Go back to Mark 14:29, "Peter said to Jesus, 'Even if everyone else desserts you, I never will.'" And this is after the Lord revealed that Judas would betray Him. So Peter's effectively saying, "hey, even if Judas betrays you, I'll never let you down", and he's almost boasting at the expense of others even if these others fall short. "I, remember you gave me that new name, Rock, I Rocky will never let you down".
You know, it's never a good thing to boast of your commitment to Christ especially at the expense of someone else, it's never even a good idea to boast about how much you love Jesus rather boast about how much He loves you. I love how the Apostle John described himself as the apostle whom Jesus loved. Now that may almost sound arrogant. What do you mean the apostle that Jesus loved? He's just stating the facts, He loved me. I feel loved by Jesus, and we can call ourself a disciple that Jesus loves as well.
So as first step down again was self-confidence. In saying these words that I'll never deny you after Christ said he would, was actually placing unfounded confidence in himself, and it was also directly contradicting what Jesus said. Listen, Jesus said to Peter, you will deny me. When Jesus says something will happen, you can take it to the bank. If the Bible tells us something that's gonna happen in the future, trust me, it's gonna happen in the future. But in Peter's mind, even if everyone else abandoned the Lord, he never would. Look at verse 31 of Mark 14, he says, "Even if I have to die with you I will never deny you".
Peter second step down was prayerlessness. I'm not even sure if that's a word, but it's a real thing, prayerlessness. How many of us would be honest to admit that we need to pray more? I know that I do. And Peter was sleeping when he should have been praying. Going back to Mark 14:37, they're in the garden of Gethsemane now. Jesus says to the disciples, Peter, James and John, watch with me, watching pray. And we read these words, and this is from the New King James Version. "He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, 'Simon, why are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour?'" Watch Him pray. "Lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Again He went away and prayed and spoke the same words, and when He returned He found them asleep again for their eyes were heavy and they did not know what to say to Him".
Here's Jesus contemplating the horrors of the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane, and according to Dr. Luke, He's sweating as it were great drops of blood, literally sweating blood as He thinks about what is ahead. All He asked for was a little companionship from Peter, James and John, and they fell asleep. You know, it's interesting in the Bible sleep is spoken of as sort of a negative thing, it says to Christians, "Now is a time to wake up for our salvation is nearer than when we first believed". And we all know what it's like to fall asleep at an inappropriate time. Maybe you've fallen asleep in church, by the way pastors know when you fall asleep.
I think it comes as a revelation that people to know that not only can you see me when I'm speaking, but I can see you. And when someone nods out they may like put their hands up to their face, like they're praying, I know you're sleeping, okay? Especially when you start snoring, but we always deny it when we're sleeping for some reason. Someone will say, did you fall asleep? No, no. You did. And these guys fell asleep, but you see Jesus was getting them ready, He say, boys, you need to pray because He knew a storm was brewing. He knew that hard times were ahead and they needed to be praying. Literally the devil son is on his way with some armed guards to arrest Jesus. And it's a reminder to us that prayerlessness can be as much of a sin as breaking a commandment.
See, there's not just sins of commission, that's when you do what you should not do, but there are sins of omission when you don't do what you should do. The Bible says, "To him that knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin". So if the Lord impresses upon your heart the need to pray and you don't pray, that could be a sin. Jesus is saying to Peter, James and John, guys, you need to pray. Yeah, whatever we're gonna catch some zizz right now. That was a mistake.
His third step down was, Peter trusted human efforts instead of God's power. He trusted human efforts instead of God's power. Verse 46 of Mark 14, "They laid their hands on him and took Him in, one of them who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear". Now Luke fills in some details here and we find out who one of them was, it was Peter, and he's soundly rebuked by Jesus after he does this. And Christ says to Peter, "Put your sword in its place, for those that live by the sword will perish by the sword". And then Jesus says to Peter, "Don't you realize I can call on my Father and He would send 12 legions of angels"?
Now, in fairness, we can understand Peter's outrage, Judas Iscariot, he's hung out with this guy for three years plus, thought of him as a friend, and here is Judas who's betrayed Jesus. And how did Judas betray Jesus? The Bible says with a kiss. I mean, couldn't Judas just say, look, it's the guy I'm pointing to, that Jesus, arrest Him, or the guy I'm shaking His hand, there He is. He betrays Him with the kiss, and in the original language it wasn't just a peck on the cheek, it was repeated kisses, a form of intimacy, and he's appearing to be someone who loves Jesus when he is betraying Him.
And Jesus says to Judas as he approaches, "Friend, why have you come"? Friend? He should have said, "fiend, why have you come"? Jesus knew why he came, but I think Judas missed it, but Christ was giving to Judas one last opportunity to repent of his sin and Judas did not take it. Remember Satan filled Judas's heart. So Peter just ticked off, he's angry, he's a fisherman not as soldier, and he pulls out the sword, he takes a swing, off comes the ear of a guy named Marcus now the gospel tells us who probably was leading the charge, and Jesus reaches down, picks this man's ear up and reattaches it. So the last miracle of Jesus before He died on the cross was the healing of a man who was coming to arrest Him, and it was also a miracle that was done to cover the blunder of a disciple.
What an amazing story that is. Two more steps that led to Peter's fall, step number four, he was warming himself at the enemies fire. He was warming himself at the enemies fire. Go back to Mark 14:66, we read, "As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came and she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, 'You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.' He denied it saying, 'I don't know or understand what you're saying.' And he went out on the porch and a rooster crow". Remember what Jesus said? You will deny me three times before the rooster has crowed twice. So he's warming himself by the fire.
Have you ever tried to go undercover as a Christian, sort of hide your faith, go unnoticed in the larger crowd? Following at a distance Peter became cold and was attracted to the warmth of the fire. He didn't think that anyone would recognized him there. Now he is following Jesus still, so we have to give him some credit, he hasn't run away, but he's not doing anything either. In fact we were given a detail here in Matthew 26:58, we read that Peter went and sat with the servant to see the end.
See, that's what he thought it was, the end. There's no more hope, everything's gone up the tracks. Jesus in Peter's estimation was supposed to establish His kingdom and drive out the Romans, and now He's been betrayed by one of us, and now He's going to die on a cross, but I guess I'll just stay here and see the end. But it was not gonna be the end, it was gonna be a beginning, a new beginning. It's not a bad thing that he was warming himself by a fire, but he's with these people around the fire. The Bible says that someone, "Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, or stands in the way of sinners or sits in the seat of the scornful". See that's what was happening, he was mixing in with this crowd and he's called out. Right there he should have said, yes, I am a follower of Jesus, but he denies it. Denial number one.
Now it's fifth step down, another denial. Luke's Gospel tells us some time elapsed before the first and second denial. So Peter could have left that place, but he stayed inexplicably, he had plenty of time to think about it and we might criticize him for it, but way wait a second, the last time you were attempted, did you flee? Did you remove yourself from that place where you were being pulled down? When that scene in the movie came on the screen did you walk out of the theater or did you turn the TV off? When your buddy mocked or cursed God, did you speak up for your faith? That temptation from that girl that came your way, did you flee like Joseph did?
See, it's very easy for us to critique, but we'll do the same and we get compromised. And that's what Peter was doing right now, he was trapped and in miserable web of compromise. Suddenly someone recognizes, Peter Mark 14:69, "And a servant girls saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, 'This is one of them.' But he denied it again. A little later those who stood by Peter said to him again, 'You're one of them for your a Galilean and your speech shows it.' And he began to curse and swear saying, 'I do not know the man of whom you speak.' A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said 'Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.' And when he thought it, he wept".
You're a Galilean, they said. Now we don't understand what that means necessarily, but it was sort of an insult because those that lived in Jerusalem, a sophisticated city at the time thought of the people that lived in the region of Galilee being at a lower level, it would be sort of like saying, hey, you're a country bumpkin, or you're unsophisticated, or you don't know what you're talking about, you're not educated like we are in Jerusalem. Peter should have just come clean and admitted he was a follower of Jesus Christ, but verse 71 says, "He began to curse and swear saying, 'I do not know this man of whom you speak.'" And then the rooster crows.
Now, when the Bible says he cursed and swore, it doesn't mean that swore like a sailor though he was a sailor, but it's a different term, it means to take an oath and to swear to God, and what can best be described as the worst illustration of taking the Lord's name in vain, Peter effectively said, I swear to God and I take an oath right now I never knew Jesus Christ. Now Luke fills in an important detail, Luke 22:59, "While he was still speaking the rooster crowed". Listen to this. "And the Lord turned and looked at Peter, and then Peter remembered the word of the Lord what He had said to him and he went out and wept bitterly". The Lord looked at Peter. So at the very moment of his third denial and the rooster crows, who appeared on the scene? Jesus, they're leading Him from one place to another and He makes eye contact with Peter.
Imagine that if you can, what kind of expression was on the Lord face? Do you think He rolled His eyes, like what a loser. Do you think He looked at Peter with scorn and anger? No, actually I think He looked at Peter with deep love. Does this all comes as a surprise to Jesus? No, He knew Peter would do this, He told Peter he would do this. Did Jesus know Peter would fail? Absolutely. Was Peter still a believer at this moment? Yes, he was. Believers can fall, believers can stumble, but believers can get up again. Peter needed to remember that Jesus said, "When you have returned, you will strengthen your brothers". In other words, this setback is temporary.
See for Peter, his setback was gonna turn into a set up and God was gonna use this failure as a way for Peter to encourage other people. Yes, his mess would be turned into a message. This is a great example to us that anybody can fall into sin, but Peter was really repentant, the Bible says he wept bitterly. The Bible, says godly sorrow produces repentance. See every one's gonna sin, and when you sin and feel bad about that, that's a good thing because that means your conscience is working, but if you can sin and sin again and even sin some more even committing the same sin repeatedly and feel no remorse, no guilt, something isn't working right in your heart and in your soul. The conviction of the Spirit that will produce guilt is a reminder that you need to get right with God. Peter wept bitterly, are you sorry for your sin?
Now lemme ask follow up question, are you sorry enough to stop? This is a hopeful story because Peter went out and wept bitterly, but three days later Jesus rose again from the dead, and what was the message? It was go tell the disciples and Peter He's risen. Why wasn't go tell the disciples and John, or go tell the disciples and Andrew or Matthew? It's go tell the disciples and Peter. Why was Peter singled out? Because he needed a special word from the Lord. I'm I talking to someone right now that needs a special reminder from God that you are loved by Him? Well, lemme say that to you, God loves you, God longs for a relationship with you, and when you run from Him or fall spiritually, He longs for you to return to Him again.
God says in Jeremiah 3:22, "Return you faithless people and I will cure you of backsliding". How is this all possible? Through the death of Jesus. Where was Jesus headed? He was headed to the cross to die for the sins of Simon Peter, to die for the sins of the apostles, to die for the sins of all the people of that day, to die for the sins of people of every generation, He was going to the cross to die for your sins and mine. I love the way that the Apostle Paul personalized it when he said of Christ, "He loved me and gave Himself for me". It's personal. Jesus died on the cross for you. Why? Because He knew there was no other way for you to be made right with God.
Do you think good works will get you to heaven? Do you think living a better life is gonna get you closer to God? It won't? No, you see, every one of us falls short of God's glory, every one of us breaks His commandments and that separates us from Him, but Christ died for our sin and paid for our sin. So what you need to do to come into this relationship with God, what you need to do to be forgiven of your sin, what you need to do to know that you'll go to heaven when you die, or what you need to do to come back to the Lord is admit you're a sinner, turn from that sin, and put your faith in Jesus. Would you do that right now?
Yes, there can be a second chance in life for you. Maybe God has spoken to your heart and you have seen your need for Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came from heaven to this earth. He was born in a manger, He died in a cross, He rose again from the dead. Why? Because He loves you and He wants a relationship with you. Listen, I'm not talking about religion, I don't wanna be a religious person, I don't think you wanna be one either, I'm talking about relationship with God. Jesus who died and rose again, stands at the door of your life and He knocks, and He says, if you'll hear His voice and open the door He will come in.
Question, have you asked Jesus Christ to come and live inside of you? You might say, well, I think so, I'm not sure. Hey, if someone moved into your house in the middle of the night, do you think you would be aware of it? I'm sure you would, and in the same way, if Christ has come to live inside of you, you will know. And if you don't know, maybe He has not come in yet. He's just a prayer away, all you need to do is say, Jesus, I want this relationship with you, I want you to forgive me of my sin, I wanna go to heaven when I die.
Would you like to do that? Would you like Christ to come into your life? If so, why don't you just pray this simple prayer with me? You can pray it out loud or you can pray it in the quietness of your heart, but this is a prayer where you're asking Jesus Christ to be your Savior and Lord. Pray this with me now.
Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. Now come into my life. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer In Jesus name. Amen.
Did you just pray that prayer with me? If so I want you to know in the authority of Scripture that Christ Himself has come to live inside of you, and lemme be the first to say to you, congratulations and welcome to the family of God.