Sermon 2771. Peter's Fall and Restoration
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MARCH 23, 1902.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, OCTOBER 22, 1882.
"And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, Before the roostercrows, you will deny Me three times. So Peter went out and wept bitterly." Luke 22:61, 62.
PETER'S fall, as we noticed in our reading, is four times recorded, at considerable length, but it is not once excused. Thereis not, in any one of the records, a single word said by way of palliation of his great guilt. John pictures Peter's sin incolors of an almost neutral tint, yet he does not lessen its gravity.
Why, do you think, is this sad record thus given four times? Is it not in order that we should give it fourfold attention?It deserves this special mention, first, because it must have greatly increased the grief of the Lord Jesus Christ to knowthat while He was enduring untold indignities on His people's behalf, His most prominent disciple was denying Him with oathsand curses down at the lower end of the hall. Surely, this must have cut Him to the quick! I cannot imagine that any of thetortures that He endured from His enemies could have caused Him so much pain as this wicked denial by one of His closest friends.Let your pity and love to Jesus flow in deep and broad streams while you behold him that ate bread with Him thus lifting uphis heel against Him and even declaring that He knows not the Man! Blessed Master, there is not one tint of all the colorsof grief that is lacking in the picture of Your passion! It is not possible to depict sufferings more acute and intense thanwas Yours when You died, "the Just for the unjust," to bring us to God.
But, next, I think that Peter's fall and restoration are thus fully recorded to set forth the greatness of our Redeemer'ssaving power in the immediate prospect of His cruel death upon the Cross. Is it not wonderful to think that before He dies,He restores this great backslider-I had almost said, "this open apostate," for so he was, according to his own language, thoughhe was not so in heart? I can, in imagination, see poor Peter bending before the Cross of Calvary and looking up, throughtears of grief and joy, as he mourns his great guilt and sees it all forgiven!
Then comes the dying thief, to represent another class of characters who bring great Glory to our dying Lord. Peter is thebackslider restored-the dying thief is the sinner saved at the 11th hour. He was on the very brink of Hell, yet the Masterstretched out His hand to rescue him, saying, "Today shall you be with Me in Paradise." I cannot imagine two incidents revealinggreater Divine Grace than these two, which so richly adorn and embellish the Cross! As captives chained to the wheels of thereturning conqueror's chariot make his triumphal procession the more illustrious, so is Christ upon the Cross the more manifestlytriumphant in His Infinite Grace as He leads the restored Peter back to his Apos-tleship and takes the penitent thief, pluckedfrom Perdition, up with Himself into the Paradise of God!
Moreover, do you not think that there is, in this fourfold record, an instructive lesson for us concerning the frailty ofthe best of men? Holy Scripture does not tell us much about the best of men who lived in the olden times-its history of thesaints is somewhat scanty-but it is particular in recording their faults, as if its special purpose was to remind us thatthe best of men are but men at the best! This Peter, who seemed to lead the van, was yet so frail and fallible-so far frombeing the first "Infallible Bishop of Rome"-that he even denied his Lord and Master! That is about the only point, so faras I can see, in which the Pope of Rome is like Peter, for he, too, has great presumption and he can, with his bulls and hiscurses, go about as far as Peter did in denying his Lord! Peter's fall seems to say to each of us, "You, too, are weak. You,too, will fall if you are left to yourself. Therefore trust wholly to your Master, but never trust in yourself. Look
always to Him and rely not upon your own experience, or the firmness of your own resolutions-for you will assuredly fall,as Peter did, unless the almighty hand of Christ shall hold you up."
These lessons might profit us even if we learned no others, but I think we may find some more as I now proceed to speak toyou, first, concerning Peter's fall. Next, concerning the means of his recovery. Thirdly, concerning the signs of his restorationand, afterwards, if we have time for them, I hope to make a few general remarks upon the whole incident of Peter's fall andrestoration.
I. First, then, concerning PETER'S FALL.
It was a very sad fall because it was the fall of one of the most favored of Christ's disciples. We know that there is sucha thing as election and that there is such a thing as election out of election and, in the case of Christ's disciples, theprinciple was carried still further, for there were some who were the elect out of the elect of the elect! Christ had manydisciples, yet He said to the Apostles, "I have chosen you twelve." Out of those twelve, he had evidently chosen three- Peter,James and John-who were privileged to be with Him on various occasions when all others were shut out. Peter had been especiallyfavored, so that probably not even John surpassed him in the honor which his Master had put upon him. After his declarationconcerning Christ's Messiahship and Deity, Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has notrevealed it unto you, but My Father which is in Heaven." So you see that Peter was a highly favored man-and for him to denyhis Master was a very terrible sin. The higher our privilege, dear Friends, the greater is our responsibility! The noblerour vocation is, the more horrible is our sin when we fall into it.
Secondly, Peter's fall was especially sad because he had been faithfully warned concerning it. Our Lord had said to the eleven,"All of you shall be offended because of Me this night." And then, when Peter declared that he would not be offended, ourLord plainly foretold his triple denial. When Jesus, after the first part of his agony in the garden, came back to the threeespecially favored disciples and found them all asleep, he said to Peter, "Simon, do you sleep? Could you not watch one hour?Watch you and pray lest you enter into temptation." So that Peter knew the danger to which he was exposed. He was not, assome inexperienced persons are, surprised all of a sudden-carried off their feet by a fierce tornado of temptation. If hedid not watch and pray, he ought to have done so, for he had been expressly warned, yes, and told that in that very night,not only would he be in danger, but that he would actually fall into the snare which Satan, the great fowler, was settingfor him! After that warning, he was not like a bird caught in a trap which it has not seen, but like one that flies boldlyinto the snare. Solomon says in Proverbs, "Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird"-yet Peter ran into itin spite of all the warning that he had received. This made his sin all the greater! And if any of you sin against the Lightof God, your sin will be all the more gross and aggravated.
Further, the guilt of Peter's sin is enhanced by the fact that it came so soon after his claim offdelity to his Master. Hehad said to Jesus, "Though all men shall be offended because of You, yet will I never be offended." Now, mark that declarationwas made in the evening and the sun had not risen-the cock had not crowed-before he had thrice denied his Master! It may havebeen quite late in the evening when he uttered his boastful declaration and the night had only darkened down to midnight,or an hour or two after, before he had, with oaths and curses, denied that he even knew his Lord. Ah, Brothers and Sisters,if we eat our words as soon as that-if we go home from this House of Prayer and fall into sin. Or if tomorrow, while yet thesacred bread of the Communion Table is scarcely digested, we shall so act as practically to deny Christ-it will be a veryterrible thing! It would have been bad enough if Peter had sinned thus 20 years after making his profession of love to Christ-butto deny his Lord an hour or two after such a vehement declaration- this was wicked, indeed!
Observe, also, that Peter's sin had degrees in it This makes it the more interesting to us, especially if we have, ourselves,gone any part of the same evil way, for, the first time he denied his Master, it was not in the same style as the third time.Being let into the High Priest's palace, the damsel who opened the door looked him in the face and, afterwards, when Peterwas sitting with the servants and officers around the fire, this somewhat busy lady came up to him and, gazing into his face,said, "You, also, were with Jesus of Galilee." Peter made a kind of evasive answer. There was a sort of subterfuge in it-"Iknow not what you are saying." As much as if he had said, "I do not understand you." This was really a denial of Christ, buthe had so worded it as to quiet his conscience to some extent-he had not positively, in so many words, denied his Master.He was trying to do a little dodging, as some people nowadays do, and he thought, perhaps, that he might be able to draw backfrom the position into which he had been led by his curiosity. There was no oath
the first time, no cursing-but a simple evasive answer-really, in God's sight, a denial of his Lord, yet not so pronouncedas it afterwards became.
The second time, he seems to have got up from where he sat by the fire. He was evidently not comfortable there and he hadgone out to the porch, a good way off from the rest. And then, still wanting to see the end of the matter, he had come back.He did not press his way into the inner circle around the fire, and sit there, but he stood and leaned forward just to warmhis hands. And then it was that this woman, noticing how restless he had been, came up with a companion of hers and, lookingat him, began to say to the other woman, "I know that he is one of them, I am sure that he is." And then she and the otherboth broke out saying, "You were with Him! We are sure you were with Him." And the men joined in the cry, perhaps most ofthem said, "Oh, yes, he is one of them!" And then Peter "denied with an oath, I do not know the Man." Oh, how dreadful forhim to call Christ, "the Man," when he had boldly declared that He was the Son of God! What a terrible fall was this!
After this, Peter gets up and goes away from the fire altogether. It is a large place, so he still keeps within the enclosure,but he gets up into a corner where the light does not fall upon him. And there he remains for about an hour, not very easy,you may be sure. At last, he begins to talk to those around him. He thought that they would not find him out, now, becausethe firelight did not reach so far, but he did not remember that his tongue would tell tales, for those near him said, "Listen!That fellow has the accent of Galilee! He is a Galilean and all the people who were with Jesus were Galileans. Depend uponit, he is one of them! We are sure that he is, for his speech betrays him." The accent of his countrified speech showed Peterup as being one of the fishers from the Lake of Galilee-so now they come all around him and they said to him, "We know thatyou are a disciple of Jesus." Then there was the High Priest's servant, whose kinsman's ear Peter had cut off-he said, "Didnot I see you in the Garden with Him? I carried a lantern and I know that you are the man that chopped my relation's ear off.I am sure that you are!" Then Peter, worst of all, not only denied his Master, but, as if he knew that a true Christian wouldnot swear and, therefore, the way to prove that he was no Christian was to curse and swear, therefore he did it! He cursedand swore to convince them that he was not a disciple of Jesus Christ. Oh, but this was dreadful! This was terrible! No excuseis given for Peter in God's Word, nor will we try to think of any, but we will, each one of us, pray, "Hold You me up andI shall be safe."
There is another aggravation of Peter's sin which I must mention, that is that all this was done very close to where his Lordand Master was suffering at that time. I think that this Tabernacle might very well picture the kind of place that palacewas. Take away those galleries and leave this upper portion-here is Christ, with the High Priests and all the rest of them,in this upper part. Perhaps it was not so much raised above the rest of the hall as this platform is, but, still, it was araised place. And there were the servants sitting down below where they could see everything, and also be seen, in the opensquare with a big fire blazing up in the midst-sending its volumes of smoke up to the midnight sky. And there is the Christ,His back turned towards Peter, but He is within hearing. Oh, I think that fact alone ought to have checked Peter's tongueand inspired him with such love, pity and sympathy that he would have found it impossible to deny his Master. And for youand me to sin in the very Presence of the Majesty of Heaven, (and all sin does that), is an enormous crime.
What was the reason why Peter thus sinned I answer, first, that it was because of his fear of man. Bold Peter became a ravingcoward! And, ah, how many have denied their Master because they have been afraid of a jest or a jeer! It was but a silly maidand another gossip with her, and a few idle women and men around the outdoor fire, but Peter was afraid of them and, therefore,he was not afraid to deny his Master.
Perhaps the chief reason for Peter's denial of his Lord was his confidence in himself. If Peter had felt himself to be weaker,he would really have been stronger. But, because he felt so strong in himself, he therefore proved to be weak as water andso denied his Master.
We know, also, that it was caused by a lack of watchfulness and prayer on the part of Peter. He was off his guard when hewas sitting or standing comfortably by the fire and, therefore, he fell so sadly. His fall was caused, I expect, by a generallack of steadfastness in his character. He was impetuous, impulsive, quick, ready, brave, courageous, but, at the same time,he lacked backbone. He did, even after this, lack that essential element of a strong character, for Paul had to "withstandhim to the face, because he was to be blamed." But, in this time of testing, he manifested a sad lack of solidity of character.He was carried away by surrounding circumstances and even when they happened to be against his Lord and
Master, he was still carried away with them! Those of you who have abundance of life in you, and plenty of force of character,must make sure that you also have the force of Grace, lest your vivacity-the very thing which makes you to be leaders amongus-should become your ruin in the time of trial! He is well kept whom God keeps and he it is also who, with prayer and watchfulness,guards himself against all the dangers that surround him. Thus I have tried to describe to you Peter's fall.
' II. Now, secondly, notice THE MEANS OF PETER'S RECOVERY. They are worth notice.
The first means was, the crowing of the cock. It seemed strange that it should crow, the first time, before the period thatwas known among the Jews as "the cock-crowing." That happened after Peter had denied his Master once, but he does not appearto have taken any notice of it, for he afterwards denied his Master again and yet again. And just as he was speaking the thirdtime, while the words were in his mouth, shrill and clear over that palace wall came the clarion of the cock. Oh, that crowmust have gone home to Peter's heart! We cannot preach half such impressive sermons as that bird then delivered, for its messageforced its way into Peter's conscience! God has many ways of reaching man's conscience. I have known Him touch the conscienceby very singular means-very frequently by the observation of a little child-by the sudden death of a neighbor or a friend-evenby some sentence in a newspaper. There are many birds that God can cause to crow when He bids them, and they startle the sinneras much as that one in Jerusalem startled Peter! But that was not enough, nor was it half enough to bring him to repentance.
The next thing that touched Peter, and the main thing, was the look of Christ. It is not possible for any of us to give sucha look as that. It was such a look as Jehovah gave to the primeval darkness when He said, "Let there be light," and the darknesswas dissipated by one glance of Jehovah's eyes. So the darkness, which the devil had cast over Peter's soul, was made to flyby one flash from the eyes of Jesus! There were volumes of meaning in that look. "Is that Peter, who declared that he wouldnever deny Me? Remember, Peter, what I said, and what you answered-and see which of us turns out to be right." That look alsosaid to Peter, "All these griefs and all this shame that I am enduring do not pierce Me so keenly to the heart as your denialdoes." Yet was it not also a look of inexpressible tenderness, as if the Master said by it, "I still love you, Peter, so comeback to Me and I will yet restore you!" I think it was a heart-piercing look and a heart-healing look all in one-a look whichrevealed to Peter the blackness of his sin and also the tenderness of his Master's heart towards him. That look did the work-thatwas the great means of Peter's recovery. First, the crowing of the cock, or something in Providence, and then the look ofChrist, or something of Grace.
Then, what came in next was Peter's remembrance of Christ's words, for that look awakened his memory and his memory remindedhim of all that his Master had said to him-and of all the happy fellowship he had had with the dear Master and what wondershe had seen Him do. I daresay that Peter remembered how he had once walked upon the water and how he began to sink until Jesusstretched out His hand to save him. At any rate, memory did its work, for, "Peter called to mind the words that Jesus saidunto him, Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times. And when he thought about it, he wept." So those threethings co-operated in producing Peter's recovery.
But there was one thing, at the back of all these, which we must never forget-that is, the prayer of Christ for Peter. Hesaid to him, "I have prayed for you," and the effect of that prayer was made apparent in the Apostle's restoration. That lookwas effectual upon Peter because the Lord Jesus had, in private, made prevalent intercession for him. So his faith was notto fail him and he was to come out of the devil's sieve with not one particle of the genuine wheat that was in him, fallento the ground, but only the chaff taken away! That was the great means which Christ used for Peter's recovery and I beg you,dear Friends, to emulate your Savior's example in this respect. Pray for the fallen, look lovingly and pitifully upon thefallen, for your very look may do them good. Speak to the fallen, seek to guide the fallen back to Christ and who knows howmany of them you may be helped to restore?
III. Now, in the third place, I am to speak very briefly upon THE SIGNS OF PETER'S RESTORATION. What are those signs?
First, he went out. There was something suggestive in that action of his. It might be very cold outside, but Peter left thewarmth of the fire. His heart was hot within him, so he could stand the cold and, therefore, he went out. It is always a signof repentance in Christians who have fallen when they leave the company where they were led astray. If any of you were onceprofessors of the faith and you have turned aside through the evil associations that you have formed, cut yourselves loosefrom those associations at once! "Oh," someone says, "but I might be a loser if I were to do so." You cannot
lose as much as you will if you lose your soul! "Oh, but I do not see how I can escape." You must find a way of escape somehow-youmust do as Lot did. Though he had all his wealth in Sodom, he had to flee from it-and the message to you professors who areamong the ungodly is, "Come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing." ThusPeter went out and it was a wise thing for him to do.
He not only went out, but he wept. As he kept on turning over his sin, it appeared to him in all its blackest hue. We aretold that he wept bitterly. Convulsive weeping came upon him-he could not stand himself-his very heart seemed as if it wouldflow away in rivers of repentant tears.
It is a blessed sign of the work of Grace in the soul when the man who has sinned quits his evil companions and mourns overhis sin as one who is in bitterness for his first-born. If any of you have sinned like Peter, go and weep like Peter. If youhave fallen like Peter, then let your soul bitterly bewail your transgression. Many talk about the greatness of David's sin,but if they knew the depths of David's repentance and the heartbreak that came with it, they would not so glibly speak ofit. There is a tradition that Peter never heard a cock crow, or thought of this incident, as long as he lived, without weeping.And although that is only a tradition, I can well believe it was the case, for that is just what would be likely to happento a true penitent.
IV. Now I close with A FEW GENERAL REMARKS UPON THE INCIDENT.
My first remark is-Christian, it is bad for you to be in evil company. It was bad for Peter to be among those who were standingor sitting round that fire. On a cold night everyone likes a nice comfortable fire. Yes, but you had better suffer discomfortand inconvenience rather than associate with wicked men. Peter was sitting in the seat of the scorner, so we do not wonderthat, at last, he used the scorner's language! Keep out of evil company if you possibly can. If you are obliged to go wherebad language is used, do just as you do when you have to go out in a shower of rain-carry an umbrella to shield you from therain and go through it as quickly as you can. When, in your daily calling, you have to mix with ungodly men, carry the spiritof watchfulness and prayer with you-and slip away from their society as quickly as you can.
My next remark is that it is idle for a true disciple to try to disown his discipleship. Peter says, "I am not one of Christ'sdisciples," but, even by the firelight, he looks like one of them. He swears that he is not and gets away up in the cornerwhere there is no light. But, as soon as he begins talking, they say, "You are one of them!" His very speech causes him tobe discovered-and if you are a genuine Christian, you can no more hide yourself than can the violet in the grass, whose perfumetells the passerby that it is there! There is something about you which will cause people to find you out. I should recommendthose of you who have believed in Christ, but have not joined the Church, or made a confession of your faith, to do so speedilybecause, whether you do so or not, the ungodly will be down upon you! When once Christ sets the mark of His Cross upon yourforehead, all sorts of people will see it and they will say, "You are one of Christ's followers! Your very speech betraysyou. There is something about you that is different from the rest of us, and which tells us that you have been with Jesus."Do not try to hide this distinguishing mark if you have it-and even if you do, you will not be able to do so.
The next general remark is-when you have to depict your own character, always use the black pencil. Never try to extenuateanything. We shall never have any biographies, written by uninspired men, after the fashion of these Bible biographies. Iam sure that if Peter had been the minister of a neighboring Baptist Church and had died, and I had been asked to write hisbiography, I should not have mentioned his denial of his Lord. Or if I had done so, I would have had his wife down on me ifshe was alive! And, if not, all the members of the congregation would have said, "What a shame it was to say anything aboutthat matter after the man was dead! Mr. Spurgeon has written a brother-minister's biography and he has put in all the detailsof that sad incident which ought to have been suppressed." Very likely it ought to be, but it never is suppressed in the Biblenarratives-weget all that happens recorded there. When Mark wrote, as we believe, under the guidance of Peter, he did not keep back anything,but put all down as black as it really was!
But, next, when you are writing of a Brother's character, try to describe it as fairly as possible, for that is what Johndoes in his description of Peter's fall. It is very mildly drawn compared with Peter's own account of it. We must never saywhat is false, but when there has been something that is wrong, let us always put the kindest construction we possibly canupon it. There are always two ways of telling a tale and they may both be true. The one is to lay heavy stress upon all thefaults. The other is to do as John does-to mention them, but to say no more about them than he feels really obliged to
say. Let us be truthful, but let it never seem as if we had any grudge against the wrongdoer. The sacred writers often teachus this lesson and here, Peter gives the worst account of himself, and John gives a more favorable report concerning his erringBrother.
Another remark I have to make is-observe the power that is in people's eyes. You must often have noticed this. What a powerthere was in that maid's eyes when she gazed earnestly upon Peter! It was that earnest gaze of the girl that made Peter denyhis Master. But, then, see the power for good that there was in Christ's eyes. "The Lord turned and looked at Peter." Eyescan say far more than lips can! Often there is more heart-affecting eloquence in the eyes than there is in the tongue. Sometimesyou Christian people, members of the Church, may be by the side of a man who utters a wrong word-but you need not tell himof it-just look at him, that will be enough. If an ungodly man shall even swear in your presence, do not give him a superciliouslook, as much as to say, "O you wicked sinner, to do such a thing in the presence of such a holy man as I am!" But there isanother kind of look, as if you felt so grieved and were amazed that he could so take in vain the name of the ever-blessedGod-that is the sort of look to give him. If the Lord will manage your eyes for you, you will find that they will be potentmessengers of love for Him. God give you to have those sanctified eyes which can work wonders for Him!
My last remark is this- what a mercy it was that Christ did not treat Peter as Peter treated Him Peter said, "I know not theMan." Ah, me, but if the blessed, meek and lowly One had said, "I know not the man," it would have been all over with Peter!May God grant that Christ may not say of anyone of us, at the Last Great Day, "I know not the man"! He willsay it of all whoknow Him not, and whom He does not know-they are not acquainted with one another-and if they continue as they are, He willsay, "Verily, I say unto you, I know you not." Though He has eaten and drunk in your presence and taught in your streets,yet will He say, "I know you not. Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity." The mercy is that He never said that to Peter.And He will never say that to you, or to me if we come and cast ourselves in penitence at His feet, bemoaning our sin, andputting our trust in Him alone! May God grant this blessing to each one of you, dear Friends for Jesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: MATTHEW26:31-35, 57, 58, 69-75;MARK14:53,54, 66-72;LUKE22:54-62; JOHN18:15-18,25-27.
The story of Peter's denial of his Master is recorded in all four of the Gospels. There are some differences of expressionin each version, so it will not be tautology if we read all four of them. And if we read them attentively, we shall get aclear view of the whole incident.
Matthew 26:31-33. Then Jesus said unto them, Allyou shall be offended because ofMe this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd,and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peteranswered and said unto Him, Though all men shall be offended because of You, yet will I never be offended. This was a verypresumptuous speech, not only because of the self-confidence which it displayed, but also because it was a flat contradictionof what the Master had just said. "All you shall be offended because of Me this night." Peter thought he knew better thanChrist did, so he said, "Though all men shall be offended because of You, yet will I never be offended."
34. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto you, That this night, before the cock crow-The cock-crowing was a recognized markof time; it was just before the rising of the sun. "This night, before the rooster crows"-
34, 35. You shall deny Me thrice. Peter said unto Him, Though I should die with You, yet will I not deny You. Here, again,he contradicts his Master straight to His face!
35. Likewise also said all the disciples.
57, 58. And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders wereassembled. But Peter followed Him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see theend.
69-75. Now Peter sat outside in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, You also were with Jesus of Galilee. But hedenied before them all, saying, I know not what you say. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him andsaid unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with
an oath, I do not know the Man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely you also areone of them; for your speech betrays you. Then he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the Man. And immediatelythe cock crew. Then Peter remembered the words of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me threetimes. And he went out and wept bitterly. Now let us read Mark's account, which will especially interest you if you rememberthat, probably, Mark wrote under the direction of Peter and, no doubt, received many of his facts from Peter. You will noticehow severe is this description of the whole scene-it is just such an one as the chief actor in it would be sure to give ashe recalled his fall and restoration.
Mark 14:53, 54. And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chiefpriests and the elders and the scribes.Then Peter followed Him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himselfat the fire. Thus we learn what a cold night it was-that night in which the Savior's "sweat was, as it were, great drops ofblood falling down to the ground." Often, at Jerusalem, the days are extremely hot, yet the nights are as cold as if it werewinter through the abundant dews that fall and cause a dampness everywhere.
66, 67. And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there came one of the maids of the high priest: and when she saw Peter warminghimself, she looked upon him. I think I see her, with her eyes fixed upon him, as he was warming himself at the fire: "Shelooked upon him."
67, 68. Andsaid, And you also were with Jesus ofNazareth. But he denied, saying, Iknnow not, neither understandI what yousay. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. This first time was not the regular time of cock-crowing, but thosebirds crow when they please. Before the fixed period called the cock-crow, Peter was to deny his Master three times-this wasthe first time.
69, 70. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. And he denied it again. Anda little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely you are one of them: for you are a Galilean, and your speechshows it. "You have the peculiar brogue of that part of the country. 'You are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.'"
71, 72. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, Iknnow not this Man of whom you speak. And the second time the cock crew.Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crows twice, you will deny Me three times. Andwhen he thought about it, he wept. He does not say that he went out and wept bitterly, as Luke says in his version of theincident.
This is Peter's own account of it, so he says as little as he can to his own credit, while he tells all that is to his discredit.You notice that there seem to be some slight differences between these two accounts and it is quite natural that it shouldbe so. If any two honest men here were to describe any scene that they had witnessed, the two would be sure to differ in someparticulars, yet both accounts might be true. Matthew tells us that Jesus said to Peter, "Before the rooster crows, you willdeny Me three times," but Mark tells us that He said, "Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times." Yes,but there is no real contradiction, and the incident introduced by Mark shows how, to the very letter, both of those utterancesof our Savior were fulfilled, So is it with regard to those who spoke to Peter. When we come to another account, you willsee that they differ very considerably, yet they are all true, for all that.
Luke 22:54-56. Then took they Him, and led Him, and brought Him into the high priest's house. Then Peter followed afar off And when theyhad kindled a fire in the midst of the hall and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheldhim as he sat by the fire. The flickering light helped to reveal his features to this maid "as he sat by the fire,"
56-58. And earnestly looked upon him andsaid, This man was also with Him. Andhe deniedHim, saying, Woman, I know Him not.And after a little while another saw him andsaid, You are also of them. Then Peter said, Man, I am not. Both Matthew and Marksay that it was a maid, and another maid who spoke to Peter. And now Luke mentions a man- but there is no reason why all threeof them could not have united in bringing this charge. One maid began the accusation, and the others joined with her, so thewhole story is correct.
59-61. And about the space of one hour later another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with Him:for he is a Galilean. Then Peter said, Man, I do not know what you are saying. And immediately, while he yet spoke, the cockcrew. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. The Savior had been standing in the upper part of the room which was, probably,roofed over, while Peter and the rest were down below in the courtyard, which was open to
the sky and, therefore, they needed a fire to warm them. Jesus had been standing before His judge, but all of a sudden, asthe cock crew, He "turned and looked at Peter."
61. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He hadsaid to him, Before the cock crow, you will deny Me three times.That cock-crowing had come at the very moment Christ had foretold, for Peter had already denied his Master thrice.
62. So Peter went out and wept bitterly. Now hear what John has to say about this matter. He wrote after the other three Evangelistsand he generally supplies their deficiencies. He it is who tells us how Simon Peter got into the hall.
John 18:16. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. You know who that was, for John always hides his own name asmuch as possible.
15, 16. That disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest But Peterstoodatthe door outside. Then went out that other disciple, who was known unto the high priest, andspoke unto her that kept the door,and brought in Peter. No doubt she had a lamp in her hand, that she might watch the features of those who were admitted. So,when Peter came in, she had a good view of his face and, afterwards, when he was at the fire, this is the woman who went andshowed him up.
17. Then the damsel that kept the door said unto Peter, Are not you also one of this Man's disciples? She evidently knew thatJohn was one of them, so she put this question to Peter, "Are not you also one of this Man's disciples?"
17, 18. He said, I am not And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and theywarmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself Matthew tells us that, at first, he sat with them, but nowhe is standing, as though he was uneasy, or going out and coming in again. And now he is questioned again.
25-27. AndSimon Peter stoodand warmed himself They said therefore unto him, Are not you also one ofHis disciples? He deniedit and said, I am not One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, said, Did not I seeyou in the Garden with Him? Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew. John does not say anything about Peter'soath, or about his cursing because that had been told by the others, and John had no desire to write anything that would reflectupon Peter. Indeed, he tells us that it was he who went and spoke to the maid that let Peter in-he seems as if he wished usto know that he had been the means of introducing Peter to the place of temptation! And it is interesting to remember thathe was the man who was with Peter on the morning of the Resurrection, so that no doubt he had been the first to find him afterhis fall.