TODAY, I want to preach the message, God still trusts you.
We’re about to read the popular story of the denial of Peter.
Who doesn’t know this story?
This tale is found in ALL four Gospels.
So. even 2,000 years ago, the story was already a box office hit. Peter was clearly Apostle #1. The leader of the band. The first Pope of the Church. Yet why do we love talking about how he fell?
But isn’t this like every single story in the Bible?
You can describe the entire Old Testament as “How every anointed leader failed—from Adam to Noah to Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Moses to David, Etcetera— but how God was still faithful.”
Peter The Sinner
Matthew showed Simon was not just Peter the Apostle but Peter the Sinner. Throughout his Gospel, he exhibited the guy’s many shortcomings in the full display– but his denial topped the list.
Let’s read how Jesus predicted that His disciples will abandon Him: On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” (Matthew 26:31-32 NLT, emphasis mine.)
Let me pause here. Have you ever asked, “How could Jesus bear so much pain? So much suffering?” Obviously, He loved us. He suffered for love, that’s true.
But here’s another reason: Jesus knew how the story will end.
Friend, are you going through intense suffering right now?
Remind yourself of how your story will end.
Here’s a hint: At the last chapter of your life, you win.
It may not look good now, but trust in Him.
God has already won the battle for you.
Peter’s Core Problem
Let’s continue reading today’s passage…
Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” 34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” 35 “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same. (v.33-35)
Do you know what is Peter’s problem? Overconfidence.
That’s the core problem of humanity.
Hey, I’m all for confidence. I love confidence. Confidence is essential to success.
But overconfidence will kill you. Hubris has destroyed lives, families, churches, businesses, and nations.
And that’s what happened to Peter.
Overconfidence is seeing only your strengths and not your weaknesses. It’s believing in your own lies about how great you are.
Some self-help authors will tell you this message: “You are enough.”
Usually, they say this to people who depend on others’ approval for their own self-worth.
So, they say, “You are enough. You don’t need people to like you so that you can like yourself.”
I love that. I’ll say the same thing too.
But you can misinterpret the “You are enough” message.
Because in reality, you’re not enough.
No one is. We all need God. We all need His love.
Here’s my message for you: You’re not enough. And that’s okay!
Because God is enough for you.
We’re All Like Peter
Let’s read how Peter actually fell three times:
That’s about as bad as it can get. Just when your best friend needs you the most, you deny even knowing him.
And it’s not as if those who questioned Peter were intimidating Roman soldiers with guns. They were two servant girls and a group of casual bystanders.
His faith faltered right at the time when he needed it.
And there he was, the one who Jesus handpicked to be the fearless leader of the Apostles, a crumpled mess, weeping in shame.
Doesn’t this look very familiar?
Many of us are just like Peter. One minute we’re faithful, and in the next minute, we’re falling.
Just when we need to trust God, you know what we do? We turn away and take matters into our own hands. We are like– “I thought that I was faithful. I thought I was believing in God until one phone call, one invite, until one accident, one unexpected turn of events, a divorce —and all of a sudden, my faith is stripped away.”
Some of you thought you would never be addicted to that drug—but it happened. Some of you thought that you won’t be the one to fall away— but it happened. And now your faith all of a sudden is shaken. There are people watching this live stream right now who haven’t felt faithful to God for a long time and maybe it’s because you went through an incident– like Peter did– that made you question your faithfulness. Many of us are like Peter. One minute we’re faithful but the next minute we’re failing.
What I think will help us today is to understand what caused this to happen to Peter— so that we can understand why this also happens to us. And also, you know, for us to avoid this mess in the future.
Okay it’s personal. The reason I think Peter fell is this…
When Peter was so close, he was BFFs, you know, Best Friends Forever, with Jesus, he was bold– he was brave, he was unwavering.
Let’s read in Matthew 26:69, what he said before he denied Jesus:
Big promises to Jesus, right?
But then 30 verses later, Peter is doing the exact thing he said he wouldn’t do.
Peter denied Jesus!
I mean, that’s so ironic on so many different levels.
Here’s where the problem starts. The problem begins when Jesus gets captured by the Romans. Because Peter got separated from Jesus. Before, Peter could touch Jesus– he could feel Jesus. Now, Peter could not even get close to Jesus. He could only– what?—look from afar.
And you know this is what most Christians fail to understand: that when we get separated from the Savior, we get disoriented. We make bad decisions. We feel weak. We become afraid.
I want you to write this down: Real courage comes from being close to Christ.
When we separate from Christ, everything crumbles. We fall into sin.
We fall into temptation. I want you to preach this to somebody right now: Stay connected to Jesus. That’s what you need to do. You need to set yourself and stay connected to Him.
How Did Peter Move On?
Peter did the one thing he knew all his life. Peter went fishing. He went back to fishing.
And you know there’s the problem: When you don’t address your shame, you’re bound to go back to your old life.
That’s what Peter did because he was disconnected from Jesus. He went back to his old life, to his old ways.
But it was also in his old life that Jesus showed up once again.
Oh, I think Jesus, He never gets tired of fetching us even when we backslide. Aren’t you grateful to Jesus?
Come on, praise Him right now!
Even when you fail, He meets you. Even when you walk away from Jerusalem.
Come on, praise Jesus for His mercy! Thank You, Jesus!
This section of Matthew completely blessed me. Because a few days after Jesus walks out of the tomb, Peter and some of the disciples, they go back fishing. They go back to the sea. And they don’t catch anything all night.
That’s because –let me just insert this– because you can’t do anything significant when you’re separated from the Savior. Ah-hah?
But then what happens, Jesus shows up and He and Peter take a stroll on the shoreline.
Take note: At this time, Peter’s shame is still fresh. He is probably still carrying it—fresh from denying Jesus. So, what happens next is something Peter— or anybody for that matter– never expects.
John narrates this in his Gospel.
It’s beautiful. It says in
Jesus tells Peter again, “Follow me.”
You know, this was the last thing that Peter expected. After what he did to Jesus, he was expecting to be banished. Instead, he was lavished. Lavished with love to the point where Jesus even appointed him to be head of the Church!
I’m telling you, the mercy of God is beyond our understanding, and the only way I can explain it is in one word. It’s called grace.
I mean imagine: the coward from the courtyard becoming courageous. Peter started preaching about Jesus in the very same courtyard where he denied Him that day. The one who did not want to be associated with Jesus eventually became the one who would die for Jesus. He did not want to become associated with Jesus but eventually, he was crucified like Jesus—except that he did it upside down because he didn’t want to do it as Jesus did. He wanted that Jesus would do it the special way—not him. He wanted to do it the other way. You would not be able to do that if the Holy Spirit did not give you the courage as He did to Peter.
What happened? Mercy happened. Peter knew very well he was a sinner. But he found out that Jesus loved him as a sinner. He found out that his sins were just a grain of sand in the ocean of God’s mercy.
And, you know, I preached this many years ago. I said that every day for the rest of Peter’s life, every time he would hear the roosters crow, he would be reminded of his mess. His disloyalty to Jesus. But then what did He do? Jesus forgave him. Jesus loved him. Jesus embraced him. And from that day onward, every time Peter would hear the roosters crow, he was no longer reminded of his mess. Instead, he was reminded of God’s Mercy.
My friend, instead of focusing on your sin, instead of focusing on your shame, focus on God’s mercy. You know, come to Him and then ask for His forgiveness. And then watch how God will overshadow the gravity of your sin with the gravity of His grace. Amen. Amen.
Pope Francis preached this beautifully. He said the Lord never tires of forgiving. The story of Peter is not how he led the Church so effectively. But how he threw himself unto God’s mercy.
And you know, I could preach about this all day long. But I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to ask help from one of my friends to sing a song to us. And hey, when you listen to this song, don’t tune out. Listen. This is God’s love song to you. All right?
Please welcome Bro. Alvin Barcelona…
GAMITIN MO AKO
Dati-rati, laman ng puso mo ay ang pangalan ko
Lagi ako sa isip mo
Dati-rati, inaawitan pa, labi ay may ngiti
Mga mata’y nagniningning
Nguni’t ngayon, nagbago ka Nasa’n na ang init ng pagsinta? Pangako mo’y hindi magwawakas ‘Di ba’t noon, samyo ng bulaklak
At ihip ng hangin ay kapansin-pansin? ‘Di ba’t noon, takbo ng oras ay ‘di mo napapansin
Nguni’t ngayon, naglaho na
Sigla’t tamis ng iyong pagsinta
Pagmamahal ko ba’y kailangan pa?
Dati-rati, mga pangako ko’y kandungan mo’t lakas
Sa pagsubok ay kay tatag
‘Di ba’t noon sa kaibigan mo’y ako’ng bukambibig?
Bakit ngayo’y ano’ng lamig?
‘Di mo alam, ako’y nasasaktan
Sa ‘di pagpansin sa aking pagmamahal
Lumapit ka’t ako’y naghihintay
Sa ‘di pagpansin sa aking pagmamahal Lumapit ka’t ako’y naghihintay
‘Di mo alam, ako’y nasasaktan
Sa ‘di pagpansin sa aking pagmamahal
Lumapit ka’t ako’y naghihintay
Panginoonm ako’y nabulag ng mandarayan mundo
Ako ay patawarin Mo
Mula ngayon , ang buhay kong ito;y iaalay sa Iyo
Gamitin Mo ako gaya ng dati
Gaya ng dati
Gaya ng dati,
Songwriter AI Termulo
Thank you, of course, to Master Gary Valenciano for that beautiful song.
I asked Bro. Alvin to sing that song to us because, you know, I felt that it perfectly captures the essence of the message of our Gospel today.
You know, I officially gave my life to the Lord at age 27. But I remember that as early as 12 years old, I already met the Lord. I served as an altar boy in our parish church every Sunday. My family taught catechism to the poor children beside our village.
And you know every night, my family and I prayed the Rosary.
I started reading some parts of the Bible when I was young. And I felt like I was drawing closer and closer to Him. I had a sincere desire to know God. But then Life happened. You know, that’s our story. Life happened.
Being a teenager happened. I got real busy with friends and school and fashion, and parties, and video games– and I forgot all about God. I drifted away. Is this your story too? You used to be close to God and you used to serve Him with so much passion. You used to follow Him relentlessly. But then you drifted away.
When I ponder about the mercy that Jesus showered on Peter after he denied Jesus, I can’t help thinking about the number of times I also denied Jesus– and the number of times that He also forgave me.
I’m telling you, some of the things I’d done in my life, I don’t think that God would forgive me for. But each time I would come to Him, I would feel His mercy, His compassion, He would embrace, and His mercy would envelop me.
I want you to know that the mercy of God is more than enough for the number of times that you have fallen. It can cover a multitude of your sins. And if you are thinking that God will not forgive you, here’s something that I pray will change your mind. Listen to this. Peter fell–how many times? He fell three times. You think that was it? But Jesus told Peter–what? To feed His sheep. How many times? Three times.
What is the significance of this? This is just theory: That for each time Peter fell, Jesus said, “I still love you. I still trust you.”
And God is saying to somebody listening to this live stream, “Yes you fell, but I still love you. Yes, you messed up. I still love you. Yes, you walked away, but I still love you.”
See, nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Saint Paul said that. So, receive God’s mercy again and again. Ånd once you have His mercy, don’t be stingy in extending mercy.
We can be in a situation like Peter was after he denied Jesus. We all have the tendency to be like those two women in the courtyard who accused Peter of being a follower of Jesus. You know, we’re people who like discriminating. We like segregating. We like dividing. We like excluding. In fact, this is exactly what’s happening right now. Aren’t you that person supporting that politician? Aren’t you one of those who are anti-COVID vaccine?
And you’re like, “Sorry, but you’re not welcome in my personal space.” That’s what we do. That’s what we are.
But then, thinking about it on the opposite spectrum, we’re also like Peter.
In the sense that when there’s pressure coming against us– you know, when people are against us because of our beliefs, because of our principles– we’re quick to give up what’s precious to us: our values, our priorities, our commitment, our identity.
And ultimately, we give up our God. We deny Him because we’re scared. We sell Jesus for 30 pieces of silver– just like Judas did. I know we’ve come a long way since then– but the truth, you know, we’re never too far from the courtyard.
So, gotta be careful… but thank God. Thank God for His mercy. I want you to know that you can never be too far for God’s mercy to reach you. There is not enough shame in you that God cannot scrub away with His love. You could be like Peter who denied Jesus — Jesus still says to you, “I still trust you.”
If you feel far away from the Lord, come back. Come back to Him. If there was a time when you were close to Him, you know, you can still have that. It’s time to reconnect yourself to the Lord. It’s time to plant yourself in His garden. And then grow some roots.
It’s time to live in His house. Under His mantle of protection and provision and love. And just like that line in Gary V’s song— I love this line, the ending of that song: “Gamitin mo ako…Gaya ng dati.”
In English, “Use me like you did before.” I want you to do this, all right? I want you to put your hand over your chest. And then say this with me: Jesus, I am your instrument. I am your vessel. Use me. Forgive me. But ultimately use me like you used Peter. Use my life. Use my past, my present, and my future. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Let’s worship the Lord, everybody.
You know, trust is the bedrock of all relationships. When there is no trust, there can be no relationship. So, the mere fact that Jesus trusted Peter and He entrusted His bride, His Church, to Peter, to a man, it means so much about the trust He has given us.
So, my question is: Do you trust Jesus just like He trusts you? Will you trust Him with your life? If yes, I want you to open your arms and I want you to say this: Jesus only You will I trust. There is no other person I would gladly give my trust to except to You. My life is Yours. My talents are Yours. My resources are all Yours. So, use me as Your instrument. Use me to be Your conduit. To be a channel of Your love and mercy in this world. Transform me and mold me. Make me just like You. Amen.