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The more closely we examine Scripture, the more we shall see that there is no mysterious difference between the apostles and ourselves. We are apt to think of them as scarcely men, and to forget that in everything they were exactly like ourselves, men of like passions as we are.”
When the Spirit of God spoke by them, it was the Spirit, and not they, who were of God.
When left to themselves their safety was, as our's is, to cling close to God in Christ. Their devoted love for their Lord, was their strength, and their faith in Him the light that led them through every sort of difficulty and danger.
It is true, that greater powers were given to them than to us; but this was because they were called to a work that required those powers. In all else we shall find that more holiness of heart, and warmer and more stedfast love is that which makes the only real difference between Christ's apostles and ourselves. They felt as we would have felt—they spoke as we would have spoken.—Thus we find their attention was fixed, not upon the new commandment, but upon the separation which they feared was at hand. The words of Jesus seemed to be a sort of farewell; and in alarm, Peter, always the foremost to speak,
Verses 36, 37. “said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou ? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake : "
True love for his Lord filled the heart of Peter, therefore the more his words seemed to foretel danger and difficulty, the more closely he would press after. Him. He was indeed willing to lay down his life for his sake, but he knew not how little this strong love of his was to be depended upon. He needed after, and completely do they agree with the words of Christ—"Hereby shall ye know that ye are His, by the Spirit He hath given you.”
to be taught that in himself, brave and true though his nature was, he was nothing; and the lesson that was to teach him this, was at hand. Let us mark how wisely and how kindly the Saviour prepared him for it. Not Peter only, but all the disciples, had to learn how little their Lord could depend upon them, and how entirely they might depend upon Him.*
MATTHEW xxvi. 31-33. “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, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
LUKE xxii. 31–34. “ And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift thee as wheat; but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both to prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, (MARK xiv. 30, 31.) that this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently. If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.”
Peter fully meant what he said. He loved, he adored his Lord. His courage had never failed him yet, why should it fail him now? From a boy he had been used to danger; night after night he had braved the sudden storms of Galilee, often risking his life to win from the sea his daily bread; and now when his motive was so much nobler, and his whole heart engaged, would he now shrink back from danger or even from death itself in the cause of the Lord he loved ? Never ! It was from his whole heart he said, “I am ready to go with Thee both to prison and to death."
* It appears more than probable, that this conversation with Peter in Matthew xxvi. 31-35 ; Luke xxii. 31–38, took place on the way to the garden of Olives, after quitting the house; but it is so extremely difficult to be assured of the order of these things, that I have thought it best to leave the whole of this evening's conversation uninterrupted, as it is.
Alas! he did not know the power of Satan, or the weakness of man when left to himself. He was to learn both by his own fall; and that he might quickly, rise again, the Lord Jesus showed him before-hand that in that hour of trial He would stand his friend, thus strengthening his faith by the very fall which should teach him that his boasted courage was but as a reed in a man's hand, that must give way, if trusted to for support. “Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have thee, that he may sift thee as wheat ; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.”
There are times of temptation when nothing seems to be left to a man-all inward and outward comfort is gone-no strength left of
kind. It is then he is made to know whose hand bears him through, and having found that he is brought through in safety he never fears again as he had feared; for he has made the great discovery, that there is a power of life in him which is not his own, and evermore he feels with Paul, “Nevertheless," (in spite of all my weakness and my trials) “I live, yet not I, but Christ who liveth in me.” This thoroughly breaks up his old presumptuous nature, which was ready at one time to exult over others, and at another time to despond with a selfish and unreasonable depression of spirits; this, and this only can fit him, heartily and untiringly, to labour in the work God has appointed for him.
It was for this cause that our Lord Jesus added to his warning words to Peter : “And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” The change his fall would bring about in him would be a real conversion, and would fit him to help forward the kingdom of God. His fellow-apostles shared in his present selfconfidence, they would also share in his humiliation, for though so ready to declare that they would die with their Lord rather than forsake him, their courage fled in a moment, when the actual danger came. This would effectually hinder all triumphant comparisons between themselves and the wretched Judas; this would make them ready, instead of despising Peter after his grievous fall, to learn from him a more humble trust in the gracious Master who alone had upheld him. And Peter's experience will to the end of time strengthen his brethren. Which of us in the fearful hour of trial may not lift up our eyes and say, “Even as Thou didst pray for Peter, my Saviour, pray for me, that
faith fail not.' In our Lord's short conversation with Peter, lies the whole history of the Christian's life-his danger, his safety, and his work.
LUKE XXII. 35--38.
LUKE xxii. 35-38. “ And he said unto them, when I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me : And he was reckoned among the transgressors : for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold here are two swords."
Our Lord here reminds his disciples of the time when He sent them forth to preach the Gospel without any means of living or of defence, and yet found that they had all things they needed. Now, He warns them that the times are changed. Their countrymen then had hoped that their Master would soon show himself to be the long-looked-for King of Israel, who would deliver them from the Romans, and set them above the nations. Now they reckoned him “among the transgressors," and would take vengeance for their disappointment upon his followers. Among the many explanations given of our Lord's command to his disciples to arm themselves; that of a very old writer seems to me the simplest and the best. He says, “This whole speech is allegorical, (that is, it gives the struggle and combat of the Christian life under the figure of a common warfare, needing both money and arms, as if our Lord said, “My fellow-soldiers, you have hitherto lived in peace; but now a dreadful war is at hand : so that, omitting all other things, you must think only of arms. But when he prayed in the garden, and reproved Peter for smiting with the sword, he himself showed what those arms were.
When the Apostles had produced two swords, which they probably kept by them as travellers commonly did for fear of robbers,
“ Jesus said unto them, It is enough !”
Two swords could not be enough for the defence of eleven persons; therefore his words must simply mean that enough had been said on a subject which it was plain they did not yet
* Beza, quoted by Scott. Theodore de Bèza, called Beza, was an eminent writer in the days of the Reformation. He was a Frenchman by birth, and on avowing the reformed faith, he fled to Geneva, where he formed a friendship with Calvin. He presented to the University of Cambridge, a highly-prized manuscript copy of the Four Gospels and of the Acts, written in Greek, with a corresponding Latin text on each opposite page, without question one of the most ancient of its kind; by some men supposed to be older than the Alexandrian manuscript. The letters, which are of singular form, are in some places scarcely legible. Beza, stated, that it was found in the Monastery of St. Irenæus, at Lyons.