When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
This is a cry which has a long story behind it. It carries us far back as we trace it step by step along the pages of the Old Testament. St. Peter is testifying to his hold on the significance of the law. His words carry us back to the voice of Adam as he saw God draw near in the evening amid the pleasant garden, and he knew the chill of a terrible fear and hid himself among the trees. Ever since that dismal day there had been in man a blind terror lest his Father should come too near him. This is the terror which passes like a shudder through primitive faiths, and turns savage religions into acts of alarm, into rituals of panic. Men are nervous, discomfited, when their God is near; and the very cruelties of these savage faiths are cruelties of fear. They know not the secret of their dread; they cannot syllable the confession, "I am a sinful man." They only know the fear, and passionately, and at any cost, beseech God to depart out of their coasts. This is the terror which is at work to purge witchcraft. Jacob fleeing from his home, when he awakes at Bethel, exclaims, "How dreadful is this place; this is none other but the house of God." It is the terror, this terror with its deep ground-tone, which meets us, in its simplest and most natural fashion, in Manoah, when the vision of the angel did wondrously and vanished, and he cried to his wife, "We shall surely die, because we have seen God." And we know its utterance, its stormy utterance, in the mouths of Israel, at the foot of Sinai, as they cried to Moses, not "Bring us near to God," but " Set bounds lest He break forth upon us. Why should we die? If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, we shall die."
(Canon Scott Holland.)
Parallel VersesKJV: When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
WEB: But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord."