Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Peter's fall and restoration

'The case of Peter is sometimes coarsely handled. Many deal with the sad scene of his denial of Christ as though he were placed on the pillory to be branded as a traitor and coward by every passer-by. But when they scan and censure Peter's fall, it would be well if they inquired whether their own lives be not one continued denial of Christ; whether their hearts ever dictated Peter's question and confession, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life'; whether they have ever shared Peter's blessing, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven"; and whether, if they can see the greatness of his sin, they can also enter into the pungency of his sorrow over it. Not that we would dare to speak lightly of Peter's sin; but it is dangerous to contemplate the falls and infirmities of the saints of God without respect to their life of faith and obedience, and especially to the deep repentance consequent on their reclaiming and their experience of mercy; – to probe into their sins and faults, while our own hearts' corruptions remain unexplored by us. We are then in danger of extracting poison from such a precious passage of God's Word as this, if we are content to bring to its consideration a hard unhumbled heart.'

'Christ would have Peter to remember, ever to remember, the wondrous mercy he had experienced in being restored and forgiven, that there might be, as it were, a pillar set up here to which he might look back at every succeeding step of his journey; and we cannot doubt that where he now is, before the throne of God, he often looks back to this period, and from its review gathers fresh impulse to join in the song, "To Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood"' (extracts from sermon on John 21:15-17 by Charles Calder Macintosh, a minister in Tain, Ross-shire, in the nineteenth century).

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