Mat 26:37-38: "And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me."
There are many points in the life of Peter that we can draw lessons from. The Plan of salvation is laid out in many wonderful bible stories. The process of repentance and seeing the goodness of God, is inextricably linked together. Christ longs to reveal the love of the Father and Himself to us, but when we get glimpses of this Glory the inevitable result is a magnification of our sinfulness. Perhaps this is the battleground in the time of trouble such as never was. Sure, as time goes on life with its changing circumstances will become worse for everyone, but the real battle lies in our minds and hearts. Do we surrender ourselves fully to God, or do we resist his love. This decision determines the eternal destiny of all. Judas chose to reject forgiveness and cling to self-condemnation. Peter saw love in the eyes of Jesus and chose to believe.
I can almost visualize that look Jesus gave to Peter. Time must have seemed to stand still. Christ was suffering the sins of the whole world, and yet at that moment, his thoughts were turned upon His beloved disciple. The pain in His gaze mingled with a yearning love to reach out to the heart of Peter was struck home in that glance.
Luke 22:59-62: "And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 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."
One of the most moving accounts of this moment comes from the pen of inspiration.
" Jesus was weary and faint from fasting when the words of denial reached Him. And while the degrading oaths were fresh on Peter's lips, and the shrill crowing of the cock was still ringing in his ears, the Saviour turned His face from the frowning judges, and looked full upon His poor disciple. At the same time Peter's eyes were involuntarily fixed upon his Master. That face pale with suffering, those quivering lips, seemed to speak to Peter saying, "Not know Me, Peter?" In that gentle countenance Peter read deep pity and sorrow; but there was no anger there. That look of compassion and forgiveness pierced his heart like an arrow. He fled from the now crowded court, he cared not whither. At last he found himself in the garden of Gethsemane. In the very spot where Jesus had poured out His soul in agony to His Father, he fell on his face stricken and wounded, and wished that he might die there. He remembered with remorse that he was asleep when Jesus prayed through those fearful hours. His proud heart broke, and penitential tears moistened the sod so recently stained by the bloody sweat drops of God's dear Son." PrT February 2, 1899, par. 8
I find it moving that Peter rushed to the garden of Gethsemane to the exact place where Jesus wept and shed drops of blood. Peter also wept bitterly, not for the sins of the world but for his own betrayal of his master. I imagine he now longed to undo what was done and probably thought, if Jesus were with me now I would watch and pray. He suffered the agony of feeling helpless and powerless. Having no strength or courage to face Jesus or the crowd it must have been harrowing for his soul and yet, this was the very experience that brought his conversion.
It was the life of Christ and not his death on the cross that transformed Peters life. Looking into His eyes, and then being broken in the garden of Gethsemane, Peters life was changed forever. This is a profound thought on the atonement.
He left the garden a converted man. ST November 11, 1897, par. 6
Then how tender and charitable, how meek and forgiving, Peter revealed himself to be! While under the test, he had been but a very dim reflector of the character of his Lord. How much of infirmity, of unmortified sin, of carelessness of spirit, of unsanctified temper, of heedlessness in entering into temptation, he revealed, rather than giving up his own way and will! But now he was ready to pity the tempted. He was humbled, and could sympathize with the weak and erring. He could caution and warn the presumptuous, and was fully fitted to strengthen his brethren. ST November 11, 1897, par. 7
Jesus words always offer choice.
Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Mat 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
Can you hear the anguished cry of Jesus for his people? The words and ye would not are tragic and not necessary. This is where personal choice comes in. We may infer this passage belongs to those we believe are living in apostasy. Oh, thats a good text to condemn the corporate body of the church. But the church is made up of individuals and the personal relationship we have between us and our maker. Its easy to judge others; it takes the heat of us.
But I hear voices sternly saying:
Isaiah 62:6 - I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, [which] shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence,
Yes, it is true there are many verses in scripture to give warning messages to the world, but what brought judgement upon Peter? Isnt it a message of love?
Rev 14:7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come:
Is this a message of our condemnation upon others? Or is it the hour of His judgement has come to us. And what is judgement? Do you see mercy in there? Didnt the hour of Peters judgement happen in the garden of Gethsemane? So how is this warning given to others? Look at the story of Mary.
John 12:3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
Robert J Wieland had much to say on this precious woman.
"Marys motive was totally non-selfish; she had no thought of being praised. All she wanted to do was say, Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul! So Jesus motive was purely and simply love for lost people, no acquisitive purpose mixed in to becloud that pure flame of devotion for us. Mary was unconsciously reflecting the motives of Jesus. Her perceptions, her discernment, were more sensitive than that of any of the Twelve disciples."
Did this not fulfil this command? Joel 2:1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
Mary was aware of her sin, but she could not help but to respond to the love of Jesus. Her motive was not to condemn those around her.
Today a message that was lost about the one true God and His only begotten Son is being restored. Yes, this glorious truth needs to be proclaimed loudly. But this knowledge without the relationship is worthless.
How do you read.
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent
Did the disciples know this at that time? Yes, on a certain level. But did Mary know this truth? Mary understood, and the result opened a door for those who witnessed this love to repent also.
God's people will not seek to point out and condemn the sins of others, they will be too acutely aware of their own, but they will also have experienced the transforming love of God and it is this love they cannot help but share. The world will hear this message. The desire of God's people will be for the salvation of souls. Come into this relational Kingdom of the Father and Son.
Peter's history has a lesson for us. We need an abiding Christ with us, as Enoch had when he walked with God three hundred years. We can have what Enoch had. We can have Christ as our constant companion. Enoch walked with God, and when assailed by the tempter, he could talk with God about it. He had no "It is written," as we have, but he had a knowledge of his heavenly Companion. He made God his counselor, and was closely bound up with Jesus. And Enoch was honored in his course. He was translated to heaven without seeing death. And those who will be translated at the close of time will be those who commune with God on earth. Those who make manifest that their life is hid with Christ in God will ever be representing him in all their life practises. ST November 11, 1897, par. 8