Matthew 26:75. And Peter Immediately upon hearing the cock crow, remembered the words of Jesus The crowing of the cock reminding him of them. Thus, at the same time that Jesus predicted his fall, by mentioning that it would happen before the cock crew, he provided the means of his recovery, and by this little circumstance the fallen apostle is awakened and brought to repentance. Such weak and contemptible means does God sometimes use to open the eyes of sinners, and bring them to a sense of their danger and their duty! This, however, was not the only means of Peter’s restoration. Luke informs us, that immediately upon Peter’s denying Christ the third time, and the crowing of the cock, the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, and that, upon his so doing, Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow thou shalt deny me thrice. “The members of the council,” it appears, “who examined Jesus, sat at the upper end of the hall; in the other, were the servants with Peter at the fire. Wherefore, if Christ was placed on some footstool or bench, that his judges, who were many in number, might hear and see him, he could easily look over the heads of those who stood around him, and observe what was doing at the fire; particularly he could see Peter, who was then denying him with imprecations, and in the vehemency of his passion was speaking loud enough to be heard at the upper end of the room. But he had no sooner denied his Master the third time, than the cock crew, and awakened in him the first conviction of his sin; or at least made him look to his Master, in order, perhaps, to see if he were taking notice of what had happened. But at the same instant Jesus, turning about, fixed his eyes on his cowardly disciple. The look pierced him, and with the crowing of the cock, brought his Master’s prediction afresh into his mind. He was stung with deep remorse, and being unable to contain himself, he covered his face with his garment (see note on Mar 14:72 ) to conceal the confusion he was in, and going out he wept most bitterly;” experiencing that godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto salvation not to be repented of.
Before we dismiss this melancholy subject of Peter’s fall, it may not be unprofitable to notice, as a warning to ourselves, two particulars therein: First, the gradual progress of sin in him, and the various gradations by which it advanced to this depth of wickedness. From self-confidence, which was the source of the whole mischief, he proceeded, 1st, To disbelieve and disregard Christ’s warnings; and therefore: 2d, Neglected to watch and pray. 3d, When alarmed by the unexpected coming of the band to apprehend Jesus, he gave way to his own spirit, and drew his carnal weapon to defend his heavenly Master. 4th, Immediately upon being convinced of his error in this, he passed from rash courage to unreasonable cowardice, and instantly forsook his Master and fled. 5th, When, recollecting himself, he followed, it was afar off. 6th. Having unthinkingly ventured into the company of Christ’s enemies, when he had the fairest opportunity of confessing his Master, and an evident call to do it, he denied him, first, it seems, equivocating and shuffling, then telling a plain and direct lie, and confirming it by an oath, and, last of all, to gain it still greater credit, cursing and swearing. The aggravations of his sin are, secondly, deserving of our notice: 1st, He was guilty of this base, cowardly, and false conduct in the presence of Christ’s enemies, the high-priest, scribes, and elders, and their servants, who, doubtless, rejoiced at it; and were confirmed in their unbelief, after witnessing the treachery of one of Jesus’s disciples in selling him for money, to hear another of them denying him through fear. 2d, He thus denied his Master, told these lies, and uttered these oaths and curses within his Master’s view, and in his hearing. 3d, The time when Peter behaved in this manner was a peculiar aggravation of his sin. It was within a few hours after his gracious Master had most solemnly and repeatedly warned him of his danger, and he had been a witness of his conflict and bitter sorrow in the garden: it was when his Lord, of whose transfiguration and glory on the mount he had been an astonished and admiring spectator, was beginning to be most unjustly and cruelly treated by the persecutors of God’s truth, and the enemies of all righteousness, for his unspeakable love to Peter himself, and others of the human race, whom he was about to redeem and save. “The time,” says Saurin, “when Peter denied Christ, makes his crime great indeed! The time of the Lord’s looking at him illuminates his looks! At the very time when Jesus was giving the tenderest marks of his love, Peter discovered the blackest ingratitude to him; while Jesus redeemed Peter, Peter denied Jesus! While Jesus yielded to the bloody death of the cross for Peter, Peter refused to confess him! But Jesus looks at him! My brethren, what do these looks say? how eloquent are those eyes! Never was a discourse so effectual; never did an orator express himself with so much force! It is the man of griefs complaining of a new burden, while he is ready to sink under what he already bears. It is the beneficent Redeemer of mankind pitying a soul ready to be lost! It is the apostle of our profession preaching in chains! In fine, it is the Sovereign of the hearts of men, the Almighty God of love, curbing the efforts of the devil, and taking his conquest away!”
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