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The Marks of a Committed Christian, part 2
Good Morning, from the Voices of Hope Evangelistic Team, to all who are reading this message, I welcome each of you gathering today by way of the internet. Once again, it’s a blessing to be able to share from God’s Word as we can proclaim it all over the world.
The title of my message is “The Marks of a Committed Christian, part 2” and the scripture is found in John 13:31-38, if you wish to turn there you can follow along.
We are going to look at verses 31–38 which we began last Sunday, we’ll briefly review the first part, and then consider primarily verses 36–38.
It is the night before the crucifixion of Christ and Jesus gives His final message to His eleven faithful disciples. He really gives them four things, some instructions, some promises, some warnings and some explicit commands. This is the last set of orders that Christ gave His eleven before He died and it runs all the way through the end of chapter 16, all of these words are the last words of Jesus to His own. And they occur both in the upper room and in the Garden of Gethsemane for they spent that last night between those two places. There are many words in here that are important to the disciples which includes us as well; a composite detailed outline of who a committed disciple really is. For us not to understand the content of these chapters leaves us tremendously inadequate as disciples because they are basic to an understanding of what Jesus Christ required from a disciple. They’re timeless principles. They had an instant application to the disciples and they have a lingering application to us which is just as critical.
Last week we already saw what the marks of the committed Christian are, first, totally preoccupied with his Lord’s glory. Secondly, he is totally preoccupied with his love. And today we shall see primarily that he is preoccupied with his loyalty. His Lord’s glory, His love and His loyalty, these ingredients wrap up a committed disciple. I could back up one, just thinking about it, to a previous message we gave on the first part of John 13 which concerned the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus, and add a fourth mark of a disciple, which would be lowliness. So if you want a four-point outline, you can go back to the first part of the chapter and the first real mark of a disciple is the idea of lowliness or humility.
We saw last time that, first of all, a committed disciple is preoccupied with his Lord’s glory. He’s not concerned about himself. He’s not concerned with his own glory. He’s not concerned with his own boasting. He’s not concerned with what brings honor to him. He’s not on a popularity binge. He’s not trying to climb the ecclesiastical ladder. He’s not trying to get something bigger and better for himself. His greatest concern is his Lord’s glory. He lives so that whatever he does brings glory to his Lord. We saw this in verse 31 and 32.
Today the greatest glory that God can receive or Christ can receive is through the gospel. Christ died, rose again, exalted, coming again, that’s the gospel, that’s the good news and that is the ultimate glory for God. Therefore, the greatest way for us to give glory to God is to declare the gospel for the gospel radiates the glory of God like nothing else ever did or ever can do.
“How do you worship God,” the high point of our worship is in our witnessing because when we declare the gospel, we are radiating the aspects of the glory of God which make Him shine more purely than any other kind of aspect. God is most clearly seen in the gospel. His attributes are most clearly visible in the gospel. The death, burial, resurrection, exaltation and Second Coming of Jesus Christ is the gospel and it most clearly shows the glory of God, therefore, whenever you declare the gospel, you are worshiping God in the highest sense. Worship is not sitting in a church singing a song. Worship is declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ, that’s the highest form of worship. Worship is nothing but witness and it’s the highest form possible.
So a committed disciple is preoccupied with his Lord’s glory, thus he is an aggressive communicator of the gospel.
Secondly, the committed disciple is preoccupied with His love. Verse 34, “A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples if ye have love one to another.” Here is the real visible mark that the world can see that verifies that we belong to Jesus. By this shall all men know that you’re My disciples if you have love one for another. Turn it around, if you do not have love one for another, the world will not know that you are My disciples. Our testimony depends on our love. We are to love each other. How? As the Lord loved us, Jesus said, “You love as I have loved you.” What kind of love was it? It was love that loves the unlovely, it was sacrificial love, it was costly love, it was indiscriminate love, it was pure love, it was divine love. And that’s the way we’re to love. We’re to love each other.
You can look up last week’s message and get the ingredients of that love. We saw the extent of our love … to all men, especially to our own brothers in Christ. The example of our love … Jesus Christ. The effect of our love … the world will know we belong to Him. And we can’t expect the world to believe until we love like that.
Today we come to the third in verse 36, of the marks of a disciple, a real committed Christian and the mark is loyalty … loyalty. It’s illustrated to us in a brief dialogue with Peter. I believe God’s going to show us some principles here that can make a difference in our life.
Discipleship is more than a promised kind of loyalty. It’s more than just, you know, making a promise to God which we do so glibly and so frequently. Discipleship demands a practiced loyalty, an operating, functioning kind of loyalty. If you’re like I am, all through your life you’ve been promising God things and you’ve been declaring your vow to God umpteen times … God, from now on I’ll do this and I’ll do this and from now I’ll do this and I’m going to witness to So-and-so and I’m going to reach my neighbor. I’m going to pray more, read my Bible more. And you just …” This goes on and on and on in your Christian life, promises of loyalty. And here we see that the committed disciple doesn’t just promise loyalty he maintains it, he practices it.
All this talk about Jesus going away really bothered Peter. And back in verse 33 Jesus said, “I’m only going to be here a little while. You’re going to look for Me and you won’t be able to find Me and you can’t come where I’m going to go. I’m leaving.” And Peter couldn’t stand the thought of Jesus going away. He hated that very thought. In Matthew 16 we are introduced to that problem. Jesus was saying, “The chief priests and scribes and elders … I’m going to suffer many things from them, I’m going to be killed, I’m going to be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him.” Imagine that? Peter’s rebuking the Son of God saying, “Be it far from Thee, Lord, this shall not be unto Thee.” What are You talking about? You can’t go away. “But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get thee behind Me, Satan, thou art an offense unto Me, for thou savourist not the things that are of God but those that are of men.’ ” And the devil took over Peter’s mouth in an effort to keep Christ from the cross at that point.
So what you have is kind of a strange attitude on the heart of Peter who does not want Jesus to be removed under any conditions. In chapter 18 of John Jesus said to him, “Put away your sword, the cup which the Father has given Me to drink, shall I not drink it?” Peter didn’t want to lose Jesus. Didn’t want Him to go away. So in verse 36 with that in his mind, Peter speaks. “Simon Peter said unto Him, ‘Lord, where goest Thou?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Where I go thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow Me afterwards.’ ”
Peter’s saying, “Lord, where are You going?” Implied … because I’m coming. You can’t get rid of me. Jesus is going to the Father, He says, “Peter, you can’t follow Me now, but you will afterwards,” and he did, crucified upside down not too long afterwards. But Peter really wanted to be with Jesus and it really bugged him. He did not want Jesus to go away. Even long after this little conversation in chapter 21 of John’s gospel, Christ has already been raised from the dead and everything, and He’s going away again, this time permanently. And Peter’s got the same problem. “Verily, verily I say unto you,” verse 18 of chapter 21, “when thou wast young thou girdest thyself and walkest where thou wouldest but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands and another shall gird thee and carry thee where thou wouldest not.” In other words, he says when you’re a baby, you took care of yourself … when you’re a young man you took care of yourself, but one of these days somebody is going to take care of you, you’re going to stretch out your hands … that’s a picture of crucifixion … and here He’s prophesying the death of Peter. Verse 19, “This spoke He signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when He had spoken this He saith unto him, ‘Follow Me.’ ” So He told Peter he’s going to die on a cross. “That’s how you’re going to go, Peter.” “Then Peter turning about seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved,” this is John, “following who also leaned on His breast at supper and said, ‘Lord, who is he that betrayeth Thee?’ Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what shall this man do?’ Jesus saith unto him, ‘If I will that he tarry, what is that … till I come, what is that to thee, follow thou Me.’ ” Peter’s saying, “Lord, if I have to die on a cross, what happens to John? It might not be fair if I have to and John doesn’t. I mean, does John just get to go with You? Do I just have to stick around and die on a cross? What happens to him?” Jesus says if he just tarries till I come, what is that to you? Follow Me.
So Peter had this thing that he wanted to go with Jesus and it kind of bothered him that maybe Jesus had these special plans for him to die in a special way and didn’t have the same plans for somebody else. He wanted to go now. Now his love is admirable, but his belligerence is foolish.
Coming back to 13:36, he is unwilling to accept that reply of Christ and he makes a great boast in verse 37. “Peter said unto Him, ‘Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now?’ ” Now he realizes that Jesus was talking about dying. So he says, “Lord, why can’t I go with You now?” watch “I will lay down my life for Thy sake.” Lord, if all You’re going to do is die, I will be happy to die with You.
In his heart he’s burning with love for Jesus, you can’t deny his love. Someone said, “Of such stuff martyrs are made when the fullness of the Spirit is added.” You see, he had the love; he just didn’t have the direction of the Spirit. He was acting in the flesh.
So Jesus says to him in verse 38, “Jesus answered him, ‘Wilt thou lay down thy life for My sake?’ ” Will you really do that, Peter? “Verily, verily I say unto thee, the cock shall not crow till thou hast denied Me three times.” Imagine what happened to Peter. This was so shocking to Peter that he goes through all this dialogue and never says another word, except to repeat this boast again. You see that in Matthew 26.
They get out in the garden, and this is a different location this time. This has been burning in Peter’s head. He’s willing to die for the Lord. You come to Matthew 26:30, “And when they had sung a hymn they went out into the Mount of Olives,” this is the same night. “Then saith Jesus unto them, ‘All ye shall be offended because of Me this night. For it is written I shall smite the shepherd and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad,” prophecy from Zechariah. “But after I am raised up again, I’ll go before you into Galilee.” Here he is again. “Peter answered and said unto Him, ‘Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended.’ ” Peter says … I’ll hang in there, Lord, I’ll never be offended. “Jesus said unto him, ‘Verily I say unto thee that this night before the cock crows thou shalt deny Me three times.’ ” Now watch what Peter says. “Peter saith unto Him, ‘Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee.’ ” And he said it so powerfully that all the disciples chimed in and it says, “Likewise also said all the disciples. We’ll all die with You.”
So, they came and got Jesus. Look at verse 56 and see what the disciples did. At the end of verse 56, “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” You see, there was a pretty big gap between their promised loyalty and their actual loyalty. There’s a striking contrast between what Peter said and what he did. Instead of giving his life for Jesus, he’ll try to save his life by denying Jesus. He doesn’t just do it by silence, and he doesn’t just do it by implication, he does it loudly with cursing to many witnesses. Verse 38, “The cock shall not crow.” That signified a certain time. There were four times in the night in the Jewish mind. There was evening from six o’clock to nine o’clock. There was midnight, the time from nine to twelve was called midnight. And there was the period from twelve o’clock to three which was called rooster crowing. And then there was morning from three o’clock to six. So when He says before rooster crow you will deny Me, He means some time between midnight and three o’clock in the morning. And then ole Peter would hear that cock crow at three when the cocks generally crowed and the tears would begin to flow.
These things hit Peter so hard, these prophecies, that Peter doesn’t say anything else in this entire dialogue. And that’s not like him. He must have just been sitting there mulling this over in his head. But he miserably failed the test of loyalty. I want to look at four reasons that he failed and I want us to know that these four reasons can be applied to our life to determine whether or not we fail the test of loyalty.
Turn in your Bible to Luke 22, a parallel passage, and I’ll show four things that Peter did that made him blow it. One, he boasted too much. Two, he prayed too little. Three, he acted to fast. Four, he followed too far. He boasted too much, prayed too little, acted too fast and followed too far and the results were tragic.
Look at verse 31 of Luke 22, we’ll start there. “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat.’ ” Satan wants to test Peter and see if he’s for real. Satan loves to do that. Satan spends a lot of his time accusing the brethren. He loves to accuse the believer before God. So the Lord actually knew what Satan was going to do and allowed him to do it. A great test for Peter. Satan must have said, “Lord, I don’t think Peter can make it. I think Peter is a phony and I want a shot at him to prove he’s a phony. And so, the test began. Verse 32, “But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
He prophesied a couple of things there that Peter’s going to deny Him, Satan’s going to get at him, but He also prophesies you’re going to be converted again. It doesn’t mean saved, it just means turned around. He’s going to blow it but he’s going to turn around and get straightened out.
Now here comes Peter again, verse 33, “Lord, I am ready to go with Thee both into prison and to death.” You know what Peter’s problem was, He boasted too much. So easy to boast. “God, I promise to do this …” First Kings 20:11 says, “Let not him that girdeth on his armor boast himself like he that putteth it off.” Don’t boast when you put your armor on. If you’ve got something to boast about it will be when you take it off. You know, you don’t boast in the locker room before the game. If you’ve got anything to boast about, it will be that it’s over with. It would have been better if Peter had kept his trap shut and made his boast after.
James says the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. Listen, you have nothing to boast about and all you do is put yourself in a serious situation. Peter boasted too much.
It’s a pretty dangerous thing to boast in yourself if you don’t have anything to boast about, and that’s what Peter was doing. He was boasting in his flesh. “I’ll do this for You, God. I’ll do that for You, God.” And he wasn’t in a position to do anything as he was operating in the flesh.
It is true in a sense the Christian does have a right to boast about God and others but boasting about self is not giving God the glory. Verse 17, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord,” and he boasted in Christ. Peter’s problem was he boasted in himself, and that’s disastrous.
Second problem Peter had, Luke 22, he prayed too little. He boasted too much and then he prayed too little. Verse 39, Luke 22, “And He came out and went as he was accustomed to the Mount of Olives and His disciples followed Him.” They followed up in the mountain. “And when He was at the place, He said unto them, ‘Pray that ye enter not into temptation.’ ” Now look at verse 45, “And when He rose up from prayer and was come to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, ‘Why sleep ye? Rise and pray lest ye enter into temptation.’ ”
You know why Peter entered into temptation and denied his Lord? He fell asleep instead of praying. Prayer is a deterrent to temptation. If you wonder why you’re being tempted of Satan constantly, it’s probably because you’re not praying. “Pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
Peter’s problem, not only he boasted too much, put confidence in the flesh, but he prayed too little. He had so much confidence in the flesh that he didn’t think he needed God and he prayed too little. Prayer keeps us from sin and temptation, but Peter didn’t pray he went to sleep and so did the others. He slept instead of praying.
Over in 1 Peter 4:7, when Peter wants to give instructions to Christians, he says, “Be sober minded and watch unto prayer.” He’s not just talking off the top of his head, he’s not talking out of a theology book; he’s talking out of his own life. And watch means stay alive, stay awake, stay alert and pray. The greatest disaster that ever fell into Peter’s life fell because he went to sleep. Sleep is a nice thing but it’s not a substitute for prayer.
So he boasted too much, prayed too little. Thirdly, he acted too fast. And we’re like that. “Okay, God, here I go, God, I’m just going to go do it.” We don’t even know whether God wants us there or not. That was Peter. Verse 50 of Luke 22, and they all come to get Jesus, and Peter’s ready to go. Verse 50, “And one of them smote the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.” Now that’s Peter, just winging, swinging a sword there. “And Jesus answered and said, ‘Permit thee thus far,’ and He touched his ear and healed him.”
Now the phrase “permit ye thus far” is really interesting. Pardon me, fellas, excuse Peter. Excuse this resistance, is what it means. Well, I’m sorry about this, here’s your ear back.
Jesus says, “Pardon my friend, he’s just a little impetuous here.” I wonder how many times Christ has had to say that in defense of us. “Pardon me, he just doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s just kind of running loose out there.” It’s so easy sometimes, you just grit your teeth and run around chopping off ears, you know. Here I go, God … and the Lord says … that wasn’t the idea. I mean, God has a specific will, be sensitive to what it is.
Peter thought he was helping but he was doing the very opposite. In verse 53 of Matthew 26, “Jesus said unto him, ‘Don’t you know that I can pray to My Father and He would give Me more than twelve legions of angels?’ ” Now that’s somewhere possibly between three thousand and six thousand men per legion. He says, “Peter, I really don’t need your sword. That’s not the way it’s done.
So he boasted too much, prayed too little and acted too fast. And the fourth thing he followed too far. And this was really the greatest disaster of all. Verse 54, “Then they took Him,” they took Jesus, “and led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house and Peter followed far off.” For the first time in three years Peter willfully followed afar off. The natural end of all of his weakness was cowardice. “Lord, I’ll go to prison and I’ll die for You,” and when they captured Jesus Peter was way back. For the first time, Peter drifted from his closeness with Jesus. And you know what the effect was? Look at verse 55, “And when they had kindled the fire in the midst of the court and were seated together, Peter sat down among them.” Now he’s sitting down with the unrighteous. “And a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, earnestly looked upon him.” She’s trying to figure him out in the flickering fire at night. She’s not too sure who he is. And all of a sudden, she says, “This man was also with Him, with Jesus.”
“And he denied Him saying, ‘Woman, I know Him not.’ And after a little while another saw him and said, ‘Thou art also of them.’ And Peter said, ‘Man, I am not.’ And after about the space of one hour, another confidently affirmed saying, ‘Of a truth, this fellow also was with Him for he is a Galilean.’ And Peter said, ‘Man, I know not what thou sayest,’ and immediately while he yet spoke the cock crowed and the Lord turned and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered.”
There he is within visual sight of his Lord, denying Him three times. And when the cock crowed, Jesus turned around and looked at Peter and Peter remembered. And bless his heart, in verse 62 he just ran away and wept his heart out.
Church, it’s pretty important to stay close to Jesus. Peter followed too far off. He boasted too much, prayed too little, acted too fast, and followed too far and the disastrous result is obvious.
What about your loyalty? How much do you promise Jesus? That you’d love Him? That you’d serve Him? That you’d be faithful, not deny Him, forsake Him, sin, live or die for Him, witness to that neighbor, that you’d begin this week to really prepare that Sunday school lesson, that you’d really work on it? That you’d really work on that Bible study? That you’d lead somebody to Christ? That you’d follow up on a new Christian? That you’d go to a Bible school and train for Christian ministry? That you’d go to the mission field? That you’d send something to a missionary? Or that you’d start to give more to God’s work? What kind of promises have you made? How do you pass the loyalty test? Did you boast too much? Pray too little? Act too fast? Follow too far? How many hundreds of promises have you made to God and never kept? And I’ve done the same thing. I thought to myself, it’s not enough for Christ to suffer a Judas kiss a million times without having to suffer a Peter disloyalty from every single Christian that’s ever lived. And we’ve all done it.
And it’s tragic. I look at my own life and I see the things I promise God and the disloyalty of it so often. And I pray for all of us that God would help us to be loyal, to make our words to our Savior
worth the speaking because our lives match them.
Well Peter finally passed the test. He finally preached, finally suffered and he finally died for his Lord and he was loyal to Jesus Christ. The first part of the story is kind of sad, but you read the rest of it in the book of Acts and you’ll see a dynamo in Peter. And you can turn it around in your life today. Have you been disloyal to Jesus Christ? Today you can have a change. And like Peter, this can be a transforming moment in your life and from now on boast a little less, pray a little more, act a little slower and follow a little closer.
Father, we thank You for what we’ve learned from Peter. We just pray, Lord, that somehow these basic, simple truths will find lodging in our hearts to the glory of Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.