Is Jesus Ashamed of Me? (Luke 22:54-62)
Years ago, Dad worked for the Coca-Cola Company in quality control, and every summer there was a picnic for the entire plant where Dad worked. We three boys loved the Coca-Cola picnic, for we would play games and we’d win prizes — one year I won a camera that was in the shape of a Coca-Cola can (it used 110 film, if you remember that). One year, the company had pony rides set up. The stipulation was that you had to wear a hat in order to ride. My brother Aaron went on ahead of me and got on a pony. Aaron didn’t need to put a hat on–he had worn a cowboy hat of some type, and he was allowed to ride the pony with the hat he was wearing.
I had a ball cap on (probably for the Cincinnati Reds), and that ball cap was not acceptable — I had to wear a hat that was provided. Justin couldn’t understand why he had to change hats and his brother didn’t. I threw an absolutely ungodly fit — I was not permitted to ride the ponies and I’m sure I rode home with a quite sore rear end.
I don’t remember if it’s when Mom and Dad came up back in October or some other time over the past few months, but the subject of those ponies came up (I had hoped Mom and Dad had forgotten that). Dad looked at me and said, “I was never more embarrassed in all my life.” I was probably no more than an immature 12- or 13-year-old at the time, but Dad’s words still stung.
Have you ever made someone ashamed? When you were still living at home, did you ever mess up in such a public way that your parents said they were ashamed of you? Have you ever lost your temper in public and had your spouse to say, “I’m ashamed of you”? Did you ever mess up at work so severely that a supervisor said, “I’m ashamed of you”?
In this morning’s text, Jesus is ashamed of Peter. Peter warms himself at the fire inside the courtyard at the high priest’s house. Peter had declared that if he had to die for Jesus he would never deny the Lord. Of course, while Peter warms himself at the fire, he lies and denies knowing the Lord.
One of the most haunting verses in all of Scripture, in my opinion, is verse 61: “The Lord turned and looked at Peter.” When I think about that look on Jesus’ face, I can’t help but be haunted. Can you imagine what that look must have been? Can you imagine the embarrassment, the shame, and the terror that went through Peter’s heart?
But absolutely the most haunting thought of all is this: If Jesus were to give me a “look,” what would I see? Would I see delight in that face because I had honored Him? Or, would He be ashamed of me? Does the Lord Jesus have reason this morning to be ashamed of you?
Let’s think about an important truth: “Sinful living makes the Lord ashamed.” That should obviously be something we do not wish to occur. We’ll think about how we can keep from making our Lord ashamed.
Scripture (Luke 22:54-62)
Jesus was taken to the high priest’s house. This house was likely a palace where Caiaphas lived. This is where the Sanhedrin would have met; therefore, this would be the Jewish trial for Jesus. Peter followed at a distance. Peter messes up in a big way in this text; however, we must admire his courage. At least, Peter went with Jesus. John also followed Jesus, and it’s only because John knew the high priest that he and Peter were able to get inside (Jn 18:15-18). The other disciples apparently did not follow Jesus at all. Jesus, quoting Zechariah, had said: “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered'” (Matt 26:31). Peter and John will fall in different ways than the others, but at least they showed up.
They made a fire and warmed themselves by it. This would have been in the spring of the year. It would get chilly of an evening.
Peter is questioned three times, and each time he denies knowing Jesus.
- A servant girl asked first. Servants of the aristocracy — e.g., the high priest — had greater freedoms than free people on many occasions. It’s very possible that this slave girl had seen Peter with Jesus over the past few days.
- A man asked Peter next; Peter still denied he knew Jesus.
- The third time a man claims that Peter was a Galilean. Galileans had a vastly different dialect than those in Judea. You can tell what part of the country people come from simply by hearing them talk. When my wife talks, you see why people never accuse her of being a New Yorker. But, Peter still denied knowing the Lord.
There are a couple issues from this text concerning what Peter did.
- Peter lied. You know that’s a problem. Lying makes us a child of the devil (Jn 8:44). “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev 21:8). We cannot be a people who lie.
- Peter stuck with his lie. This passage makes clear that there is time between Peter’s lies. Verse 59: “After about an hour had passed.” Surely in that period of time Peter could have found a little bit of a backbone and not have lied again. Yet, Peter found no backbone and persisted in his sin.
A rooster crowed in fulfillment of what Jesus said would take place.
“The Lord turned and looked at Peter.” We have no idea where Jesus was and how this took place — Jesus may have been on trial close by, Jesus may have been being led from place to place and happened to walk by. I don’t know what all Jesus’ face showed, but I have absolutely no doubt that a large part was shame; Jesus was ashamed of Peter.
Why would I say that Jesus was ashamed of Peter? “Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Lk 9:26). If you read the context of Luke 9:23-26, you’ll find that Jesus is talking about following Him even to death. Jesus speaks of taking up our cross and following Him. We use the expression “a cross to bear” to mean some struggle. That’s not at all what we would have thought if we saw people carrying their crosses up Golgotha to die on them.
Jesus speaks of losing our lives for His sake. Self-denial is certainly there (not every first century Christian was martyred). Yet, for the disciples and all early Christians, losing one’s life was often very literal. Why do you think Peter denied the Lord? His whole motivation was to keep himself out of trouble. Jesus says that He’s ashamed of one who lives like that!
Peter remembered that the Lord had prophesied that the rooster would crow after Peter had denied Jesus.
Peter went out and wept bitterly. Maybe if we would go out and weep bitterly because of our sins, there would be far less sin in our lives.
“Sinful living makes the Lord ashamed.” I pray, therefore, our attitude is that we want to do everything in our power to keep the Lord who died for us to be ashamed of us. Do we really have any idea at how grieved God is when we sin? When God saw the wickedness in Noah’s day, “the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (Gen 6:6). “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). My actions can grieve the Holy Spirit (Why else would Paul encourage us not to grieve Him?). Why would I want to grieve my God?
How can we keep from making the Lord ashamed? Peter had an opportunity to rise above his situation and honor the Lord; that becomes extremely clear as you go back and think about the hours immediately preceding Peter’s denial. Let’s think about those hours and see how we can keep from shaming our Lord
Watch your Attitude.
Jesus told Peter that Satan wanted to sift Peter as wheat, and that Peter should strengthen his brethren when he is restored (Lk 22:31-32). Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death” (Lk 22:33). When confronted with the truth of what he would do, Peter said, “There is absolutely no way that I’d commit that sin.”
When we have an attitude that says, “I’ll never commit that sin,” we’re in trouble, for we remove our spiritual armor guarding that spot and Satan has easy access. “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18). “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12).How do we take heed lest we fall?
Remember how deceptive your heart is.”
The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jer 17:9). If your heart tells you it will never crave a certain sin, remember that you cannot trust your heart.
Remember that you are sinful.
No one–save the Lord Jesus Himself–has been able to live a life without sin. Solomon at the dedication of the Temple: “When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin). . . .” (1 Ki 8:46). Notice that Solomon says, “When” and not “If.” Everyone sins. “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom 3:10).In Scripture even those who desperately sought to do right sinned. David, a man after God’s own heart, committed adultery and murder. Solomon, a king God blessed so richly, allowed his foreign wives and concubines to turn his heart away from the Lord. Judas, chosen to be a disciple of Jesus, conspired to kill the Lord.
Remember to exercise spiritual virtues (2 Pet 1:5-11).
“Be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble” (2 Pet 1:10). You want to keep from falling in a major way? Add Christian virtues to your life. Adding those virtues will keep Jesus from being ashamed of you. Where do you need to start?
Watch your Authority (i.e., the Word of God).
Jesus had told Peter what was going to happen. “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me” (Lk 22:34). That was the word of God for Peter. What if Peter had taken those words to heart and not sinned against the Lord? You might say, “But, Justin, that’s the way it had to be because Jesus said that Peter would deny Him.” You might be right, but there are so many conditional statements in Scripture. For example, God sent word to Hezekiah that they king would not recover, but after Hezekiah prayed, God added fifteen years to his life. What if Peter had taken Jesus’ words to heart? How might things have been different around that fire?
If we’re to keep from stumbling, we need to know the Word of God. “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!” (Ps 119:11). “All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). Spending serious time watching your authority will keep Jesus from being ashamed of you.
Watch your Appeal (i.e., your prayer life).
Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with Him into the Garden. Jesus leaves them to pray and He goes off by Himself to pray earnestly. Before leaving His disciples, He tells them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Lk 22:40).
If Peter had listened to the Lord and prayed, he might never have denied Jesus. If we’re going to be serious about sin, we need to pray that we do not enter into temptation. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He teaches them to pray thus: “Do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one” (Matt 6:13). When is the last time you prayed that prayer? What might happen in your life if you prayed that prayer with all the strength you have? Pray daily that you not be led into temptation!
Do you need to come so that we might pray for you?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Dale Ridge church of Christ in Roanoke, Virginia.