Sabbath, April 1, 2017

“ ‘A good man out of the good treasure of the heart, bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.’ What a flood of evil and rubbish flows forth because of the talent of speech. And how many are denying Christ by their speech! Instead of making a good confession of Christ by their manner of conversation they say, ‘I know not the Man.’ It is easy enough to have a form of godliness; but to make a whole-sided confession of our faith in Christ, means that our words, and dress, and spirit shall testify to the fact.” –(Letter 19, 1897) The Voice in Speech and Song, p. 65.

Following at a distance

1. While the authorities held Jesus in the court, what were two of His disciples doing?

Matthew 26:58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. 

John 18:15, 16 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. 16But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. 

“After deserting their Master in the garden, two of the disciples had ventured to follow, at a distance, the mob that had Jesus in charge. These disciples were Peter and John. The priests recognized John as a well-known disciple of Jesus, and admitted him to the hall, hoping that as he witnessed the humiliation of his Leader, he would scorn the idea of such a one being the Son of God. John spoke in favor of Peter, and gained an entrance for him also.

“In the court a fire had been kindled; for it was the coldest hour of the night, being just before the dawn. A company drew about the fire, and Peter presumptuously took his place with them. He did not wish to be recognized as a disciple of Jesus. By mingling carelessly with the crowd, he hoped to be taken for one of those who had brought Jesus to the hall.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 710.

Attempts to hide

2. Seeing the disciple Peter in the crowd, what did a young woman who was in the service of the high priest say to him? Did Peter acknowledge that he was Jesus’ disciple?

John 18:18, first part And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves….

Mark 14:66-68 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: 67And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. 68But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. 

“But as the light flashed upon Peter’s face, the woman who kept the door cast a searching glance upon him. She had noticed that he came in with John, she marked the look of dejection on his face, and thought that he might be a disciple of Jesus. She was one of the servants of Caiaphas’ household, and was curious to know. She said to Peter, ‘Art not thou also one of this Man’s disciples?’ Peter was startled and confused; the eyes of the company instantly fastened upon him…. Peter felt compelled to answer, and said angrily, ‘Woman, I know Him not.’

“Peter had not designed that his real character should be known. In assuming an air of indifference he had placed himself on the enemy’s ground, and he became an easy prey to temptation. If he had been called to fight for his Master, he would have been a courageous soldier; but when the finger of scorn was pointed at him, he proved himself a coward. Many who do not shrink from active warfare for their Lord are driven by ridicule to deny their faith. By associating with those whom they should avoid, they place themselves in the way of temptation.”  –The Desire of Ages, pp. 710-712.

3. When another young woman recognized him as Jesus’ disciple, what did Peter answer the second time? 

Matthew 26:71, 72 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. 72And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. 

“Peter tried to show no interest in the trial of his Master, but his heart was wrung with sorrow as he heard the cruel taunts, and saw the abuse He was suffering. More than this, he was surprised and angry that Jesus should humiliate Himself and His followers by submitting to such treatment. In order to conceal his true feelings, he endeavored to join with the persecutors of Jesus in their untimely jests. But his appearance was unnatural. He was acting a lie, and while seeking to talk unconcernedly he could not restrain expressions of indignation at the abuse heaped upon his Master.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 712.

Forgetting the Master’s counsel

4. At this moment, did Peter remember the caution the Lord had given him just a few hours before?

Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.

“Many today stand where Peter stood when in self-confidence he declared that he would not deny his Lord. And because of their self-sufficiency, they fall an easy prey to Satan’s devices. Those who realize their weakness trust in a power higher than self. And while they look to God, Satan has no power against them. But those who trust in self are easily defeated. Let us remember that if we do not heed the cautions that God gives us, a fall is before us. Christ will not save from wounds the one who places himself unbidden on the enemy’s ground. He lets the self-sufficient one, who acts as if he knew more than his Lord, go on in his supposed strength. Then comes suffering and a crippled life, or perhaps defeat and death.” –(Manuscript 115, 1902) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1102.

Lack of courage

5. When Peter was questioned for the third time about his connection to Jesus, did he have the courage to confess his faith in the Master? Using foul language, how did he deny his Lord again?

John 18:26 One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? 

Mark 14:70, second part, 71 … And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. 71But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.

“Still another opportunity was given him. An hour had passed, when one of the servants of the high priest, being a near kinsman of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked him, ‘Did not I see thee in the garden with Him?’ ‘Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.’ At this Peter flew into a rage. The disciples of Jesus were noted for the purity of their language, and in order fully to deceive his questioners, and justify his assumed character, Peter now denied his Master with cursing and swearing.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 712.

The fateful moment when the cock crowed

6. What was heard as he was still speaking and denying the Master for the third time? What effect did the Lord’s look upon him have, even as the cock’s crowing was still sounding in his ears?

Luke 22:60, last part-62 And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61And 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. 62And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. 

“While the degrading oaths were fresh upon Peter’s lips, and the shrill crowing of the cock was still ringing in his ears, the Saviour turned from the frowning judges, and looked full upon His poor disciple. At the same time Peter’s eyes were drawn to his Master. In that gentle countenance he read deep pity and sorrow, but there was no anger there. 

“The sight of that pale, suffering face, those quivering lips, that look of compassion and forgiveness, pierced his heart like an arrow. Conscience was aroused. Memory was active. Peter called to mind his promise of a few short hours before that he would go with his Lord to prison and to death. He remembered his grief when the Saviour told him in the upper chamber that he would deny his Lord thrice that same night. Peter had just declared that he knew not Jesus, but he now realized with bitter grief how well his Lord knew him, and how accurately He had read his heart, the falseness of which was unknown even to himself.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 712, 713.

Door of mercy still open

7. Did Jesus shut the door of mercy and brotherly relationship against Peter after his shameful denial? What lesson is there in this for us when we face the hour of temptation? 

Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 

“Peter denied his Lord in the hour of trial, but Jesus did not forsake His poor disciple. Although Peter hated himself, the Lord loved him, and after His resurrection He called him by name and sent him a loving message. O what a kind, loving, compassionate Saviour we have! And He loves us though we err.” –That I May Know Him, p. 285.

“It was after Peter had been led to self-renunciation and entire reliance upon divine power, that he received his call to act as an undershepherd. Christ had said to Peter, before his denial of Him, ‘When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.’ Luke 22:32. These words were significant of the wide and effectual work which this apostle was to do in the future for those who should come to the faith. For this work, Peter’s own experience of sin and suffering and repentance had prepared him. Not until he had learned his weakness, could he know the believer’s need of dependence on Christ. Amid the storm of temptation he had come to understand that man can walk safely only as in utter self-distrust he relies upon the Saviour.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 515.

Thought questions

  • Considering the experiences you have made in the past, do you feel more or less secure than did Peter when it comes to depending on yourself?
  • Were Peter and Saul the only ones who had to give up their self-confidence, or does everyone have to make such an experience?
  • If we are no more able to control ourselves than was Peter, how do we deal with those who hurt us, as Peter hurt Christ?
  • Are we willing and prepared to deal with such circumstances and people in the way that Jesus did with Peter?

For additional study

“Those who make Christ first in everything can be trusted. They will not be self-confident, nor will they sink their religious interest in their business. Has God entrusted men with sacred responsibilities? Then He would have them feel their own weakness and their dependence upon Him. It is unsafe for men to lean to their own understanding; therefore they should daily seek strength and wisdom from above. God should be in all their thoughts; then all the wiles and subtleties of the old serpent cannot betray them into sinful neglect of duty. They will meet the adversary with the simple weapon that Christ used, ‘It is written,’ or will repulse him with, ‘Get thee behind Me, Satan.’

“In the warning to ‘watch and pray,’ Jesus has indicated the only safe course. There is need of watchfulness. Our own hearts are deceitful; we are compassed with the weaknesses and frailties of humanity, and Satan is intent to destroy. We may be off our guard, but our adversary is never idle. Knowing his tireless vigilance, let us not sleep, as do others, but ‘watch and be sober.’ The spirit and influence of the world must be met, but they must not be allowed to take possession of the mind and heart.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 409.