Forgiveness

Peter’s Denial- Mark 14:27-16:20, Luke 22:31-24:12

Theme: Forgiveness

Bible Verse: I John 1:9-“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Introduction:

          Has your friend ever done something to hurt your feelings?

          Today we’re going to have a story about how one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, did something that really hurt Jesus.

Bible Story:

          Peter didn’t like what was happening. Not one bit. It had started out as a nice supper with the twelve disciples all seated around Jesus in an upper room, and it ended with Jesus saying that He would die soon, and one of them would betray Him.

          Not me! Peter thought. I will stick by the Lord forever. I would never do anything to hurt Jesus.

          Now, as they followed Jesus along the dark road to the Mount of Olives, Peter was worried that something bad was going to happen soon.

          Peter didn’t want anything bad to happen. He wanted things to go on just as they had—with the twelve disciples following Jesus, watching Him do miracles, watching Him teach the people. Peter knew that Jesus was the Son of God, and he loved being in the inner circle of His friends.

          What Jesus said next shocked Peter.

          “All of you will run away, because it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'”

          “No!” Peter declared. “Even if everyone else runs away, I will not. Never!”

          “Oh, Peter,” Jesus said sadly. “You will. In fact, tonight before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”

          “I will not. I would never do that to you.”

          “Neither would I,” the other disciples said.

          As they walked toward the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter was really upset. Why would Jesus say he would deny Him? He would never pretend he didn’t know Jesus. He would follow Him to prison if he had to. He would even die for Jesus.

          When they arrived in the garden, Jesus told His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” But He took Peter, James, and John with Him deeper into the garden.

          See, Jesus knows I love Him more than the others, Peter thought.

          Jesus looked troubled.

          “What’s wrong?” Peter asked.

          “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here, stay awake, and keep watch.” Jesus went off to a corner to pray.

          Keep watch? Peter thought. Keep watch for what? This was a quiet, peaceful garden. What danger could there possibly be? A wild animal? Peter touched his sword. He was ready to attack whatever might hurt Jesus.

          But nothing happened. Jesus prayed a long time. Peter grew sleepy because it was late. With his hand on his sword, Peter kept reminding himself, Keep watch.

          But his eyelids grew heavier and heavier… and he fell asleep. The next thing he knew, Jesus stood over him saying, “Peter, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you stay awake one hour? Stay awake and pray so that you will not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

          Peter looked up at Him through bleary eyes, struggling to wake up. “Lord, I’m sorry. I will keep watch. You can count on me.”

          Jesus went away and prayed again, and Peter forced his eyes to stay open. But when he saw James and John had fallen asleep again, his own eyes grew heavier and heavier. He could not stay awake.

          When Jesus came back and found them sleeping a second time, Peter had nothing to say. He had failed the Lord again. Why couldn’t he stay awake?

          But when Jesus went away to pray again, it didn’t take Peter long to fall asleep.

          The third time Jesus woke them up, Jesus said, “Are you still sleeping? Enough! The time has come. Look, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, and let’s go! My betrayer is near.”

          Peter felt as if he had awakened into a nightmare. The quiet, peaceful garden was now a madhouse of shouting men with swords and clubs and flaming torches. Peter jumped to his feet, his hand on his sword, ready to protect Jesus from danger.

          A man Peter knew stepped forward. It was Judas, one of the twelve disciples. “Rabbi,” he said as he kissed Jesus. His kiss was the signal for the guards to arrest Jesus. Immediately, the men in the crowd grabbed Jesus.

          Peter flew into action. He raised his sword and brought it down on the nearest man, a servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

          “No more of this,” Jesus said. He touched the man’s ear and healed it.

          The mob seized Jesus and led him away.

          “N-n-ooo!” Peter cried.

          Jesus’ disciples fled in all directions. They didn’t want to be arrested too.

          Peter didn’t know where the other disciples had gone, but he needed to know where they were taking Jesus.

          So, he followed at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. Jesus was taken inside to be questioned, but Peter stayed outside, joining the men warming themselves around a fire.

          He didn’t talk and laugh with them. All he could think about was Jesus. What were they doing to him? What could they possibly accuse Him of? Jesus had never done anything wrong. He had spent His whole life being loving and kind and helping people. This was crazy. Surely He would be released soon and life would go on as normal.

          A servant girl brought out a tray of food. She looked directly at Peter. “You.” She pointed. “You were with that Nazarene, Jesus.”

          “Woman, I don’t know Him,” Peter said.  He quickly slipped into the shadows of the porch. He was so upset that he didn’t even hear the rooster crow.

          A little later someone else spotted him and said, “You’re one of them too.”

          “I am not!” Peter cried.  

          About an hour later, someone else said, “I think you are one of them for you are a Galilean.”

          “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Peter said.

          Immediately another rooster crowed.

          Just then Jesus was led by in chains, looking battered and beaten, cut and bruised. He looked straight at Peter, and Peter suddenly remembered that Jesus had said, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”

          No! I denied Jesus three times just like He said I would. How could I do that to my dearest friend, the one I love more than anyone?

          And he ran away, weeping bitterly as if his heart would break.

          Later that same day, Jesus was killed because He claimed to be the Son of God. He was nailed to a cross by the Roman soldiers, even though He had done nothing wrong. The sign above told what His crime was. It simply said, “The King of the Jews.”

Jesus could have asked for angels to rescue Him, but He didn’t, because it was God’s plan for Him to die. For when He died, His blood was shed as a sacrifice for your sin. Even if you were the only one alive, Jesus would have died for you. (Give the plan of salvation and an invitation.)

Application:

          Do you think Jesus still loved Peter after Peter denied him three times?

          Of course. Just because we sin, Jesus doesn’t quit loving us.

How do we know Jesus still loved Peter? Three days after Jesus died, He rose from the dead. Three women coming to the tomb to bring spices for His body were met by an angel in a long white robe who said in Mark 16:6-7, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been resurrected! He is not here! See the place where they put Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter.”

          Why did the angel say, “And Peter?” I think it’s because Jesus wanted Peter to know that He still loved him after he had denied Him three times. He wanted Peter to know that He had forgiven him.

          You and I are so much like Peter. We sin. We do wrong things. We let Jesus down. But when we tell Jesus we’re sorry, He forgives our sins. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

          When you sin, Jesus doesn’t come out of your heart and Jesus doesn’t stop loving you. But you won’t feel as close to Jesus until you ask Him to forgive you. And He always will.

Have your friends ever done something to hurt your feelings? What do you do back? Something mean to hurt their feelings? Be mad at them and never speak to them again for the rest of your life? What do you think Jesus wants you to do?

          Forgive them, and keep on being friends.

          Forgiveness is really hard. It’s not something we’re good at. But since Jesus has forgiven ALL our sin, He wants us to follow His example and forgive others.

          If we don’t forgive, we become bitter and angry, and we end up hurting ourselves more than anyone.

          How do you forgive someone?

  • If someone says, “I’m sorry,” you can say, “That’s okay. I forgive you.”
  • What if someone does something mean to you and never asks for your forgiveness? You forgive them anyway in your heart and be really nice to them. Go out of your way to do something nice for them.
  • What if you are the one to do something mean? What should you do? Tell them you’re sorry. Ask that person to forgive you.

Can you think of someone who has been mean to you? Let’s bow our heads. Pray that God would help you forgive them.

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Beth Livingston

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