Category Archives: Learn About Jesus

Grateful Faith

  Sunday School Lesson

 

 

 

 

Introduction: Gratitude should be our default setting (Psalm 107:1; 118:1). Gratitude is God’s will (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We were made to be grateful, and it should be as natural as breathing. Not to give thanks is duplicitous. Ingratitude is high treason against God and a mark of unrepentant humanity (Romans 1:21). People with an ever-increasing faith (last week’s lesson) should be grateful (this week’s lesson). We assume the teaching from last week’s lesson took place somewhere on Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem—it had no geographical markers. Our text today reminds us that we are still in the travel narrative of Luke’s Gospel (17:11; see also 9:51; 13:22; 19:11, 28, 41). Jesus was making his final journey to Jerusalem.

 

 

A Merciful Healing

 Luke 17:11-14KJV

 

11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

 

Somewhere close to a village along the border between Samaria and Galilee Jesus encountered 10 men who had leprosy. Given the geography it is likely that this group of men was composed of Jews and Samaritans. Something larger than ethnicity bound these men together, namely their common disease. In the Bible leprosy was the label for all kinds of skin diseases (Leviticus 13, 14). It ranged from eczema to what is known today as Hansen’s disease. Bad blood existed between Jews and Samaritans (Luke 9:51-56; John 4:9). In this case a common disease bound them together in solidarity. It took 10 men to constitute a synagogue—this was a synagogue of lepers.

Jesus had cleansed lepers before (Matthew 8:1-4), and news of such traveled quickly. No doubt family members had told their leprous loved ones that Jesus of Nazareth could cleanse lepers. When this synagogue of lepers heard that Jesus was near, they kept their distance as required by the law. They called out in a loud voice to be heard—“Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Two things are significant about their request. First they address Jesus as Master. This is not the typical word, Lord. It is a word that means something like “commander” (Luke 5:5). This showed respect but also a belief in Jesus’ authority. Second they pleaded for pity. This is the word usually translated “mercy.” It is a salvation word and associated with God’s loving kindness to Israel. In the miracles of Jesus, God’s mercies are released as a preview of what Heaven will look like someday (Revelation 21:4).

Jesus commanded the lepers to do what was required by the law. “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” Several good things would result when the lepers obeyed this command. They would be pronounced clean and would be restored to their families and community. But mostly they would experience God’s healing. “And as they went, they were cleansed”—the verb tense indicates that the cleansing took place as they were en route to the priests. Would they have been cleansed if they had not obeyed Jesus’ command to go? However there is something that takes us beyond cleansing. It is gratitude.

 

A Surprising Thanksgiving

Luke 17:15-19KJV

 

15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,

16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

 

The text draws our attention to numbers—1, 10, and 9—1 of the 10 noticed his cleansing. His conscience goaded him into returning to say thank you before heading to the priest. With the same loud voice he had used to make his earlier request for mercy, he praised God. The word for praising is where we get the English word “doxology” and appears as a noun in verse 18. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet (“fell down before him”) and thanked him. The verb thanked is where we get the word Eucharist (the giving of thanks or good grace). Luke heightens the story by telling us that more than just a former leper was cleansed and remembered to say thank you. Luke and Jesus drew attention to the man’s ethnicity: “And he was a Samaritan.” Jesus asked three interrogating questions as if he were teaching someone beyond just the cleansed leper. Jesus called the man a foreigner. The real rebuke of this text is that the most unlikely person to give thanks did so. Sometimes God gets greater gratitude from outsiders than his covenant people. Maybe that is Luke’s point. Jesus commended the cleansed leper. “Rise and go; your faith (a grateful faith) has made you well (saved).” The man was cleansed, like the others, as he went. Healing comes to those who obey. And God is so gracious. Jesus didn’t reverse the cleansing for the other nine when they failed to give thanks. But gratitude takes a person beyond obedience.

 

 

Learning Jesus’ Will For Our Life

How Can We Learn Jesus’ Will?

Jesus Is Lord — Lesson #4


Introduction:

In our last lesson we learned that we should honor Jesus as the Lord of our lives. He is the Son of God who died to save us from our sins, and He will one day return to judge us. We should obey His will, imitate the principles He lived by, and serve Him as our highest priority.

However, Jesus is no longer on earth to personally teach us. Where can we go to learn His will today? This is the theme of this lesson.


I. Jesus’ Teachings Are Recorded in the Bible.


Jesus knew that He would leave earth and return to heaven, so during His lifetime He carefully gave instructions to His apostles. After He left, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles to write His instructions in the New Testament Scriptures.

>>> Read JOHN 16:13. <<<

*1&2* What did Jesus say the Spirit of truth would do for the apostles? Answer: The Spirit would ______ them into ______ truth.

>>> Read JOHN 20:29-31. <<<

*3* How can people believe in Jesus even when they have not seen Him? (a) they can’t believe, (b) they need a modern-day prophet, (c) they can believe by reading what the inspired men wrote in the Bible. Answer: ______.

*4* What blessing can people receive if they believe what is written? Answer: By believing we can have ______ in His name.

>>> Read EPHESIANS 3:3-5. <<<

*5* What did Paul do with the knowledge revealed to him? (a) he wrote it down, (b) he kept it a secret, (c) it is still an unknown mystery. Answer: ______.

*6* How can other people learn what Paul knew? Answer: We can understand when we ______ what he wrote.

Note that, although the gospel message had been unknown (a mystery) in the past, it was revealed or “made known” to the New Testament apostles and prophets. Now we can know it by reading what they wrote.

>>> Read 1 CORINTHIANS 14:37. <<<

*7* Whose commands did Paul write? Answer: Paul wrote the commands of the ______.

You and I today can know the teachings of the Lord Jesus by reading the New Testament Scriptures written by His inspired prophets.

For more information about the importance of the Bible, see the links at the end of this lesson.

[See also Matt. 10:19f; Luke 10:16; John 14:26; 1 Cor. 2:10-14; 11:23; 15:3; Gal. 1:11,12; 2 Peter 1:12-15,21; 3:1,2; 1 John 1:1-4; 2:1-17; Rev. 1:11.]


II. The Gospel Is a Perfect Revelation.


Sometimes people wonder how adequately the Scriptures reveal the teachings of Jesus for us today. Do they contain all we need to know, or are there teachings that we need but do not have? Can we understand what is taught? Has the message been lost or perverted over the years, so that we today no longer have the true and complete will of Jesus?

A. The Scriptures Reveal All God’s Will for Us.

Remember, Jesus promised that the apostles would receive “all truth” (John 16:13), and they wrote down what they received.

>>> Read ACTS 20:20,27. <<<

*8* How much of God’s will did Paul teach to others? (a) he kept back parts that were needed, (b) he preached the whole counsel of God, (c) there were important truths that he never even received. Answer: ______.

>>> Read 2 PETER 1:3. <<<

*9* How much of God’s will had people in Peter’s lifetime received? Answer: They received ______ things pertaining to life and godliness.

>>> Read 2 TIMOTHY 3:16,17. <<<

*10* For what purposes are the Scriptures profitable? (a) teaching and instructing us in righteousness, (b) reproving and correcting us, (c) completely providing all good works, (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

*11* If the Scriptures provide us to all good works, then do we need some standard of religious authority in addition to the Bible? (yes or no) Answer: ______.

The gospel is the perfect law of liberty, which is able to save our souls (James 1:21,25). We need no further revelation because the Bible completely reveals all God’s will for man. It teaches everything we need to know to be saved. Since the first-century apostles and prophets received all truth, it follows that any doctrine taught today, which they did not record in the Bible, must not be true.

[See also Matt. 28:20; Col. 4:12; Heb. 13:20,21.]

B. The Scriptures Are Understandable.

Remember that the apostles wrote down what had been revealed to them, so that others could understand the message (Ephesians 3:3-5).

>>> Read MARK 7:14. <<<

*12* What did Jesus expect his hearers to do? Answer: They were supposed to hear and ______.

Notice that Jesus spoke here to the “multitude” of common people and He required “everyone” of them to understand what He taught.

>>> Read ACTS 17:11. <<<

*13* How did these people determine whether or not the things they heard were true? (a) they searched the Scriptures daily, (b) they needed a college education, (c) they needed a priest to explain it to them. Answer: ______.

Could they do this if the Scriptures are impossible to understand? If people cannot understand the Bible, why did God give it to us?

>>> Read 1 CORINTHIANS 14:33. <<<

*14* God is not the author (or cause) of what? Answer: ______.

God is the author of the Scriptures. Now if the Bible has been written in such a way that it is impossible for men to study and understand it, then God would be the author of confusion. Since He is not the author of confusion, then the Bible must be a book that we can understand.

Remember that the Scriptures are profitable to teach, reprove, instruct, and supply us completely to all good works (2 Timothy 3:15-17). They are able to make one wise to salvation. But if we could not understand the Scriptures, then they would not profit in any of these things.

God revealed the Scriptures so men could understand His will. Anyone who believes God is all-wise and all-powerful, must also believe the Bible is a book that can be understood.

[See also 2 Tim. 2:15; Eph. 5:17; Isa. 55:11; Psalm 119:104,105,130.]

C. The Scriptures Have Been Accurately Preserved.

The Holy Spirit guided the New Testament writers to record Jesus’ teachings so those teachings could guide future generations. In order for the Scriptures to accomplish this, God would have to preserve them.

>>> Read 2 PETER 1:12-15; 3:1,2. <<<

*15* Peter was writing so that people would have a record of his teachings after he died. What would this message do for them? Answer: It would ______ them of the apostles’ commands.

>>> Read JOHN 12:48. <<<

*16* By what standard will men be judged? (a) by their own consciences, (b) by the teachings of their priests, (c) by Jesus’ words. Answer: ______.

Jesus’ words will judge men at the last day. This means that Jesus’ words must endure till the judgment and must be available to men, so we can know what to do to prepare for the judgment. Jesus’ words are preserved for us in the written word of the Scriptures.

>>> Read 1 PETER 1:22-25. <<<

*17* What is the seed by which we are born again? Answer: We are born again by the incorruptible seed, which is the ______ of God.

*18* How long will God’s word endure? (a) forever, (b) 2 generations, (c) like a plant that grows then dies, it was lost in the middle ages. Answer: ______.

>>> Read 2 JOHN 2. <<<

*19* How long will the truth be with us? Answer: The truth will be with us ______.

God intended for the faith to be delivered to His people only “once” (Jude 3). He delivered it in the first century, then He preserved it through the centuries till today. We today have the perfect and complete teachings of Jesus in a form we can understand in the Scriptures.

For more information about the preservation of the Bible, see the links at the end of this study.

[See also Psa. 12:6,7; Heb. 13:20; Isa. 30:8; 59:20,21; Matt. 24:35.]


III. Jesus’ Instructions for Today Are Found in the New Testament, Not the Old.


Some people believe that we today need a special priesthood or should rest on the seventh day of the week because the Old Testament law required this. Others claim that God never changes His law, so if He ever commanded anything, then everyone must always keep that command. But God once commanded a man to build an ark and another man to sacrifice his son (Gen. 6:13-7:5; 22:1-19). Must we do these today?

God Himself says He has changed His laws about circumcision (cf. Gen. 17:9-14 to 1 Cor. 7:18-20; Gal. 5:1-8; 6:12-16), the Levitical priesthood (cf. Ex. 40:12-16; 29:1-9 to Heb. 7:11-18; 1 Pet. 2:5,9), and animal sacrifices (cf. Num. 15:1-6 to Heb. 10:1-18), just to name a few examples.

These Scriptures clearly prove that God has made changes in his laws. Some commands were intended just for certain specific people, not for all people everywhere. Other commands served a temporary purpose. When they fulfilled their purpose, they were no longer needed, so God removed them.

What about the Old Testament laws, including the laws given through Moses. Are they still in effect today, or do we follow only the teachings of the New Testament?

>>> Read ROMANS 7:2-6. <<<

*20* When is a woman free from her husband? (a) when she divorces him, (b) when she becomes a Christian, (c) when he dies. Answer: ______.

*21* What is our relation to the law? (a) we are subject to it, (b) we are freed from it and joined to Christ, (c) we should still keep parts of it. Answer: ______.

>>> Read HEBREWS 10:9,10. <<<

Hebrews is a lengthy comparison of the “first” or “old covenant” compared to the “second” or “new covenant.” The first covenant included the animal sacrifices, the Levitical priesthood, the tabernacle, and the “tables of the covenant” or the 10 Commands (see 7:11-14; 9:1-5; 10:1-8). In fact it included “every precept” given through Moses (9:18-21).

*22&23* What did Jesus do to these two covenants? Answer: He ______ the first that He may ______ the second.

Because of what Jesus did, “the law” (first covenant) was changed or annulled (7:12,18). It was made old, so it vanished away (8:6-13). All this was done in harmony with God’s will, not contrary to it.

>>> Read COLOSSIANS 2:14,16. <<<

*24&25* What did Christ do to the handwriting of ordinances? Answer: He took it ______ nailing it to His ______.

*26* Should we let people judge us for not keeping the sabbath? (yes or no) Answer: ______.

The Old Testament law, given through Moses, applied only to the nation of Israel and only till Jesus died. The teaching of Jesus for people today is recorded in the New Testament, the gospel. It is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).

For more information about the Old Testament law, see the links at the end of this study.

[See also 2 Cor. 3:6-11; Gal. 3:24,25; 5:1-6; Eph. 2:11-16.]


IV. We Should Reject Man-Made Doctrines.


Many people today claim to follow Jesus, but they participate in religious practices and organizations that are not authorized in the gospel. Yet the New Testament provides us to all good works, so other practices cannot be from Jesus. They are human in origin [cf. Matt. 21:25].

A. What Does Jesus Think of Man-Made Doctrines?

>>> Read MATTHEW 15:9,13,14.<<<

*27* How does Jesus describe our worship if it is based on human doctrine (v9) ? (a) it is vain, (b) it is acceptable, (c) it doesn’t matter. Answer: ______.

Fallible men cannot know what pleases God without revelation from God. The “way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Only by following the teaching of Jesus can we know what is pleasing to God.

>>> Read GALATIANS 1:8,9. <<<

*28* What is the condition of one who preaches a different gospel? Answer: He is ______.

“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

>>> Read 2 JOHN 9. <<<

*29* What happens to someone who teaches things not found in the teachings that come from Jesus? Answer: He does not have ______.

Remember that all Jesus’ teachings were recorded in the New Testament by the original apostles and prophets. To follow Jesus, we must do only the things taught in His word. If we follow practices He has not authorized, then we are following men instead of following Jesus.

Even if no passage specifically forbids a certain practice, that does not mean the practice is acceptable. Instead, we should ask, “Where did Jesus say we should do this?” If a practice is not authorized in His word, we should avoid it.

[See also Rev. 22:18,19; Col. 3:17; Prov. 3:5,6; 2 Cor. 10:12,18.]

B. Some Examples of Human Authority in Religion

People often accept man-made religious practices without realizing why they accept them. Often they are following human authorities such as those we are about to consider. (Note that some of these things do have a right to exist. The danger comes when they are viewed as authority which people follow to determine what they believe or practice.)

Family Religion

Some people think, “It was good enough for my mother (or wife, etc.), so it’s good enough for me.” This makes the family our authority, instead of Jesus. We should be glad if our families follow the Bible, but most people’s families are in error (Matthew 7:13,14). Most Christians in the New Testament had to leave their family religion.

*30* If our family is involved in practices not found in the gospel, should we still practice as they do? (yes or no) Answer: ______.

[Note Matt. 10:34-37; Acts 5:29; Gal. 1:13,14.]

Conscience, feelings, sincerity

We need sincerity and a good conscience, but these become the standard for some people. “Just let your conscience be your guide. It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.”

>>> Read ACTS 23:1; 26:9. <<<

*31* Even before his conversion, Paul was sincere and had a good conscience. At that time was he (a) right, (b) wrong, (c) it didn’t matter? Answer: ______.

One can be sincere and have a good conscience, yet be the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:13-15). Your conscience only tells you whether or not you are doing what you believe to be right. Like a clock, it will not be reliable unless it has been set properly.

[See also Prov. 14:12; 28:26; Matt. 7:21-23; 2 Cor. 10:18.]

Preachers

Some people just accept whatever their preacher says. “My preacher is well educated, and he would not mislead me?.” Preachers can help us learn Jesus’ will, but they must not become the standard of authority. Preachers are wrong when they differ from what Jesus said. [See also Acts 17:11; 20:29,30; Matt. 7:15; 15:14; 1 John 4:1,6; 2 Cor. 11:13-15.]

*32* Should we accept what our preacher says if he cannot show it in the Bible? (yes or no) Answer: ______.

Church creeds, traditions, and decrees of councils

Many denominations write books that the group follows as authority or doctrinal standards. Any creed that contains more than the Bible contains too much. Any creed that contains less than the Bible contains too little. All human creeds and church laws are made on the assumption that fallible humans can write a better standard than the Bible!

For more information about man-made doctrines and religious confusion, see the links at the end of this study.

Conclusion

“And by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3-6). A true disciple devotes his lifetime to serving his Master’s will. During your lifetime you must choose whether or not you will serve Jesus. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15; cf. 1 John 5:3). Do you follow Jesus or do you follow men?

Personal application questions:

(These questions are for you to ponder. Your answers will help us understand your thinking, however they will not affect your “score.”)

*33* Do you believe we need any source of religious authority other than the Bible? ___________

*34* What conclusion do you believe we should reach about religious doctrines or practices that are not found in the Bible? __________

*35* What do you believe about Old Testament practices that are not included in the New Testament? __________

He Is Risen

  Sunday School Lesson

 

Key Verse:  And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. Mark 16:6,KJV

 

Introduction: Our celebrations of Easter can be pretty bland. Easter eggs, chocolate, and lilies are not very threatening. But the first Easter was scary. If Jesus was alive, then life could not continue as usual.The resurrection is a historical fact. Faith in the resurrected Jesus begins with the acceptance of eyewitness testimony. That testimony is collaborated by all four Gospels and literally hundreds of people (1 Corinthians 15:6). Depending on how one counts, Jesus made 13 resurrection appearances.

Judge Herbert Casteel was a judge in Missouri for years. He wrote that if collaborative eyewitness testimonies came into his courtroom similar to the record that we have in the New Testament, he would have to conclude that Jesus of Nazareth was alive.

 

Going to the Tomb

Mark 16:1-3KJV

 

1And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

 

The women were the last at the cross and the first at the tomb. They were quicker to believe than the men. Mark mentions three—Mary from Magdala (from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons, Mark 16:9), Mary the mother of James (about whom we know nothing), and Salome (very possibly the mother of James and John).Jesus’ burial by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus was, of necessity, done quickly. They only had three hours to prepare Jesus’ body before the Sabbath began. Even though the men used 75 pounds of spices, the women felt compelled (out of love?) to anoint Jesus’ body again. So as soon as the Sabbath was over and the sun began to rise, they scurried off to the tomb. They arrived very early on the first day of the week. (That phrase appears several times in the Gospel of Mark and usually in a positive sense, except in Mark 15:1). These earliest witnesses of the resurrection began to discuss their obstacle while walking to the tomb. They remembered the rock’s size and the Roman seal across it. What would they do? No worries.

 

Entering the Tomb

Mark 16:4-5KJV

 

And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

 

God’s power took care of the women’s problem. The stone had been rolled away. No doubt rather carefully, they entered the tomb. This was quite a risk and not a little frightening. They saw an angel. Young man is only used in Mark’s Gospel. He was dressed in a white robe. All the women could do was stare and be alarmed (the translation of alarmed is the same word for “marvel”).

The announcement by the angel contains three imperatives, two indicatives, and one promise. The imperatives: 1. Don’t be alarmed. This is the standard line that angels use with humans in the Bible. 2. See the place where they laid him. The resurrection is of such significance that Heaven invites us to investigate it. There is no need to kiss one’s brains good-bye on Easter or have blind faith. 3. Go tell his disciples and Peter. While the disciples would be skeptical at first to accept this announcement, this message would be especially important to Peter (John 20:3-10; 1 Corinthians 15:5).

 

He Is Risen

Mark 16:6-8

 

And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

 

The two indicatives: 1. You are looking for Jesus . . . who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. What God has done precedes what we do. 2. He is going ahead of you into Galilee. Each of the Gospels has a great commission statement. Galilee is the place of that statement for Matthew and Mark. Jerusalem is the place of that statement in Luke and John.The promise is singular: There you will see him, just as he told you. In light of the resurrection, that promise is made all the more sure.

Mark’s Gospel ends as abruptly as it began. If the Gospel ends in verse 8 (there is a major textual issue with verses 9-20), Jesus does not even show up in his own resurrection account. The women run from the tomb scared to death—but hoping in faith that it is all true. Mark uses three words for their anxiety: trembling (trauma), bewildered (ecstasy), and afraid (phobia). All of this underscores the mysterious, busy Messiah presented in Mark’s Gospel.John Ortberg tells about a minister named Skip Viau who, in a children’s sermon, posed this question to the kids: “What were Jesus’ first words to the disciples after he was raised from the dead?” Before Skip could answer the question, a little girl waved her hand. “I know,” she said. “Ta da!” We are the “Ta da!” people. We have resurrection faith.

Struggling Faith

       Sunday School Lesson

 

Lesson Scripture: And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. Mark 14:30

 

 

Introduction:  A common struggle we face is consistent faith. On Palm Sunday the people shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9). But by Friday they shouted, “Crucify him” (Mark 15:14). Peter (and the other disciples) had that same struggle. His life did not match his lip. He intended well, but he was overwhelmed with excessive pride. When push came to shove, he caved in.

 

A Scattering Is Promised

Mark 14:26-28KJV

 

26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

27 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.

28 But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.

 

The disciples’ experience in the upper room had been intense. Jesus had washed their feet (John 13:1-20), he had instituted the Lord’s Supper at the Passover meal (Mark 14:22-25), he had given many promises about the Holy Spirit (John 14–16), and he had made two piercing predictions. The first was of Judas’s betrayal. The second was of Peter’s denial. This betrayal prediction was evidently given en route to the Garden of Gethsemane (located partway up on the Mount of Olives). In the only passage in the Gospels where we find that Jesus sang, we read, When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Perhaps Jesus sang, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad” (Psalm 118:22-24). Somewhere between the upper room and Gethsemane, Jesus said: You will all fall away. This had to shock the disciples. Jesus had previously predicted his death and gave additional details each successive time (Mark 8, 9, and 10). Here he made a strange use of Zechariah 13:7 to prove his point. He was Israel’s true shepherd, and when he was struck the sheep (disciples) would scatter. No doubt the image of sheep was available to Jesus since they had just come from the Passover meal. But there was hope in the midst of this shocking revelation. Jesus would be raised from the dead and meet up with the disciples in Galilee.

 

The Scattering Is Denied

Mark 14:29-31KJV

 

29 But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.

30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.

31 But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.

 

This was too much for Peter. He made a presumptuous promise of loyalty. He meant well. Yet Jesus underlined his prediction by saying that during the night (when Jesus’ six trials were taking place) Peter would disown Jesus three times. This would be known to Peter by the crowing of a rooster twice (a detail that is unique to Mark). Peter insisted “emphatically” (ESV)—literally, “he spoke out excessively”—that he would be loyal. In fact, the other disciples said the same. Everyone intended well, but as the secular proverb says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”

 

A Shattering Denial

Mark 14:66-72KJV

 

66 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest:

67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.

68 But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.

69 And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them.

70 And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.

71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.

72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.

 

Our text fast forwards through Gethsemane, the betrayal by Judas, the arrest, and the first Jewish trial that took place in the high priest’s house. Peter’s presence in the high priest’s courtyard is hard to discern. Did he feel bad about deserting Jesus in the garden? Was he trying to see what would happen to Jesus? Did he intend to use his sword (again) and spring Jesus from the kangaroo court? Whatever his motive, he found himself in the courtyard standing by a fire (John 21:9-19). A servant girl noticed him. You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus. Peter denied it. He lied by feigning ignorance and stepped away to stay incognito.The servant girl tried again. This time she did not call him out. She mentioned him to the others present. It is amazing that a big strong fisherman could be intimidated by a servant girl. Things lesser than us can undo us when we are outside the will of God. Peter was successful in hiding for a while, but people noticed his Galilean accent and drew attention to the fact that he was a disciple. This angered Peter and he swore (spoke with an oath; see Matthew 5:33-37; 23:16-22). It would be like us saying, “I would swear it on a stack of Bibles.” The rooster crowed a second time and Peter was enveloped in his own nightmare. God used a common barnyard animal to get Peter’s attention. What does it take to get your attention? Peter struggled with faith. But he did find his way back to God. For him there were three steps: 1. He remembered the word Jesus had spoken. 2. He manifested a spirit of brokenness (broke down and wept). 3. He stayed in the group, in contrast to Judas. We would be wise to follow the example of faith in this regard.