Matt 26:75                             The Mercy of God                                       11/23/2008    ßà   

·        Peter’s Sin (Matt 26:69-75, Isa 57:11, Prov 29:25, 1Cor 10:12, Mark 14:30, Luke 22:60-62, 2Pet 2:9)

 

 

 

 

 

#1.       The Magnitude of His Sin (Ex 20:7, Luke 22:31-34, Matt 26:35, Jer 12:5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       Repentance (Matt 26:75, Psalm 51:1-19, 2Cor 5:21, Eph 1:4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       Peter Reinstated (John 21:15-19, Matt 16:17-19)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 26:69 (2X). We have come to that part in the Gospel of Matthew where the apostle Peter is denying his Lord. This was a dark hour in the life of Peter, but it was a result of the fact that the Lord Jesus had to abandon His church, because the Lord Jesus had to go to the cross alone. When we read this passage, let us remember that the focus is not on Peter. The focus is on the mercy of God in forgiving Peter this sin, and all the other sins that were in the life of Peter. And so, the title of this sermon should not be “Peter Denies Jesus”, but the title of this sermon is actually, The Mercy of God (2X). Let us now read Matt 26:69-75,

·        Peter’s Sin (Matt 26:69-75, Isa 57:11, Prov 29:25, 1Cor 10:12, Mark 14:30, Luke 22:60-62, 2Pet 2:9)

Mt 26:69-75, Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

What was going on here? Since Peter still loved the Lord Jesus, he wanted to know what they were going to do with his Master. But when Peter was in the Devil’s court yard he was afraid that he was going to get hurt when they were going to hurt Jesus. And so, bold Peter was now not so bold any more. And so, Peter lied about his association with Jesus. What was he afraid of? Just the fact that he was with Jesus was enough to make him a scandalous and a suspected person. But even if they knew that he was with Jesus, no one would accuse him, or bring him to trial for that fact. God says in Isa 57:11,

Isa 57:11  And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart? have not I held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not?

Here was the problem. Peter feared those soldiers with their knives and staves more than he feared God, and that was why he felt he was forced to lie. Peter got himself into a dangerous situation, but it was a danger of his own making. Peter should have known what the Word of God says in Prov 29:25, where we read, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” But let us be fair. We are looking at Peter’s actions from the safe vantage point of 2000 years later, when we have the whole Bible at our disposal, and we are certain that Peter should have stayed away from the court yard of Caiaphas. We read in 1Cor 10:12, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Peter was overconfident that he could handle the situation when he entered the court yard, but when he saw the threatening looks of the soldiers and the sharp knives and other instruments of torture, fear struck in his heart. And then three times he lied about knowing the Lord Jesus. But when the rooster crew Peter remembered that the Lord Jesus said to him, as recorded in Mark 14:30, “Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.” Peter had a short memory. We find in the Gospel of Luke a detail that is worth remembering. We read in Luke 22:60-62, “And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.” This one look from Jesus brought back to his memory the warning that Jesus gave him earlier that evening. And Peter remembered this all his life, for we can read in 2Pet 2:9, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” Why was it such a sin for Peter to lie? Was a live Peter not much more useful to the Lord Jesus than a dead apostle? And so, let us now consider:

#1.       The Magnitude of His Sin (Ex 20:7, Luke 22:31-34, Matt 26:35, Jer 12:5)

Put a sticker here in Matt 26, and please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Exodus, Ex 20:7 (2X). Let us see how Peter violated the Ten Commandments. At the first mention of his association with Jesus Peter lied. He violated the 9th Commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Then at the second mention of his association with Jesus he denied it with an oath. Now he violated the 3rd Commandment, where we read in Ex 20:7, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” It was in effect to say, “I will not own Him; I am not a saved person,” for salvation is really knowing Christ. Why Peter? Can you look upon the prisoner over there and say that you do not know Him? Did you not quit all to follow Him? And have you not been the man of His counsel? Have you not known Him better than any of the other disciples? And did you not confess Him to be the Christ, the Son of the living God? Have you forgotten all the kind and tender looks you have had from Him? Can you look Him in the face and say with an oath that you do not know Him? And so we see that Peter’s denial of knowing the Lord Jesus was a serious matter. But it gets worse. Upon the third mention that he was with Jesus, “he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man.” He cursed and swore to back up his lie. He designed it to be the evidence that he did not follow Jesus, for this was not the language of those that follow Jesus. Cursing and swearing was the language of those who were the enemies of Christ. You see, when we examine Ex 20:7 in the Hebrew language, it is literally saying, “Thou shalt not bear the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that beareth his name in vain.” In other words: if we claim to be a Christian, if we claim to bear the name of Christ, but we do not live up to that name, and we do not believe what the Bible says about Christ and salvation through the cross of Christ, then we are bearing the name of the Lord in vain. And “the Lord will not hold him guiltless that beareth His name in vain.” Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to Luke, Luke 22:31 (2X). How serious was this sin of Peter? #1. Consider that he was an apostle. In fact he was one of the inner circle of three apostles whom the Lord Jesus took to be with Him at special occasions. And Peter was one of the most outspoken apostle, and often the spokesman for all twelve. #2. Consider the fair warnings that the Lord Jesus had given Peter. We have already seen it in Matt 26:31-35, and we also read it here in Luke 22:31-34,

Lu 22:31-34, And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

Peter has heard this advance warning, but he has denied that he could do such an abominable thing. If he had heeded the warning he would not have put himself into the backyard of Satan. #3. Peter had solemnly promised to adhere to Christ in this night of trial. We read in Matt 26:35, “Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.” Yet he broke these promises the same night. #4. How soon did he fall into this sin right after the Lord’s Supper! There he received from Christ an infinitely great pledge of redeeming love. And yet, before the rooster crowed in the morning he had already disowned his Master three times. #5. Consider how weak the temptation was in comparison with the trials of Christians in the first century, or in the last century. It was not the judge, or any of the officers of the court that charged him with being a disciple of Jesus, but two maids who would probably have done him no hurt if he had admitted that he was a disciple of Jesus. We are reminded here of God’s words as found in the Prophecy of Jeremiah. We read in Jer 12:5, “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?” Paraphrased God says here, “If you are already caving in under small temptations in this life, how shall you do when the 200 million horsemen of Rev 9 come on the scene?” And so, this temptation of Peter is a real warning to us all. We should not be so bold to put ourselves in the backyard of the Devil, and be so arrogant to believe that we shall resist the Devil in our own strength. If we take our eyes off Jesus, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith, and we focus on the things of this world, then we too shall fall. Let this temptation of Peter be a warning to us. But let us now focus on:

Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel of Matthew, Matt 10:32 (2X). It was the mercy of God that Jesus gave Peter this last look, and it was the mercy of God that He brought back into the memory of Peter the words that Jesus spoke that evening, and it was the mercy of God that God gave Peter true repentance in his heart, and it was the mercy of God that gave Peter the urge to leave the court yard as quickly as possible. Yes, it is the mercy of God when He makes anyone to repent, for repentance is a gift from God. We can see this clearly in the actions of Judas Iscariot, which are described in the next chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. We read there in Matt 27:3 that Judas repented himself, and he cast down the money into the temple and went and hanged himself. Did he really repent, or had he remorse for what he had done? What did Judas have in mind when he betrayed Jesus? Did he expect that Jesus would miraculously walk out of this confrontation so that Jesus would save Himself and Judas would keep the money? We do not know, for God did not disclose the plans of Judas in the Bible. All we know is that Jesus said in Matt 26:24, “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born,” which is a clear indication that the repentance that Judas brought up was not an acceptable repentance in the sight of God. The Lord had mercy on Peter, but the Lord did not have mercy on Judas Iscariot. On the last day Judas will stand before the judgment throne, together with all those who remained unsaved, and Judas will be cast into Hell. That is exactly the meaning of Jesus’ words, “It had been good for that man if he had not been born”. To top it off, Judas committed murder as his last act before he left this life, and from this we can also see that Judas did not receive a repentance that was from God. But God had mercy on Peter, even though Peter committed a grievous sin, because Peter was one of God’s elect. According to Eph 1:4, Peter was one whom God chose from before the foundation of the world, and all the sins of Peter were put on Christ, who atoned for all those sins on the cross. But Peter’s sin is an example of the mercy of God for all the saints. Let us be honest about this. When are we denying the Lord Jesus as our personal Savior? Are we warning every person on the street that Christ will come again very soon, and will “In flaming fire take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?” (2Thess 1:8). Are we not doing this? But we should, for most of the people in this world shall stand before the judgment throne and be cast into Hell. It will be a horrible day for all of them when they will be cast into the lake of fire. All our fears for terrorists, and for gang members, and for burglars, will be like a Sunday school picnic compared with judgment day. Are we warning every homosexual that judgment will be upon them soon? Are we warning every heterosexual fornicator that they will be under judgment as well? And so, we see that we are every day committing the same sins that Peter committed only once. We know that Peter repented, which means that Peter turned away from this sin of denying his Lord. On the day of Pentecost Peter preached fearlessly, and about 3000 people were saved on that day. But even if no one would have been saved, the fact is that from this day forward Peter declared to all the world that all must believe what the Lord Jesus has done for us on the cross, and that He will come again to take vengeance on all who remained in unbelief. We must keep in mind that it was God who gave Peter this courage, and it was God who gave people faith to believe the message of the cross, and it was God who kept them in that faith and who gave them the courage to follow Peter’s example to bring this Gospel into all the world, so that by the instrument of preaching God would save all the elect whom He wanted to save. Since our God of the Bible is a sovereign God, we must be careful to give all the credits to God alone, which means by grace alone, through the cross of Christ alone, and through the Bible alone. We must not be swayed by those who cling to a free-will gospel to give any credit to man, or to give credit to those who accept Jesus as their personal Savior, for then we will have denied to know the true Gospel of Christ, and then we will have denied to know Christ. Let us remember what the Lord Jesus said in Matt 10:32-33,

Mt 10:32-33 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

When Jesus gave Peter this last look, Peter remembered these words, and he truly repented of what he said in front of the two maids, and in front of the soldiers who were warming themselves near the fire. Peter was a bad ambassador for Christ in this instance. And we should also remember these words, for the Lord will hold him guilty that beareth His name in vain. But if we have already witnessed Christ before our immediate family and friends, and if they have voiced their decision not to listen to us, then we should take this wonderful salvation to the heathen, for they will hear us. They will repent. Let us then turn our attention to this subject of repentance. Peter repented, but Judas did not repent. King David repented, but king Ahab did not repent. What exactly is repentance?

#2.       Repentance (Matt 26:75, Psalm 51:1-19, 2Cor 5:21, Eph 1:4)

When Peter remembered the words of Jesus we read in Matt 26:75 these momentous words,

Mt 26:75  And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of the Psalms, Psalm 51:1 (2X). Peter went out, and wept bitterly. Peter turned his back on the scene of his crime. This is an essential ingredient of repentance. We must turn from our sins 180 degrees. Many years ago, when I was still in the Roman Catholic Church, I went to “confession” once a week, which meant that once a week I went to a priest and confessed to him my sins. Then he pronounced an “absolution” of my sins, which means forgiveness of my sins. And even though my sins were forgiven, I would still have to pay for those sins in purgatory. What an inconsistency. And then the following week I confessed the same sins again, which actually meant that I had not repented at all, for I had not turned away from my sins. It is an absolutely crazy idea that a priest can forgive sins. They had absolutely no idea what it really means to forgive sins, and they had no idea how the atonement of Christ could be “once and for all”, and they had no idea how the righteousness of God fits in this whole scheme of “confession”, because they identified the forgiveness of sins with some hand-waving by the priest. The Bible clearly teaches that it is only God who can forgive sins, not a priest. The Bible clearly teaches that there was only one day in the entire history of the world that sins were forgiven, and that was when Christ died on the cross on Friday, April 3, in the year AD 33. All our sins were still future sins at that time. The Bible clearly teaches that Christ brought a perfect sacrifice for our sins only once, never to be repeated again. And the Bible clearly teaches that the specific payment of Christ on behalf of our specific sins was only applied to those whom God the Holy Spirit has saved, or made “born again”, or more literally “born from above”. And the Bible clearly teaches that these people who have been saved by being “born from above” have repented and are going to repent of their sins. There is no salvation without repentance, and true repentance is a sign of having been saved. With that lengthy introduction let us now turn to Psalm 51. This is a Psalm of David that was written after Nathan the prophet had come to David to inform him of God’s judgment against him, because of David’s adultery with Bathsheba and his order to murder her husband Uriah the Hittite. We will presently not get into this sordid story, but we will focus on Psalm 51 itself, where these sins are not specifically mentioned. David prayed the words of this psalm. Most likely Peter prayed the words of this psalm, and everyone who discovers that he has grievously sinned should consider the words that are written in this psalm, for it is the most beautiful of all the psalms in the Bible. We read in Psalm 51:1

Ps 51:1-6, Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

When we pray this prayer we are pleading with God to have mercy upon us. It means we are asking God to remove from us the penalty of Hell that we do deserve for our sin. But will a righteous judge take away our penalty just by some hand-waving? No! A righteous judge shall require that the penalty be paid in full, no matter how many tears we shed before Him. But the penalty is an eternity in Hell, and thus we shall never come out of the other end of Hell, because the penalty lasts forever. And thus we shall never be finished paying for our sins in Hell. This is where the mercy of God enters into the picture, for the Bible declares that we have a God who delights in mercy. And how does God do that? God does that by providing for us a Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will step from behind the bench and pay the full price on our behalf. And even though He willingly imputes our sins to His account, He is not defiled by our sins, for He must remain the spotless Lamb of God who atones for our sins, or better on behalf of our sins. God expressed this in 2Cor 5:21, where we read, “For He (God) hath made him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Christ knew no sin, for Christ was not defiled by our sins. He was not a total Substitute for our sins, but He paid on behalf of our sins. And if He had to pay the full price, He had to pay the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, for that was the price that I would have to pay. And so, when we pray to God this prayer of Psalm 51:1, and we ask God, “according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions”, we are actually asking God to have the Lord Jesus Christ suffer the equivalent of an eternity in Hell on behalf of us, for we are unable to pay such a great price. Now, since this is what we ask of the Lord Jesus, how can it be that we do this sin again and again? It is an utter callousness that we would ask the Lord Jesus to suffer the torments of Hell again and again for the same sin, just because we like our sin too much. It means that we have not repented of our sins, which means that we have not been saved. And so, when we ask God in Psalm 51:1, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness”, we are pleading with God that His lovingkindness would rest upon us. But His lovingkindness must have been on us from before the foundation of the world, for this is what the Bible teaches in Eph 1:4. And this proves that such a prayer for the mercy of God was a prayer that was prompted by God the Holy Spirit, and that is why we are pleading to God for mercy. We are not saved because we are pleading for mercy but we are pleading for mercy because God’s lovingkindness was already upon us. So far we have covered only verse 1 of this psalm, but this is how we must meditate on each one of these 19 verses. A similar question that comes up frequently is this:

There are in the Bible many verses that teach as if we first must repent before God will save us. But then Rom 2:4, and Acts 5:31, and 2Tim 2:25 teach that God is the Author of repentance. If we then must harmonize all that we find in the Bible, we must conclude that repentance is a gift from God. And this totally agrees with the sovereignty of God, which is a dominant theme in the Scriptures. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 2:4 (2X). We find that the Bible speaks in many places of the concept that we were crucified with Christ and in Christ, we died with Christ and in Christ, we were buried with Christ and in Christ, we were raised with Christ and in Christ, we ascended with Christ and in Christ into heaven, and we are seated in the heavenly places with Christ and in Christ, past tense. And this is the reason why we are already glorified together now with Christ and in Christ (Rom 8:30). But let us now consider exactly the words which God chose in Eph 2:4-6, where we read,

Eph 2:4-6  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Again we see that we have a God who is rich in mercy. Our God delights in mercy. And then follow the words, “for his great love wherewith he loved us”, in the Aorist tense. In other words, God loved us in eternity past, He loves us now, and He loves us in eternity future. How can this be? For we read in the end of verse 3 that “we all were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” In other words, before the moment of our salvation, which was before the moment we were “born from above,” God loved us, His elect, but at the same time we were under His wrath, because our sins were not yet washed away. His righteousness demanded that we must be under the wrath of God because we were dead in sins. Eph 2:1 also tells us that before our salvation we were dead in trespasses and sins. But now listen to verse 5, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” If we were dead in sins, could we first have repented, and then God saved us? No! In our sinful nature we cannot repent, for with body and soul we were obedient to the Devil. And therefore, our repentance is always preceded by God’s illuminating activity. And so, just like God is the Author of our faith, so God is also the Author of our repentance. That is why we read in verse 5, “By grace are ye saved.” We had nothing to do with our salvation, for we were dead in sins when God raised us up together with Christ and in Christ in AD 33. But His down payment was only applied in our lifetime, because we did not exist yet. And so, must I repent first before God can pour His grace upon me? No! God’s actions are not dependent on man’s actions. God stands above it, for God is absolutely sovereign. And so, when we read in 2Chron 7:14,

2Ch 7:14  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

It means that God must first give them repentance, and then they will repent. Natural man will not humble himself before God. Natural man will not turn from their wicked ways, unless God makes them to do this. Therefore, when we turn again to Peter, we see the mercy of God in giving Peter a repentant heart. God had great things in store for Peter. And likewise, God has great things in store for us. For when God gave us a repentant heart, when God gave us a broken and a contrite heart, as we read in Psalm 51, He thereby indicated that He had mercy on us and that He was going to use us mightily in His service. Pray that we may soon discover His plans for us. Let us continue with God’s mercy on Peter.

#3.       Peter Reinstated (John 21:15-19, Matt 16:17-19)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 21:15 (2X). This was a scene many days after the Lord Jesus was risen from the grave. Peter and six other disciples were dining with the Lord Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias. Then the Lord took Peter apart. And here we see again the mercy of God when the Lord Jesus restored Peter to a most honorable position. We read in John 21:15-19,

Joh 21:15-19  So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

The Lord Jesus addressed Peter as “Simon, son of Jonas”. The reason for this was to remind Peter of the event written for us in Matt 16:17-19 where Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”. And then the Lord Jesus responded in Matt 16:17-19,

Mt 16:17  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Simon Barjona means Simon son of Jonah. The Lord Jesus reminded Peter of this event by calling him Simon, son of Jonah. It was a glorious statement of the Lord Jesus to reveal that His Father in heaven had revealed this truth unto Peter. It was an even more glorious revelation that Christ was going to build His church, and Christ was going to give Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. It did not mean that Peter was given a blank check, but that his actions, and the actions of the church, would be guided from heaven in such a manner that whatsoever he would bind on earth shall be so because it was already bound in heaven, and whatsoever he would loose on earth shall be so because it was already loosed in heaven. This is what the Greek text says literally. And so, here in Matt 16 Peter was given a most honorable position. Now, when we turn to John 21:15-19, the Lord Jesus reminded Peter of this honor that He has bestowed on him by calling him Simon, son of Jonah. And then the Lord Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” In other words, “Do you love Me more than these other apostles love Me?” And Peter answered Him, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” No longer does he boast of his loyalty to Christ, but he leaves it up to Christ to search the love he has for Christ in his heart. Jesus said, “Feed my lambs”. The Lord was about to leave this world, and He now appoints others to minister to His people. Those whom Christ first commends to Peter were not the sheep, but the lambs, those who are new in the faith, those who are most vulnerable to fall prey to the wolves. And so it is that in our sermons we always want to stress the first principles of salvation, for we want to feed those who are just beginners in the faith. They may be children, but most often they are adults who have not yet matured in the faith. Then Jesus said to him the second time, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” And Peter answered the same way. And Jesus said to him, “Feed My Sheep.” Then Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” And Peter was grieved that the Lord Jesus asked him the third time. It reminded him of the three times that he denied to know Jesus of Nazareth. And Jesus answered him again, “Feed My Sheep”. But now the Lord revealed to Peter that in the process of feeding His sheep he would suffer great persecution. And the description that the Lord gave signified by what death Peter would glorify God. It is implied that Peter would be crucified. In spite of the fact that this was not an encouraging future the Lord said, “Follow Me.” In other words, Peter, I am appointing you to be an undershepherd; “Follow Me.” It is a great comfort to us that the Lord Jesus does not leave us without His guiding hand. We are the sheep of His pasture, the flock of His hand, and we will give Him thanks forever for this great honor, and we will praise His Name where ever we go.                   AMEN.            Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.