2771. Peter’s Fall And Restoration

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Peter’s Fall And Restoration

No. 2771-48:133. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, October 22, 1882, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, March 23, 1902.

And the Lord turned, and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows, you shall deny me three times.” And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. {Lu 22:61,62}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2034, “Peter’s Restoration” 2035}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2771, “Peter’s Fall and Restoration” 2772}
   Exposition on Lu 22:39-65 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2489, “Singing Saints” 2490 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 22:7-34,54-62 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2620, “Christ’s Prayer for Peter” 2621 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Mt 26:31-35,57,58,69-75 Mr 14:53,54,66-72 Lu 22:54-62 Joh 18:15-18,25-27 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2771, “Peter’s Fall and Restoration” 2772 @@ "Exposition"}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Lu 22:62"}

1. Peter’s fall, as we noticed in our reading, is recorded four times, at considerable length; but it is not once excused. There is not, in any one of the records, a single word said by way of palliation of his great guilt. John pictures Peter’s sin in colours of an almost neutral tint, yet he does not lessen its gravity.

2. Why, do you think, this sad record is given four times? Is it not in order that we should give it fourfold attention? It deserves this special mention, first, because it must have greatly increased the grief of the Lord Jesus Christ to know that, while he was enduring untold indignities on his people’s behalf, his most prominent disciple was denying him, with oaths and curses, down at the lower end of the hall. Surely, this must have cut him to the quick. I cannot imagine that any of the tortures that he endured from his enemies could have caused him so much pain as this wicked denial by one of his closest friends. Let your pity and love for Jesus flow in deep and broad streams while you behold him who ate bread with him lifting up his heel against him, and even declaring that he does not know the man. Blessed Master, there is not one tint of all the colours of grief that is lacking in the picture of your passion! It is not possible to depict sufferings more acute and intense than were yours when you died, “the Just for the unjust,” to bring us to God.

3. But, next, I think that Peter’s fall and restoration are so fully recorded to show the greatness of our Redeemer’s saving power in the immediate prospect of his cruel death on the cross. Is it not amazing to think that, before he dies, he restores this great backslider, — I had almost said, “this open apostate,” for so he was according to his own language, though he was not so in heart? I can, in imagination, see poor Peter bending before the cross of Calvary, and looking up, through tears of grief and joy, as he mourns his great guilt, and sees it all forgiven. Then the dying thief comes, to represent another class of characters who bring great glory to our dying Lord. Peter is the backslider restored; the dying thief is the sinner saved at the eleventh hour. He was on the very brink of hell, yet the Master stretched out his hand to rescue him, saying, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise.” I cannot imagine two incidents revealing greater grace than these two, which so richly adorn and embellish the cross. Just as captives chained to the wheels of the returning conqueror’s chariot make his triumphal procession all the more illustrious, so is Christ on the cross all the more obviously triumphant in his infinite grace as he leads the restored Peter back to his apostleship, and takes the penitent thief, plucked from perdition, up with himself into the Paradise of God.

4. Moreover, do you not think that there is, in this fourfold record, an instructive lesson for us concerning the frailty of the best of men? Holy Scripture does not tell us much even about the best of men who lived in the olden times; its history of the saints is somewhat scanty, but it is careful in recording their faults, as if its special purpose was to remind us that the best of men are only men at the best. This Peter, who seemed to lead the vanguard, was still so frail and fallible — so far from being the first infallible Bishop of Rome — that he even denied his Lord and Master. That is about the only point, as far as I can see, in which the Pope of Rome is like Peter, for he, too, has great presumption, and he can, with his bulls {a} and his curses, go about as far as Peter did in denying his Lord. Peter’s fall seems to say to every one of us, “You, too, are weak; you, too, will fall if you are left to yourself. Therefore totally trust in your Master, but never trust in yourself. Look away to him, and do not rely on your own experience, or the firmness of your own resolutions; for you will assuredly fall, as Peter did, unless the almighty hand of Christ shall hold you up.”

5. These lessons might profit us even if we learned no others; but I think we may find some more as I now proceed to speak to you, first, concerning Peter’s fall; next, concerning the means of his recovery; thirdly, concerning the signs of his restoration; and, afterwards, if we have time for them, I hope to make a few general remarks on the whole incident of Peter’s fall and restoration.

6. I. First, then, concerning PETER’S FALL.

7. It was a very sad fall, because it was the fall of one of the most favoured of Christ’s disciples. We know that there is such a thing as election, and that there is such a thing as election out of election; and, in the case of Christ’s disciples, the principle was carried even further, for there were some who were the elect out of the elect of the elect. Christ had many disciples, yet he said to the closest disciples, “I have chosen you twelve.” Out of those twelve, he had evidently specially chosen three, — Peter, and James, and John, who were privileged to be with him on various occasions when all others were excluded. Peter had been especially favoured, so that probably not even John surpassed him in the honour which his Master had placed on him. After his declaration concerning Christ’s Messiahship and Deity, Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” So, you see, that he was a highly favoured man; and for him to deny his Master, was a very terrible sin. The higher our privilege, dear friends, the greater is our responsibility; the nobler our vocation is, the more horrible is our sin when we fall into it.

8. Secondly, Peter’s fall was especially sad because he had been faithfully warned concerning it. Our Lord had said to the eleven, “All of you shall be offended because of me tonight”; and then, when Peter declared that he would not be offended, our Lord plainly foretold his triple denial. When Jesus, after the first part of his agony in the garden, came back to the three specially favoured disciples, and found them all asleep, he said to Peter, “Simon, do you sleep? Could you not watch for one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” So that Peter knew the danger to which he was exposed; he was not, as some inexperienced people are, suddenly surprised, — carried off their feet by a fierce tornado of temptation. If he did not watch and pray, he ought to have done so, for he had been expressly warned, indeed, and told that, in that very night, not only would he be in danger, but that he would actually fall into the snare which Satan, the great fowler, was setting for him. After that warning, he was not like a bird caught in a trap which it has not seen, but like one that flies boldly into the snare. Solomon says, in the Proverbs, “Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird”; yet Peter ran into it in spite of all the warning that he had received. This made his sin all the greater; and if any of you sin against the light, your sin will be all the more gross and aggravated.

9. Further, the guilt of Peter’s sin is enhanced by the fact that it came so soon after his protestation of fidelity to his Master. He had said to Jesus, “Though all men shall be offended because of you, yet I will never be offended.” Now, notice that declaration was made in the evening; and the sun had not risen, — the cock had not crowed, — before he had denied his Master three times. It may have been quite late in the evening when he uttered his boastful declaration, and the night had only darkened down to midnight, or an hour or two after, before he had, with oaths and curses, denied that he even knew his Lord. Ah, brethren! if we eat our words so soon as that, — if we go home from this house of prayer, and fall into sin, or if tomorrow, while the sacred bread of the communion table is scarcely digested, we shall act so as practically to deny Christ, — it will be a very terrible thing. It would have been bad enough if Peter had sinned like this twenty years after making his profession of love for Christ; but to deny his Lord an hour or two after such a vehement declaration, — this was wicked indeed.

10. Observe also that Peter’s sin had degrees in it. This makes it all the more interesting to us, especially if we ourselves have gone any part of the same evil way; for, the first time he denied his Master, it was not in the same style as the third time. Being admitted into the high priest’s palace, the damsel who opened the door looked him in the face; and, afterwards, when Peter was sitting with the servants and officers all around the fire, this somewhat busy lady came up to him, and, gazing into his face, said, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” Peter made a kind of evasive answer; there was a kind of subterfuge in it: “I do not know what you are saying”; as much as if he had said, “I do not understand you.” This was really a denial of Christ, but he had so worded it as to quiet his conscience to some extent; he had not positively, in so many words, denied his Master. He was trying to do a little dodging, as some people nowadays do; and he thought, perhaps, that he might be able to draw back from the position into which he had been led by his curiosity. There was no oath the first time, no cursing, but a simple evasive answer; — really, in God’s sight, a denial of his Lord, yet not so pronounced as it afterwards became.

11. The second time, he seems to have gotten up from where he sat by the fire; he was evidently not comfortable there, and he had gone out to the porch, a good way off from the rest; and then, still wanting to see the end of the matter, he had come back. He did not press his way into the inner circle around the fire, and sit there; but he stood, and leaned forward just to warm his hands, and then it was that this woman, noticing how restless he had been, came up with a companion of hers, and, looking at him, began to say to the other woman, “I know that he is one of them, I am sure that he is”; and then, she and the other both broke out saying, “You were with him; we are sure you were with him”; and the men joined in the cry, perhaps most of them said, “Oh, yes! he is one of them”; and then Peter “denied with an oath, I do not know the man.” Oh, how dreadful for him to call Christ “the man,” when he had boldly declared that he was the Son of God! What a terrible fall this was!

12. After this, Peter gets up, and goes away from the fire altogether. It is a large place, so he still stays within the enclosure, but he gets up into a corner where the light does not fall on him, and there he remains for about an hour, not very easy, you may be sure. At last, he begins to talk to those around him. He thought that they would not find him out now, because the firelight did not reach so far; but he did not remember that his tongue would tell tales, for those near him said, “Listen! that fellow has the brogue of Galilee, he is a Galilean; and all the people who were with Jesus were Galileans. Depend on it, he is one of them. We are sure that he is, for his speech betrays him.” The brusqueness of his countrified speech showed him up as being one of the fishermen from the lake of Galilee; so now they come all around him, and they say to him, “We know that you are a disciple of Jesus.” Then there was the high priest’s servant, whose relative’s ear Peter had cut off; he said, “Did I not see you in the garden with him? I carried a lantern, and I know that you are the man who chopped my relative’s ear off; I am sure that you are the one.” Then Peter, worst of all, not only denied his Master, but, as if he knew that a true Christian would not swear, and therefore the way to prove that he was no Christian was to curse and swear, therefore he did it. He cursed and swore to convince them that he was not a disciple of Jesus Christ. Oh, but this was dreadful; this was terrible! No excuse is given for Peter in God’s Word, nor will we try to think of any; but each one of us will pray, “Hold me up, and I shall be safe.”

13. There is another aggravation of Peter’s sin which I must mention, that is, that all this was done very close to where his Lord and Master was suffering at that time. I think that this Tabernacle might very well picture the kind of place that palace was. Take away those galleries, and leave this upper portion; here is Christ, with the high priests, and all the rest of them, in this upper part. Perhaps it was not so much raised above the rest of the hall as this platform is; but, still, it was a raised place. And there were the servants sitting down below where they could see everything, and also be seen, in the open square with a big fire blazing up in the midst, and sending its volumes of smoke up to the midnight sky. And there is the Christ, his back turned towards Peter, but he is within hearing distance. Oh! I think that fact alone ought to have checked Peter’s tongue, and inspired him with such love, and pity, and sympathy, that he would have found it impossible to deny his Master. And for you and me to sin in the very presence of the majesty of heaven, (and all sin does that,) is an enormous crime.

14. What was the reason why Peter sinned like this? I answer, first, that it was because of his fear of man. Bold Peter became an arrant coward. And, ah! how many have denied their Master because they have been afraid of a jest or a jeer! It was only a silly maid, and another gossip with her, and a few idle women and serving men around the outdoor fire, but Peter was afraid of them, and therefore he was not afraid to deny his Master.

15. Perhaps the chief reason for Peter’s denial of his Lord was his confidence in himself. If Peter had felt himself to be weaker, he would really have been stronger; but, because he felt so strong in himself, therefore he proved to be weak as water, and so denied his Master.

16. We know, also, that it was caused by a lack of watchfulness and prayer on the part of Peter. He was off his guard when he was sitting or standing comfortably by the fire, and therefore he fell so sadly. His fall was caused, I expect, by a general lack of steadfastness in his character. He was impetuous, impulsive, quick, ready, brave, courageous; but, at the same time, he lacked backbone. He did, even after this, lack that essential element of a strong character, for Paul had to “withstand him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” But, in this time of testing, he revealed a sad lack of solidity of character. He was carried away by surrounding circumstances; and when they happened to be against his Lord and Master, he was carried away with them. Those of you, who have abundance of life in you, and plenty of force of character, must be careful that you have also the force of grace, lest your vivacity — the very thing which makes you to be leaders among us — should become your ruin in the time of trial. He is well kept whom God keeps, and it is also he who, with prayer and watchfulness, guards himself against all the dangers that surround him.

17. So I have tried to describe to you Peter’s fall.

18. II. Now, secondly, notice THE MEANS OF PETER’S RECOVERY. They are worthy of notice.

19. The first means was, the crowing of the cock. It seemed strange that it should crow, the first time, before the period that was known among the Jews as “the cock-crowing.” That happened after Peter had denied his Master once, but he does not appear to have taken any notice of it, for he afterwards denied his Master again and yet again; and just as he was speaking the third time, while the words were in his mouth, shrill and clear over that palace wall came the clarion of the cock. Oh, that crow must have gone home to Peter’s heart! We cannot preach half such impressive sermons as that bird delivered then, for its message forced its way into Peter’s conscience. God has many ways of reaching a man’s conscience. I have known him to touch the conscience by very exceptional means, — by the observation of a little child, very frequently, — by the sudden death of a neighbour or a friend, — even by some sentence in a newspaper. There are many cocks that God can cause to crow when he tells them to, and they startle the sinner as much as that one in Jerusalem startled Peter. But that was not enough, nor was it half enough, to bring him to repentance.

20. The next thing that touched Peter, and the main thing, was the look of Christ. It is not possible for any one of us to give such a look as that. It was such a look as Jehovah gave to the primeval darkness, when he said, “Let there be light,” and the darkness was dissipated by one glance of Jehovah’s eye. So the darkness, which the devil had cast over Peter’s soul, was made to flee by one flash from the eye of Jesus. There were volumes of meaning in that look. “Is that Peter, who declared that he would never deny me? Remember, Peter, what I said, and what you answered; and see which of us turns out to be right.” That look also said to Peter, “All these griefs, and all this shame that I am enduring, do not pierce me so keenly to the heart as your denial does.” Yet was it not also a look of inexpressible tenderness, as if the Master said by it, “I still love you, Peter; so come back to me, and I will yet restore you!” I think it was a heart-piercing look and a heart-healing look all in one, — a look which revealed to Peter the blackness of his sin, and also the tenderness of his Master’s heart towards him. That look did the work, that was the great means of Peters recovery; first, the crowing of the cock, or something in providence; and, then, the look of Christ, or, something of grace.

21. Then, what came in next was Peter’s memory of Christ’s word, for that look awakened his memory, and his memory reminded him of all that his Master had said to him, and of all the happy fellowship he had had with the dear Master, and what wonders he had seen him do. I daresay that Peter remembered how he had once walked on the water, how he began to sink until Jesus stretched out his hand to save him. At any rate, memory did its work, for “Peter remembered the word that Jesus said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you shall deny me three times.’ And when he thought on it, he wept.” So those three things cooperated in producing Peter’s recovery.

22. But there was one thing, behind of all these, which we must never forget; that is, the prayer of Christ for Peter. He said to him, “I have prayed for you,” and the effect of that prayer was made apparent in the disciple’s restoration. That look was effective on Peter because the Lord Jesus had, in private, made prevalent intercession for him; so his faith was not to fail him, and he was to come out of the devil’s sieve, with not one particle of the genuine wheat that was in him fallen to the ground, but only the chaff taken away. That was the great means which Christ used for Peter’s recovery, and please, dear friends, emulate your Saviour’s example in this respect. Pray for the fallen, look lovingly and compassionately on the fallen; for your very look may do them good. Speak to the fallen, seek to guide the fallen back to Christ; and who knows how many of them you may be helped to restore?

23. III. Now, in the third place, I am to speak very briefly on THE SIGNS OF PETER’S RESTORATION. What are those signs?

24. First, he went out. There was something suggestive in that action of his. It might be very cold outside, but Peter left the warmth of the fire. His heart was hot within him, so he could withstand the cold, and therefore he went out. It is always a sign of repentance in Christians who have fallen when they leave the company where they were led astray. If any of you were once professors of the faith, and you have turned aside through the evil associations that you have formed, cut yourselves loose from those associations at once. “Oh!” says someone, “but I might be a loser if I were to do so.” You cannot lose so much as you will do if you lose your soul: “Oh! but I do not see how I can escape.” You must find a way of escape somehow; you must do as Lot did. Though he had all his wealth in Sodom, he had to flee from it; and the message to you professors who are among the ungodly is, “ ‘Come out from among them, and be separate,’ says the Lord, ‘and do not touch the unclean thing.’ ” So Peter went out; and it was a wise thing for him to do.

25. He not only went out, but he wept. As he kept on thinking over his sin, it appeared to him in all its blackest hue. We are told that he wept bitterly. Convulsive weeping came over him; he could not bear himself, his very heart seemed as if it would flow away in rivers of repentant tears.

26. It is a blessed sign of the work of grace in the soul when the man, who has sinned, leaves his evil companions, and mourns over his sin as one who is in bitterness for his firstborn. If any of you have sinned like Peter, go and weep like Peter. If you have fallen like Peter, then let your soul bitterly bewail your transgression. Many talk about the greatness of David’s sin; but, if they knew the depths of David’s repentance, and the heart-break that came with it, they would not so glibly speak of it. There is a tradition that Peter never heard a cock crow, or thought of this incident, as long as he lived, without weeping; and although that is only a tradition, I can well believe it was the case, for that is just what would be likely to happen to a true penitent.

27. IV. Now I close with A FEW GENERAL REMARKS ON THE INCIDENT.

28. My first remark is, — Christian, it is bad for you to be in evil company. It was bad for Peter to be among those who were standing or sitting around that fire. On a cold night, everyone likes a nice comfortable fire. Yes, but you had better suffer any discomfort and inconvenience rather than associate with wicked men. Peter was sitting in the seat of the scorner, so we do not wonder that, at last, he used the scorner’s language. Keep out of evil company if you possibly can do so. If you are obliged to go where bad language is used, do just as you do when you have to go out in a shower of rain; carry an umbrella to shield you from the rain, and go through it as quickly as you ever can. When, in your daily calling, you have to mix with ungodly men, carry the spirit of watchfulness and prayer with you, and slip away from their company as quickly as you can.

29. My next remark is, that it is idle for a true disciple to try to disown his discipleship. Peter says, “I am not one of Christ’s disciples”; but, even by the firelight, he looks like one of them. He swears that he is not, and gets away up in the corner where there is no light; but, as soon as he begins talking, they say, “You are one of them.” His very speech causes him to be found out; and if you are a genuine Christian, you can no more hide yourself than can the violet in the grass, whose perfume tells the passer-by that it is there. There is something about you which will cause people to find you out. I should recommend to those of you, who have believed in Christ, but have not joined the church, or made a confession of your faith, to do so speedily; because, whether you do so or not, the ungodly will be down on you. When once Christ sets the mark of his cross on your forehead, all kinds of people will see it, and they will say, “You are one of Christ’s followers; your very speech betrays you. There is something about you that is different from the rest of us, and which tells us that you have been with Jesus.” Do not try to hide this distinguishing mark if you have it; but even if you do, you will not be able to do so.

30. The next general remark is, — when you have to depict your own character, always use the black pencil. Never try to extenuate anything. We shall never have any biographies, written by uninspired men, in the way of these Bible biographies. I am sure that, if Peter had been the minister of a neighbouring Baptist Church, and had died, and I had been asked to write his memoir, I should not have mentioned his denial of his Lord; or if I had done so, I should have had his wife down on me, if she was alive; and, if not, all the members of the congregation would have said, “What a shame it was to say anything about that matter after the man was dead! Mr. Spurgeon has written a brother-minister’s memoir and he has put in all the details of that sad incident, which ought to have been suppressed.” Very likely it ought to be, but it never is suppressed in the Bible narratives; we get all that happens recorded there. When Mark wrote, as we believe, under the guidance of Peter, he did not keep anything back, but wrote it all down as black as it really was.

31. But, next, when you are writing a brother’s character, try to describe it as fairly as possible, for that is what John does in his description of Peter’s fall. It is very mildly drawn compared with Peter’s own account of it. We must never say what is false; but, when there has been something that is wrong, let us always put the kindest construction we possibly can on it. There are always two ways of telling a tale, and they may both be true; the one is, to lay heavy stress on all the faults; the other is, to do as John does, to mention them, but to say no more about them than he feels really obliged to say. Let us be truthful, but let it never seem as if we had any animosity against the wrongdoer. The sacred writers often teach us this lesson; and, here, Peter gives the worst account of himself, and John gives a more favourable report concerning his erring brother.

32. Another remark I have to make is, — observe the power that is in people’s eyes. You must often have noticed this. What a power there was in that maid’s eyes when she gazed earnestly at Peter! It was that earnest gaze of the girl that made Peter deny his Master. But, then, see the power for good that there was in Christ’s eyes. “The Lord turned, and looked at Peter.” Eyes can say far more than lips can; often, there is more heart-affecting eloquence in the eye than there is in the tongue. Sometimes, you Christian people, members of the church, may be beside a man who utters a wrong word; but you need not tell him about it, just look at him, that will be enough. If an ungodly man shall even swear in your presence, do not give him a supercilious look, as much as to say, “Oh you wicked sinner, to do such a thing in the presence of such a holy man as I am!” But there is another kind of look, as if you felt so grieved, and wondered that he could take in vain the name of the ever-blessed God; — that is the kind of look to give him. If the Lord will manage your eyes for you, you will find that they will be potent messengers of love for him. May God give you those sanctified eyes, which can work wonders for him!

33. My last remark is this, — what a mercy it was that Christ did not treat Peter as Peter treated him! Peter said, “I do not know the man.” Ah, me! but if the blessed, meek, and lowly One had said, “I do not know the man,” it would have been all over for Peter. May God grant that Christ may not say of any one of us, at the last great day, “I do not know the man!” He will say it of all who do not know him, and whom he does not know; they are not acquainted with each other, and if they continue as they are, he will say, “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.” Though he has eaten and drank in your presence, and taught in your streets, yet he will say, “I do not know you. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity.” The mercy is, that he never said that to Peter; and he never will say that to you, or to me, if we come and cast ourselves in penitence at his feet, bemoaning our sin, and putting our trust in him alone. May God grant this blessing to each one of you dear friends for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

{a} Bull: A papal or episcopal edict or mandate. OED.

Expositions By C. H. Spurgeon {Mt 26:31-35,57,58,69-75 Mr 14:53,54,66-72 Lu 22:54-62 Joh 18:15-18,25-27}

The story of Peter’s denial of his Master is recorded in all four of the Gospels. There are some differences of expression in each version, so it will not be tautology if we read all four of them; and if we read them attentively, we shall get a clear view of the whole incident.

26:31-33. Then Jesus says to them, “All of you shall be offended because of me tonight: for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.’ But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.” Peter answered and said to him, “Though all men shall be offended because of you, yet I will never be offended.”.

This was a very presumptuous speech, not only because of the self-confidence which it displayed, but also because it was a flat contradiction of what the Master had just said, “All of you shall be offended because of me tonight.” Peter thought he knew better than Christ did, so he said, “Though all men shall be offended because of you, yet I will never be offended.”

34. Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, ‘That tonight, before the cock crows, —

The cock-crowing was a recognised mark of time; it was just before the rising of the sun. “Tonight, before the cock crows,” —

34, 35. You shall deny me three times.’ ” Peter said to him, “Though I should die with you, yet will I not deny you.”

Here, again, he contradicts his Master straight to his face.

35. Likewise also said all the disciples.

57, 58. And those who had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter followed him afar off to the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.

69-75. Now Peter sat outside in the palace: and a damsel came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” But he denied before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.” And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said to those who were there, “This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied with an oath “I do not know the man.” And after a while those who stood by came to him and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them; for your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and to swear, saying, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the cock crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, who said to him, “Before the cock crows, you shall deny me three times.” And he went out, and wept bitterly.

Now let us read Mark’s account, which will especially interest you if you remember that, probably, Mark wrote under the direction of Peter, and, no doubt, received many of his facts from Peter. You will notice how severe this description is of the whole scene; it is just such a one as the chief actor in it would be sure to give as he recalled his fall and restoration.

14:53,54. And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire.

So we learn what a cold night it was, — that night in which the Saviour’s “sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Often, at Jerusalem, the days are extremely hot, yet the nights are as cold as if it were winter, through the abundant dews that fall, and cause a dampness everywhere.

66, 67. And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there comes one of the maids of the high priest: and when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him, —

I think I see her, with her eyes fixed on him, as he was warming himself at the fire: “She looked at him,” —

67, 68. And said, “And you also were with Jesus of Nazareth.” But he denied it, saying, “I do not know, neither do I understand what you are saying.” And he went out into the porch; and the cock crowed.

This first time was not the regular time of cock-crowing, but those birds crow when they please. Before the fixed period called the cock-crowing, Peter was to deny his Master three times; this was the first time.

69, 70. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is one of them.” And he denied it again. And a little later, those who stood by said again to Peter, “Surely you are one of them: for you are a Galilean, and your speech agrees with it.”

“You have the particular brogue of that part of the country: ‘You are a Galilean, and your speech agrees with it.’ ”

71, 72. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And the second time the cock crowed. And Peter remembered the word that Jesus said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you shall deny me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.

He does not say that he went out, and wept bitterly, as Luke says in his version of the incident. This is Peter’s own account of it, so he says as little as he can to his own credit, while he tells all that is to his discredit.

You notice that there seem to be some slight differences between these two accounts, and it is quite natural that it should be so. If any two honest men here were to describe any scene that they had witnessed, the two would be sure to differ in some details, yet both accounts might be true. Matthew tells us that Jesus said to Peter, “Before the cock crows, you shall deny me three times”; but Mark tells us that he said, “Before the cock crows twice, you shall deny me three times.” Yes; but there is no real contradiction, and the incident introduced by Mark shows how, to the very letter, both of those utterances of our Saviour were fulfilled, So it is with regard to those who spoke to Peter; when we come to another account, you will see that they differ very considerably, yet they are all true, for all that.

Lu 22:54-56. Then they took him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, —

The flickering light helped to reveal his features to this maid “as he sat by the fire,” —

56-58. And earnestly looked at him, and said, “This man was also with him.” And he denied him, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And after a little while another saw him, and said, “You are also one of them.” And Peter said, “Man, I am not.”

Both Matthew and Mark say that it was a maid, and another maid who spoke to Peter; and now Luke mentions a man; but there is no reason why all three of them should not have united in bringing this charge. One maid began the accusation, and the others joined with her; so the whole story is correct.

59-61. And about an hour later another confidently affirmed, saying, “Of a truth this fellow was also with him: for he is a Galilean.” And Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.” And immediately, while he yet spoke, the cock crowed. And the Lord turned, and looked at Peter.

The Saviour had been standing in the upper part of the room, which was probably roofed over, while Peter and the rest were down below in the courtyard, which was open to the sky, and therefore they needed a fire to warm them. Jesus had been standing before his judge; but suddenly, as the cock crowed, he “turned, and looked at Peter.”

61. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows, you shall deny me three times.”

That cock-crowing had come at the very moment Christ had foretold, for Peter had already denied his Master three times.

62. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

Now hear what John has to say about this matter. He wrote after the other three Evangelists, and he generally supplies their deficiencies. It is he who tells us how Simon Peter got into the hall.

18:16. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple:

You know who that was, for John always hides his own name as much as possible.

15, 16. That disciple was known to the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood outside at the door. Then that other disciple went out, who was known to the high priest, and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought in Peter.

No doubt she had a lamp in her hand, so that she might watch the features of those who were admitted; so, when Peter came in, she had a good look at his face; and, afterwards, when he was at the fire, this is the woman who went and showed him up.

17. Then the damsel who kept the door says to Peter, “Are you not also one of this man’s disciples?”

She evidently knew that John was one of them, so she asked this question of Peter. “Are you not also one of this man’s disciples?”

17, 18. He says, “I am not.” And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself,

Matthew tells us that, at first, he sat with them, but, now, he is standing, as though he was uneasy, or going out and coming in again; and now again he is assailed.

25-27. And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “Are you not also one of his disciples?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, being his relative whose ear Peter cut off, says, “Did not I see you in the garden with him?” Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crowed.

John does not say anything about Peter’s oath, or about his cursing, because that had been told by the others, and John had no desire to write anything that would reflect on Peter. Indeed, he tells us that it was he who went and spoke to the maid who let Peter in; he seems as if he wished us to know that he had been the means of introducing Peter to the place of temptation; and it is interesting to remember that he was the man who was with Peter on the morning of the resurrection, so that no doubt he had been the first to find him after his fall.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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