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By Mary Peckham

'And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.' What a strange choice the Lord made when He chose Peter as one of His disciples! He was a man of such contradictions-and yet so loveable. In fact, many of us see ourselves clearly reflected in Peter. Have you ever sat down with your Bible and concordance and taken note of every time Peter is mentioned in Scripture? I have no doubt you will blessed in so doing. You will notice:

The Reality of His Experience

As we read the above story in Luke's gospel, we realise what a failure Peter was. Some would even question the reality of his experience of God. However as we study the Word, we have no doubt that Peter had had an experience of God. Our Lord testifies to this when He says: 'Blessed art though Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to you but my Father which is in Heaven' (Matt. 16:17). Peter had had what many professors of religion lack today-a divine revelation! His was not a second-hand religion-it was direct from the Throne. God had revealed Christ's identify to him. So many today are content to give mental assent to the truth of God's Word, but have never known the reality of the witness of God to their salvation!

The reality of Peter's experience can also be seen from the fact that he was chosen by God to fulfil a specific purpose and that purpose was made clear to him from the lips of the Saviour when He said, 'Follow Me and I will make you to become fishers of men.' The call of God was clear to him and he responded to it leaving everything else to follow the Saviour-even though he did not understand fully what was involved in his commitment.

The Reason for his Downfall

Peter had no difficulty following the Lord while He was popular. He was bold enough to take his stand when prospects for the future seemed to be bright. Peter did not fail in the limelight-but few do! Peter's failure did not spring from his being defeated by the opposition of men or circumstances. His was a more subtle foe. His name was Peter! As such he was bold to promise, bold to testify, and bold to be the spokesman, ready for any emergency. But poor Peter found that it was one thing to want to do a thing, but quite another to do it. It was not enthusiasm Peter lacked, but ability. 'the good that I would, I do not. The evil that I would not, that I do.' Although Peter found some of Paul's writing hard to understand , I don't think that his text ever bothered him-he knew it from experience! 'Peter, could you not watch one hour with me?' asked the Saviour. No he could not, for the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.

This could be written large over many another life-willing but weak! How many could testify today that their greatest enemy is just weak 'self', and their greatest bondage that bondage to the inner man who refuses to yield to their highest ideals.

The Remembrance of His Failure

It took only one look from the Lord Jesus to melt Peter, as he stood warming himself by the fire, with the lie on his lips, that fateful night. It was not just the chill of the early morning that caused Peter to feel cold-there was in his bones the chill of fear, of cowardice and uncertainty. He was in a tight corner and there was only one way out for him-the way of denial. Because of the accusations of the company and their suspicious looks, Peter fell. 'I know him not', he declared as his eyes rested on the condemned figure in the crowd. Just at that moment the Lord turned, as if aware of the scene in the porch, and He fastened His pitying eyes on Peter. For a moment their eyes met, while in the background the crowing of the cock could be heard. Not one sentence passed between them, but Peter remembered! 'Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice!' Memories can be very precious, but when it comes to failures, memories are painful.

The Repenting of His Soul

Peter went out and 'wept bitterly'-with 'painfully moving grief' (Amp. N.T.)

For the very first time in his life Peter really faced himself! For the very first time he really believed all that the Saviour had said about him. That look of the Saviour brought home to Peter what he was, more than all the teaching or argument of philosophers could have done. Peter could truly say now with Isaiah: 'Woe is me, for I am undone' Humanly speaking Peter was finished: He was a failure.

Have you discovered the truth about yourself?

The Recovery of His Relationship

Well might Peter weep and mourn over his utter wretchedness saying, 'I am of no use to anybody. I have denied the Lord.' Well might he feel no longer fit to be called a disciple of the Lord. There is, however one redeeming fact about Peter, and that is-he could not stay away from Christ's followers. He still wanted to be with them.

Peter, broken and penitent, may be to the world a picture of complete failure, but before Heaven this was the real beginning of Peter's usefulness. 'The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit' How precious these words must have been to Peter (cf. Mark 16:7).

'But go your way, tell the disciples and Peter' Why the 'and Peter'? Well, if you had been Peter, who would you have felt like when you heard news of the resurrection? Would you have recalled that look in the judgement hall? Would you not have remembered that your last contact with the Saviour was in the hour of denial? I think Peter would, and he would have hesitated to meet the Saviour again, but for those words, 'and Peter'. How gracious an understanding God is. Peter, now so small and uncertain in his own eyes, was to be the Lord's chosen vessel for the Pentecostal ministry. Peter, now so unsure of himself, and waiting with the others for the Pentecostal blessing, without which he is useless, was to become the inspired spokesman with the eleven. His was to be the joy of bringing in the first-fruits of the day of Pentecost!

to be emptier, lowlier
Man, unnoticed, and unknown.
But to God a vessel holier,
Filled with Christ and Christ alone.
Naught of earth to cloud the glory,
Naught of self the light to dim:
Telling forth the wondrous story,
Emptied to be filled with Him

May God make this the experience of His people, and this to meet the need of this late hour!