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Weeping May Last through the Night”

Luke 22:54-62.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on March 13, 2016.

Today we will look at a very dark time in the life of our Lord Jesus.  It is the middle of the night and he has been arrested.  Jesus described it as the hour of the power of darkness.  Of course, he was referring to more than just the natural darkness.  But, rather, he refers to the spiritual powers that had blinded the leaders of Israel and used them to accomplish an evil end.  Even as the day will later dawn so the events will continue to spiral into ever darker and darker deeds, until the Lord of glory lies dead in a tomb of stone.

Night time has always had a powerful hold on the mind of men.  It reminds us of our limitations and ignorance, and enhances our fears.  It is no coincidence then that it should become a metaphor for how our soul feels when it enters into difficult and “dark” times.  Elie Wiesel, in his small book describing his plight in the concentration camps of Hitler, simply entitles it, “Night.”  He powerfully describes the darkness as the realization of being abandoned by men and by God.  Of course later he would declare that humans must never give in to hopelessness in such times.  And so I pull a phrase from Psalm 30:5 to make the title of this sermon.  This verse reminds us that, no matter how dark the night and how real the abandonment, the night will end and the day will surely dawn.  “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  Let us learn from our Lord to embrace the dawn that is promised from God himself, in spite of the nights we experience on this earthly plane.

Peter Denies Christ

In verses 54-62 we find the disciple Peter denying Christ.  In this context to deny someone is to refuse to publicly associate with them, and to refuse to speak up on their behalf.  Hours earlier, when Jesus had warned Peter that he would do such a thing, Peter had vehemently rejected the Lord’s claim.  He insisted that he would stand by Christ even if he had to die with him.  So how could this happen when Peter so strongly desired to stand with Jesus?

Well we can begin with the phrase that says Peter “followed at a distance.”  When troubled and darkened times hit us, we are often not prepared.  Our flesh too easily slips into actions of self-preservation.  Sure, Peter still loved Jesus and was even concerned enough about what would happen to Jesus that he keeps his attention fixed upon Jesus.  Yet, at the same time he keeps enough distance between him and Jesus in order to remain safe.  We must understand that we cannot “remain safe” and be a disciple of Jesus.  We cannot “follow at a distance,” and truly be a follower of Jesus.  Such is our temptation during this time in our own society.  Do I follow Christ at a distance?  Am I attempting to protect myself from any negative fall-out that may attach itself to him?

Thus Peter ends up in the courtyard of the high priest, warming himself at the servants’ fire, and hoping to see what will happen to Jesus.  It is here that the infamous three denials will occur.  It is a young, female servant that first accuses him of being one of the disciples of Jesus.  Here Peter responds by denying that he knows Jesus.  Of course this is a lie.  Peter had basically lived with Jesus for about three years.  He knew Jesus quite well.  They had spent countless hours through all manner of ordeals.  Peter had seen Jesus do amazing miracles of healing and casting out demons.  He also saw the transfiguration of Jesus when his divine glory was allowed to shine through unveiled.  This denial is sad because the whole purpose of what Christ was doing was so that we could know Him and experience the love that the Father has for us.

But it doesn’t stop there.  Peter is challenged again by another that he is “one of them.”  Essentially Peter denies that he is one of the followers of Jesus.  So he is not only publicly separating himself from Jesus, but also his followers.  It is important to understand that we belong to a family of disciples.  We are to love each other in the same way that Jesus loved us.  To distance ourselves from each other is to distance ourselves from Jesus.  The two are intertwined.

A third time Peter is challenged.  Here he gives what we would call the categorical denial, “Man, I do not know what you are saying,” (i.e. what you are talking about).  There is no way in which you can connect me to this man.  This world is not content to leave well enough alone.  You will be challenged over and over again, until you either own up to your connection to Jesus, or you completely deny and separate yourself from him and his followers.

Immediately a rooster crows and Peter is reminded of the Lord’s words only hours earlier.  This is the time of Peter’s “sifting.”  Just as Jesus had described, Peter has failed because, even though his spirit was willing, his flesh was weak.  Luke records a significant detail.  Jesus is being questioned and abused somewhere close enough to the courtyard (if not in it) that he can make eye contact with Jesus.  Thus we have the rooster crowing and then Jesus looking Peter in the eye.  What a sad moment in the life of Peter.  He not only is faced with his failure, he suffers the further humiliation of the Lord looking right at him as he did it.  What kind of look do you think it was?  We are not really told.  Perhaps it was a “do you believe me now” questioning look.  Maybe it was simply a lonely look of one who is all alone.  Perhaps it was a tender look out of his desire to save Peter and all mankind.  I doubt it was a scowl of hatred.  Jesus knew what Peter would do and had told him to strengthen his brothers after he had repented and returned back to Christ.  Peter comes face to face with the cold, hard reality that he cannot do what he wants to do, what he needs to do, what is simply right.  Yet, Jesus would walk this dark night alone and abandoned by all men- and to a degree even by the Father Himself.

The bitter weeping of Peter is the sorrow that we experience when we discover our own futility.  We dare not attempt to avoid such moments.  They are a critical and necessary component to our salvation.   Unless we come to a place where we are made to face our inability to be righteous, we will never understand the depths of what Jesus has done for us.  In this moment our sorrow will either swallow us up destroying our faith, or it can bring us to repentance and surrender to the Spirit.  Have you had such a moment?  Do you understand that your salvation and place of acceptance in Christ is not based upon how well you have performed, but simply upon your faith in him?  Even when our faith fails to help us do the right thing, that does not mean it is completely gone.  Jesus is the true and righteous judge.  He knows when we are repentant of our sin and when we are rebelliously holding onto it.  Though weeping may last through the dark night of our soul, there is a morning that God has promised to all who will let go of themselves and embrace Him in simple faith.

weeping audio