From Weakness to Strength

The history of no one of the disciples better illustrates Christ's method of training than does the history of Peter. Bold, aggressive, and self-confident, quick to perceive and forward to act, prompt in retaliation yet generous in forgiving, Peter often erred, and often received reproof. Nor were his warmhearted loyalty and devotion to Christ the less decidedly recognized and commended. Patiently, with discriminating love, the Saviour dealt with His impetuous disciple, seeking to check his self-confidence, and to teach him humility, obedience, and trust. Ed 88.1

But only in part was the lesson learned. Self-assurance was not uprooted. Ed 88.2

Often Jesus, the burden heavy upon His own heart, sought to open to the disciples the scenes of His trial and suffering. But their eyes were holden. The knowledge was unwelcome, and they did not see. Self-pity, that shrank from fellowship with Christ in suffering, prompted Peter's remonstrance, “Pity Thyself, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee.” Matthew 16:22, margin. His words expressed the thought and feeling of the Twelve. Ed 88.3

So they went on, the crisis drawing nearer; they, boastful, contentious, in anticipation apportioning regal honors, and dreaming not of the cross. Ed 88.4

For them all, Peter's experience had a lesson. To self-trust, trial is defeat. The sure outworking of evil still unforsaken, Christ could not prevent. But as His hand had been outstretched to save when the waves were about to sweep over Peter, so did His love reach out for his rescue when the deep waters swept over his soul. Over and over again, on the very verge of ruin, Peter's words of boasting brought him nearer and still nearer to the brink. Over and over again was given the warning, “Thou shalt ... deny that thou knowest Me.” Luke 22:34. It was the grieved, loving heart of the disciple that spoke out in the avowal, “Lord, I am ready to go with Thee, both into prison, and to death” (Luke 22:33); and He who reads the heart gave to Peter the message, little valued then, but that in the swift-falling darkness would shed a ray of hope: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Luke 22:31, 32. Ed 88.5

When in the judgment hall the words of denial had been spoken; when Peter's love and loyalty, awakened under the Saviour's glance of pity and love and sorrow, had sent him forth to the garden where Christ had wept and prayed; when his tears of remorse dropped upon the sod that had been moistened with the blood drops of His agony—then the Saviour's words, “I have prayed for thee: ... when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren,” were a stay to his soul. Christ, though foreseeing his sin, had not abandoned him to despair. Ed 89.1

If the look that Jesus cast upon him had spoken condemnation instead of pity; if in foretelling the sin He had failed of speaking hope, how dense would have been the darkness that encompassed Peter! how reckless the despair of that tortured soul! In that hour of anguish and self-abhorrence, what could have held him back from the path trodden by Judas? Ed 89.2

He who could not spare His disciple the anguish, left him not alone to its bitterness. His is a love that fails not nor forsakes. Ed 90.1

Human beings, themselves given to evil, are prone to deal untenderly with the tempted and the erring. They cannot read the heart, they know not its struggle and pain. Of the rebuke that is love, of the blow that wounds to heal, of the warning that speaks hope, they have need to learn. Ed 90.2

It was not John, the one who watched with Him in the judgment hall, who stood beside His cross, and who of the Twelve was first at the tomb—it was not John, but Peter, that was mentioned by Christ after His resurrection. “Tell His disciples and Peter,” the angel said, “that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him.” Mark 16:7. Ed 90.3

At the last meeting of Christ with the disciples by the sea, Peter, tested by the thrice-given question, “Lovest thou Me?” was restored to his place among the Twelve. His work was appointed him; he was to feed the Lord's flock. Then, as His last personal direction, Jesus bade him, “Follow thou Me.” John 21:17, 22. Ed 90.4

Now he could appreciate the words. The lesson Christ had given when He set a little child in the midst of the disciples and bade them become like him, Peter could now better understand. Knowing more fully both his own weakness and Christ's power, he was ready to trust and to obey. In His strength he could follow his Master. Ed 90.5

And at the close of his experience of labor and sacrifice, the disciple once so unready to discern the cross, counted it a joy to yield up his life for the gospel, feeling only that, for him who had denied the Lord, to die in the same manner as his Master died was too great an honor. Ed 90.6

A miracle of divine tenderness was Peter's transformation. It is a life lesson to all who seek to follow in the steps of the Master Teacher. Ed 91.1