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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 26 - Verse 75

Verse 75. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, etc. 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 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 peculiar favours; 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 but 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:

1st. The danger of self-confidence. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." 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.

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

3rd. 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 till the soul is overwhelmed in awful guilt.

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

5th. A look from Jesus—a look of mingled affection, pity, and reproof— produces bitter sorrow for sin. Him we injure 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.

6th. 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 pity his children; and he will receive them; like weeping Peter, to his arms again.

7th. 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 able 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, Lu 22:32. Jesus was always heard in his prayer, Joh 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 Jesus. 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,

8th. though a Christian may be suffered to go astray—-may fall into sin—yet he who should, from this example of Peter, think 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 honesty. 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 candour of the evangelists could not be demanded.

{l} "word of Jesus" Mt 26:34; Lu 22:31-34

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