Chapter 1—Ready for the King.
SIMON and Andrew were young fishermen, they lived on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, in the land which God promised to give to Abraham and to his children's children. Abraham had been dead for hundreds of years before Simon and Andrew were born, but they were his descendants, and they knew about the promises that God had made to Abraham and to Isaac and Jacob, and those who came after them. They knew that God had promised that He would send One whom He had spoken of as Messiah, the anointed One who should be a mighty King and deliver them from all their enemies, and they longed for the time when He should appear.
And then one day they heard that a man named John, clad like one of the prophets of old, in a rough garment made of camel's hair, with a leathern girdle about his loins, was preaching in the wilderness, crying out and saying, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." The King was coming, and John was the messenger sent to prepare the way before Him.
Andrew wanted to be ready when Messiah, the King, came, and he became a disciple of John the Baptist, for that is what this preacher was called, because those who repented were baptised by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
One day "John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus."
Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, "What seek ye?" They said to Him, "Master, where dwellest thou?" Jesus said to them, "Come and see." "They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour."
One of those two disciples, who heard John speak and followed Jesus, was Andrew.
Yes; Andrew was ready when the King came, even though He had come in such a lowly way that very few received Him. Andrew heard the words, "Behold the Lamb of God," and with his fellow disciple he followed Jesus. What a wonderful day that must have been to the two disciples, the day when Jesus spoke to them and invited them to go with Him to His home, the day they abode with Him. What a wonderful day, and what a happy day!
Has any one ever pointed you to Jesus, the spotless, holy Lamb of God, who took your sins upon Himself and died in your stead? Are you following Him to the home above? He wants you to spend eternity with Him in the Father's house, an eternity which begins now.
"Oh what a home! But such His love
That He must bring us there,
To fill that home, to be with Him,
And all that glory share.
The Father's house, the Father's heart,
All that the Son is given
Made ours—the objects of His love,
And He, our joy in heaven."
Andrew's happy day came to an end, but it was only the first of many happy days that he spent with Jesus; and he did not keep his happiness to himself. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messias," and he brought him to Jesus.
When Jesus saw Simon He gave him a new name. He said, "Thou art Simon the son of Jon : thou shalt be called Cephas."
Simon's new name meant stone, it has the same meaning as the name Peter, they both mean stone or rock. It was just as though Jesus had said to Simon, "Thou shalt be called Stone."
Andrew did not understand all at once why Jesus had given his brother this new name; but when he did understand he must have been very glad indeed that he brought him.
Chapter 2—Called to Follow.
JOHN THE BAPTIST was a fearless preacher indeed! He rebuked King Herod because he had taken his brother's wife, and for this Herod shut him up in prison; but John's work was done, and neither Herod nor Satan himself could undo it. And though John was shut up, the call to repentance still rang out, for when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He came into Galilee. "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
"And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren"—the very same two brothers we read about before—"Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers."
Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Simon and Andrew had often read and spoken of David, the shepherd boy who was called by God to leave the care of his father's sheep and become the shepherd of God's people; but they never thought that when Messiah came He would call them, simple fishermen as they were, to leave their nets and become fishers of men. Perhaps they did not know what "fishers of men" meant, but they understood "Follow me," and at once they left their nets and followed Jesus. They did not turn back, not even when later on He said to them, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
Did Jesus make Simon Peter and Andrew, his brother, fishers of men? Indeed He did! Peter caught no fewer than three thousand men and women at once for Jesus. When fish are caught and drawn out of the water they die; but those who heard Peter preach that day did not die. They repented, that is, they were sorry for their sins and confessed them to God; [turning from sin and turning to God]; they believed on Jesus as the Messiah, and they were baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, which means the same as Jesus Messiah, Jesus the anointed One; their sins were forgiven, and they received the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Peter was the chief speaker on that occasion, but Andrew was there too, with others who had followed Jesus, and they all stood up with Peter while he was speaking.
But before Simon Peter could become a fisher of men he had lessons to learn, and one of them was that Jesus knew where the fish were and could bring them to his net; and in learning this lesson he made a great discovery, which you will hear about later on.
Chapter 3—In Simon's House.
IF you were to go to Palestine to-day and hire a boat on the Sea of Galilee, you might sail all round it, for it is not a very big piece of water, but you would not find any city called Capernaum; you would find instead a place called Tel Hum, where the ground is strewn with ruins. But even these ruins are full of interest, for maybe these stones mark the very spot where stood the synagogue at Capernaum into which Jesus entered one sabbath day soon after He called Simon and Andrew to follow Him.
The synagogue was the place where the Jews used to meet to worship God and hear the scriptures read and explained; but as they listened to Jesus that Sabbath day they were astonished. His teaching was different from any they had ever heard before, because He taught them as One who had the right to teach, and His words were with power.
There was one poor man in that synagogue who could not listen to Jesus, he was altogether under the power of an unclean spirit, and instead of listening this unclean spirit made him cry out, "Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God."
But Jesus could and would set even that poor man free. He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying, "Hold thy peace, and come out of him." And when the unclean spirit had torn the man and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
And so Simon and Andrew, and all in the synagogue, learnt that not only did Jesus teach with authority, but His commands had such power that even unclean spirits had to obey Him.
When they came out of the synagogue Jesus went to the house of Simon and Andrew. As soon as He was in the house they told Him that Simon's mother-in-law was very ill in bed with a fever, and He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up; and at once the fever left her, she became quite well, and got up and waited on them.
The news that Jesus was in Simon's house soon spread through the city, and when evening came and the sun was setting, a strange crowd gathered round the door. There were all sorts of sick people there, many of them so ill they had to be carried, and there were others possessed with devils, they too were brought by their friends, and the whole city was gathered together at the door.
What happy homes and what rejoicings there were in Capernaum that night! for Jesus cast out all the devils with a word, and healed all that were sick.
And yet it was of that same city Capernaum, where Jesus did such mighty works, that He afterwards said:
"And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee."
Why did the Lord Jesus say such terribly sad and solemn words about Capernaum? It was just this—the people of Capernaum were willing to listen to Jesus, they were astonished at His teaching, they saw His mighty works, they even sought for Him, but they loved their sins and they would not repent.
When the people sought for Jesus the next morning, they did not find Him in Simon's house, for He had gone out long before it was day to a desert place, a quiet, lonely spot where He could pray. Simon and those with him followed Jesus, and when they found Him they said to Him, "All men seek for thee."
But Jesus said, "Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for therefore came I forth."
Chapter 4—Simon Peter's Discovery.
IT is night on the lake, and Simon is out in his boat plying his calling as a fisherman. James and John, his partners, are there too, busy with their nets. All night long they toil, but the fish do not come their way, and at last when morning dawns they give up trying for them, and come ashore. Though they have caught nothing the nets must be washed and spread out to dry, and they set to work to get it done.
While they were washing the nets Jesus came and stood by the lake, and because the people crowded close up to Him to hear what He was saying, He got into Simon's boat and asked him to pull it out a little from the land. Then Jesus sat down in the boat and taught the people who stood on the shore. When He had finished speaking He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught."
Simon answered, "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net."
It was easy enough for Simon and his crew to let down the net, but when it came to pulling it in again it was a very different matter. How heavy it was! They had pulled in many a haul of fish, but never a haul like this. Why! the net was crammed with fish, and yes, it was actually breaking with the weight of them. It was more than Simon and those with him could do to pull in that net; they had to make signals to James and John in the other boat to come and help them.
"And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink." (Luke
It was then that Simon Peter made his great discovery. When he saw both the boats so full of fish that they were beginning to sink, "he fell down at Jesus' knees; saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord." He knew that he and his friends had been toiling all night, letting down the nets and hauling them in again, and never a fish had they caught, and now, in obedience to the word of Jesus he had let down the net once only, and the fish had crowded into it.
Who but the Lord could command the fishes of the sea? And the light of God flashed into Simon's soul, and he saw himself a sinful man, a sinner, quite unfit to be in the presence of the Lord. And yet Simon did not flee away to hide himself. He could not, because while he owned he was not fit to be with Jesus, he still wanted, oh! so very much, to be there.
Now although Simon had only just found out that he was a sinful man, Jesus knew it all the time; He knew all about Simon right away from the beginning, and He knew that if Simon was to be saved, He Himself must bear his sins in His own body on the tree. He knew that to save Simon He must take Simon's place and die for him on the cross. But Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost, He came into the world to save sinners, and He said to Simon, "Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men."
"And when they had brought their [boats] to land, they forsook all, and followed him."
ONE night Jesus did not go into a house to rest, He wanted to be alone with God; He stayed out of doors on a mountain where it was quiet, and He spent the night in prayer to God.
When it was day He called His disciples to Him, and out of them He chose twelve to be apostles. The first of the twelve was Simon Peter; Andrew, his brother, was chosen too, and so were James and John.
A disciple is one who learns and follows, but an apostle is one who is sent forth. Jesus Himself was the great Apostle, because He was sent forth by God His Father. The twelve whom Jesus chose to be His apostles did not leave off being disciples, they were still often spoken of as "the disciples," or just "the twelve"; but after they had been with Jesus for some time, hearing His words and seeing the things He did, He called them together "and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases, and He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick." He told them that they must not take anything with them for the way, not even an extra coat. And He told them what to do about lodgings, and how to behave if the people would not listen to them; and then they started out. They had been chosen to be apostles that day on the mountain, and now they were really apostles, for Jesus had sent them forth.
When they came back they told Jesus all that they had done, how they had preached to the people in the villages and told them they must be sorry for their sins and leave off doing wrong things; they must repent, because the kingdom of God was at hand. They had cast out many devils, and they had anointed many sick folk with oil and healed them; and they told Jesus all about it.
Peter and Andrew and the other apostles thought that because the kingdom of God was at hand, Jesus was going to reign as King in Jerusalem, and that they would share in His glory and hold high offices in His kingdom. But after a time they found that, though Jesus spoke words such as no other man spoke, and did such mighty deeds that they knew He must indeed be the Christ, the Son of God, yet the chief men of their nation refused to receive Him. And then, little by little, they heard from His own lips that instead of going to a throne, He was going to a cross; instead of speaking of reigning in Jerusalem, He spoke of suffering and dying there.
Did Andrew and that other disciple we read about in our first chapter think of the words, "Behold the Lamb of God," when Jesus told them He was going to be put to death? We are not told; but years afterwards, after Jesus had suffered and died, after He rose from the dead and went back to heaven, long years after the Holy Ghost had come down to tell of His glory there, John was shewn a wonderful vision in which he saw a city which was lit up with the glory of God, and the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Yes, little as they knew it at the time, Peter and Andrew, and James and John and the others, were chosen to be apostles of the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain, the Lamb who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
Chapter 6—Andrews's Diminutives.
DO you know what a diminutive is? It is a word that has some special letters put at the end of it to shew that it means something little. When mother talks about her "laddie" or her "girlie," she means her dear little lad or her dear little girl, for "laddie" and "girlie" are diminutives.
Well, one day Andrew and the other apostles were with Jesus—it was soon after they had returned from preaching in the cities and villages, and Jesus had gone with them in a boat to a desert place on the other side of the lake so that they might be alone with Him. But they were not quiet for long, because a great crowd of people, who had seen the wonderful way in which Jesus healed sick folk, followed Him there.
Even when the day was nearly over, instead of the people going away, still more and more were coming, until the disciples began to get uneasy as to how all these people would manage when it got dark, for there were no shops in that desert place where they could buy food, and no houses to lodge in for the night. They spoke to Jesus about it at last and said, "Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place."
But Jesus said, "They need not depart, give ye them to eat."
They were really puzzled then, and to try them still further Jesus said to Philip, who was one of them, "Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?"
Jesus knew what He was going to do, but He wanted Philip to tell his thoughts about it.
Philip answered, "Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not [enough] for them, that every one of them may take a little." It was as though Philip said, "Why, we should need a mint of money to give them even a little bit each."
Then Jesus made the disciples find out just how much food they had there without going to buy, and Andrew said, "There is a [little boy] here who has five barley loaves and two [little] fishes, but what are they among so many?"
There is no diminutive in English for "little boy," but there was one in Greek, and that is the word used in telling what Andrew said, and the word that meant "little fishes" is used as well.
And then Jesus did what He had meant to do all the time. He took that little boy's five barley loaves and two little fishes, and with them He fed all those hungry people, and there were five thousand men there besides women and children.
It was only a little boy who had the loaves and there were only five of them, and only two of the little fishes, but they were given up to Jesus, and that made all the difference. It was Jesus who took them in His hands, Jesus who looked up to heaven and blessed them, Jesus who broke them into pieces and gave them to the disciples to set before the people, and so every one had food and plenty of it, and there was even more than they could eat, for the disciples filled twelve baskets full of the pieces that were left.
Chapter 7—Peter's Prayer.
HAVE you ever known what it is to be in trouble, and then, all in a moment the trouble has gone, and instead you have been filled with joy and gladness? It was like that with Peter and Andrew and the other disciples the night after Jesus fed the five thousand.
They were on the sea a long way from the shore, tossed on the waves, and toiling in rowing because the wind was contrary; it was dark, and Jesus was not with them. And then, in the fourth watch of the night, the last before daybreak, after they had been toiling all through the weary hours, they saw Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing near to their boat, and they thought it was a spirit, and cried out for fear.
But Jesus spoke to them at once. He said, "Be of good cheer, it is
I, be not afraid."
Every bit of fear went from Peter's heart at the sound of that voice, and he answered, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." Jesus said, "Come." And Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water to go to Jesus.
But when Peter took his eye off Jesus and looked at the wind and waves, fear came back; he was afraid, and he began to sink. "And beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me."
He did not say, "Lord, help me," because he needed more than helping, he needed saving; and he did not say a long prayer, or one he had learnt by heart, he had not time for that; he just cried to Jesus, "Lord, save me," and at once Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
"And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God." "And immediately the ship was at the land whither they went."
You may be quite sure Peter never forgot that night, and he could never forget that hand stretched out to save him. He had seen it many times stretched out in healing and blessing others, but that night he knew its loving mighty grasp, a grasp that saved from death, for it is a grasp that is stronger than death.
Have you ever prayed Peter's prayer? Do you know what it is to be one of those of whom Jesus said, "They shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all: and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."
What a loving Saviour Jesus is! He let those mighty hands of His be nailed to the cross for Peter and for you and for me, when He bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness (1 Peter 2:24).
Chapter 8—Bread from Heaven.
SOME years ago, during the war, a party of five people who had been helping to care for wounded soldiers in Serbia, were fleeing before the advancing enemy. The way they had to go was long and weary, but their greatest difficulty was lack of food. They were almost starving when one day they met a man who had some potatoes, and the price he asked for five potatoes, only one for each of them, was the donkey they had with them to carry their baggage. It was a high price to pay, but they gave it, for they could live without the donkey, but they could not live without food.
Sometimes God lets people be very hungry, so that they may remember that all their food comes from Himself. There was a whole crowd of hungry people once, a whole nation, six hundred thousand men, besides lots and lots of women and children, and they were in a wilderness, a desert land where there was nothing to eat, no corn to make bread, no fruit, no shops. But even there God fed them.
When they woke up in the morning "the dew lay round about the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist [knew] not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat" (Exodus. 16:13-15).
The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years, and all that time God gave them manna, angels' food, to eat. Moses told them why God had let them be so hungry, and why He had given them that wonderful food; it was to make them know that, "Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live" (Deut. 8:3).
Men, women, and children have souls as well as bodies, and just as our bodies need food, so do our souls. It was because of this that Jesus said, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." He said too, "The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
Jesus gave His flesh when He allowed wicked men to nail Him to the cross. The soldiers had put a crown of thorns on His holy head, and now they pierced His hands and feet with nails and fastened Him to a cross. He hung and suffered there for us; He died for our sins, and when He was dead a soldier with a spear pierced His side and forthwith came thereout blood and water. Truly Jesus gave His flesh for the life of the world! Unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we have no life in us, but the heart that loves Him feeds upon Him, and every thought of His love in going into death for us nourishes and strengthens our souls.
Those who heard Jesus speak that day did not understand what He meant, and many even of His disciples went away and walked no more with Him. "Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God."
Peter and Andrew and the other apostles did not go away. They did not understand all that Jesus had been saying, but they knew that His words were words of life, and they believed on Him; that made the difference.
Chapter 9—Puzzled Peter.
EVER since Peter was quite a little boy he had been taught that there were certain kinds of food that he might eat, while there were others which he must on no account touch, because they were unclean. This was right, for Peter was a Jew, and this was part of the law which God gave to Moses for the Jews.
But one day Jesus called the multitude together, and taught them that the things that make men unclean in God's sight are not the things that they put into their mouths, but those that come out of their mouths.
Some of those who heard what Jesus was saying were offended; they were people who were very particular about what they ate, and they would not eat at all unless they first washed their hands, but they were not particular about having clean hearts.
Now it is a very nice clean habit to wash one's hands before a meal, but washing our hands or not washing them, does not make us clean or unclean in God's sight. He looks at our hearts first of all, and sometimes though our hands may look clean, our hearts may be very black and dirty.
So when the disciples came to Jesus and told Him that these people were offended, He said very solemn words about them. He said, "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."
Peter did not understand this lesson about the things that make men unclean, but he was not offended, he asked Jesus to explain it to them. "Declare unto us this parable," he said.
And then Jesus told them very plainly why it is not the things we put into our mouths that make us unclean, but the things that come out of them. It is because the things that proceed out of our mouths come forth from our hearts. Naughty thoughts, lies, thefts, unkind, angry words, words spoken against God, all these and the like come forth from our hearts, and these are the things that make us unclean in God's holy sight.
How very much we all need to pray David's prayer, "Create in me a clean heart, O God." God delights to hear and answer that prayer, He delights to wash away all our sins and create a clean heart within us, for the sake of His dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, whose precious blood cleanses from all sin (1 John 1:7).
Chapter 10—In a Crowd.
"MASTER, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?" It is Peter and those with him who ask the question.
Jesus is on His way to Jairus' house, a house that is darkened with sorrow, for Jairus' little daughter, his only daughter, is dying. He has come to Jesus in his distress, and falling down at His feet he has begged Him to come and heal her. "My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live." And Jesus went with him, and so did His disciples and much people.
Among the crowd was a poor suffering woman; she had been ill for years, not with the same sort of illness as Jairus' daughter, for her sickness had not made her die; she had gone on from year to year, never feeling well, always suffering. At first she had hoped to get better, and had been to one doctor after another till all her money had gone in doctors' fees, and yet she was no better, but rather grew worse. But as she went along in the crowd that day, hope sprang up once more, hope that got stronger and stronger, because it was founded on faith, faith in Jesus.
"If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole [healed]," she said to herself, and coming up behind Him, she put out her hand and touched the hem of His garment.
At once she felt herself well, not better only, but well, cured of her plague. And then she heard Jesus asking, "Who touched me?"
All denied, and Peter and the others were surprised that Jesus should ask such a question when all around Him the people were crowding and pressing. But Jesus did not mean that kind of touching, it was the touch of faith He spoke of, the touch that had drawn healing from Himself. He said, "Somebody hath touched me; for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me."
"And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately."
Why should she tremble? Ah! she did not know the heart of Jesus; she knew something of His power to heal her body, and if He had allowed her to slip away hidden in the crowd, she might never have learnt any more than that, she might never have known that the One who healed her loved her. It took a lot of courage to tell Him why she had touched Him, and that, too, in front of all those people, but what a reward she got when she heard the words He said to her, "Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."
We do not know her name, she was only one poor suffering woman in a crowd, but she had faith in Jesus, she touched the hem of His garment and she was healed, she confessed to Him, and received comfort, assurance and peace.
And all the time Peter and the others were looking on, listening, wondering and learning.
Chapter 11—The Little Daughter.
EVEN while Jesus was speaking to the woman who had touched the hem of His garment, a messenger arrived from Jairus' house with the sad tidings, "Thy daughter is dead, trouble not the Master."
When Jesus heard it He said to Jairus, "Fear not; believe only, and she shall be made whole [well]"; but He let no one follow Him to the house excepting Peter and James and John.
When they arrived they found a crowd of noisy excited people gathered together. The friends and neighbours had come to shew their sympathy by crying and making a great noise of weeping; some one had sent for the flute-players too, and they were playing mournful tunes and adding to the tumult.
And all the time, in one room of the house, the little daughter lay still and quiet in the solemn stillness of death. She was so still and quiet that when Jesus said, "Weep not, she is not dead, but sleeps," they laughed Him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. They did not know that the One who spoke to them was the Lord, God the Lord, to whom belong the issues of death, and they had forgotten that God's word says, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding" (Prov. 3:5).
Never forget it, boys and girls, that when the Lord was here upon earth, there were some who laughed at Him and derided Him because He said of that girl, "She is not dead, but sleeps." She lay so still, no breath came from her lips, her heart had ceased to beat, they could not wake her, they knew that she was dead.
Jesus had let no one go into the house with Him but Peter, James and John, and the father and mother of the maiden, and now He put all the other people out, and He entered into the room taking with Him those three disciples and the parents. "And he ... took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose at once, and he commanded to give her meat [something to eat]."
Oh! how happy Jairus and his wife must have been to have their little daughter back again, and what joy it must have given them to see her enjoy the food they brought her in obedience to the Lord's command.
They were astonished, but Jesus charged them that they should tell no one what was done. Those who had laughed at Jesus and refused to believe His word, were not even to be told in what way He had aroused the dear little sleeper from the sleep of death.
Chapter 12—A Thief in the Night.
IF your father promised some one a bicycle for his birthday, it would make a great deal of difference to you whether the promise was made to you or to your brother. And if one of the teachers at school set a certain lesson or made a certain rule, you would want to know whether the lesson or the rule was for the whole school, or for a certain class only.
Well, it was like that with Peter; he had been listening to the Lord Jesus for some time, and at last he asked, "Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?"
If you take your Bible and read through the twelfth chapter of Luke's gospel, you will see that in the first verse it says, "He began to say unto his disciples first of all," and then follows what Jesus said to them.
Then in verse four, Jesus says, "I say unto you my friends," and what comes after that was certainly meant for Peter, and for us too, if we are friends of the Lord Jesus.
Again, in verse twenty-two and the following verses, we have what He said to His disciples, those who were learning from Him; and there is no mistaking that it is to His own sheep that He speaks when He says, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
But presently Peter begins to wonder, for Jesus says, "And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not."
Then it was that Peter asked his question, "Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?"
When Peter was an old man he did not call these words of the Lord Jesus a parable, he called them a promise. He had learnt that although Jesus will come back again so suddenly that to those who are not ready His coming will be as a thief in the night, yet God is so merciful and longsuffering that He wants every one to be ready, He longs for all to repent and turn to Him. And so Peter writes, "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord WILL COME as a thief in the night" (2 Peter 3:8-10).
If Jesus comes just now, as you are reading, are you ready? Oh! do make sure about this, for the words, "Be ye ready also," are said to you.
Chapter 13—A Wonderful Secret.
JESUS asked His disciples one day who they thought He was, and it was Peter who answered the question.
When He asked, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" the disciples answered, "Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets." For people then were very like people now, and some said one thing about Jesus, and some said another.
But when Jesus asked, "But whom say ye that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus had called Himself the Son of man, and He was indeed Man; He had come into this world as a Babe, and He had grown up into manhood as a Man among men, the Son of man among the sons of men; but Peter knew that He was the Christ, the Messiah for whom they had been waiting, God's chosen and anointed Man, truly Man—and yet, the Son of the living God.
Peter had not found this out for himself; he had been with Jesus and seen the wonderful things He did, he knew that He could command the fishes of the sea, that He spoke to the winds and waves and they obeyed His voice; His hands could feed five thousand men with a few loaves and fishes; He healed the sick, He raised the dead; but even so, Peter could never have known that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, if it had not been revealed to him. Jesus said to him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona [son of Jona]; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."
And then Jesus said to him, "And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Peter's name meant a stone, and Jesus tells him the wonderful secret that He is going to build His church, not with stones, like those men use in building, but with stones like Peter himself, with men, women and children who confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. A rock is that which cannot be moved, and as you grow older and read your Bible from one end to the other, and even now, when perhaps you have only read part of it, you will notice how very often in the Old Testament God is spoken of as a Rock. It would be worth while to count how many times Moses uses the word Rock, even in one chapter (Deut. 32). And when we come to the New Testament, and Paul is writing about the rock from which the Israelites drank in the wilderness, he says, "That Rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:4).
When Jesus told Peter He was going to build His church upon "this rock," He went on to say, "And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Do you remember how, long before, when Samson was judge over Israel, his enemies thought they had him safely shut up in the city of Gaza? "And they ... laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him. And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron."
That gives us a little picture of what Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, has done with the gates of hell. Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, He went down into death, He died, and it looked as though Satan had gained the victory, as though the Rock of Ages had been overthrown. But the power of hell was broken by Jesus' death, and on the third day He arose.
He arose, He arose!
With a mighty triumph over His foes,
Hallelujah! Christ arose.
He rose from the dead, and ascended up into heaven and sat down at God's right hand as the mighty Victor over death and Satan's power.
This is why the gates of hell can never, never prevail against the church which He is building on the Rock.
Chapter 14—The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.
AFTER telling Peter that wonderful secret about His church, Jesus said to him, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16).
When we look up into the sky on a starry night, and see those myriads of stars shining in their glory so far above us, perhaps it makes us feel that heaven must be very, very far away. But though heaven may seem far away, we know that what takes place on this earth is of very great interest in heaven, and even while we are down here we may enter into the kingdom of heaven.
It was after Jesus went back to heaven that the keys of the kingdom of heaven were given to Peter, that he might open the door for all who would turn from their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The first time he used the keys three thousand of his own nation pressed in at the open door. The key that let in the Gentiles was used later on, when Cornelius the centurion, his family and friends, were let in. Since then millions of men and women and children have entered the kingdom of heaven, and all by the door that Peter unlocked.
You must not think that the keys he was given were great iron ones, keys of that sort could never have opened the way into the kingdom of heaven; but Peter was the first to preach to the Jews and to tell them that though they had so wickedly put Jesus to death on the cross, God had raised Him from the dead and set Him on His throne, and made Him Lord and Christ. By preaching to them about Jesus he opened the door and shewed the only way by which they could enter the kingdom of heaven. They must change their minds about Jesus, and instead of refusing and rejecting Him, they must believe in Him and be baptised in His name, confessing their terrible wickedness in crucifying Him.
Peter was the first, too, to tell the Gentiles that Jesus is the One Whom God has appointed to be the judge of living and dead, and that we must believe on Him and receive forgiveness of our many sins.
Have you, yourself, entered the kingdom of heaven by the door that Peter opened? If so, you have come under the rule of heaven, and your everyday life shews whether or no you are an obedient subject to Him who is heaven's King. Though you have been a rebel up till now, there is mercy for you if you will submit and enter the door into the kingdom, for Jesus has gone up into heaven and received gifts even for the rebellious. He will make your heart loving and submissive, and give you the gift of His Holy Spirit, if you will come to Him and pray:
"In the kingdom of Thy grace,
Give a little child a place."
Even if you were quite grown up this prayer would still suit you, for it was to men Jesus said, "Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Chapter 15—What the Voice Said.
NO doubt Peter very much liked to be told that the keys of the kingdom of heaven would be given to him; but when Jesus began to shew His disciples that He must suffer and be killed and the third day rise again, Peter could not bear to hear it. He even dared to take Jesus to him and begin to rebuke Him for saying such a thing; he said, "This shall not be unto thee."
But Jesus turned and said to him, "Get thee behind me, Satan."
Peter had spoken Satan's words for him, and the thoughts that filled his mind were thoughts that men think, thoughts that are, oh! so different from God's thoughts.
And then Jesus said to His disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." But He told them too that He would come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and that He would reward every man according to his works, and He said that some of those who were standing there that day while He spoke, should not taste death till they had seen Him coming in His kingdom.
It was only six days after this that Jesus took Peter, and James, and John up into a high mountain by themselves, and there He was transfigured before them. His face shone as the sun, and His clothes became white as the light; and two men appeared in glory with Him there.
Peter and James and John were heavy with sleep, but when they woke up they became wide awake, and they saw His glory, and the two men, and knew that it was Moses and Elijah who were talking to Jesus. As they departed from Him, Peter called out to Jesus, he said, "Master, it is good for us to be here, and let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias." Peter did not know what he was saying, the vision was so lovely he did not want it to pass away; but as he was saying these things a bright cloud came over them and all around them; it was the cloud of the glory of God, and the three disciples were very much afraid as they entered into it. "And, behold, a voice came out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."
The voice which spoke was the voice of the Father; that voice had been heard before speaking to Jesus when He was baptised by John the Baptist; but now it spoke to Peter, James and John.
God spoke of old to the Israelites through Moses, for He gave the law through Moses; later on He spoke through Elijah and the prophets; but now, to-day, He speaks in His Son, His beloved Son. The voice that came from the glory cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."
"And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only."
As they came down from the mountain [the] next day Jesus laid a charge upon them that they were to tell no one of the vision till after He rose from the dead.
After He was risen they were free to tell others how they had been eye-witnesses of the majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that He had received from God the Father honour and glory when such a voice came to Him from the excellent glory, a voice which Peter says, "we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount."
Peter, James and John obeyed that voice from heaven, they listened to the word of Jesus and spent their lives in teaching them to others. But that voice came for us too; though we did not hear it on the holy mountain, it speaks in our hearts to-day, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him."
Have we heard Jesus? Have you heard Him? He says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).
Chapter 16—A Piece of Money.
EVEN after the voice on the mountain, Peter did not always remember that although Jesus was a Man upon the earth He was not to be classed with other men. That night Peter had made the great mistake of wanting to make three tabernacles, one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus; and now he made another, for when some men came to him and asked, "Doesn't your Master pay tribute money?" he answered, "Yes."
Now it was a right thing for Jewish men to give their money towards the service of God in the temple, and right that all should give, whether rich or poor, but it was not a right thing to ask Jesus to give this money, because the temple was the house of God, and Jesus was God's Son.
When Peter was come into the house, before he had time to tell Jesus about it, Jesus said to him, "What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of stranger?"
Peter knew quite well that kings do not make their own sons pay tribute, so he answered, "Of strangers."
Jesus said to him, "Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee."
The piece of money that Peter found in the fish's mouth was a drachma; it was just twice as much as the men had asked for, and it paid for himself as well as for Jesus.
What pleasure it must have given God that His own well-beloved Son was willing to pay tribute money in order that poor ignorant men, who did not know who He was, might not be stumbled. Love seeketh not her own; and because Jesus loved those poor Jewish men, He gave up His right to be exempt from the tax they paid, and He paid it for Peter as well as for Himself.
Chapter 17—Seventy-Times Table.
IF you are a child of God through faith in Christ Jesus, you belong to a very great family, and you have all God's other children for brothers and sisters.
The Lord Jesus told His disciples one day how they must act if one brother sinned against another brother. Peter was one of those who heard what He said, and he came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how oft [often] shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Until seven times?" Peter thought seven times was a great many times to forgive his brother. To have some one do us a bad turn spitefully, or say what is not true of us, or even carelessly destroy something we value, tries us very much, and we may find it hard to forgive them even once; it is no wonder Peter thought that to forgive the same person seven times over was quite the limit.
How different God's thoughts are from our thoughts. Listen to what Jesus answered him, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."
Have you learned your seventy-times table? If so, you will know what seventy times seven makes; but if not, you need not trouble to reckon it out, for to forgive a brother seventy times seven means that however many times he may offend against us, we must forgive him every time.
It is so easy to talk about forgiving, is it not? especially when no one has offended us. But when any one has hurt us very much it is quite a different matter. The Lord Jesus knows how hard we find it to forgive one another, so He told Peter a story, one of His beautiful stories with a hidden meaning. The parable Jesus told was about a king who had a reckoning day with his servants, and when he began to reckon, one of his servants was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents—millions of money. And because he had nothing to pay it with, his lord commanded him to be sold and his wife and children, and payment to be made.
But the servant fell down at his feet and begged for mercy, he said, "Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all."
And now you shall have the rest of the story just as it is written in the Bible.
"Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
"So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses" (Matt. 18).
How terrible it is when our heavenly Father has to deliver any one of us to the tormentors because we refuse to forgive a brother or sister. We lose the enjoyment of His love, and we do not know a moment's peace or happiness till we forgive them and own to Him how wrong we have been.
And suppose it is not a brother or a sister who hurts us, suppose it is an enemy. Ah, then we need to remember that hour when Jesus was nailed to the cross, when He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Chapter 18—Twelve Thrones.
THE disciples were sometimes very much surprised by what Jesus did and said, and one day His words made them "exceedingly amazed." They had always thought it was easier for rich people to be saved than for poor people, and now Jesus was saying that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
You see, the disciples had forgotten that a poor man has only God to trust in, while a rich man has his riches as well, and so he very often trusts in riches and forgets God. It is a dreadful thing to trust in riches and forget God, and it is only God who can so change a rich man's heart that he turns away from his riches to trust in God, but God can do it. When the disciples asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus answered, "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
Peter did a bit of thinking just then, he remembered that he and the other apostles had given up everything that they might follow Jesus, and he said, "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?" Peter wanted to know what reward they would get, would it be treasure in heaven, or treasure on earth, or both?
Jesus answered him so graciously; He knew that Peter and the other fishermen had given up their fishing and left their little homes in Galilee, and that Matthew had left his money-bags and his tax collecting; they had all given up something already, and they would be found willing to give up more, even to laying down their lives for His sake and the gospel's, and the reward He promised was great indeed, He promised them each a throne. Jesus said to them, "Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that has forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."
There were twelve apostles and there will be twelve thrones, but when Jesus said "every one," He reached down to you and me, and He promised that every one who gives up anything for His name's sake will be rewarded, will receive a hundred times as much now, and eternal life for his inheritance.
But though Jesus answered Peter so graciously, He gave him a warning, and the warning is for us too. He said, "But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first." And then He told them about a man who owned a vineyard, and went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard; and when he had agreed to give them the usual wages, a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. Three hours later he went out again and found other labourers standing idle in the market place, and he said to them, "Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you." He went out again later on, and again yet later, and each time he found more men to send into the vineyard. At last, when there was only one hour left before the time came for stopping work, he went out once more, and even then found men, who had been standing all the day idle because no one had given them work. And he said to them, as he had said to the others, "Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive."
And when evening was come the lord of the vineyard told his steward to call the labourers and give them their wages, beginning with those who had been hired last. You can think how delighted these were when they received every one a penny, wages for a whole day, when they had worked for only one hour, and you can imagine too how grateful they would be to such a good, kind master; they would feel like saying, "We will come to-morrow and work for you the whole day long for love."
But when those who had been hired early in the morning came, they too received
every man his penny, just as they had agreed upon; and then they began to grumble, because they had expected more. They forgot that the lord of the vineyard could do as he pleased with what belonged to him, and they did not like it that those who had worked but one hour should be made equal to themselves who had borne the burden and heat of the day-for that was how they looked at it. They had been first to serve, but they had counted service a burden, and because they were last to be rewarded they murmured, and shewed that they were last in love.
The Lord Jesus did not want Peter to be like that, and He does not want us to be like it either. He wants us to serve Him wholeheartedly, not because of the reward He has promised, but because we love Him.
Chapter 19—A Night to be Remembered.
PETER and John were sent on an errand together soon after this. Jesus told them to go into the city, and a man should meet them carrying a pitcher of water; they were to follow him into the house he went into, and to say to the goodman of the house, "The Master saith unto to thee, Where is the guest-chamber where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?" "And," said Jesus, "he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready."
The two disciples did as they were told, they went into the city and met the man carrying the pitcher of water, they followed him into the house, and said what Jesus had told them to say, and then they made ready the feast in the large upper room which the master of the house shewed them.
They knew just what to provide, for, no doubt, they had come up to Jerusalem to keep the Passover year by year since their boyhood. There must be the lamb roast with fire, and the bitter herbs, to remind them of the time when God said, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you," and the destroying angel passed over the houses of the Israelites and spared the firstborn because of the blood sprinkled on the door-posts and lintels. There must be unleavened bread too, for the first Passover had been eaten in haste, staff in hand, all ready to leave Egypt.
God had never forgotten that night, and He did not want His people to forget it; they looked backward over the years as they kept the feast, but for God it spoke of the time which was coming, when Jesus Himself should be the Passover Lamb.
Peter and John made everything ready, and then, when the hour was come, Jesus came and sat down with His twelve disciples.
That feast meant very much to Jesus; He told them that He had longed to eat it with them before He suffered.
"And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me."
Did Jesus really mean that His body was about to be broken for them as that bread was broken? Yes, He did. He was about to give His body to be nailed to the cross and pierced with a spear, and it was for them, for all who believe on Him, and He asks us to break the bread and eat it for a remembrance of Him.
And He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you," and He told them all to drink out of it.
It is nearly two thousand years since the Lord Jesus suffered on the cross, but He knows that there are still those who meet together every first day of the week to "break bread" in remembrance of Him. And those who do it, find that this remembrance is sweeter and more precious than anything the world can give, because at such times they prove His promise true, "I will not leave you comfortless [orphans], I will come to you."
Chapter 20—Loved to the End.
HOW very much Jesus loved His disciples! "Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands, He knew that He was come from God and was going to God, but at that last supper He got up from the table and laid aside His garments, and took a towel and girded Himself. Then He took a basin of water and began to wash the feet of His disciples, wiping them with the towel with which He was girded.
Peter must have watched his Lord with wondering eyes; and when it came to his turn he could not keep silence any longer, he said, "Lord, dost thou wash my feet?"
Jesus answered, "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter."
Peter said, "Thou shalt never wash my feet."
Jesus said to him, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."
Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head."
Jesus said to him, "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all."
Why did Jesus say, "But not all?" It was because the traitor Judas was there; he had gone about with Jesus, he was even numbered among the apostles, but his heart was still black and sin-stained in God's holy sight. He had never, like Peter, fallen down at the feet of Jesus and owned himself a sinful man, and been washed and forgiven.
After Jesus had washed their feet and had taken His garments and sat down again, He told them why He had done this. He said, "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."
Jesus was going to leave His dearly loved disciples, He was going back to His Father in heaven; but they would still be left down here, and even though their hearts had been washed white and clean they would be walking through a world where their feet would get weary and travel-stained. He wanted them to love one another so much that they would take care to wash one another's feet, so that things of this world might not hinder them from following Him where He was going to be with the Father. Let us never forget those words of Jesus, "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."
Those disciples must have been very happy sitting together in that upper room with Jesus. Ah! but there was one there of whom Jesus had to say, "He that eateth bread with me bath lifted up his heel against me." And then, more plainly still, He told them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me."
No wonder was it that "the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake." Peter would look at John, and John at Peter; and Andrew would look at Philip, and Philip at Andrew—it was too horrible to think of, that one of themselves should betray Jesus to His enemies. Peter was not near enough to Jesus to whisper the question he was longing to ask, so he made a sign to John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, who was leaning on His bosom, and he said to Jesus, "Lord, who is it?"
"Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly."
But even so, neither Peter, nor John, nor any at the table understood why Jesus said this to Judas; some of them thought, because he had charge of the money, that Jesus was sending him out to buy something for the feast, or to give something to the poor. What God's word says of him is this, "He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night."
Judas took the sop that Jesus had dipped for him with His own hand, and went out immediately to betray Him, and it was night. Oh! the awful blackness of that night!
Chapter 21—Sifted Like Wheat.
WHEN men sift wheat they separate the grain from the chaff; the grain is precious, but it needs to be separated from the chaff before it can be used.
After Judas had gone out into the night, Jesus said to Peter, "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."
Peter did not think that he needed to be sifted, he answered, "Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death."
Jesus said, "I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me."
But Peter could not believe this, he spoke more emphatically still, "If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise," and the other disciples said the same.
"And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he [Jesus] saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed and to be very heavy. And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground and prayed."
And He came back to them and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "Simon, sleepest thou? Couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak."
But though temptation was so near at hand, they slept again while Jesus prayed: they slept from grief, but they missed the unspeakable privilege they might have had, of watching with their Lord in the hour of His soul's deep agony.
And then Judas came, and with him a great crowd with swords and sticks to take Jesus.
When Peter saw Jesus in the hands of His enemies, he forgot that Jesus had once said, "I say unto you, That ye resist not evil," and he drew a sword and smote one of those standing by, a servant of the high priest, whose name was Malchus, and cut off his right ear.
Then Jesus said to Peter, "Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" And He touched the man's ear and healed him.
And then, when Peter and the other disciples saw Jesus taken and bound, they all forsook Him and fled. But as He was led away to the high priest, Peter followed afar off. John followed too, and because he was known to the high priest he was allowed to go in with Jesus to the high priest's palace. But Peter stood at the door outside, and could not get in till John had spoken to the girl who kept the door.
And when he was inside, the terrible sifting came. The girl who kept the door said to Peter, "Art not thou also one of this man's disciples?" Peter said, "I am not."
There were servants and officers standing there; it was a cold night, and they had made a fire of coals and were warming themselves, and Peter stood with them and warmed himself.
Soon another noticed him, and said to him, "Thou art also of them."
And Peter said, "Man, I am not."
It was about an hour after when another, a kinsman of Malchus, whose ear Peter cut off, spoke positively, "Of a truth this fellow also was with him, for he is a Galilean."
And then Peter began to curse and to swear; he said, "Man, I know not this man of whom ye speak."
And at once, while he was yet speaking, the cock crew.
"And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice."
"And Peter went out, and wept bitterly."
Chapter 22—A Message for Peter.
JESUS had prayed for Peter that his faith might not fail, and though Peter went out and wept bitterly, he did not go away and hang himself like Judas did. The look that broke Peter's heart, brought the sorrow and tears of true repentance; the chaff of self-confidence was winnowed away, but the precious grain of love to his Lord remained.
How Peter bore those terrible, sorrowful hours when Jesus hung in suffering on the cross, those hours when the dead body of his Lord lay in the tomb and it seemed as if His enemies had gained the victory, we cannot tell, but they must have been the saddest in his life.
And then the third day came, and very early in the morning the first day of the week, Jesus rose from the dead.
When the women who had followed Him from Galilee came to the sepulchre, they found the stone that had covered the entrance rolled away, and going in they found a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment. He was one of God's messengers, and he said to them, "Be not affrighten [afraid]; ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you."
The women were frightened, too frightened to give the message, But one of them, whose name was Mary of Magdala, ran to Peter and John and said, "They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre [tomb], and we know not where they have laid him."
And so, of the twelve disciples whom Jesus had chosen to be with Him, it was Peter, the disciple who had boasted of his love to Jesus, but had failed when it was put to the test, and John, who so knew the love that Jesus had for him that he writes of himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved," who ran together to the tomb. But Peter's heart was heavy, and that made his feet heavy too, he did not run so quickly as John, and John reached the tomb first. He stooped down and looked in and saw the linen grave clothes lying, but he did not go in. Then Peter came up, he went right inside the tomb, and he too saw the linen grave clothes lying, he also saw that the handkerchief which had been upon the head of Jesus was not lying with the linen clothes, but was folded up in a place by itself. And then John went into the tomb, and "he saw, and believed."
Jesus had told them that He would rise from among the dead on the third day, and when they found that the tomb was empty and the grave clothes all left behind, they did not linger there, but went away again to their own home. John believed, but Peter went home wondering at what had happened.
Mary of Magdala was the first to whom Jesus appeared when He had risen; but later in the day He came to Peter when he was alone, for Jesus had something to say to Peter that not even John must hear. And do you not think that Peter must have had something he very badly wanted to say to Jesus? All we know about that meeting is that when the disciples were gathered together that evening they were saying to one another, "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon."
Chapter 23—Back to the Boat.
AFTER the Lord Jesus was risen from the dead Peter and the other disciples had to learn to follow Him in a new way. Before He died on the cross they could see Him all the time, but now they only saw Him when He shewed Himself to them, and very soon He was going up into heaven and they would only see Him by the eye of faith; but they must still follow Him.
One day, it was after they had gone back to Galilee, Simon Peter said to his fellow disciples, "I go a fishing."
They answered, "We also go with thee."
They did not stop to ask themselves whether they would be following Jesus by going. They went out and got into a boat at once. It may have been Peter's own boat, or it may have been the one that James and John went fishing in with their father before Jesus called them to follow Him, anyway they went on board, Simon Peter, and Thomas, and Nathanael, and James and John, and two others—seven of them.
"And that night they caught nothing."
When morning was come Jesus stood on the shore, but they did not know that it was Jesus. He said to them, "Children, have ye any meat?"
They answered, "No."
Jesus said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find."
When they did this the net was filled so full of fishes that they could not draw it. Then John knew who it was standing on the shore, he said to Peter, "It is the Lord."
Peter did not wait for another word; he had taken off his fisherman's coat while they had been at work, but now he wrapped it round him, and flung himself into the sea to go to Jesus, while the others followed in the boat, dragging the net and fishes along with them.
When they got to shore they found a fire of coals and fish laid on it, and bread, and Jesus said to them, "Bring of the fish which ye have now caught."
Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty-three of them, and yet the net was not broken.
Jesus said to them, "Come and dine."
Instead of going home hungry and tired they found they were to be His guests, and not one among them durst say to Him, "Who art thou?" because they knew it was the Lord. And then Jesus came and waited on them; He took bread and gave it to them, and He gave them fish.
"So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord ; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs."
"He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep."
"He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."
Yes, Jesus knew that Peter truly loved Him, and even as it had grieved His heart to hear Peter's denial three times over, so now it was sweet to Him to hear his humble avowal of love. It cost Peter a lot to have to make it there in the presence of all the others, and three times over; but how worth while it was, to know that Jesus trusted him, trusted him with the charge of the lambs and sheep of the flock, those sheep that were so precious to Him that He laid down His life for them.
Peter had seen Jesus hang in suffering on the cross, and he knew a little bit how precious the sheep were to the good Shepherd. He never forgot the charge given to him, and he never forgot that Jesus Himself is the chief Shepherd, and that he, Peter, was only an under-shepherd. Years afterwards, when he was an old man, he wrote a letter in which he reminded the other under-shepherds that they must feed God's flock; and then he told them of the bright crown, the crown of glory that will never fade, which they will receive from the chief Shepherd when He comes in His glory.
Chapter 24—When Thou Shalt Be Old.
AFTER Jesus had said to Peter, "Feed my sheep," He told him what would happen to him when he should be an old man. He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not."
Perhaps you say, "Poor Peter!" but we should rather say, "Happy Peter!" for though we do not know for certain in what way Peter was put to death, we know that by his death he brought glory to God.
And then Jesus said to him, "Follow me."
What a comfort those words must have been to Peter when he was an old man and it all came true—when he was bound and carried away to die; what a comfort to know that he was following his Lord, and that even though the path lay through suffering and shame and death, it would take him where Jesus was on the other side.
When Peter heard what should happen to him in his old age, he turned and saw John following, and he said to Jesus, "Lord, and what shall this man do?"
Jesus said to him, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me."
Peter had to learn, what we all have to learn, that we and our fellow disciples belong to the Lord Jesus; He has His own plans and purposes for each, and the right to do what He wills with us, the right to call one home to be with Himself by a violent death, and the right to leave another to serve Him here to extreme old age. The one thing we need concern ourselves about is just this—Are we, am I following Him, following Him in my youth, following Him all the days, till I reach Him where He is?
Copied for WholesomeWords.org from Andrew's Own Brother by E. E. S. London: G. Morrish, .