“How Do I Struggle With This?”
I remember the first time I heard Libby (my wife) say to me, “let’s just get divorced.” We
had been married for all of 9 months, our marriage was falling apart, my sexual
dysfunction had risen to the surface, we were in a new town with a new church, we had
a new house, new friends, new experience finding out LIbby was pregnant, and it
culminated with a new problem. We weren’t cheating on each other, there was nothing
that had grounds for removal of my pastoral responsibilities, but we were at a
We chose each other in a romantic whirlwind. I knew I would marry her the first time I
saw her. She knew I was the guy who would show up unexpectedly and whisk her
away from Iowa into the Texas promiseland. Our friends and family christened us as
meant to be together, and everything flowed the way it was supposed to…until it didn’t.
When I came to Christ as a sophomore in college, I cold turkey stopped doing drugs,
drinking alcohol, watching porn and having physical escapades with strangers. I felt
free, I felt like I could breathe for the first time in my whole life. This Jesus thing was
amazing and I was ready to live a heaven on earth story. Then I met Libby, and the
story just got better…until it didn’t.
So here we are now, two young lovers at an impasse, both broken, both wanting to stay
committed, but not seeing a path forward. I was choosing to linger in my past, Libby
was choosing to defend her heart and escape further hurt, we were starting to choose
our own perspectives instead of the other person. We got help, we had the proverbial
mirror placed in front of us, we were exploring a new way forward, and 3 years later we
finally broke through. We had forgotten that we don’t just choose each other once, we
continually choose each other, even if that means choosing each other at our lowest
points. Despite our sin and our mess, we still chose each other.
“How do we all struggle with this?”
Let’s think about the choices we all make throughout our lives. The circumstances
around our lives very much determine the direction we choose to go, and the
people/colleges/friends/homes/apartments/jobs we choose to pursue. But what
happens when we hit a different season, or the circumstances shift, do we regret the
choice(s) we made?
“You are fettered,” said Scrooge, trembling. “Tell me why?”
“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by
yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”
-Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
The truth is much of how we measure ourselves and measure each other are by the
choices we make. Going to college vs. starting to work right out of HS. Working in non-
profit vs. working in business. Having kids young vs. having kids later vs. not having kids
If we are not careful we allow our choices both right, but even more so when they’re
WRONG, to define us. And our hope in this message and in this series is that you
understand, God chose you. And He still chooses you. He saw the highs and the lows, the
amazing choices and the choices you don’t even confess to your dog, he saw your good and
your bad and he still said yes.
You need to understand failure is an event not a person. It’s never too late to be
who you might’ve been. Our hope is that you would know you are CHOSEN, and today you
can choose a new path forward in Jesus.
“What does God say about this issue?”
The same goes for Jesus and the choices he made in the people he would trust. This series
is going to guide us through a few of the choices Jesus made as we prepare for The
Weekend that changed human history, aka Easter. In each of these stories we see the most
unlikely, and seemingly marginalized, people who are Chosen by the one who came to live
and die so that we could be resurrected in him.
First up we see Jesus choose and call people to follow him:
Matthew 4:18-22 – NLT
One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two
brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they
fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how
to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him.
A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat
with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. They
immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.
Then we see a progression of those who all accepted the call to follow him, and a select
few who would then be apostles (the ones who are sent).
Luke 6:12-16 – NLT
One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all
night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be
apostles. Here are their names: Simon (whom he named Peter), Andrew (Peter’s
brother), James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of
Alphaeus), Simon (who was called the zealot), Judas (son of James), Judas Iscariot
(who later betrayed him).
For today’s purpose we are going to focus on two of the apostles who unknowingly
have a parallel storyline being forged. Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot are two of the
best known apostles, albeit for very different reasons. Yet, we forget that these two
individuals are not so different, they simply chose to respond differently to their own sin.
These were two very broken and flawed people, and yet we have to understand
this…despite their sin and their mess, they were chosen by God.
Let’s begin with Peter, the hot headed disciple who had foot in mouth syndrome. We
have much to read about him, and maybe much of it was because he was up front and
center in the story of Jesus. Peter likely lived by the mantra “speak and act first…think
later.” That left him open to making more mistakes than any of the other disciples. Raise
your hand if you identify with Peter- “call it how you see it, apologize later.”
Mark 10 – Peter hates kids
Matthew 14 – Peter attempts to walk on water and fails
Mark 9 – Low self awareness on the Mt. of Transfiguration
Matthew 17 – Speaks on behalf of Jesus on taxation
Mathew 16 – Peter rejects Jesus entire purpose for coming to earth
John 13 – Peter’s above following Jesus’ instruction in the washing of feet
Matthew 26 – Peter falls asleep during prayer
Homeboy was getting a C+ in disciple school. He was that kid in class skating by with
pure charisma and effort.
Then we have Judas Iscariot, who has a completely different personality and
responsibility than Peter. He’s more behind the scenes, he’s more than likely
administratively gifted since he’s charged with stewarding the funds that Jesus and the
disciples have. But this means we also do not know much about Judas, other than his
position on the team, but we do know that he too made mistakes:
12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom
Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha
served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary
took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and
wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why
wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.”
6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as
keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume
for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not
always have me.”
Verse 5 – doesn’t value sacrifice
Verse 6 – built a reputation as a thief
Verse 8 – it is questionable if he sees the value of Jesus
● Judas wanted Jesus to be something he was never intended to be, an earthly
ruler who would free his people from tyranny.
We can see the lack of ability in these two men, and we can cast judgment on them as
people who should know better, and yet we have to fully embrace that despite their sin
and their mess, they were chosen by God.
So we’ve established that these are flawed human beings, and now we see another
parallel in their betrayal of Jesus.
Peter – Luke 22:54-62
54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest.
Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of
the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56 A servant girl
saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was
57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a
60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking,
the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter
remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you
will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Judas – Luke 22
22 Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2 and
the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of
Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot,
one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple
guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and
agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand
Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas,
one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus
asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
This kiss was the most brutal way to betray Jesus. A kiss in this way, this time and
culture didn’t represent a romantic affection, but instead it was a sign of respect and
honor. So Judas is saying, I greet you with honor and respect as I then hand you over to
your death. It gives new meaning to…
Proverbs 27:6 – “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Now we have two imperfect men, two backstabbing men, who are now facing their
shame and the collective weight of it all. Imagine this scene, the screen on one side is
Peter head in his lap as his tears puddle on a dirt floor. On the screen on the other side
the camera focuses on Judas. No more tears. Deadpan eyes. Distraught. Numb.
Peter’s response is to quit. He walks away from his call to be one who is sent, an
apostle. He returns to his life as a fisherman…until John 21 when Jesus reinstates him
to his true calling to be a fisher of men. He still had to face the consequences of his sin,
but he was met with overwhelming love that washes away our sin.
Judas’ response is captured in Matthew 27:3-5
3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized
with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4
“I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged
Judas’ response is to be so overtaken with grief that it separates him from the grace
and love he had experienced for 3 years. He actually walked with Jesus, saw miracles,
experienced life change, but when grief becomes our master, when our sin takes
control, it robs us of the very grace and life we so desperately need. He forgot that
despite his sin and his mess, he was chosen by God.
Both men took turns making mistakes, one from the front and other from the back.
Both men took turns betraying Jesus, one to his face and the other behind his back.
Both men took turns facing their shame, both left, one was restored and the other lets
it kill him.
“What should you do about this?”
Let’s be honest here, you have a little bit of Peter in you, and you have a little bit of
Judas in you. We all have moments when the sermon and the music hit just right and
we’re on the mountaintop, and we say “Yes God! I’m ALL IN- FOREVER!” and a week later
we’re trading God in for cheap because he didn’t meet our expectations. We all are
broken and faulty people.
Isaiah 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
but what you really need is that the entirety of who you are to be covered in Jesus. He
comes to earth and is fully man to walk in our shoes, lives a sinless life to guide us
towards his righteousness, dies to take on our shame and then is resurrected gloriously
so that we too can be resurrected from our sin and shame. This is SALVATION!
Isaiah 61:10 I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of
righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns
herself with her jewels.
because… Despite your sin and your mess, you are chosen by God.
But listen it’s never too late to come back home. Don’t give up. It’s never too late to be who God
designed you to be!
After Jesus’ resurrection theres a number oof encounters of him appearing to the disciples,
none probably more famous then when he restores peter.
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do
you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said,
“Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you
dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out
your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to
go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.
Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
It’s interesting that Jesus meets him where he first found him and first called him- fishing. God
will often take you back to the simplicity of when you first followed him. And Jesus asks him 3x
“Do you love me” ON PURPOSE as a call back to his denial. Not to shame him but to heal the
shame. God will often bring us back to the place of our deepest pain, not to shame us but
to heal us.
See regret/shame left unchecked will kill you. It’ll kill your spirit, tear at your
relationships, and destroy your self worth. The question is- DO we let shame define us, or
do we let Jesus REDEEM us?
You are CHOSEN, and you have a Choice.
We have people in the room who are still exploring the realities of God, and then we
have people who have followed Jesus for decades. AND YET, we all still have the
propensity to fail, to sin, to reject God’s choosing of us. What is pushing you towards
SHAME that isolates and what is pushing you towards REPENTANCE that brings
comfort? Shame is from the enemy of our soul, and REPENTANCE is the gentle nudge
of love from the creator of your soul. Let’s take a few moments to ponder the question,
“what is currently keeping you from the fullness of God’s love and grace today?”
“How can we all live this out together?”
Jesus’ foretelling of Peter’s death later comes true. Church history tells us that
Peter is executed in Rome in his older age. The evil emperor Nero blamed Christians
for a fire that devastated Rome. Christians are slaughtered in high numbers. Peter
being one of them. Early tradition tells us that he is ordered to be crucified and he
requests to be crucified upside down saying he is unworthy of dying in the same way as
his Lord and Savior. Decades earlier before he denied Christ, he prematurely told Jesus
“I will die for you”, and now he is living that reality.
I have to imagine on his way to his death, he’s not thinking about his mistakes.
He’s thinking about Jesus. All the ways that God has been there with him every step of
the way. The teachings, the miracles, the signs and wonders, the movement called
Christianity that he’s seen. I have to believe He’s thinking of God’s faithfulness. And in
my imagination I think this song we’re about to sing was the soundtrack to his final
moments. “This is how I thank the Lord”… I give him everything. Because he did it for
me. Despite your sin and your mess, you are chosen by God. Today you can
make this your anthem.