on Matthew 26 :75
Peter remembered the word of Jesus - St. Luke says, Luke 22:61, The Lord turned and looked upon Peter. So it appears he was nigh to our Lord, either at the time when the cock crew, or shortly after. The delicacy of this reproof was great - he must be reproved and alarmed, otherwise he will proceed yet farther in his iniquity; Christ is in bonds, and cannot go and speak to him; if he call aloud, the disciple is discovered, and falls a victim to Jewish malice and Roman jealousy; he therefore does the whole by a look. In the hand of Omnipotence every thing is easy, and he can save by a few, as well as by many.
He went out - He left the place where he had sinned, and the company which had been the occasion of his transgression.
And wept bitterly - Felt bitter anguish of soul, which evidenced itself by the tears of contrition which flowed plentifully from his eyes. Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall! Where the mighty have been slain, what shall support the feeble? Only the grace of the Almighty God.
This transaction is recorded by the inspired penmen,
1st. That all may watch unto prayer, and shun the occasions of sin.
2dly. That if a man be unhappily overtaken in a fault, he may not despair, but cast himself immediately with a contrite heart on the infinite tenderness and compassion of God. See the notes on John 18:27.
I have touched on the subject of our Lord's anointing but slightly in the preceding notes, because the controversy upon this point is not yet settled; and, except to harmonists, it is a matter of comparatively little importance. Bishop Newcome has written largely on this fact, and I insert an extract from his notes.
on Matthew 26 :75
And Peter remembered the word of Jesus ... - Luke has mentioned a beautiful and touching circumstance omitted by the other evangelists, that when the cock crew, "Jesus turned and looked upon Peter," and that then he remembered his words. They were in the same room - Jesus at the upper end of the hall, elevated for a tribunal and Peter below with the servants, so that Jesus could look down upon Peter standing near the fire. By a tender and compassionate look - a single glance of his eye the injured Saviour brought to remembrance all Peter's promises, his own predictions, and the great guilt of the disciple; he overwhelmed him with the remembrance of his sin, and pierced his heart through with many sorrows. The consciousness of deep and awful guilt rushed over Peter's soul; he flew from the palace, he went where he might be alone in the darkness of the night, and "wept bitterly."
The fall of Peter is one of the most melancholy instances of depravity ever committed in our world. But a little while before so confident; seated at the table of the Lord; distinguished throughout the ministry of Christ with special favors; cautioned against this very thing; yet so soon denying him, forgetting his promises, and profanely calling on God to witness what he knew to be false - that he did not know him! Had it been only once, it would have been awful guilt - guilt deeply piercing the Redeemer's soul in the day of trial; but it was three times repeated, and at last with profane cursing and swearing. Yet, while we weep over Peter's fall, and seek not to palliate his crime, we should draw from it important practical uses:
1. The danger of self-confidence. "He that thinketh he standeth should take heed lest he fall" 1 Corinthians 10:12. True Christian confidence is that which relies on God for strength, and feels safety only in the belief that he is able and willing to keep from temptation.
2. The highest favors, the most exalted privileges, do not secure us from the danger of falling into sin. Few men were ever so highly favored as Peter; few ever so dreadfully departed from the Saviour, and brought so deep a scandal on religion.
3. When a man begins to sin; his fall from one act to another is easy - perhaps almost certain. At first, Peter's sin was only simple denial; then it increased to more violent affirmation, and ended with open profaneness. So the downward road of crime is easy. When sin is once indulged, the way is open for a whole deluge of crime, nor is the course easily stayed until the soul is overwhelmed in awful guilt.
4. True repentance is deep, thorough, bitter. Peter wept bitterly. It was sincere sorrow - sorrow proportioned to the nature of the offence he had committed.
5. A look from Jesus - a look of mingled affection, pity, and reproof - produces bitter sorrow for sin. We injure Him by our crimes; and His tender look, when we err, pierces the soul through with many sorrows, opens fountains of tears in the bosom, and leads us to weep with bitterness over our transgressions.
6. When we sin when we fall into temptation - let us retire from the world, seek the place of solitude, and pour out our sorrows before God. He will mark our groans; he will hear our sighs; he will behold our tears; and he will receive us to his arms again.
7. Real Christians may be suffered to go far astray. To show them their weakness, to check self-confidence, and to produce dependence on Jesus Christ, they may be permitted to show how weak, and feeble, and rash they are. Peter was a real believer. Jesus had prayed for him "that his faith should fail not," Luke 22:32. Jesus was always heard in his prayer, John 11:42. He was heard, therefore, then. Peter's faith did not fail - that is, his belief in Jesus, his real piety, his true attachment to the Saviour. He knew during the whole transaction that Jesus was the Messiah, and that he himself was well acquainted with him; but he was suffered to declare that which he knew was not true, and in this consisted his sin. Yet,
8. Though a Christian may be suffered to go astray - may fall into sin - yet he who should, from this example of Peter, think that he might, lawfully do it, or who should resolve to do it, thinking that he might, like Peter, weep and repent, would give evidence that he knew nothing of the grace of God. He that resolves to sin under the expectation of repenting hereafter "cannot be a Christian."
It is worthy of further remark, that the fact that the fall of Peter is recorded by "all" the evangelists is high proof of their "honestly." They were willing to tell the truth as it was; to conceal no fact, even if it made much against themselves, and to make mention of their own faults without attempting to appear to be better than they were. And it is worthy of special observation that Mark has recorded this with all the circumstances of aggravation, perhaps even more so than the others. Yet, by the universal belief of antiquity, the Gospel of Mark was written under Peter's direction, and every part of it submitted to him for examination. Higher proof of the honesty and candor of the evangelists could not be demanded.
on Matthew 26 :75