Part 4: Peter’s repentence

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.” (Luke 22:61-62)

This was the turning-point in the history of Peter. Christ had said to him: “Thou canst not follow me now.” Peter was not in a fit state to follow Christ because he had not been brought to an end of himself. He did not know himself, and he therefore could not follow Christ. But when he went out and wept bitterly, then came the great change. Christ previously said to him: “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Here is the point where Peter was converted from self to Christ.

I thank God for the story of Peter. I do not know a man in the Bible who gives us greater comfort. When we look at his character, so full of failures, and at what Christ made him by the power of the Holy Spirit, there is hope for every one of us. But remember, before Christ could fill Peter with the Holy Ghost and make a new man of him, he had to be humbled. If we want to understand this, I think there are four points that we must look at.

1. Peter, the devoted disciple of Christ

Jesus called Peter to forsake his nets and follow Him. Peter did that at once, and afterwards he could say to the Lord: “We have forsaken all and followed Thee“.

Peter was a man of absolute surrender; he gave up all and followed Jesus. Peter was also a man of ready obedience. You remember Jesus said to him: “Launch out into the deep and let down your net.” Peter the fisherman knew there were no fish there, for they had been toiling all night and caught nothing; but he said “At Thy word I will let down the net.” He submitted to the word of Jesus. Further, he was a man of great faith. When he saw Jesus walking on the sea, he said “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee”; and at the voice of Christ he stepped out of the boat and walked upon the water.

And Peter was a man of spiritual insight. When Christ asked His disciples “Whom do ye say that I am?” Peter was able to answer “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Christ said: “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” And Christ spoke of him as the rock man, and of his having the keys of the kingdom. Peter was a splendid man, a devoted disciple of Jesus, and if he were living nowadays, everyone would say that he was an advanced Christian. And yet, how much there was wanting in Peter.

2. Peter, living the life of self

Peter was living the life of self, pleasing self, trusting self  and seeking the honour of self. You recollect that just after Christ had said to him: “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven,” Christ began to speak about His sufferings, and Peter dared to say: “Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall not be unto Thee.” Then Jesus had to say: “Get thee behind me, Satan; tor thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” There was Peter in his self-will, trusting his own wisdom, and actually forbidding Christ to go and die. Where did that come from? Peter trusted in himself and his own thoughts about divine things. We see later on, more than once, that among the disciples there was a questionning who should be the greatest, and Peter was one of them, and he thought he had a right to the very first place. He sought his own honour even above the others. It was the life of self strong in Peter. He had left his boats and his nets, but not his old self.

When Christ had spoken to him about His sufferings and said “Get thee behind me, Satan,” He followerd up by saying “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” No man can follow Him unless he do that. Self must be utterly denied. Whast does that mean? When Peter denied Christ, we read that he said three times “I do not know the man“; in other words “I hvae nothing to do with Him; He and I are no friends; I deny having any connection with Him.” Christ told Peter that he must deny self. Self must be ignored, and it’s every claim rejected. That is the root of true discipleship: but Peter did not understand it, and could not obey it.

3. Peter, and his repentence

Peter denied the Loird thrice, and then the Lord looked upon him; and that look of Jesus broke the heart of Peter, and all at once there opened up before him the terrible sin that he had committed, the terrible failure that had come, and the depth into which he had fallen, and “Peter went out and cried bitterly.”

Oh, who can tell what that repentance must have been? During the following hours of that night, and the next day, when Christ was crucified and buried, and the next day, the Sabbath – oh, in what hopeless despair and shame he must have spent that day!

My Lord is gone, my hope is gone, and I denied my Lord.After that life of love, after that blessed fellowship of three years, I denied my Lord. God have mercy upon me!

I do not think we can realize into what a depth of humiliation Peter sank then. But that was the turning-point and the change; and on the first day of the week, Christ was seen of Peter, and in the evening He met him with the others. Later at the lake og Galilee He asked him: “Lovest thou me?” until Peter was made sad by the thought that the Lord reminded him of having denied Him thrice; and said in sorrow, but but in uprightness: “Lord, thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee.”

4. Peter, delivered from self

You know that Christ took him with the others to the footstool of the throne and bade them wait there; and at the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came, and Peter was a changed man. I do not want you to think only of the change in Peter, in that boldness, and that power, and that insight into the Scriptures, and that blessing with which he preached that day.  Thank God for that. But there was something deeper and better. Petr’s whole nature was changed. The work that Christ began in Peter when He looked upon him was perfected when he was filled with the Holy Ghost.

If you want to see that, read 1 Peter. You know wherein Peter’s failings lay. When he said to Jesus, in effect “Thou never canst suffer; it cannot be” – it showed he had not a conception of what it was to pass through death into life. Christ said “Deny thyself,” and he insisted that he never would, Peter showed how little he understood what there was in himself. But when I read his epistle and hear him say. “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, for the Spirit of God and of glory resteth upon you,” then I say that is not the old Peter, but that is the very Spirit of Christ breathing and speaking within him.

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