- Andrew Murray,
"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).
That was the turning point in the life of Peter. Christ had said to him:
"Thou canst not follow me now" (John 13:36). 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" (Luke 22:32). 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 Spirit and make a new man of him, he had to go out and weep
bitterly; he had to be humbled. If we want to understand this, I think there
are four points that we must look at. First, let us look at Peter the
devoted disciple of Jesus; next, at Peter as he lived the life of self;
then, at Peter in his repentance; and last, at what Christ made of Peter by
the Holy Spirit.
PETER THE DEVOTED DISCIPLE OF CHRIST
First, then, look at Peter the devoted disciple of Christ. Christ
called Peter to forsake his nets and follow Him.
Peter did it at once, and afterward he could rightly say to the Lord: "We
have forsaken all and followed thee" (Matthew 19:27). Peter was a man of
absolute surrender; he gave up all to follow Jesus. Peter was also a man of
ready obedience. You remember Christ said to him, "Launch out into the deep,
and let down your nets." Peter the fisherman knew there were no fish there,
for they had been fishing all night and had caught nothing; but he said: "At
thy word I will let down the net" (Luke 5:4,5). He submitted to the word of
Jesus. Further, he was a man of great faith. When he saw Christ walking on
the sea, he said: "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee" (Matthew
14:-28). At the voice of Christ, he stepped out of the boat and walked on
the water. And Peter was a man of spiritual insight. When Christ asked the
disciples: "Whom say ye 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" (Matthew 16:15-17). 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 now,
everyone would say that he was an advanced Christian. And yet how much there
was wanting in Peter!
PETER LIVING THE LIFE OF SELF
Look next at Peter living the life of self, pleasing self, and
trusting self, and seeking the honor 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 Christ had to say: "Get thee behind
me, Satan; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that
be of men" (Matthew 16:22-23).
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 the disciples questioned who should be the greatest among them.
Peter was one of them, and he thought he had a right to the very first
place. He sought his own honor above the others. The life of self was 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 followed it up by saying: "If any man will come after
me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew
16:24). No man can follow Him unless he does that. Self must be utterly
denied. What does that mean? When Peter denied Christ, we read that he said
three times: "I know Him not" (Luke 22:57). In other words he said, "I have
nothing to do with Him; He and I are not friends. I deny having any
connection with Him." Christ told Peter that he must deny self. Self must be
ignored, and its every claim rejected. That is the root of true
discipleship. But Peter did not understand it and could not obey it. And
what happened? When the last night came, Christ said to him:
"Before the cock crow twice thou shalt deny me thrice" (Mark 14:30).
But with self-confidence Peter said: "Though all shall be offended, yet will
not !. I am ready to go with thee, to prison and to death" (Mark 14:29; Luke
Peter meant it honestly, and he really intended to do it; but Peter did not
know himself. He did not believe he was as bad as Jesus said he was.
We perhaps think of individual sins that come between us and God. But what
are we to do with that sell'-life which is all unclean-our very nature? What
are we to do with that flesh that is entirely under the power of sin?
Deliverance from that is what we need. Peter knew it not, and therefore it
was in selfconfidence that he went forth and denied his Lord.
Notice how Christ uses that word deny twice. He said to Peter the first
time, "Deny himself" (Matthew 16:24); He said to Peter the second time,
"Thou shalt deny me" (Matthew 26:34). It is either of the two. There is no
other choice for us; we must either deny self or deny Christ. There are two
great powers fighting each other: the self-nature in the power of sin, and
Christ in the power of God. Either of these must rule within us.
It was self that made the devil. He was an angel of God, but he wanted to
exalt self. He became a devil in hell. Self was the cause of the fall of
man. Eve wanted something for herself, and so our first parents fell into
all the wretchedness of sin. We, their children, have inherited an awful
nature of sin.
Look next at Peter's repentance. Peter denied his Lord three times,
and then the Lord looked upon him. That look of Jesus broke Peter's heart.
The terrible sin that he had committed, the terrible failure that had come,
and the depth into which he had fallen suddenly opened up before him. Then,
"Peter went out and wept bitterly."
Oh! who can tell what that repentance must have been? During the following
hours of that night, and the next day-when he saw Christ crucified and
buried, and the next day, the Sabbath-oh, what hopeless despair and shame he
must have felt!
"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 imagine the depth of humiliation Peter sank into then.
But that was the turning point and the change. On the first day of the week,
Christ was seen by Peter, and in the evening He met him with the others.
Later on at the Sea of Galilee, He asked him: "Lovest thou me?" (John
21:17). Peter was made sad by the thought that the Lord reminded him of
having denied Him three times, and said in sorrow, but in uprightness:
"Lord, thou knowest. all things; thou knowest that I love thee" (John
Now, Peter was prepared for deliverance from self, and that is my last
thought. You know Christ took him with the others to the footstool of the
throne, and told them to wait there. Then, on 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, that power, 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 which happened to Peter. His
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 Spirit.
If you want to see that, read the first epistle of Peter. You know wherein
Peter's failings lay. When he said to Christ, in effect: "Thou never canst
suffer; it cannot be"-it showed he did not have a conception of what it was
to pass through death into life. Christ said: "Deny thyself," and in spite
of that he denied his Lord. When Christ warned him: "Thou shalt deny me"
(Matthew 26:34), 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 glory and of God resteth upon you" (I Peter 4:14), then I
say that it is not the old Peter, but that it is the very Spirit of Christ
breathing and speaking within him.
I read again how he says: "Hereunto were ye called, to suffer, because
Christ also suffered" (I Peter 2:21). 1 understand what a change had come
over Peter. Instead of denying Christ, he found joy and pleasure in having
self denied, crucified, and given up to the death. And therefore, we read in
Acts that when he was called before the Council he could boldly say: "We
ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29), and that he could return
with the other disciples and rejoice that they were counted worthy to suffer
for Christ's name.
You remember his self-exaltation; but now he has found out that "the
ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price"
(I Peter 3:4). Again he tells us to be "subject one to another, and be
clothed with humility" (I Peter 5:5).
Dear friend, I implore you, look at Peter utterly changed-the self-pleasing,
the self-trusting, the self-seeking Peter, full of sin, continually getting
into trouble, foolish and impetuous, now filled with the Spirit and the life
of Jesus. Christ had done it for him by the Holy Spirit.
And now, what is the object in my having thus very briefly pointed to the
story of Peter? That story must be the history of every believer who is
really to be made a blessing by God. That story is a prophecy of what
everyone can receive from God in heaven.
Now, let us just glance hurriedly at what these lessons teach us.
The first lesson is this- You may be a very earnest, godly, devoted
believer, in whom the power of the flesh is still very strong.
That is a very solemn truth. Peter, before he denied Christ, had cast out
devils and had healed the sick. Yet, the flesh had power; and, the flesh had
room in him. Oh, beloved, we have to realize that it is because there is so
much of that self-life in us that the power of God cannot work in us as
mightily as He desires that it should work. Do you realize that the great
God is longing to double His blessing, to give tenfold blessing through us?
But there is something hindering Him, and that something is a proof of
nothing but the self-life. We talk about the pride of Peter, and the
impetuosity of Peter, and the self confidence of Peter. It is all rooted in
that one word, self Christ had said, "Deny self," and Peter had never
understood, and never obeyed. Every failing came out of that.
What a solemn thought, and what an urgent plea for us to cry: Oh God, do
show this to us so that none of us may be living the self-life! It has
happened to people who have been Christians for years; it has happened to
people who have perhaps occupied prominent positions-God found them out and
taught them to find out about themselves. They became utterly ashamed and
fell broken before God. Oh, the bitter shame and sorrow and pain and agony
that came to them, until at last they found that there was deliverance!
Peter went out and wept bitterly. There may be many godly people in whom the
power of the flesh still rules.
And then my second lesson is - It is the work of our blessed Lord Jesus to
disclose the power of self.
How was it that Peter-the carnal Peter, self-willed Peter, Peter with the
strong self-love-ever became a man of Pentecost and the writer of his
epistles? It was because Christ placed him in charge, and Christ watched
over him, and Christ taught and blessed him. The warnings that Christ had
given him were part of the training. Last of all, there came that look of
love. In His suffering, Christ did not for-get him, but turned around and
looked upon him, and "Peter went out and wept bitterly." And the Christ who
led Peter to Pentecost is waiting today to take charge of every heart that
is willing to surrender itself to Him.
Are there not some saying: "Ah! that is the problem with me; it is always
the self-life, self-comfort, self-consciousness, self-pleasing, and
self-will. How am I to get rid of it?"
My answer is: It is Christ Jesus who can rid you of it. No one else but
Christ Jesus can give deliverance from the power of self. And what does He
ask you to do? He asks that you should humble yourself before Him.