HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
3. REPENT OF YOUR DENIAL OF HIM AS SOON AS IT HAPPENS.
As we read on, we see that after the servant girl had approached him, Peter went out of the courtyard and into the gateway. Perhaps Peter was trying to mix into the crowd a bit more. But apparently, another servant girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth” (verse 71). And again, Peter lied. This time, he said, “I do not know the Man!” (verse 72)—and even denied Jesus with an oath.
And the situation got even more intense. A little while later, more came up to him and said, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you” (verse 73). John, in his Gospel, tells us that one of the servants of the high priest—a relative of the man whose ear Peter cut off—also came up and said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” (John 18:26). And that’s when Peter’s denial took the very worst turn. He began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” (verse 74).
Again, I speculate. But if Peter were here today, I wonder if he might not say something like this:
“My dear brothers and sisters; here’s another way I blew it. When I saw that I was denying my Lord, I didn’t stop. As our brother Mark reports, I even heard a rooster crow along the way (Mark 14:68)—as if I were being given a ‘warning-crow’. But I kept right on going. And in the process, my heart got harder and harder; and my language got harsher and harsher, and I became more and more like those that I was trying to hide my faith from. That’s the way it is with sin. We don’t simply plateau-out when we’re in it. We either repent of it, or we grow harder and deeper into it.
“Now; granted, our Lord promised that I would deny Him three times—and that’s what I did. But I was still personally responsible; and I hardened my own heart in the process. But don’t you harden your heart in your denial of Him. Remember what our brother John has said;
‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9).
When He has called you to testify of Him, and as soon as you see that you have failed to do so—as soon as you see that you have denied Him—repent immediately! Be assured that He will always forgive you.
“And let me ask you this. What do you suppose would happen if, right then and there—in a fresh surrender to the Holy Spirit—you were to turn to those before whom you had just denied the Lord and say, ‘I have just done something terrible. God has just given me an opportunity through you to testify of Jesus—my Lord and Saviour, and I failed both Him and you. I have just denied my Lord before you! Please forgive me for doing that. And now, before you all, I repent of my denial; and testify that I do own Him as my Lord’?
“I guarantee—they’ll never forget it! And if you do so, then you’d better get ready—because lots of people are going to ask you for a reason for the hope that is in you!”
First, I’m speculating that these are the ways that Peter would come alongside us and teach us from the ways that he himself blew it. He’d let us know that he was depending on the power of his own flesh to keep him faithful to the Lord, and he would urge us not to trust in the flesh. He did so, and he fell.
Second, I’m speculating that he would also warn us to make sure that our hearts are always prepared to testify of Jesus in each new situation that He brings us into. Peter’s heart was not prepared, and all it took was one little servant girl to throw him off.
Third, I’m speculating that Peter would urge us that if we ever do fail, and if we do deny our Lord—and we most certainly will at some time—we should repent immediately! We must not let our hearts harden in our denial. Peter didn’t repent, and his denial got worse and worse.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW …