The Signs of the Times


May 5, 1898

A Lesson from Peter


“Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of Me this night; for it is written, I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said unto Him, Tho all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. Peter said unto Him, Tho I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.” ST May 5, 1898, par. 1

Jesus entered into controversy with no man. He had a work to do in the world. After his baptism John pointed to Him as “the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” Even when in the wilderness of temptation He was met by Satan, He held no controversy with His foe. He took His stand upon the written Word. The weapon with which He met and repulsed the enemy was, “It is written.” And Christ obtained the victory on the point of appetite in behalf of the whole world, that every soul might have His example before them. ST May 5, 1898, par. 2

And now the steps of Christ are tending to the last place of His humiliation and suffering in humanity. Turning to His disciples, He said in tones of deepest pathos, “All ye shall be offended because of Me this night;” for it is written, “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the Man that is My Fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” These words were spoken as from a breaking heart. ST May 5, 1898, par. 3

Throughout His whole discourse, Christ had made no mournful allusion to His own sufferings and death. The Shepherd knows He will be smitten, that the rod lifted in His Father's hand will fall heavily upon Him because of the law transgressed. But Christ thinks only of His disciples. His heart of tenderest love is ever seeking to cheer them. He must prepare them for the absence of His bodily presence. “Let not your heart be troubled,” He said: “ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” He alludes to their scattering and forsaking Him at the very time when He most needs their sympathy and prayers. But He does not allow this thought of sadness to leave a depressing gloom upon them. He adds, “But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.” ST May 5, 1898, par. 4

The period that is to answer to the prophetic past had come. Christ takes His disciples over the terrible scenes to be enacted, and revives them with hope. He assures them that He will break the fetters of the tomb in the morning of the resurrection, when He will meet them in Galilee. He wanted their hearts to know no fear, but trust in Him. ST May 5, 1898, par. 5

But now Peter feels that he must speak, and assures his Master that he will never be guilty of denying his Lord. He did not realize that in that very assertion he was refusing caution and reproof from Christ. When men feel themselves so strong, then it is that they need the words of Inspiration brought to their minds, “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” Had Peter done this, he would not have disgraced himself, and put Christ to open shame. The time had come when silence was eloquence, when to think in quietness was far better than any speech he could have made. But Peter knew so little of his own heart that he denied the truthfulness of Christ's statement. ST May 5, 1898, par. 6

Christ had told Peter that he was mistaken in his ideas of himself, and that in not receiving and believing the words of Christ he was doing the very evil that Christ had declared he would be guilty of. We see this same spirit manifested today. We need ever abiding in the soul the treasure of the Word of God, that when the host of hell shall seek to destroy with temptations, we may be ready with sharp perception to discern his wiles, and meet him as Christ met him in the wilderness, with, “It is written.” When we feel our personal weakness, when we depend on Christ and not on self, we have done what we can. Then the heavenly intelligences are ready to lift up the standard for us against the enemy, saying to the Satanic agencies, “Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther.” The tempted one often does not realize that he has unseen heavenly agencies working in his behalf, but this is so. ST May 5, 1898, par. 7

“Peter answered and said unto Him, Tho all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, that this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice.” O, how poorly will many who feel so self-sufficient, stand the test! Jesus could see the future. He could read even the thoughts of the heart. He knew that Peter's first denial would not stop there. Having denied his Lord once, occasion was given to deny again, and the second denial brought circumstances in its train to deny the third time, and that with cursing and swearing. Peter should have taken it for granted that Jesus knew him better than he knew himself. He should have humbled his heart, and asked for special grace, that this thing might not be. But he lost this opportunity in not heeding or believing the warning given. ST May 5, 1898, par. 8

In a most decided manner he declared, “Tho I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee.” Peter was thoroughly honest in his assertion, but he was not half as wise as he thought himself to be. He was ignorant of himself. He did not realize his own weakness. It is the privilege of the believer to know that Christ knows all things, and that He would never have made that statement if Peter had known his own heart. ST May 5, 1898, par. 9

Jesus did not try farther to make Peter believe that He knew what course he would pursue. But He knew that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” At this time Peter should have been examining himself. How distrustful of self should he have been! But he refused to admit that the picture presented before him was correct, and in the place of inviting research, altho the Holy Spirit of God had revealed to him the character he would manifest, under test and trial, he refused to accept it. If he had humbled his soul before God, in place of denying the searching and reading of his inmost soul, he would have said with the prophet, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.” ST May 5, 1898, par. 10

Peter needed a deeper, broader knowledge of Jesus Christ. He had listened to His words and enjoyed His lessons. He had acknowledged Christ as the Son of God, and believed Him to be this; but he had only touched the margin of faith in Christ. There were depths in the knowledge of His character which demanded his homage, his faith, his tribute of perfect trust and unshaken confidence. “Thou shalt see greater things than these,” is the promise that invites increased faith and expectation. Jesus stood ready to reveal Himself to Peter. In His great love He told Peter of his denial. He sought to reveal the defects of his character, and his necessity for the help which Christ alone could give. Peter needed a distrust of himself, and deeper views of God. ST May 5, 1898, par. 11

When Peter had done the very thing Christ had told him he would do, he was filled with shame and sorrow. He was a repentant man, and became thoroughly converted. Then how tender and charitable, how meek and forgiving, Peter revealed himself to be! ST May 5, 1898, par. 12

Mrs. E. G. White