But Peter kept insisting, "Even if I have to die with You, I will never deny You." And all the others said the same.
Zechariah 13:7. It taught him how absolutely solitary his position would be in judgment and death, as other passages had done; and suggested to him the reason for it.
I. THE UNIVERSAL DEFECTION OF THE DISCIPLES BEFORE CHRIST'S DEATH WAS A SPIRITUAL NECESSITY. They could not understand or allow it. It seemed so unnatural and unlikely. But their Master felt, by gauging his own spirit, how much would be required to enable them to be steadfast, and how wanting they were in the higher principles of spiritual life. He accepted the situation, and sought beforehand to prepare his disciples for the revelation of their own weakness, that when it took place it might not destroy all hope or desire to return to their fidelity. It was, then, at once in expression of his own inward Messianic consciousness, and in order to their warning and instruction, that he quoted the prophecy. How was this desertion of their Master a necessary experience? Because the realization of absolute oneness with Christ in the spirit of self-denial, or rather of love, would only be possible after his own sacrifice, as its ground or condition. They were, meanwhile, still in a state of pupilage or infancy. They could not understand the reason of his strange path, so unlike what they had anticipated. Had they been able to stand by the Lord when he was delivered up, they might have been their own saviors, and his work would not have been requisite.
II. SELF-CONFIDENCE IN ASSERTING ITS SUPERIORITY TO THIS LAW WOULD ONLY THE MORE SIGNALLY ILLUSTRATE IT. Peter, the representative of theoretic faith, was strong in his contradiction to this statement. It was he who had said, "Lord to whom can we go?" etc., and who had heard the approving response, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17); and who had been called the rock. He therefore goes forward in the strength of his own convictions, and courts the disaster he sought to avoid, and that in an exaggerated form. (The seeming discrepancy between the evangelists as to the crowing and crowing twice is easily explained.) That very day, nay, that night, ere the dawning, he should deny his Lord thrice, i.e. absolutely and utterly; and, that he might test his Master's faithfulness and his own failure, the sign was given - "before the cock crow twice." His bold self-confidence and resolute endeavor to be with Christ were shown in his penetrating the hall of justice, and mingling in the very crowd amidst which the Savior stood. But this only provoked the challenge before which all his manhood quailed. The others did not orally deny Christ, because they had fled beforehand.
III. BUT WITH THE WARNING A WORD OF HOPE AND COMFORT WAS UTTERED. The Shepherd would reassemble his scattered flock, when he went before them into Galilee. But they could not receive the saying upon which that depended - "after I am raised up." It was to be lodged in their consciousness, nevertheless, to be recalled again when its fulfillment took place, and to be put on record as another evidence of the faith. Then they would no longer be told, "Whither I go ye cannot come," as he would give his Spirit to them. - M.
I will not deny Thee in any wise.I. We may learn from this transaction NOT TO BE TOO FORWARD IN OUR PROFESSIONS, or too confident in our own strength, lest confidence should at last increase the guilt and shame of failure; and in the event of nonperformance, our professions be turned to our reproach. The chief of the apostles mistook the firmness of his own spirit. In the day of peace it is easy to form good resolutions, and to be confident that we shall perform them. To resolve in private and act in public are very different things, requiring very different degrees of firmness, both in exerting the powers of the understanding and in regulating the affections of the heart. Rash resolutions are foolish, and rash vows cannot be innocent. Yet our weakness is itself the decisive proof that vows and resolutions ought to be made. But let them be made as reason and duty require — deliberately not ostentatiously; not so much to be heard as to be kept; not so much to man as to God.
II. TO HOPE THE BEST, AND TO DEPEND THE MOST UPON THOSE WHOSE TEMPERS ARE NOT SO WARM AND FORWARD, BUT MILD, AND COOL, AND FIRM. In St. John we find no forward professions, no hasty declarations of invincible spirit. He was firm and faithful, but meek and unoffending. His zeal united gentleness. Zeal should be with moderation. The passions must not rule the conduct. The feelings of a good man are ruled by his religion. "Every thought should be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." Without such guidance feeling is bold, forward, and capricious, liable to error, and will involve us in sin; but conviction and principle are steady and permanent; truth and right are forever the same.
III. THAT IF WE BE SURPRISED INTO ANY FAILURE IN OUR DUTY WE MAY BE FORGIVEN UPON REPENTANCE AND REFORMATION. But this great privilege must not be allowed to relax our care, or encourage our presumption. St. Peter delayed his repentance only till he knew his fault. Hand-in-hand with conviction came contrition.
(W. Barrow, LL. D.)
The Preacher's Monthly.The text shows St. Peter exercising the supreme influence.
I. HERE IS PETER'S UNDOUBTED SUPREMACY. History circles around great names. Men are not all original. The apostles could not do without Peter.
II. THIS SUPREMACY WAS INTELLECTUAL, MORAL, SPIRITUAL; NOT ECONOMICAL, LEGAL, OR MERELY OFFICIAL. His supremacy rose out of qualification. There are no spiritual leaderships which can be irrespective of character. A true man must always influence others powerfully.
III. THE VALUE OF SUCH CHARACTERS AS THAT OF PETER IN THE CHURCH. Each age needs men who can call onward and upward because they are beyond and above.
IV. HERE IS NOBLE PURPOSE AND NOBLE FEELING COMING SHORT IN ACTION. The sequel is, "they all forsook Him and fled." Not even the grandest human inspirations have staying virtues in them. These must be sought from the Holy Spirit.
(The Preacher's Monthly.)
1. It is a very hard thing to lead people out of themselves. Almost nothing but experience of former falls brings them to see their folly.
2. Till their mind is changed their action will be the same.
3. Weakness of grace causes even the best to fall over and over again into the same sins.
4. The same reason remains still which may move the Lord to leave His children to themselves; to try, excite, humble them, work more serious sorrow, make them more watchful, etc.
(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)
(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)
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