Matthew 26:75
And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
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(75) Peter remembered the word of Jesus.—St. Luke records (Luke 22:61) that it was at this moment, probably as He was passing from the council chamber, mocked and buffeted by the officers, that “the Lord turned and looked upon Peter.” That glance, full, we must believe, of tenderest pity and deepest sadness, as of one who was moved not by anger but by sorrow, recalled him to his better self, and the flood-gates of penitence were opened. From that hour we lose sight of him till the morning of the Resurrection. We may infer from his then appearing in company with John (John 20:3), that he turned in his contrition to the friend and companion of his early years, who had probably witnessed his denials, and was not repulsed. The fact that the record of his fall appears in every Gospel, may be noted as indicating that, in after years, he did not shrink from letting men know of his guilt, but sought rather that men might find in him (as St. Paul afterwards in his experience, 1Timothy 1:12-16) a proof of the mercy and tender pity of his Lord.

Matthew 26:75. And Peter — Immediately upon hearing the cock crow, remembered the words of Jesus — The crowing of the cock reminding him of them. Thus, at the same time that Jesus predicted his fall, by mentioning that it would happen before the cock crew, he provided the means of his recovery, and by this little circumstance the fallen apostle is awakened and brought to repentance. Such weak and contemptible means does God sometimes use to open the eyes of sinners, and bring them to a sense of their danger and their duty! This, however, was not the only means of Peter’s restoration. Luke informs us, that immediately upon Peter’s denying Christ the third time, and the crowing of the cock, the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, and that, upon his so doing, Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow thou shalt deny me thrice. “The members of the council,” it appears, “who examined Jesus, sat at the upper end of the hall; in the other, were the servants with Peter at the fire. Wherefore, if Christ was placed on some footstool or bench, that his judges, who were many in number, might hear and see him, he could easily look over the heads of those who stood around him, and observe what was doing at the fire; particularly he could see Peter, who was then denying him with imprecations, and in the vehemency of his passion was speaking loud enough to be heard at the upper end of the room. But he had no sooner denied his Master the third time, than the cock crew, and awakened in him the first conviction of his sin; or at least made him look to his Master, in order, perhaps, to see if he were taking notice of what had happened. But at the same instant Jesus, turning about, fixed his eyes on his cowardly disciple. The look pierced him, and with the crowing of the cock, brought his Master’s prediction afresh into his mind. He was stung with deep remorse, and being unable to contain himself, he covered his face with his garment (see note on Mark 14:72) to conceal the confusion he was in, and going out he wept most bitterly;” experiencing that godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto salvation not to be repented of.

Before we dismiss this melancholy subject of Peter’s fall, it may not be unprofitable to notice, as a warning to ourselves, two particulars therein: First, the gradual progress of sin in him, and the various gradations by which it advanced to this depth of wickedness. From self-confidence, which was the source of the whole mischief, he proceeded, 1st, To disbelieve and disregard Christ’s warnings; and therefore: 2d, Neglected to watch and pray. 3d, When alarmed by the unexpected coming of the band to apprehend Jesus, he gave way to his own spirit, and drew his carnal weapon to defend his heavenly Master. 4th, Immediately upon being convinced of his error in this, he passed from rash courage to unreasonable cowardice, and instantly forsook his Master and fled. 5th, When, recollecting himself, he followed, it was afar off. 6th. Having unthinkingly ventured into the company of Christ’s enemies, when he had the fairest opportunity of confessing his Master, and an evident call to do it, he denied him, first, it seems, equivocating and shuffling, then telling a plain and direct lie, and confirming it by an oath, and, last of all, to gain it still greater credit, cursing and swearing. The aggravations of his sin are, secondly, deserving of our notice: 1st, He was guilty of this base, cowardly, and false conduct in the presence of Christ’s enemies, the high-priest, scribes, and elders, and their servants, who, doubtless, rejoiced at it; and were confirmed in their unbelief, after witnessing the treachery of one of Jesus’s disciples in selling him for money, to hear another of them denying him through fear. 2d, He thus denied his Master, told these lies, and uttered these oaths and curses within his Master’s view, and in his hearing. 3d, The time when Peter behaved in this manner was a peculiar aggravation of his sin. It was within a few hours after his gracious Master had most solemnly and repeatedly warned him of his danger, and he had been a witness of his conflict and bitter sorrow in the garden: it was when his Lord, of whose transfiguration and glory on the mount he had been an astonished and admiring spectator, was beginning to be most unjustly and cruelly treated by the persecutors of God’s truth, and the enemies of all righteousness, for his unspeakable love to Peter himself, and others of the human race, whom he was about to redeem and save. “The time,” says Saurin, “when Peter denied Christ, makes his crime great indeed! The time of the Lord’s looking at him illuminates his looks! At the very time when Jesus was giving the tenderest marks of his love, Peter discovered the blackest ingratitude to him; while Jesus redeemed Peter, Peter denied Jesus! While Jesus yielded to the bloody death of the cross for Peter, Peter refused to confess him! But — Jesus looks at him! My brethren, what do these looks say? how eloquent are those eyes! Never was a discourse so effectual; never did an orator express himself with so much force! It is the man of griefs complaining of a new burden, while he is ready to sink under what he already bears. It is the beneficent Redeemer of mankind pitying a soul ready to be lost! It is the apostle of our profession preaching in chains! In fine, it is the Sovereign of the hearts of men, the Almighty God of love, curbing the efforts of the devil, and taking his conquest away!”

26:69-75 Peter's sin is truly related, for the Scriptures deal faithfully. Bad company leads to sin: those who needlessly thrust themselves into it, may expect to be tempted and insnared, as Peter. They scarcely can come out of such company without guilt or grief, or both. It is a great fault to be shy of Christ; and to dissemble our knowledge of him, when we are called to own him, is, in effect, to deny him. Peter's sin was aggravated; but he fell into the sin by surprise, not as Judas, with design. But conscience should be to us as the crowing of the cock, to put us in mind of the sins we had forgotten. Peter was thus left to fall, to abate his self-confidence, and render him more modest, humble, compassionate, and useful to others. The event has taught believers many things ever since, and if infidels, Pharisees, and hypocrites stumble at it or abuse it, it is at their peril. Little do we know how we should act in very difficult situations, if we were left to ourselves. Let him, therefore, that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall; let us all distrust our own hearts, and rely wholly on the Lord. Peter wept bitterly. Sorrow for sin must not be slight, but great and deep. Peter, who wept so bitterly for denying Christ, never denied him again, but confessed him often in the face of danger. True repentance for any sin will be shown by the contrary grace and duty; that is a sign of our sorrowing not only bitterly, but sincerely.And Peter remembered the word of Jesus ... - Luke has mentioned a beautiful and touching circumstance omitted by the other evangelists, that when the cock crew, "Jesus turned and looked upon Peter," and that then he remembered his words. They were in the same room - Jesus at the upper end of the hall, elevated for a tribunal and Peter below with the servants, so that Jesus could look down upon Peter standing near the fire. By a tender and compassionate look - a single glance of his eye the injured Saviour brought to remembrance all Peter's promises, his own predictions, and the great guilt of the disciple; he overwhelmed him with the remembrance of his sin, and pierced his heart through with many sorrows. The consciousness of deep and awful guilt rushed over Peter's soul; he flew from the palace, he went where he might be alone in the darkness of the night, and "wept bitterly."

The fall of Peter is one of the most melancholy instances of depravity ever committed in our world. But a little while before so confident; seated at the table of the Lord; distinguished throughout the ministry of Christ with special favors; cautioned against this very thing; yet so soon denying him, forgetting his promises, and profanely calling on God to witness what he knew to be false - that he did not know him! Had it been only once, it would have been awful guilt - guilt deeply piercing the Redeemer's soul in the day of trial; but it was three times repeated, and at last with profane cursing and swearing. Yet, while we weep over Peter's fall, and seek not to palliate his crime, we should draw from it important practical uses:

1. The danger of self-confidence. "He that thinketh he standeth should take heed lest he fall" 1 Corinthians 10:12. True Christian confidence is that which relies on God for strength, and feels safety only in the belief that he is able and willing to keep from temptation.

2. The highest favors, the most exalted privileges, do not secure us from the danger of falling into sin. Few men were ever so highly favored as Peter; few ever so dreadfully departed from the Saviour, and brought so deep a scandal on religion.

3. When a man begins to sin; his fall from one act to another is easy - perhaps almost certain. At first, Peter's sin was only simple denial; then it increased to more violent affirmation, and ended with open profaneness. So the downward road of crime is easy. When sin is once indulged, the way is open for a whole deluge of crime, nor is the course easily stayed until the soul is overwhelmed in awful guilt.

4. True repentance is deep, thorough, bitter. Peter wept bitterly. It was sincere sorrow - sorrow proportioned to the nature of the offence he had committed.

5. A look from Jesus - a look of mingled affection, pity, and reproof - produces bitter sorrow for sin. We injure Him by our crimes; and His tender look, when we err, pierces the soul through with many sorrows, opens fountains of tears in the bosom, and leads us to weep with bitterness over our transgressions.

6. When we sin when we fall into temptation - let us retire from the world, seek the place of solitude, and pour out our sorrows before God. He will mark our groans; he will hear our sighs; he will behold our tears; and he will receive us to his arms again.

7. Real Christians may be suffered to go far astray. To show them their weakness, to check self-confidence, and to produce dependence on Jesus Christ, they may be permitted to show how weak, and feeble, and rash they are. Peter was a real believer. Jesus had prayed for him "that his faith should fail not," Luke 22:32. Jesus was always heard in his prayer, John 11:42. He was heard, therefore, then. Peter's faith did not fail - that is, his belief in Jesus, his real piety, his true attachment to the Saviour. He knew during the whole transaction that Jesus was the Messiah, and that he himself was well acquainted with him; but he was suffered to declare that which he knew was not true, and in this consisted his sin. Yet,

8. Though a Christian may be suffered to go astray - may fall into sin - yet he who should, from this example of Peter, think that he might, lawfully do it, or who should resolve to do it, thinking that he might, like Peter, weep and repent, would give evidence that he knew nothing of the grace of God. He that resolves to sin under the expectation of repenting hereafter "cannot be a Christian."

It is worthy of further remark, that the fact that the fall of Peter is recorded by "all" the evangelists is high proof of their "honestly." They were willing to tell the truth as it was; to conceal no fact, even if it made much against themselves, and to make mention of their own faults without attempting to appear to be better than they were. And it is worthy of special observation that Mark has recorded this with all the circumstances of aggravation, perhaps even more so than the others. Yet, by the universal belief of antiquity, the Gospel of Mark was written under Peter's direction, and every part of it submitted to him for examination. Higher proof of the honesty and candor of the evangelists could not be demanded.

Mt 26:57-75. Jesus Arraigned before the Sanhedrim Condemned to Die, and Shamefully Entreated—The Denial of Peter. ( = Mr 14:53-72; Lu 22:54-71; Joh 18:13-18, 24-27).

For the exposition, see on [1366]Mr 14:53-72.

Mark saith, Mark 14:72, And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept. Luke saith, Luke 22:61,62, And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out and wept bitterly. We have in this last verse Peter’s repentance and the occasion and cause of it. A good man may fall, and that foully, but he shall not fall so as to rise no more. David lay longer than Peter under the guilt of his sin, but both of them wept bitterly. He went out of the porch; whither he went is not said; possibly he was afraid to what this detection of him might rise, or else sought a place (as Joseph did) to weep more privately and plentifully than he durst do, or thought convenient to do, in the porch of the high priest. That which gave occasion to this reflection was the crowing of the cock the second time, and his remembrance of the words of Jesus, Matthew 26:34. Our memories serve us much in the business of repentance, and therefore that the soul should be without knowledge of the law of God is not good. Peter remembered what Christ had personally said to him. True penitents are still excited to repentance, by remembering the law of God, what Christ hath in his word said to them, and considering their own ways. The crowing of the cock the second time helped him to remember the words of Jesus, for he had said, Before the cock crow twice, &c. But the cause of his repentance is expressed by Luke, The Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. More must be understood by this look of Christ upon him than the mere cast of Christ’s bodily eye: with that look there was a virtue which went from Christ which healed Peter, exciting his habit of grace, and assisting him in the exercise of it; which double influence of grace is necessary to every renewed soul. Christ looked upon Judas, when Judas kissed him; yea, and said to him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? Yet Judas went on in his villany without remorse. He looked upon Peter, and he went out and wept bitterly. He looked only upon the face of Judas, but he looked upon the heart of Peter, as well as upon his face.

And Peter remembered the words of Jesus,.... Forgetfulness of God, of his works, of his words, and of his law, of his revealed mind and will, is often the cause of sin; and a remembrance of things is necessary to the recovery of a fallen or backsliding professor; as, of what he is fallen from, of the love and kindness of God formerly shown to him, of his evil ways and works he is fallen into, and of the words and truths of Christ he has been very indifferent unto and lukewarm about:

which said unto him, before the cock crow, or is done crowing,

thou shalt deny me thrice; which he was put in mind of on hearing the cock crow. So by one means, or another, sometimes by some remarkable providence, and sometimes by the ministry of the word, God is pleased to alarm and awaken sleepy professors, backsliding believers, and remind them of their condition and duty, and restore them by repentance, as he did Peter:

and he went out; of the high priest's palace, either through fear, lest he should be seen weeping, and be suspected; or rather through shame, not being able to continue where his Lord was, when he had so shamefully denied him; as also to leave the company he had got into, being sensible he was wrong in mingling himself with such, and thereby exposed himself to these temptations; as well as to vent his grief in tears privately:

and wept bitterly; being thoroughly sensible what an evil and bitter thing the sin was, he had been guilty of: his repentance sprung from Christ's looking upon him, and from his looking to Jesus, and was truly evangelical: it was a sorrow after a godly sort, and was increased by the discoveries of Christ's love unto him; and was attended with faith in him, and views of pardon through him: the Persic version adds, "and his sin is forgiven"; which, though not in the text, yet is a truth; for Peter's repentance was not like Cain's, nor Esau's, nor Judas's; it was not the repentance of one in despair, but was a repentance unto life and salvation, which needed not to be repented of.

And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Matthew 26:75. Ἐξελθ. ἕξω] namely, from the porch (Matthew 26:71) in which the second and third denial had taken place. Finding he could no longer repress the feeling of sorrowful penitence that filled his heart, the apostle must go outside to be all alone with his remorse and shame. The fear of being detected (Chrysostom) had by this time undoubtedly become to him a very secondary consideration; he was now himself again.

εἰρηκότος αὐτῷ] who had said to him (Matthew 26:34), in itself a superfluous expression, and yet “grande participium,” Bengel.

πικρῶς] he wept bitterly. Comp. Isaiah 22:4, and the passages in Wetstein. How totally different was it with Judas! “Lacrymarum physica amaritudo (comp. Hom. Od. iv. 153) aut dulcedo (comp. γλυκύδακρυς, Meleag. 45), congruit cum affectu animi,” Bengel.


Seeing that the whole four evangelists concur in representing Peter as having denied Jesus three times, we are bound to regard the threefold repetition of the denial as one of the essential features of the incident (in opposition to Paulus, who, in the discrepancies that occur in the various accounts, finds traces of no less than eight different denials). The information regarding this circumstance can only have been derived from Peter himself; comp. also John 21:1 ff. As for the rest, however, it must be acknowledged—(1) that John (and Luke too, see on Luke 22:54 ff.) represents the three denials as having taken place in a different locality altogether, namely, in the court of the house in which Annas lived, and not in that of Caiaphas; while to try to account for this by supposing that those two persons occupied one and the same dwelling (Euthymius Zigabenus, Ebrard, Lange, Lichtenstein, Riggenbach, Pressensé, Steinmeyer, Keim), is a harmonistic expedient that is far from according with the clear view of the matter presented in the fourth Gospel; see on John 18:16; John 18:25. (2) That the Synoptists agree neither with John nor with one another as to certain points of detail connected with the three different scenes in question, and more particularly with reference to the localities in which they are alleged to have taken place, and the persons by whom the apostle was interrogated as to his connection with Jesus; while to say, in attempting to dispose of this, that “Abnegatio ad plures plurium interrogationes facta uno paroxysmo, pro una numeratur” (Bengel), is to make a mere assertion, against which all the accounts of this incident without exception enter, so to speak, an emphatic protest. (3) It is better, on the whole, to allow the discrepancies to remain just as they stand, and to look upon them as sufficiently accounted for by the diverse forms which the primitive tradition assumed in regard to details. This tradition has for its basis of fact the threefold denial, not merely a denial several times repeated, and, as Strauss alleges, reduced to the number three to agree with the prediction of Jesus. It is to the narrative of John, however, as being that of the only evangelist who was an eye-witness, that we ought to trust for the most correct representation of this matter. Olshausen, however, gives to the synoptic narratives with the one hand so much of the merit in this respect as he takes from the Johannine with the other, and thus lays himself open to the charge of arbitrarily confounding them all.

Matthew 26:75. καὶ ἐμνήσθη: The cock crowing caused a sudden revulsion of feeling, and flashed in on Peter’s mind the light of a vivid recollection: the word his Master had spoken.—πρὶν, etc., repeated as in Matthew 26:34.—ἐξελθὼν, going out, neither in fear of apprehension (Chrys., Euthy.) nor from shame (Orig., Jer.), but that he might give free rein to penitent feeling.—ἔκλαυσεν, wept loudly, as distinct from δακρύειν (John 11:35), to shed tears.

Matthew 26:75. Καὶ, and) then at last. Unbelief, fear, sorrow, bind even the natural faculties, which the joy of faith revives. See Luke 24:7-8.[1168]—εἰρηκότος, which said) A participle of mighty force.—πικρῶς, bitterly) Tears are bitter or sweet, according to the emotion from which they spring. Even if Peter’s weeping was not of long duration, his grief was so undoubtedly: see Mark 16:7. [All his former presumption ceased then and for ever.—B. G. V.] The tears of the godly, even of men, who do not easily weep from any other cause, furnish a great proof of the power, and consequently the truth, of Christianity.

[1168] ἐμνησθη, remembered) Forgetfulness is not unattended with loss and injury. But, nevertheless, if Peter had not ceased to remember the words of Jesus in the very act of his denying Him, his sin would have been even still more heinous.—V. g.

Verse 75. - Peter remembered the word of Jesus. Simultaneously with the crowing of the cock, the Lord turned round, and from the chamber facing the court looked upon Peter (Luke 22:61), singled him out from all the crowd, showed that amid all his own sufferings and sorrows be had not forgotten his weak apostle. What that look did for Peter we learn by succeeding events; it is for the homilist to expatiate thereon. Christ had prayed for him, and the effect of that prayer was now felt. He went out. From the portico where the denial had taken place; he rushed from that evil company into the night, a broken-hearted man, that no human eye might witness his anguish, that alone with his conscience and God he might wrestle out repentance. Wept bitterly. Tradition asserts that all his life long Peter hereafter never could hear a cock crow without failing on his knees and weeping.

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