The Fall of St. Peter
Mark 14:72
And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said to him, Before the cock crow twice…

"And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept."

I. THE FIRST ERROR OF THE APOSTLE WAS CONFIDENCE IN THE STRENGTH OF HIS OWN VIRTUE, FOLLOWED BY ITS NATURAL RESULT — THE WANT OF WATCHFULNESS. This was the commencement of his aberration, and the origin of all his subsequent sorrow. Our only strength is in humble and earnest reliance upon the grace of Christ. It is rare that an humble and watchful soul is overcome by temptation. Temptations are seldom nearer than when we suppose them most distant. If we commit our way unto the Lord, He will direct our steps.

II. THE FIRST SINFUL ACT OF PETER AROSE FROM VAINGLORY. He wished to make a display of his courage. One extreme is always liable to be succeeded by its opposite. Rashness is naturally followed by cowardice. He who smote off the servant's ear was seen, in a few minutes, hiding himself in the darkness among the trees of the garden.

III. THE VACILLATION OF PETER PRODUCED ITS NATURAL RESULT — INSUFFICIENT AND UNDECIDED REPENTANCE. He could not forsake his Master entirely. He dared not openly confess his fault, and meet the consequences of doing right. He followed Christ afar off. Thus difficult is it to do right, after we have once commenced the doing of wrong. A course only half-way right is as perilous a one as can be chosen. Nothing could have restored to Peter the moral courage of innocence, but going at once to Christ, confessing his sin, and avowing his attachment, no matter what the avowal might have cost him. We may be surprised into sin. Our only safety consists in forsaking it immediately. It we hesitate, our conscience will become defiled, and our resolution weakened. It is also of the utmost importance that our reformation be bold, manly, and entire.

IV. PETER HEARD JESUS FALSELY ACCUSED, AND HE UTTERED NOT A WORD IN HIS DEFENCE. He was the friend and the witness of Christ. It was his duty to act, and to act promptly. By quietly looking on, when he ought to have acted, Peter prepared himself for all the guilt and misery that ensued. Hence let us learn the danger of being found in any company in which the cause of Christ is liable to be treated with indignity. If we enter such company from choice we are accessory to the breaking of Christ's commandments. If our lawful duties call us into society, where the name of Christ is not revered, we can never remain in it innocently for a moment, unless we promptly act as disciples of Christ.

V. PETER ATTEMPTED TO ESCAPE FROM THE EMBARRASSMENTS OF HIS SITUATION BY EQUIVOCATION. "I know not," said he, "nor understand what thou sayest." This only in the end rendered his embarrassment the more inextricable. Let this part of the history teach us the importance of cultivating, on all occasions, the habit of bold and transparent veracity. Equivocation is always a sort of moral absurdity. It is an attempt to make a lie answer the purpose of the truth. He who does this when his attachment to Christ is called in question has already fallen. He denies his Lord in the sight of his all-seeing Judge, though his cowardice will not permit him to do it openly. The man who has gone thus far will soon be brought into circumstances which will openly reveal his guilt.

VI. PETER WAS RAPIDLY LED ON TO THE COMMISSION OF CRIMES IN THEMSELVES MOST ABHORRENT TO HIS NATURE, AND CRIMES OF WHICH, AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF HIS WRONG-DOING, NEITHER HE NOR ANY ONE ELSE WOULD HAVE BELIEVED HIM CAPABLE. He began by nothing more guilty than self-confidence and the want of watchfulness. He ended with shameless and repeated lying — the public denial of his Master, accompanied by the exhibition of frantic rage, and the uttering of oaths and blasphemy in the hearing of all Jerusalem. Thus, step after step, he plunged headlong into more and more atrocious guilt, until, without the power of resistance, he surrendered himself up to do the whole will of the adversary of souls.

(Francis Wayland.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.

WEB: The rooster crowed the second time. Peter remembered the word, how that Jesus said to him, "Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times." When he thought about that, he wept.

Tears of Repentance
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