But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what you say. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.…
I. PETER NEVER MEANT TO DENY HIS LORD. He believed now, as clearly as he did that day at Caesarea Philippi, "Thou art the Christ," etc. He was honest in saying, "Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee." He proved that soon after by drawing his sword in defence of Christ. Any believer may have a like assurance. There is the peril. If there should come to a Sabbath congregation a voice from heaven, declaring that someone there would one day turn out a thief, how impossible it would seem! Every one would think there must be a mistake; the message has come to the wrong church, or, at least, it does not mean me. Of course not. Satan says to us all, "Think of your faith, your virtue, your blood, your position." And when he has beguiled us into such self-complacency, he begins his manoeuvres, not asking us at first to do anything dishonest, but commencing on the borderline between his kingdom and the Lord's, knowing if we yield to him in things that are doubtful, we will soon yield to him in things that are sure. A leading member of a city church, caught in a shameful crime, wrote his friends: "I am astonished at the blindness and wickedness of my course."
II. PETER WENT VOLUNTARILY INTO THE WAY OF TEMPTATION. Peter thought very likely that he was safe in such company, because nobody would know him. A Christian had better not stay at the fire with the ungodly. Satan did not come to him as a "roaring lion," but in a mere whisper. Who could draw a sword at a young girl? If he had contemplated her question, he might have had ready an answer that would have been truthful without giving offence. Often the science of truth-telling is to look out for emergencies; to have ready an answer that shall be polite and true. But that is essentially the science of all virtue. It is the trials which take us by surprise that measure our strength; it is at these crises that destiny is made. And such unlooked-for assaults are sure to come to a Christian who goes voluntarily into the way of temptation. One who does not watch has no right to pray. A man, exhorted to abandon a habit of drinking that was fast dragging him to ruin, replied: "I magnify more than you do the grace of God. Without drinking anyone could save himself. I believe in grace that can save a man when he does drink." He held that delusion till he died a sot. That is a Divine law with reference to all sin. If you throw yourself from the top of the temple, God has power to keep your bones from breaking; but you had better not do so, for it is written: "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." The precept, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall," means, if you are walking in slippery places, watch every little danger, every least step. One may slip as badly on a foot of ice as on an acre. Peter would not have fallen if he had remembered Christ's caution spoken to him: "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation."
III. PETER REPENTED. There is no other way back to Christ for one who has fallen.
IV. PETER FOUND MERCY.
(T. J. Holmes.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.