Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 22:65-71 – Jesus On Trial, Part 2

Grace For The Journey

Verse 65 shows us where our sinful nature will lead us, “And any other things they blasphemously spoke against Him.”  These religious leaders not only mocked, beat, blindfolded, struck Jesus, they also “blasphemed Him.”  Was any of this a surprise to Jesus?  700 years before this trial of Jesus, the Prophet Isaiah said the Messiah would receive this sort of treatment as God’s Suffering Servant.  The Bible says in Isaiah 50:6, “I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting” and in Isaiah 53:3, “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”  Jesus was not surprised by the actions of these temple police.  The very fact that He submitted Himself to their actions shows the depth of His love for callous sinners.  Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus did this, “for the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame.”

They mocked, beat, blindfolded, struck, and blasphemed Him that night.  That was some trial that evening, wasn’t it?  So next morning what happens?  Verse 66 says, “As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying.”  The Sanhedrin – and again this is the Jewish Council of 70 leaders.  The term in verse 66, “elders of the people” is a synonym for the Sanhedrin.  They came together and led Jesus into their council.  It was against Jewish Law to convict a man in the evening so here they are now in the morning to continue the case of “God on Trial.”  In this passage . . .

There are things we may learn about Jesus

And things we can learn from Jesus.

I. What We May Learn About Jesus.

We have already seen He is on trial for claiming to be God.  I want you to notice the three titles for Jesus in these verses, all of which mean basically the same thing, that Jesus is God.  Three titles for the same person: He is the Christ, the Son of Man, the Son of God.  First . . .

1) He Is The Christ – Verses 67-68.

“Christ” is not Jesus’ last name.  It is a title.  It occurs some 25 times in Luke’s Gospel.   It is a Greek word that means “Messiah.”  It is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term, “Messiah,” and it means “the Anointed One.”  It is a title.  That is why we often read it in the Bible as “the” Christ.  Like in verse 67: “If you are the Christ, tell us.”

We read in verses 67 and 68 the Jewish leaders ask, “’If You are the Christ, tell us.’  But He said to them, ‘If I tell you, you will by no means believe.  And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go.’”  Jesus is not being evasive here.  He is simply saying, “You guys have already made up your minds not to believe.  I am not going to dignify your question with the answer you seek.”  Of course, He is the Christ.

Luke has made this clear from the very beginning of his Gospel.  

  • Jesus is born and the angel appears to the trembling shepherds and says, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). 
  • Simeon met Jesus in the temple when Jesus was just 8 days old because the Holy Spirit had told him, “He would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26).” 
  • When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter answered, “You are the Christ of God” (Luke 9:20).

Christ is the title for the One who is “of God”

And comes “from God” to be man’s Savior. 

There is another title Jesus takes that refers to His being of God and from God . . .

2) He Is The Son Of Man – Verse 69.

Son of Man is the way Jesus most often refers to Himself.  It is used over 80 times in the Gospels mostly by Jesus referring to Himself.  Rather than saying, “I,” Jesus often said, “the Son of Man.”  In fact, verse 69 is the last time in Luke’s Gospel where He will do this, “Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”  Jesus is referring to Himself as “the Son of Man.” 

This title comes from Daniel, chapter 7.  It is a great title referring to the Messiah, the One who is “of God” and “from God.”  700 years before Christ. Daniel prophesies about the Messiah.  He writes in Daniel 7:13-14, “I was watching in the night visions, behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days [the Heavenly Father], and they brought Him near before Him.  Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.”

This is Jesus!  He is the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy.  He is the Christ, the Son of Man, referred to in Daniel 7. 

The third title is . . .

3) He Is The Son of God – Verses 70-71.

Verse 70 says, “Then they all said, ‘Are You then the Son of God?’  So He said to them, ‘You rightly say that I am.’”  Here is the third title of Jesus that also means He is “of God” and “from God.”  Perhaps it is the most obvious: Son of God.  If there was any doubt that Jesus was more than mere man, more than a Jewish Messiah who was simply human, that incorrect notion is removed here.

They ask Jesus, “Are You then the Son of God?”  Jesus’ answer wisely deflects responsibility back upon His questioners.  He answers by saying, “You rightly say that I am.”  This is so wise.  Mark, in his Gospel, just has Jesus responding, “I am” (Mark 14:62), but Luke gives the added detail here that Jesus deflects responsibility back upon those questioning Him.  He says, “You rightly say that I am.”  In essence, Jesus is saying, “You are using the right title, a title you must believe to be true, a title you will one day give an account before your Creator as to what you did with Me.  You rightly say that I am the Son of God.  What are you going to do now with this knowledge?  Now I am on trial, but one day you will be on trial.  You are using the correct title.  Do you believe it?”  Classic.

Of course, Jesus is the Son of God. 

  • At His baptism the heavens opened and the Father said to Jesus, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22). 
  • At His transfiguration the voice of the Heavenly Father “came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, Hear Him!” (Luke 9:35).

He is the Son of God.  The Jewish leaders were blind to this truth.  But they understood clearly that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God which is why they respond as they do in verse 71, “And they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.’”  Jesus’ reply in the previous verse is understood as an affirmation of His being “of God” and “from God.”  The Jewish leaders had long desired to “catch Jesus” in something He might say (Luke 11:54; Luke 20:20, 26), so now they have got what they wanted.  They are ready now to condemn Him and to kill Him.  And they will kill Him, on the basis of His claiming to be “of God” and “from God.”

This is the doctrine of the Trinity: Jesus is God, the second Person of the Holy Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – three persons joined together in One Divine Being.  One in essence, three in Person.  Other religions wrongly claim Jesus is not God. 

  • The Mormons do not believe Jesus is God the way orthodox Christianity does.  They believe Jesus “became a god.”  They believe Jesus was a created being, the brother of the devil and of all people.  Not the same Jesus of the Bible. 
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses also wrongly believe Jesus was a created being – that He was Micael the archangel who became a man. 
  •  Muslims also wrongly believe Jesus was a created being, a prophet, but not God.

But in the Bible, Jesus Christ is “of God” and “from God.”  Referring to Jesus as “the Word,” the Bible says in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  The name “Immanuel” is the name an angel gives to Jesus when announcing His coming to Joseph (Matthew 1:23), which is a title for the Messiah in Isaiah 7:14.   This is why the Jewish leaders moved to condemn and kill Jesus as verse 71 indicates.  Jesus is the Christ; the Son of Man, and the Son of God. 

That is what we may learn about Jesus. 

II. What We May Learn From Jesus.

There are three things I want to draw from these truths that should have a great impact on our daily lives . . .

1) When Worried, Remember Jesus Is In Charge.

Because He is God, He knows all things.  Nothing happens that takes God by surprise.   We noted that earlier when we talked about whether or not Jesus was surprised by the way He was treated by these temple police.  He knew this was coming.  That is why He told His disciples this would happen.  Remember His “passion predictions?”  Three times He had said, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed, beaten, and delivered over to death, and He will rise on the third day” (see: Luke 9:22, Luke 17:25, and Luke 18:32-33).

He knew this was going to happen because He is God.  He knows the future and He has complete control over all things.  He could have stopped the arrest, the trial, and the crucifixion because He is God.  In John 10:18 He says, “No one takes it [My life] from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”  He could have stopped this whole thing, but He does not because He has come to die.  He has come to save us.  He is not surprised by the events.  He is not worried because He is in charge.

If He is not worried and He is in control of your life then you do not need to worry.   Remember Jesus is in charge.  He is God.  He knows all things and He always does what is right.  He is in control of your situation.

What worries you?  Your family?  Your bill?  Your health?  Will you face anything worse than what Jesus faced?  Mocked, beaten, blindfolded, struck, and blasphemed.  And all of this mysteriously in keeping with God’s perfect plan.   Whatever you are facing now, There is a freedom that comes when you can say, “God is on this.  He is not surprised so I will NOT freak out.  It is going to be okay, because God loves me, He has a plan for me, and He always does what is right.”

When worried, remember Jesus is in charge. 

Here’s something else we can learn from Jesus . . .

2) When Mistreated, Remember Jesus Is Your Example.

Some of you have been hurt by others, assaulted by others, and abused by others.  The Bible says in Hebrews 4:15 that, “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses.”  In Jesus we have someone who knows what it is like to be hurt, assaulted, and abused.  We have a God who knows what we are going through and can sympathize with our hurts.

How did Jesus respond to that mistreatment?  He just “took it,” didn’t He?  Because God is in control and always does what is right, even mistreatment at the hands of others is somehow in keeping with His perfect, sovereign, ways.  The Bible puts it this way in 1 Peter 2:21-23, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

What are we to do you do when people mistreat us?  The Bible says look to Jesus for your example.  He did not return insult for insult but rather, “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”  In other words, Jesus took His mistreatment and turned it over to the sovereign care of the Heavenly Father.  We are to do the same.  When people mistreat you, remember that God is on His throne, and He will judge those who spoke ill of you, mistreated you, or ridiculed you.

When worried, remember Jesus is in charge.  When mistreated, remember Jesus is your example.  Thirdly . . .

3) When Weak, Remember Jesus Is Your Strength. 

Verse 69 is powerful.  After telling the Jewish leaders that He is not going to dignify their question about His being the Messiah with the answer they seek, Jesus makes this powerful statement in verse 69, “Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”  In other words, in just a short while – referring to His death, resurrection, and then ascension to the right hand of the Father – hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”

When weak, remember Jesus is your strength.  He is seated at the right hand of the power of God!  No matter what you face, Jesus is your strength.  He is at the right hand of the power of God, and He will grant you His strength and power to get through it all.

What joy to remember where we are headed when this life is over!  Jesus says, “Hereafter.”  Like Jesus, we may go through difficulties and dangers here, but hereafter we share in the glory of the One who sits at the right hand of the power of God.

Here, we endure hardships; hereafter we enter heaven.

Here, we receive ridicule; hereafter we receive reward.

Here, we suffer death; hereafter we enter into eternal life.

When weak, remember Jesus is your strength.

In this passage Jesus was put on trial.  He is still put on trial today.  People mock Jesus today in secular university, in the media, and in homes across your city.  Every time you complain about God’s way you are prosecuting God.  You are mocking Him and ridiculing Him.  But one day it will be we who are on trial.  You will be on trial.  I will be on trial.  Will you be ready to face Him?

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 22:62-64 – Jesus On Trial

Grace For The Journey

We are studying our way through the Gospel of Luke and our study today begins in verse 62, where Peter was weeping for having denied Jesus.  Jesus has been arrested in the cover of darkness and taken away by the Jewish leaders and Luke continues telling us about what happened to Jesus that evening.    

Our study today is called, “God on Trial.”  That is what is going on here in this passage.  Jesus Christ is on trial for claiming to be more than a man.  Some of you have been lied to and you have been told that Jesus never claimed to be more than a man.  You have been told Jesus never claimed to be God.  Well . . .

  • He was not crucified for being a good person. 
  • He was not crucified for doing good things. 
  • He was not crucified for teaching love, peace, and forgiveness. 

He was crucified for claiming to be God.  In this short passage Luke combines two meetings of the Jewish Sanhedrin Council (Mark 14:53-65; Mark 15:1) and gives us the essence of what happened in that trial.

In verses 63-64 we are told, “Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him.  And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, ‘Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?’”  Note the verbs: they mocked Him, beat Him, blindfolded Him, and struck Him.  These are the “men who held Jesus.”  These are the leaders of the temple police, the guys who are like police officers for the Jewish Sanhedrin, that council of 70 elitist Jews of the Sadducees and Pharisees.  These temple police officers mocked, beat, blindfolded, and struck Jesus.

I think is important to take some time to learn what the Bible teaches about the deeply corrupted state of human nature.  There is much debate today on the question, “Are humans good or evil?”  A simple, straight-forward answer from the Bible to that question is found in Romans 3:10-12, “As it is written, ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God, they have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no not one.” 

English writer G.K. Chesterton, known for his wit as well as his insight, once wrote, “The word ‘good’ has many meanings.  For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.”  His words strike at the heart of a question theologians, philosophers, artists, and many others have debated for millennia: Are people good or evil?  Is man’s nature on the side of the angels or the demons?  Are we beings of light or darkness?  Why do otherwise good people do evil things?”

People are split on the subject.  A few years ago, Debate.org, a website devoted to arguing such questions and polling the public on them, asked, “Is human nature good or evil?”  Their results, which are not scientific, show 49% of respondents answering that it is good and 51% saying that it is evil.

Some Christian churches teach a doctrine of total depravity.  Theopedia defines this doctrine in this way: “. . . as a consequence of the Fall of man, every person born into the world is morally corrupt, enslaved to sin and is, apart from the grace of God, utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to turn to Christ in faith for salvation.”  This belief does not mean that mankind is utterly evil, that is, that people are totally incapable of good.  It means that, while not all of human nature is depraved, all human nature is totally affected by depravity.  Even the goodness that we do, then, is tainted by our sinful nature.  This agrees with God’s description of the tree from which Adam and Eve partook in Genesis 3: It was a tree that allowed them to know good and evil (Genesis 2:17; 3:22).  Human goodness is insufficient to satisfy the righteous requirements of God.

It is somewhat surprising that more people, especially Christians, do not know the basic nature of mankind.  It should be evident from the lives of men and women throughout history.  For Christians, who should know their Bibles, a cursory survey of Scripture brings out many plain statements that show what God thinks of human nature.  No philosophizing or critical thinking, even by the greatest of human minds, will change God’s view into something else.

God Sets The Record Straight

In Genesis 6:5, God Describes The State Of Mankind In Stark Terms.

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  His response was to send the Flood to wipe mankind almost completely from the planet.  He would start again with Noah’s family, his sons, and their wives.

Immediately after the waters receded and the ark was emptied, Noah makes a sacrifice to God for their deliverance.  The Bible tells us in Genesis 8:21, “And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.’”  Did the Flood change anything?  Millions of people died, billions of animals died, uncounted trees and other plants died.  But the human heart did not change; it remains “evil from his youth.”

The Human Heart Did Not Change After God Gave His People The Covenant And His Commandments.

While they were still in the wilderness, God commanded them to wear tassels with a blue thread on their garments.  The tassels were to hang down below any other garment so they would always be in sight.  Why did God require this?  He explains in Numbers 15:39, And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined.”  “Harlotry” here is a metaphor for idolatry.  Their hearts and their eyes were inclined to worship something other than God, just as every other human being is inclined to do.

The Psalms Contain Direct And Unambiguous Statements On What Man’s Nature Is Really Like.  Let’s just look at three . . .

The Bible says in Psalms 14:1-3, (which Paul quotes in Romans 3:10-12), “The fool has said in his heart, ‘(There is) no God.’  They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.  The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God.  They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one.”

We are all corrupt.  No one – “not one” – is good.  The only thing that saves us is the blood of Christ.  The Bible concludes in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  This is just another way of saying that man’s nature is “only evil continually.”

In Psalms 51:5, which appears in David’s prayer of repentance,, is an interesting one.  This verse says, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”   Those who believe in original sin believe that David is saying that he was born a sinful person. However, that is a misinterpretation.  The truth is a bit simpler.  He means that he was born into a sinful world, and even his mother, whom he probably loved more than anyone else other than God, was a sinner.  Put another way, David is saying his mother was a sinner when he was conceived, and when he was born, he was born a sinner too.  Sin and sinful people had surrounded him his whole life.  A baby is born a fairly blank slate, certainly having done no sin, but the influence of one’s sinful nature, other sinners, along with his fleshly nature invariably get the better of him, and before long, he sins.  In his way, David is telling God, “Because I was born with a sinful nature, and with all the sin around me, it is not surprising that I sinned too.”

In the next verse, Psalm 51:6, he declares that God “desires truth in the inward parts.” In other words, God wants people to change their natures, which only He can do, as the last half of the verse explains, And in the hidden parts You will make me to know wisdom.” David is essentially repeating what God said in Genesis 8:21, “, “. . . man’s heart is evil from his youth.”  But he wanted his nature changed from evil to good, from dirty to clean, from lies to truth.  Only repentance and a renewed relationship with God would enable that to occur.  And, truth be told, it will never be completely changed until the resurrection from the dead.

More Old Testament Assertions

Other Old Testament Wisdom And Prophecy Books Concur With The Earlier Statements About Human Nature.  

In fact, the entire Bible speaks with a single voice on the matter.  It is impossible to brush aside the reality of sin and the tendency of all people toward sinfulness, selfishness and self-interest . . .

Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”  What Solomon is saying here may at first not seem to be relevant.  Solomon is telling us that even the deeds we think are right are sinful, for if they were not sinful, they would not end in death.  Death is the result of sin (Romans 6:23).  Even the “good” things that we do without God are ultimately sinful because they arise from a corrupted nature.

In Ecclesiastes 7:20, Solomon makes another statement to back this up, “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.”  Notice that he is speaking of “a just man,” not an evil man or a corrupt man.  The best citizens among us, those we raise to judgeships and listen to in church, have their own sins, and even in their doing of good, they cannot keep out the taint of sin.

The Preacher doubles down in Ecclesiastes 9:3, “This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.”  People’s entire lives are full of sin, evil, madness – and then they die.  Not even good and just men, as others think of them, are truly good and just.  Like all the other “sons of men,” their hearts are full of sin.

Israel 1:4-6 describes Israel at its most corrupt, but it is typical of all mankind – “Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters!  They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward.  Why should you be stricken again?  You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints.  From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores . . .”  God describes Israel as totally cancerous with sin – and Israel was His chosen people!  If the Israelites, to whom God had revealed Himself (Amos 3:2), were this corrupt, how sinful is the rest of the world without God’s revelation?

Of course, we cannot exclude Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Our hearts are unfathomably corrupt and deceptive. Trying to feel good about ourselves, we lie to ourselves about how selfish and self-serving we are.  So, God asks, “Who can know it?”  We do not recognize the depths of our own sinfulness.

Proof From The New Testament

In Matthew 7:11, Jesus does not mince words, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”  He calls the people in His audience – His own disciples (Matthew 5:1) – “evil.”  It cannot be any plainer – right from the mouth of our Savior!

Mark 7:22-23 appears in a passage that many think Jesus spoke only to dispose of the law against eating unclean meats, another misinterpretation.  He was making a far larger point concerning the nature of humanity – “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

So, in the Judgment, we cannot say, “The Devil made me do it” or “The world was so corrupt, I did not have a chance.”  Despite outside influences, each of us makes the choice to sin or not.  Our choices reveal what is in our hearts, and too often we choose these wicked activities and others beside.  We cannot foist the blame onto others because our sins come from within.

The Bible explains the state of individuals before conversion in Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

We were always influenced by Satan, the prince of the power of the air.  We all walked according to the sinful course of the world.  We all fulfilled our lusts.  All of us were children of wrath, that is, we were under judgment because of sin. Our nature is corrupt to the core.

Finally, the Bible says in 1 Peter 4:3, “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles – when we walked in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.”  He could have named a hundred more sins, but the point remains . . .

We were all like the unconverted people in the world.  

We were all cut off from God and living in sin, just like

All the rest of humanity from the time of Adam and Eve.  

There have been no exceptions apart from Jesus Christ.

What Can Be Done?

It is overwhelmingly clear that human nature, fashioned by the influence of Satan, this world, and our innate selfishness, is not good but evil.  God lets us know many times and from many different angles that this is the reality of mankind.  We are sinful creatures. 

What can we do about this state of human nature?  

How should we conduct ourselves, knowing that we

Though God has called us, still have this nature within us?

The Bible gives us the answer in Titus 3:1-7, “Remind [the brethren] to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.  For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.  But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

By the grace of God, we have been given a rare and wonderful opportunity to rise above the rest of humanity.  Through our relationship with Jesus Christ we are now heirs of God, possessors of the hope of eternal life and of the knowledge of God’s purpose.  We are, as Jesus said, to be lights shining in the darkness of this evil age.  The Bible says, it is our responsibility as God’s children in this world to fight the evil human nature within us through God’s power and instead to surrender to God so that we display His nature in all of our actions – toward the world and toward one another – as we prepare for our ultimate work in His Kingdom.

When weak, remember Jesus is your strength.  He is seated at the right hand of the power of God!  No matter what you face, Jesus is your strength.  He is at the right hand of the power of God and He will grant you His strength and power to get through it all.

What joy to remember where we are headed when this life is over!  He says, “Hereafter,” yes, “Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”  Like Jesus, we may go through difficulties and dangers here, but hereafter we share in the glory of the One who sits at the right hand of the power of God.

Here, we endure hardships; hereafter we enter heaven.

Here, we receive ridicule; hereafter we receive reward.

Here, we suffer death; hereafter we enter into eternal life.

When weak, remember Jesus is your strength.

We will conclude our study of the rest of the verses next time.  In this passage Jesus was put on trial.  He is still put on trial today.  People mock Jesus today in secular universities, in the media, and in homes across the world.  Every time you complain about God’s way you are prosecuting God.  You are mocking Him and ridiculing Him.  But one day it will be we who are on trial.  You will be on trial.  I will be on trial.  Will you be ready to face Him?

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 22:54-62 – Courage, Cowardice, and Compassion

Grace For The Journey

Today we will be continuing our study in the Gospel of Luke. We are in chapter 22 beginning with verse 54.  Before we look at the verses we have for today, I want to share with you the stories of two men.  Both men lived around the turn of the twentieth century.  Both were Englishmen.  Both led lives closely tied to the sea.  However, both men were very different.  One man was known as a man of courage and the other will forever be remembered as a coward. 

The story of a man of courage goes likes this: In 1914 Sir Earnest Shackleton made plans to be the first person to conquer one of the last great frontiers.  He determined to be the first person to cross the continent of Antarctica.!  He chose 56 men to accompany him on this adventure – 28 in each of two ships that would approach the continent from opposite sides.  Shackleton and his 27 shipmates (and one stow away) would approach from one side while the other ship would approach from the other side and lay supply depots across the second half of the continent. 

Before the expedition could officially begin Shackleton’s ship The Endurance became trapped in the ice and after 8 long months of being stuck in the ice the ship began to break apart from the pressure and Shackleton gave the order to abandon the ship onto the ice.  After 6 months on the ice Shackleton ordered the men into the small boats that had been salvaged before Endurance sank. They took to the sea and 5 days later landed on an inhospitable rock known as Elephant Island. This was the first time they had stood on solid ground in 497 days!  Later that same month (now April 1916) Shackleton and 4 of his men took to one of the small boats and braved the open and icy ocean to reach South Georgia Island (the closest inhabited land) 800 miles away.  Sixteen days later, after enduring a storm that sank a 500-ton steamer also bound for South Georgia Island, Shackleton and his men landed on the south shore of the Island and after climbing the icy mountain range to the North shore Shackleton reached help for his men.  Shackleton made numerous attempts to reach his men on Elephant Island in the following months and was stopped by Ice until he finally reached his men on the fourth attempt 4 months after leaving them behind. 

One of the aspects of the story of Earnest Shackleton was his dependence on God throughout the entire ordeal.  He made a point of taking his Bible with him when he abandoned ship.  He led his men in the reading of that Bible daily while they were camped on the ice.  He even tore out a few Psalms to keep close to him and read to others when they were forced to abandon all but food and provisions when they boarded the small boats to reach Elephant Island.

Why do I tell you this story?  Because it is a story of courage.  During 3 years of dangerous and hopeless situations, Shackleton never lost courage which allowed him to keep all of his men alive in freezing weather and in the face of sure starvation.

The second story is one of cowardice, the story of J. Bruce Ismay.  Ismay, like Shackleton, was British and lived a life connected to the sea but he was not a sailor or an explorer.  Ismay was a business man – a man of great self-importance.  Upon inheriting his father’s position as the chairman of the White Star Ship Line he commissioned the building of the largest, most luxurious, and most efficient ships ever built.  The second of these ships to hit the open ocean was to become the most famous ship ever, RMS Titanic. 

Ismay often accompanied his new ships on their maiden voyage and Titanic’s first voyage in 1912 was no exception.  As the story goes, Ismay walked the decks of Titanic making it known that he was in charge of the ship and that even the captain answered to him.  It is even rumored that the ship continued its dangerous speed through a known ice field at his command.  One would think a man of such commanding confidence and presence would have been graceful under the pressure of the disaster he had played a part in.  But as it happens Ismay, found himself not standing with the captain as his ship went down but in one of the life boats with his back turned to the ship so he would not have to see his ship go down along with the 1500 people (women and children included) that did not have the good fortune of being in one of the few lifeboats on the ship.

Today we are going to be looking at a passage that tells the story of a man that could be placed in the camps of both Shackleton and Ismay.  We are looking at a man that displayed great courage one moment and great cowardice the next.  Yet, we are also looking at a man that learned a valuable lesson that stayed with him throughout the rest of his life.  A lesson on courage, cowardice, and compassion.

Before we jump into the text let’s remember where we were last week.  Last week we watched as Jesus was betrayed and arrested. We watched as everyone around Jesus betrayed Him through sin and we saw how our sin makes us guilty of the same betrayal. But remember the setting.  It was night.  A band of soldiers had come to arrest Jesus and Peter (even though we know it was misguided) made a courageous effort to protect Jesus from being arrested.  Remember how he drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of those there to assist with Jesus’ arrest?

Even though it was not what Jesus had in mind and He had to fix the mess Peter made, Peter showed what I would say was pretty impressive courage as he wielded one of the two swords the disciples had in the face of a full detachment of the temple guard.

That brings us to the beginning of our passage today and to our first point . . .

I. Believers Can Be Courageous.

Verses 54-55 tells us, “Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house.  But Peter followed at a distance. Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.”  It says “having arrested Him” – that is Jesus.  They brought Jesus into the house of the high priest.  This mob of people that were not fans of Jesus arrest Him and then lead Him to the place where those who are most threatened by Him and those who want to get rid of Him live. They take him into the proverbial “lion’s den.”

Look what it says about Peter.  It says, “Peter followed at a distance.”  Some of us might be tempted to throw a stone or two at Peter even at this point and say something like, “why was he following at a distance?” “Why wasn’t he right beside Jesus, after all he said he was willing to die with Him?”  But I do not think I would throw that stone.  Why?  Because my question is “Where are the rest of the disciples? Where are the rest of the people who just a couple of days earlier had been cheering Christ on as he entered Jerusalem?”  When Jesus was arrested they had run for the hills.  Maybe some of them were already back in the upper room where Jesus would find them hiding after His resurrection.

I think it was pretty courageous of Peter to be one of only two disciples that stayed even within sight of Jesus.  I think it took even greater courage when he saw that they were taking Jesus into the house of the high priest that he went in and actually sat down among those who had just arrested Jesus.  Think about it, he was a follower of the one who was arrested sitting in the middle of those who had done the arresting. I think that showed some real backbone.

Why do you think he was able to have such courage?  I think he had some good godly reasons and I think he had some very human reasons . . .

  • He Was Drawn By His Own Curious, Need To Know Nature.

We know Peter was never one to be quiet or to do well with being in the dark on a subject.  This would be one of the reasons that he stumbled in his thinking and actions many times.

  • He Had Been Emboldened By Jesus Himself.

Jesus was in command of the situation when He was arrested.  He rebuked everyone for their betrayal (including Peter).  He had said that this arrest must be permitted, and according to John’s Gospel even those who were there to do the arresting fell down before Jesus at one point. 

  • He Had Witnessed Jesus Perform Yet Another Miracle.  

He had healed the servant of the high priest whose ear Peter had cut off.  Peter was no doubt strengthened in his courage because of the strength of the one he followed.

I think we too can have courage for these reasons as well.  We can have courage in the face of difficulty, ridicule, sickness, uncertainty, and fear if we remember the power and control of the One we serve. If we will remember that nothing will happen to us that is outside the power, knowledge and plan of God we will have the courage to face any hardship and the courage to follow Him even when it may be a little scary or difficult to do so.  If we stay close to Him we can be counted in the camp of the courageous.  However, we are human, we are fallen, and we are sinners as Peter was. Which means we can easily go from the camp of the courageous into the camp of the cowards.

We can see from the Scripture that not only can believers be courageous but . . .

II. Believers Can Be Cowards.

This is a very important thing for us to remember and I think the Bible bears that out.  I believe that is why all four of the Gospels relate to us the account of Peter’s denials.  The reason we need to be aware of our own cowardice as believers is because until we face our weaknesses, fears, and sins we cannot come to Christ for His grace, forgiveness, strength, compassion, and grace.

In verses 56-60 we see Peter’s cowardice and see what message it might have for us, “And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, ‘This man was also with Him.  But he denied Him, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know Him.’  Why do you think Peter suddenly went from courageous to cowardly?  Why do you think he suddenly denied Jesus when this servant girl confronted him?  Do you think maybe because it was the easy thing to do?  Don’t we often fall into sin and even denial of Christ because it is the easy way out?  Think about it.  Here is this lowly servant girl asking him about himself, what is it going to hurt to just tell her a little lie just to get her off his back.  I mean after all she is really just a nobody.  He will probably never see her again after this night.  What is the harm?

The harm is that it is not what

He was called to do as

A follower of Christ.

He was expected to follow Christ’s example.  He was expected to do his best to bring glory to the Lord.  Telling a lie about himself is not the way to do that.  What is worse, denying in his lie that he even knows Christ is not the way to do that. 

I know that none of us are likely to go that far, or at least I hope we would not, but in a sense, we deny Christ every time we do something in front of others that would make them wonder if we indeed follow Christ as we say we do. 

  • Every time we lose our temper.
  • Every time we are unkind.
  • Every time we speak in a way to tear someone else down.  

We deny Christ because it is the easy thing to do.  It is much more difficult and takes much more courage to keep our cool when we want to fly off the handle in anger.  It is much more difficult and takes much more courage to be kind when we are tempted to treat someone the way we may feel they deserve.  Or maybe we go along with the ways of the world because it is easier than standing up for our beliefs.  Oftentimes we lament how much more worldly things are today than they were a few years ago.  TV is increasingly more vulgar and violent.  School and athletic organizations are increasingly callous toward those who would prefer to be at church on Sunday’s and Wednesdays.  But do we do anything other than complain?  No, we simply take the easy way out and do as everyone else and continue watching TV and allowing our schedules to be planned away from church without ever speaking up.  t takes courage to do things that are not easy. 

Peter also denied Christ and was a coward because he was afraid.  Verse 58 tells us, “And after a little while another saw him and said, ‘You also are of them.’  But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’  Peter’s simple denial had not worked.  The easy way out had not removed the suspicion that surrounded him.  The rumor was spreading that one of Jesus’ followers was among them and another individual persists in accusing Peter.  At this point Peter is starting to fear for his own safety, so having already denied knowing Christ he now denies even who he is.  He says he is not one of Christ’s followers so he will not have to answer any questions or put himself on the line. 

Do we ever deny Christ out of fear?  Maybe not with words the way Peter did but perhaps without actions.  Have you ever been in the presence of someone whom you knew was not a Christian and fearfully chose not to share Christ with them?  Maybe you were afraid they would be angry with you.  Maybe you were afraid they would reject you.  Maybe you were afraid that they might ask a question you could not answer.  Maybe you were afraid you would just make things worse and drive them further from Christ.  Whatever the fear, it drove you to deny who you are by keeping silent about the one you serve.  Taking the easy way out is the way of the coward, fear can rob us of our courage and so can frustration.

Look at verses 59-60, “Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, ‘Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are saying!’  Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.”  This time someone confidently pointed to him as one who followed Jesus.  They even gave supporting evidence to give validity to their accusation.  John, in his Gospel, even says it is a family member of the one whose ear Peter cut off.  Look how Peter responds, “I do not know what you are saying!” with the implication that the man does not know what he is talking about either.  In Matthew the Bible even tells us that Peter began to curse and swear with an oath that he was not a follower of Jesus.  As the night wore on Peter’s nerves were tested.  He became increasingly anxious and now in his great frustration because he has not been able to get them to leave him alone, he explodes.

Does frustration ever cause us to explode and become cowards?  Absolutely.  When we are frustrated. we become cowardly dads and husbands that yell at or belittle our families rather than leading them in the way God has called us to do.  Rather than teaching our children to obey and patiently guiding them we ignore them until we cannot ignore any longer and then like a coward explode on those we should be loving.  When you become frustrated moms and wives you may be tempted to go silent and be inwardly angry instead of courageously encouraging you husband to lead or teaching your children by example to honor God.

Frustration is a cowardly denial

Of the power of Christ in our lives.

It will rob us of our courage every time.  It quickly causes us to feel as if we have not only hurt those around us but it will also quickly cause us to see that we have ceased to rely on God for strength and courage.  This is where Peter finds himself.  As soon as he has exhausted himself in his cursing and frustration and denied Jesus for the third time he hears the rooster crow.  At this he remembers what Jesus had said to him less than 24 hours earlier, “You will deny Me three times before the rooster crows.”

We might ask why he didn’t remember this during the night when he was denying he even knew Jesus.  The answer could be any number of things: fear, excitement, adrenaline, fatigue.  But it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that he went from courageous to cowardly and recognized it.  The good news is, that this is not where we end with Peter.  He does not stay forever in the camp of the cowardly.  Why?  

Because . . .

III. Believers Receive Compassion.

We receive the compassion and grace of Christ and His forgiveness!  Verse 61 says, “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.  Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’” It says Jesus turned and looked at Peter.  Folks, this was not a look of I told you so. This was not a look of anger. This was not a look of disappointment. It was a look that said “Peter, I knew you would deny Me and still I love you and I forgive you.” It was only this kind of look that could have caused Peter to react the way he did.  We see that in verse 62, “So Peter went out and wept bitterly.”

Peter did not feel he had been reprimanded, he did not feel he had been rejected, he did not feel he had been accused.  He felt like he had received a look of love and compassion when he did not deserve it.  He experienced the grace of God.  He was given love and forgiveness that he had not earned.  And it caused him to weep bitterly.

It caused him to draw closer to the God and Savior he loved and served.  It caused him to enter back into the camp of the courageous where he ran to the tomb of Jesus, where he listened to his risen Savior, where he spoke boldly of Jesus when he was threatened not to do so, where he even died a martyr’s death, as he from that day forward courageously served the Lord.

That is the kind of change we should long for . . .

That is the kind of encounter we should long for . . .

The compassion and grace from the Lord that brings confession and courage in our hearts and lives. A courage that causes us to say Jesus and the grace He gives is worth any difficult or dangerous thing that comes our way.

The compassion of Christ is something that we should value in such a way that we would have the courage of Krishna Pal.  Pal was one of the first four Hindu Bengalis that William Carey led to the Lord after 7 years of mission work in Burma.  Krishna Pal, his wife, his sister-in-law, and a friend were to be baptized but were threatened numerous times by other villagers.  After the threats, only Pal was willing to follow through with his baptism because he believed their threats, bribes, and false gods were “a trifling in comparison to the riches of Christ and his grace.” 

That is the courage we should strive for.  But we should take heart in Peter.  Knowing that if we have failed or should we fail in our courage for Christ in the future He will look upon us with His compassion and grace.  And that will cause us to regain our courage in Him and follow faithfully in His strength.

So this today, if you find yourself in need of His compassion.  If you find yourself in the cowardly camp of denial, fear, or frustration reach out to Jesus.  Receive his compassion, weep bitterly at your failure, and stand tall and courageous in His grace and forgiveness.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”