Luke 22:21-34


“But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.  And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined:  but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!  And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.  And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.  And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.  But ye shall not be so:  but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.  For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth?  is not he that sitteth at meat?  but I am among you as he that serveth.  Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.  And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  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.”


“‘We settle our hearts as we continue.  We thank you for your Word, Lord, in these days of such tremendous change [and those changes are occurring more rapidly and profoundly now in 2013 than they ever did in 1996-98].  And Father what a privilege we’ve had to be here week after week after week after week, and year after year, and so many of the things, Father, we’ve seen, Lord, going on around the world, and not interrupted Lord this privilege you’ve granted to us, and Father, as we have opportunity, to gather publicly and to sing your praises and to study your Word, to laugh together and cry together and to grow together.  As we have this opportunity Lord, we ask you to be in our midst.  We pray for those here this evening struggling with physical infirmity, Father, that so desperately need your touch, Lord, the power to bring about healing and changes beyond any of us, Lord.  So we lift our hearts and look to you, Lord, never knowing when you might be gracious, as David says, and touch and raise up and heal.  And Lord we pray for those here this evening struggling in their hearts Lord, with a particular issue that has weighed them down, and how many Lord, men and women you depict throughout the Scripture whose hearts are burdened, and cry out Lord, and feel all of your billows are going over them.  And Lord, as individuals, you know each of us.  Lord you know those places in our own hearts where we never seem to make progress, we press forward, we so desperately want to see change.  We, Father, sometimes it seems we have glimmers, Lord, of your glory and of your power and of your light, and then so often we’re left facing ourselves and our frailty once again.  And yet Lord we offer ourselves living sacrifices, afresh, looking again to your grace and your love, your power, Lord, for a fresh outpouring of your Holy Spirit.  Be with us as we continue, Lord, through Luke’s Gospel, speak to our hearts, we pray, in Jesus name, amen.’


Apostle’s Main Concern, ‘Who Is The Greatest?’  Jesus Tells Them Who the Greatest Is


Luke chapter 22, we left off in verses 19 and 20 is where we ended.  “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave it unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you:  this do in remembrance of me.  Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament [new covenant] in my blood, which is shed for you.”  And then he adds this, “But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.  And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined:  but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!” (verses 21-22)  And I imagine all the guys took their hands off the table, put them underneath, when he said that.  “And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.” (verse 23)  You know, it’s interesting, Matthew tells us “Is it I? is it I?…”  You know, they knew themselves, they didn’t all look at Judas and say ‘We knew the time would come.’  Because that wasn’t distinguished outwardly.  Jesus knew.  When he said ‘One of you is going to betray me,’ they all began to enquire which one of us it is, and some of them saying ‘It’s not me, is it?’ because they knew themselves, ‘Is it I, is it I?  ‘Well I’ll tell you this, the one who is going to do it, his hand is with me on the table.’  And I could just imagine them all going like this [quickly removing their hands from the table],  How they knew themselves.  ‘Is it me, is it me?’  Now look at verse 24, isn’t it an interesting contrast?  “And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.”  Now isn’t this like us?  You know, one minute Jesus is saying ‘You know, one of you is going to betray me.’  And they’re saying ‘It’s not me, is it?  It’s not me, is it?’ kind of looking at each other.  And then five seconds later then and we can be arguing with somebody else about whose the greatest.  You know, one minute we’re worried whether we’re the betrayer, and the next minute we’re worried whether we’re the greatest in the Kingdom.  And I find that we have that ability just to, like a rollercoaster, go from the high where the Lord loves me, we’re so filled with his grace and assurance, and we’re having such a great time, and then we blow it or face our own frailty or our own imperfection or something, and we’re way down thinking ‘I’ve committed the unpardonable sin, I know it,’ and we flip our Bible’s open to Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10, and we’re going ‘Oh not there.’  You know, we have that tremendous ability to make this emotional swing.  Now I’m thankful that it’s Jesus, it’s the Shepherd, whose the one whose in charge of perfecting us, whose the one whose faithful.  He’s the one, it says, when we stand around his throne, that all glory will be his.  And that we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the glory may be of God and not of man.  And I’m glad he’s the one that does the job, and I’m glad that the Shepherd is never dependant on the IQ of the sheep.  That’s such a relief to me.  I’d just go ‘Baaah, baaah…’ you know, I’m willing to follow.  That means the ball’s in his court.  One minute they’re worried which of them would betray him, and now they start arguing over which of them would be the greatest.  Now Jesus has just got done saying, ‘This is my body, broken for you, it’s my blood being shed for you,’ laying down his life, having that before his heart, before his eyes, and he looks at the guys, and they’re arguing about whose going to be the greatest.  Because they’re expecting him to set up his Kingdom then.  Remember the mother of James and John saying, ‘Lord, can my boys, one of them sit on your right hand, they’re good boys, can one of them sit on your right hand and one of them sit on your left hand?’  And I just imagine, here’s the Lord, you know, approaching the final hour, within twenty-four hours he’s going to be crucified.  And the guys are still arguing about whose going to be the greatest.  He must be going Oye vey, Father.  These are the a-postles, Lord, not even the b-postles, these are the ones I prayed all night about, you told me to choose these guys, and here we are, you know, and they’re still wondering about whose going to be the greatest, and fighting over it.’  And there are other places where they do this, and Jesus says to them, ‘What are you guys talking about?’ and they say ‘Oh nothing,’  [laughter] like you can hide something from him.  And he takes a little child and puts the child in their midst, and then challenges them to become as a child.  Here they’re arguing over whose going to be the greatest.  “And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.” (verse 25) “they’re called”, he doesn’t say they are.  In other words, the people that are in places of power, the power-brokers of the world, are called benefactors, like you know, ‘We should be so thankful that our lives are so benefited by them.’  [Yeah right.]  Can you imagine?  “They’re called” benefactors.  And we should pray, the Bible says, for men in authority, for kings and presidents and so forth.  We should be doing that.  And they’re called benefactors, but our lives have been benefited by the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  And he took a different path.  “But ye shall not be so:  but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.”  So, the Kingdom is opposite.  “For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth?  is not he that sitteth at meat?  but I am among you as he that serveth.” i.e. setting the example and the path for us.  “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.  And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (verses 26-30)  Now this is interesting, because, see they’re arguing over who would be the greatest in this present world.  They’re still expecting him to overthrow the Roman yoke and to set himself up in Jerusalem as the Messiah, the King, and that the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.  They have all of those prophecies and all of those verses in their heart and their mind, and they’re expecting it at this time.  When he does it, they’re going to sit on twelve thrones ruling over the twelve tribes of Israel. Now imagine how Peter, James and John feel, because they went up on the mount of transfiguration, and all of a sudden then saw him manifested in his glory, they couldn’t even look at him, he was brighter than the sun.  And Moses and Elijah talking to him, and all of a sudden, God himself overshadowing them, saying to them ‘This is my Son, hear him.’  And again, when I think they came down from that mountain, Jesus was never the same to them.  When they looked at his back, same brown hair, whatever, I don’t know, black hair, same robe, he was always the same, but never the same again.  And Jesus said to them, ‘Don’t you tell anybody what you saw, until the resurrection out from among the dead.’  And those three must be thinking, ‘He’s going to do it, wait till these other nine guys see this, this is going to blow their minds.  When he does it, we’re obviously three of the greatest because he took us with him, the other guys don’t even know.’  And then Jesus says ‘No, I’m among you as one who serves.  Now this is not my kingdom.’  He would say that ‘the foxes have their holes and the birds have their nests, but the Son of man has no place to lay his head.  You know, the foxes, the birds of the air, this is their environment, they are at home here, they their dens, they have their nests, but I have no place of rest here, this is not my kingdom, not my domain.’  And he says to them, “I am among you as one who serveth”, setting the example.  There is a Kingdom coming.  ‘When that Kingdom comes, and that’s the Kingdom my Father’s appointed for me, not this one---When that one comes, then you’ll be seated at the table with me, and rule over the nation of Israel seated upon twelve thrones.’  This is tangible, literal, this is coming. [Comment:  To learn more about the prophecies about that coming Kingdom of God, see:]   How remarkable that will be to see. 


We All Get Sifted Down To Grace


And then it’s interesting, look at where he goes from there.    “And then the Lord said,”---as they’re thinking, ‘Well that’s not so bad, twelve thrones, we’re all going to be great---“…the Lord said, Simon, Simon,”---  Now for him to say “Simon, Simon” I get the idea that Simon was part of the argument, you know---“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.” (verses 31-32) Now it’s an interesting passage, for a lot of reasons.  First of all he says “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you,”  “you” is in the plural.  Then he says “I have prayed for thee” singular, to Peter again, “and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”  So, you know, we could paraphrase this, imagine Peter, part of this argument about whose going to be the greatest, and then Jesus turning around saying “Simon, Simon,” and then looking at them all, ‘Look, you guys, Satan has desired to sift you as wheat,’ and then looking back at Peter, singular, “but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not:  and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”  So, the “sifter” had asked for all of them, ‘Satan has desired to sift you, plural, all you guys.  You’re arguing over whose the greatest?  You don’t have any idea what’s coming.’  And they would all, you know, forsake him, and flee into the night.  He would have to collect all of them on resurrection morning, in different places.  And Jesus knows the Old Testament prophecies, you strike down the Shepherd and scatter the sheep.  There is a sifter, important for us to see, one who sifts.  Now, take note of this, “Satan hath desired you”, it’s “Satan has”, the tense, the way it’s in the grammar is ‘he has begged for you, he has asked permission, he is seeking to obtain you by asking permission.’  You see, there’s no sense in here at all that the Devil is out there just eating up and spitting out Christians whenever he wants to, that yeah, we’re saved, and yeah our Father’s on the throne, and our Dad’s there, and one day he’s going to set up his Kingdom and everything’s going to be ok, but for now, you know, the Devil’s like a Boogieman, he’s behind every pole and every rock, and you don’t want to walk through the house in the dark…and there’s people who portray Christian warfare much in that sense, there’s a sifter.  I’m sure as Satan was asking permission to get at these men, to sift them, his idea of sifting was much different than the sifting he would actually do.  Sifting is simply a process of separating, to sift something, whether it is the grain after it is ground to powder, sifting separates.  Or more probably the threshing part of it itself, it means to separate the chaff from the wheat.  And most commonly that was done with an ox dragging a wooden sled over the grain to crush it and to peel off the chaff.  The wooden sled was called the tribulum.  We get the word “tribulation” from it.  The purpose of that was to separate the chaff from the wheat.  Jesus, I’m thankful, is in charge of the tribulum.  Satan doesn’t have the right, because we are blood-bought, and the Scripture says “the evil one comes, he touches you not”, “that we are sealed with the Spirit of promise, until the day of redemption.”  We are blood-bought, blood-washed children of the Most High God.  The only sifting then, that he can do in our lives, is sifting by permission.  And when he’s sifting by permission, he’s sifting something far different from what he would like to sift.  In the Book of Job, we find Satan there, in God’s presence.  God’s saying ‘Where have you been?’  He answers ‘I’ve been traveling to and fro about the earth.’  He can only be in one place at one time.  ‘Have you observed my servant Job?’, military word, ‘have you scrutinized my servant Job, watched him, looked for his weaknesses, his failures?’  Satan says ‘You know, he only serves you because he’s got it so good, that’s the only reason.  Let me have at him, and you’ll see what he really thinks of you.’  God says ‘OK, you can test him, you can’t touch his life, but you can tempt him, you can sift him.’  Now again, what a commentary on the insanity of Satan.  Satan never has a good day, or a good hour, or afternoon.  If you were given permission to test someone, you were going to test a Christian to see how sincere they were, a believer.  You know, what would you do, you know a kind of “Candid Camera” thing?  Have somebody walk by and drop a hundred dollar bill out of their pocket, and then watch a Christian.  Is he gonna give that back, or is he gonna wait awhile and say, ‘I don’t see where that person is, they must be gone.’  Or put them in a seductive situation with Candid Camera, let’s see how they are going to respond.  You know, it’s interesting, when God says to Satan, ‘Go on, you can test him’ Satan burns down his house, burns down his barns, burns down his fields, destroys all of his flocks, all of his herds, kills all of his children, murders them, he’s insane.  When he’s given a little permission he does all of that.  Now, only by permission, is the only way that he can do anything.  He doesn’t have, he’s asking God there, ‘You let me have at him.’  And here Jesus is saying much the same.  ‘Satan has desired to sift you, he wants to do some sifting, but I have prayed for you.’   Now I’m glad the verse doesn’t end here, look, what if it just said ‘The Lord said to Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.  Oh I’m going to take a knap, I’ll see you guys later.’  That would really be a bummer.  I’m glad for verse 32 where it says, “but I…”, because when you have the word “but”, it means “forget about everything I’ve said previous to this.”  Somebody will do that in counseling, they’ll come into your office and say ‘and then this is happening, this is the situation, this is what they did to me, and this is how I feel, and this is how I responded, and this is what I think I’m going to do…but’…Now you’re getting down to the point, because now they’ve said ‘Forget about everything I’ve said up to this point.’  And I like it when it’s coupled with “but I”, God speaking.  “Satan has desired to sift you as wheat, but I…”  That’s an awful lot of consolation.  “but I have prayed for you, that your faith doesn’t fail…”  It’s past tense, ‘Peter, I’ve already prayed for you.  You haven’t freaked out yet, the trial hasn’t come upon you yet, the sled hasn’t drug over you yet, but I’ve already done all the praying that’s necessary.’  When did he do that?  This is Passion week.  Who studied this week?  He has been busy every day, morning till night.  Somewhere in those busy days in the Temple courts, somewhere in all of that insanity, he’s already been praying for Peter.  And somewhere in all of the insanity of the universe, he’s praying for us.  The Bible says ‘He’s at the right hand of the Father, where he ever liveth and maketh intercession for the saints’, that our name is on his lips, however that can happen, as individuals, and that he prays for us. 


How Desperate This World Is For God To Remove The Chaff From Our Lives, So That What Remains Is Something That Will Strengthen Other People


And that any sifting in our lives is only there to produce something.  You see, in this starving world, how necessary is it for the Lord to remove the chaff from our lives?  This world is starving for wheat, it’s starving for Truth, it’s starving for not just somebody to say something conceptual, but to see something in somebody’s life that’s real.  How desperate is this world for God to remove the chaff from our lives, so that what remains is something that will strengthen other people.  You know, and isn’t it interesting, he says ‘I prayed for you that your faith doesn’t fail’, and Peter’s faith didn’t fail.  He did.  But his faith didn’t.  Oh yeah, he said when he was asked, ‘Oh no, I don’t know him.’  ‘Well, certainly, you’re a Galilean, because your speech betrays you, you’ve got that northern drawl.’  ‘Well no, I don’t know who he is.’  And the third time he swears, ‘If I know who he is, let me damned forever.’  He pronounced anathema on himself, and of course that’s when he hears the rooster crow.  And he runs out into the night weeping, his eyes meet the Lord’s eyes, and he failed, he failed.  And he got sifted down to grace, all of self got sifted away, all of his self-confidence got sifted away.  All that would never benefit anyone else got sifted away from his life.  His faith never failed, he never changed gods, even when on his lips he was saying ‘Oh, I don’t know who he is,’ in his heart he know who he was.  Even when he says ‘Oh, let me be damned,’ in his heart he didn’t say that at all.  Even when outwardly in his strength he failed as a man, he never changed gods, he didn’t become a Buddhist, he didn’t go out and buy Upanishads, he never changed gods, he failed before the one God that he believed in, and was sifted of himself there.  And for Peter, the chaff was taken off.  “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.  And when”---and I like that, he didn’t say “if”, he didn’t say ‘Look, Peter, Satan’s been asking for you all day.  I prayed for you, if you pull through this thing, remember the Church.’  He didn’t say if, he said ‘I’ve prayed, praying is over, past tense’---“And when thou art converted---literally to turn back---“strengthen thy brethren.”  Now look at Peter, “And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” (verse 33)  ‘You know me, you gave me the name, Rocky.  Used to be Simon, you changed me, Rocky, Rock, Peter, Stone, see this, you can count on me!  These other guys, I understand why you’re worried.’  Man, that got sifted away.  Didn’t it?  Think of how terrible 1st and 2nd Peter would have been, if Peter hadn’t been sifted out of them.  ‘When somebody starts to talk to you about the Lord, starts to persecute him, you get out a sword.  Before they can turn around, you start hacking their ears off.’  Just think of Peter, what his Epistles would have been like if he hadn’t been sifted.  The Lord says ‘No, Peter, I’m allowing a certain sifting in your life, a separation.  I’m separating you from self-dependence, I’m separating you from your self-sufficiency.  I’m going to make you a man that clings to me, who depends on me, who tells other people about me.’  Acts chapter 2, Peter preaches, 3,000 people are saved.  Acts chapter 3, Peter preaches, sifted, 5,000 people are saved.  Acts chapter 10, the house of Cornelius, Peter, bringing the Gospel to the Gentile world.  Peter, writing “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath begotten us again unto a living hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  “Don’t be surprised”, he said, “of this fiery trial that comes upon you, to purify your faith.”  Oh he had been there.  He says “that we should take heed” at the end of 2nd Peter, “lest” he says “you also fall from your stedfastness”, because that’s what happened to him.  And how marvelously the Lord had worked in his life.  2nd Corinthians chapter 1 says “The God of all mercy, the Father of all comfort, I’m praying that he will comfort you in your afflictions, that you may be able to comfort others in the same affliction that you were comforted in.”  What it says there is, ‘You’re not worth anything until you’ve been sifted a little.  You’re not worth anything until all the chaff has been ground off of you, and what remains is your faith.’  And how we see, you know, in the church here, people that go through cancer, and I haven’t been there, and they’re in a much more difficult place than I have ever been in, and I don’t have the right to talk about it, but I watch their lives.  And I see so many other impressions and so many other things, so many other religious conceptions, so many other things “peeled off.”  And yet I see this strength that remains, I see the wheat and the chaff is gone, I see this faith, the faith not failing.  How many times I’ve seen some of you loose a son or a daughter, and your heart’s broken, and how the lies would come that God doesn’t love you, ‘How could a God of love allow such a thing to happen?’ and the voice of the devil.  And yet as God sovereignly works and separates, how incredible to see some of you, faith not failing, still trusting Jesus Christ, looking forward to a resurrection, holding your child in your arms again, face to face.  ‘Lord, am I a betrayer?  Or am I the greatest in the Kingdom?  Well I’m greater than that guy, I’ll tell you that.  Lord, I see that sap walk in here every Sunday [or Saturday], I’m glad I’m not like him.  I’m glad you put somebody in the church to make me feel pretty good about myself.’  No, no.  No, we find out when the tribulum starts to drag over us, we’re just like everybody else, and we’re sifted down to grace.  As Paul says, that he sought the Lord three times over a period of twelve to fourteen years, fasting three times, that a certain thorn in the flesh would be removed from him.  And he said ‘God revealed to me that he gave me that thorn in the flesh so that I would never be puffed up about the revelations that I had of him and his Kingdom, the things that I had seen…’  And he says not only was there a thorn, in the Greek indicates “and, besides that” ‘…a messenger from Satan to buffet me.’  They’re not the same thing, they’re two different things.  The thorn came, sifting, humbling from God.  And then the enemy came saying ‘Paul, if you’re an a-postle, why’s this going on?’  You know, ‘If God loves you, why are your eyes bad?  You need them to write, don’t you?  Paul, if God loves you, why are you always going from one thing to another, one tragedy to the next?’  Paul says ‘there was a thorn in the flesh, and this messenger from Satan, who hassled me, he buffeted me, he punched me and beat me up.  And I sought God three times with fasting,’ and God said ‘Paul, my grace is sufficient.’  Paul said, ‘Now I glory in mine infirmities.’  I am telling you what Paul said.  I do not glory in my infirmities.  I’m seeing what he said there.  ‘I’ve learned that in my weakness, the Lord’s strength is made perfect, I’ve been sifted down to grace’ he says.  We have an adversary, prowling about, seeking whom he may, by permission, devour is his concept, not God’s, whom resist stedfast in the faith, the Bible says.  Yes there’s a sifter.  Is he sifting you?  I doubt it, because he can only be in one place at one time.  And no offense, he’s got more important sifting jobs to do than yours.  There are presidents, there’s Billy Graham, there’s kings, there’s rulers.  But don’t feel left out.  No doubt there’s some buck-private demon liar sifting you under orders.  You haven’t been neglected.  May not be the same one that sifted Paul, but it’s just as ugly I’m sure.  But it’s our Father whose on the throne, and its our Father who governs all of that.  And it’s our Father who loves us so much that he wants us to grow up into sons and daughters of the Most High God, that are infecting people that are around us, because of our commitment to Christ.  It’s our Father who loves us so much that he will sift away from us materialism, sexual sin, and the things in this world that cling to us and pull upon us, because he knows there’s a starving world, and how desperately that world is in need of Christians that are wheat, that can be food for a world in darkness, a world that’s starving. 


Jesus Knew When He Saved You, That You Would Turn Away, Compromise---He Saved You Anyway


Peter, different view, ‘I’m ready to go with you to prison, and to death.’  The Lord says to Peter, ‘I tell you Peter,’ and you know what, Peter was sincere.  Oh, he meant it.  He was, ‘Lord, I’m ready, I’ll go with you to prison or death.’  He meant that with all of his heart.  And so do we.  ‘I tell you the truth, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before thou hast thrice denied that you even know me.’  And I guess all the other guys looked at him and said ‘Well I guess you’re not one of the greatest.  You know, you’re out of the argument now.’  John’s Gospel gives us chronologically the next thing that Jesus said.  He said ‘Peter, the cock won’t crow this day, till you have denied me, that you even know me, three times.’  The next words that Jesus said were, “Let not your heart be troubled, if you believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you.  But lo, I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am you may also be.  And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself.”  Man, that’s a great thing to hear, right after the Lord says ‘Peter, you’re gonna deny me, let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’  He says, “Peter, when you’re converted, strengthen your brethren.”  “Turn back” is what that word “converted” means, literally it means “to turn back.”  You know, I just want to lay that out, if there are those of you here this evening who know Christ, who may have been away for a long time, maybe you’ve only been away [from the faith] for a couple days, but those of you here tonight that are deniers, that have turned away from him, maybe you’ve been away for a year, or six months, and Satan’s been sifting you.  And I believe the Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever, and would say to you ‘Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  If you believe in God, believe in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions.’  I believe that the Lord will take a denier, whose sifted, whose shedding tears like Peter, as he ran out into the night and he wept, and draw them back to himself.  You know, it’s interesting, when the angels come to the tomb on resurrection morning [they were already there, as Jesus was actually resurrected some time earlier], and they talked to the women, they say ‘Go tell his disciples, and Peter, that he’s risen from the dead.’  Can you imagine that?  What that means is the angels, when God said to the angels, ‘Go on down there and move that stone,’ not to let Jesus out, to let us in, to see that it was empty, Jesus was gone.  Those angels moved that stone so the world would know that tomb was empty and that he was risen.  ‘You go down there and move that stone, and the women will be there, they’re the bravest ones.  And you let them know that my Son’s risen.’  And the angel’s took off, faster than light-speed, the speed of thought.  And God said ‘Oh yea, tell Peter too.’  Isn’t that amazing, that heaven has that much concern for a denier?  That heaven has that much concern for one who needs to turn back?  Not only that, when the two men on the way back from the Road to Emmaus, Jesus appears to them, they hurry back to Jerusalem, and the disciples say ‘The Lord has appeared to certain women, has appeared to all of us, and to Peter.’  Somewhere, somewhere that morning, Jesus found Peter alone.  The last thing Peter had said was ‘If I know him, let me be eternally damned!’ Then the cock crowed.  Linsky, the old German grammarist, great writer, says, historically the early Church fathers said people, after Peter would walk by them, sometimes they’d crow like a rooster, to give him a hard time.  As cruel as we are, back in that generation.  Isn’t that something?  Reminding him of his weakness, mocking him.  And Jesus found him alone somewhere and appeared to him.  And Peter must have went, ‘Ooooh, I know I’m damned now, you came to tell me, I know.’  And Jesus said, ‘No, shalom, peace.  Peter, look at my hands, my feet, the price has been paid, redemption is complete.  The gates of heaven are open to sinners, to mortal men and women.’  Peter wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  How incredible.  If you’re here this evening and you’ve been away from the Lord, I want to challenge you tonight to turn back.  Jesus knew when he saved you, that you would backslide, and he saved you anyway.  Jesus knew when he saved you that you would turn away and compromise.  And he saved you anyway.  He knew, like Peter, there would come a time when you would turn back, and that in your turning back, you would be sifted down to grace.  You have no right to come back to Christ, except for his grace and his love, except for the bloodshed of Christ, which is all there was [to cover your sins] in the first place.  It wasn’t because of anything in you.  And I encourage you this evening, if you’re a prodigal, a denier, one who needs to turn back, I didn’t know you were coming tonight, your mom didn’t call here today and say ‘Pastor Joe, please preach to prodigals tonight, my kid’s coming.’  If the shoe fits, please wear it.  If the Lord is speaking to you, I encourage you this evening to give your heart back to the Lord.  Remember that we live in urgent times.  And you can be worth more now, to the rest of us.  We can’t prescribe the path you’ve been on.  But you need to see a greater measure of God’s grace than you saw before, now to come back.  And it will be there when you look to him.  And because of that, you’ll be worth more to the rest of us.  Jesus says ‘Who is the one who loves me the most, but the one who I forgive the most.’  Turn back.  Let those wounds of your own weakness, where the threshing sled has drug over your life and left you scared, let those be faithful friends to you. It says the wounds of a friend are faithful.  And he said ‘I no longer call you my servants, but my friends.’  If the Lord has allowed a sifting and a threshing sled to drag over your life, that tribulum, that tribulation, let those wounds, those scars be faithful.  Let them proclaim not only to your own heart, but to those around you, ‘Yea, you know what, the love of Christ is greater than we could ever have imagined.  I was saved, puffed up with myself, I was a Rockie, or a Rockette, just like Peter, telling the Lord all the time ‘You can depend on me.’  And man was I in trouble.  And was I away.’  But he’s still the same, leaves the ninety-nine to gather the one.  He still loved me.  He knew when he saved me I would turn away, and he still saved me, because he knew that he was paying the price once and for all.  And you will be as Peter, able to strengthen.  Please, if the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart, let it be a night that you turn back.  Perhaps you’re here and you’ve never known Christ personally, never known him at all.  We’d love to give you an opportunity at the end of this service, I’m going to have the musicians come, to make that decision, to turn to him as your Saviour, and as your Lord, to receive his forgiveness, and stop spending your life worrying about whether you’re a denier or whether you’re the greatest, but let him produce in you that which you could never produce in and of yourself…[transcript of a connective expository sermon given on Luke 22:21-34 by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]         



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The apostles will sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel.  To learn more about their future and ours in the Kingdom of God, see: