31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” 34 And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”
54 Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance. 55 After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them. 56 And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” 58 A little later, another saw him and said, “You are one of them too!” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, “Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
Luke 22:31-34 and 54-62
There are three points I would like to draw your attention to from this text.
First–Peter’s fall: Peter’s fall is truly great––He vehemently denies knowing Jesus, the Lord of Glory, his savior and friend after making a great and profound effort during his time following Christ to convince his peers as well as the Lord Jesus Christ that he would never deny or fail him even if he would be forced to taste suffering and death. But Peter’s confidence was in himself, not in God and he fell accordingly. For as we learn from the prophet Jeremiah, ‘cursed is the one who trusts in man’ and Solomon, ‘Pride comes before a great fall’ (Jeremiah 17 and Proverbs 16:18). We ought to learn that trusting in ourselves or other men is nothing short of thorough foolishness.
Second–Peter’s repentance: But notice Peter’s response to this tragic fall––’he went out and wept bitterly’. Peter does not dally in any attempt to justify his sin once conviction strikes his heart. Rather, he repents and mourns over his sin with great rapidity. Nor does Peter down-play or make light of his sin. The force and gravity of his trespass against his Lord cuts him deep and his heart gushes with remorse as his eyes dispel bitter tears.
But Peter’s remorse is not without hope. For in the same way a fall succeeds pride so is restoration followed by repentance. For surely, ‘A broken and contrite heart’ the Lord will not despise.
It is throughly true that we ought to learn from Peter’s misplaced confidence and avoid such vain, foolish trusting in ourselves but we would likewise do well to learn from his godly sorrow and quick, speedy repentance. Peter may have been a notorious model for misplaced, man-centered boisterous zeal and confidence but he was not without admirable qualities worth emulating––not the least being repentance and deep, godly sorrow over sin.
Third–Peter’s Lord sees: Luke records that when Peter denied the Lord for the third time the Lord turned and looked at Peter. If ever Peter saw fire in Christ’s eyes or felt Messiah’s gaze pierce his heart this was surely one of them. But this is more than a harrowing and thorough record of earnest moments in Christ’s passion and Peter’s denial––a rich doctrine lies here for every man woman and child to learn. Doctrine: The Lord looks upon all men everywhere at all times, he sees and knows all. Whether we do good or evil, the eyes of the Lord are over all the earth and miss nothing but are ever upon us as they were upon Peter in that moment. Indeed, ‘the eyes of the Lord are in every place’ (Proverbs 15:3).
When we sin and transgress against our savior and his holy law we must remember Christ is looking at us. Peter’s response to his sin is the appropriate response for every believer––to be sorrowful and repent of our sin and look to Christ for pardon.
Yet, lest we convince ourselves of a God who is merely looking upon our transgression so as to catch us, we would do well to preach the whole doctrine of the Lord’s omniscience to ourselves. Remember, for example, Matthew 6:6 where Jesus instructs his disciples not to pray in public in order receive recognition and praise from men but, “when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you”.
Thus, our mantra must be that of Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthian church––whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Conclusion: If we are to take these lessons of Peter’s fall and repentance and Christ’s sovereignty to heart, the final line of the hymn Beneath the Cross of Jesus may do our memories much good––’My Sinful Self My Only Shame; My Glory All the Cross’.
If we trust in ourselves we will fail and be disappointed. Surely we know this by the text before us but also by experience. Indeed, who among us has not gone their own way and transgressed against Christ’s law and experienced the consequences of sin. Since we are unable to keep God’s law, in nature and deed, we are thoroughly sinful and totally unable to attain any righteousness of our own before the judgment seat of God. In this way, in our failures and sin and total lack of good in ourselves, our sinful self is our only shame.
But, as Peter’s history did not end with weeping, so for those in Christ will not be put to shame. As Peter later writes in 1 Peter 3:18, ‘…Christ also suffered once for sin, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God’. Likewise, Paul pens in Romans 5:6, that “Christ died for the ungodly”, for the sinner, for the transgressor.
Have you denied Christ, have you broken his laws and turned you back on him in great and small ways? Then you, man, woman or child are qualified to come to Christ and receive pardon. No-one is too far gone to be saved. Peter denied Christ to his face and sought and found forgiveness. Assuredly this was because Christ had prayed for him. Yet, how do you not know, o sinner, that Christ is not praying for you at this very moment?
We have all gone astray. As it is written, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on [Jesus Christ] the iniquity of us all”.
Come, sinner, come denier, come transgressor, come you ungodly and wicked and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the propitiation for your sin, and you will be saved.
Knowing the glory of Christ in what he has done for you in forgiving and taking the punishment for your sin and obeying in your place and giving you his very own righteousness, raise your song and sing ‘My Sinful Self My Only Shame; My Glory All the Cross’