Thoughts on Simon Peter: 6. His Life and Testimony

Matthew 16:17  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 7
“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 16; 17).
THAT Satan debased the mind of Eve in order to corrupt her whole moral being and bring in death will not be questioned by any who receive implicitly the inspired narrative of the fall. The evil work was the outcome of a mind alienated from God. She was deceived before she was defiled. “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” This was the truth, if not the whole truth; for the alienated mind is the ready instrument of the serpent for spreading his poison, and Eve was the first of many who, under the guidance of that master mind, use their natural endowments in his service. “She gave to her husband, and he did eat.” One may imagine how sweetly and plausibly she did it; for Adam, though not deceived, hearkened to her voice and fell. It is a sad and solemn opening of the history of man, the first picture in that long drawn scene in which we have been, and are, actors, and in which superior intelligence is no protection from moral ruin.
To this degradation of the understanding the scriptures bear the clearest testimony. It is true that the mind of man is a marvelous creation. That he by it is capable of subduing the earth and of making it, and what is in it and connected with it, subservient to his wants. “He can cut out rivers among the rocks and his eyes see every precious thing. He can bind the floods from overflowing, and the thing that is hid he can bring forth to light” (Job 28); but he has lost the knowledge of God by sin, and all desire for that knowledge. “There is none that understandeth. There is none that seeketh after God.” The guilt is not in the capacity, but in the will. “Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.” The Gentiles “did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” The prophets declare of Israel, “There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” “For my people are foolish, they have not known me.” And, even in the church, Paul testifies in his day there were some who had no knowledge of God. We may even go farther, and, seeing the difference between Abraham and Jacob, both men of faith, learn that there are grades in the divine life. Abraham, by walking in the obedience of faith, had the name of the Lord revealed to him from the beginning of his course; Jacob, by failure in his conduct, only at the close, (Gen. 17:1; 35:111And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (Genesis 17:1)
11And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; (Genesis 35:11)
). Is not this true of Christians?
Matt. 16 opens with this subject—the debasement of the mind. The professed guides in Israel, the Pharisees and Sadducees, asked of Jesus a sign from heaven, as though He had given them none. His answer made evident the worthless workings of their mind. “O ye hypocrites! ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not (or rather—ye cannot) discern the signs of the times?” Even the disciples were slow to understand the Lord, for they were of little faith, and it is by faith only that any can reach His thoughts. But passing on from these, the ignorance of men—i.e., of men generally—is now made manifest. “Jesus asked his disciples, Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am?” Whatever difference there might be in their mental powers, they were alike incompetent to reach the truth of His person. They could discuss it, as the natural mind has from that day to this, and so we read “Some said that he was John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” They differed in their opinions, but were alike wrong. “Flesh and blood” could thus avail nothing. It was powerless to open up the truth that could meet its hopeless state. Sin has unmanned man. “Evil is in him, inherent in his very nature, his faculties and instincts. It is in that ineradicable pride which separates him from God, invites him to vanity and ostentation, to all which can nourish his self-love: in that practical negation of God whose place he desires to usurp; in that idolatry which has for its end the deification of himself, and his errors, his passions and his vices."1
Simon Peter, in the sovereign grace of God, had escaped from this darkness into which Satan had plunged the race, and none more deeply than the Jews, outwardly the nearest to God, and possessing the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. When “the scornful men who ruled in Jerusalem were seeking refuge in lies, and hiding them under falsehood,” he and others of Galilee left all to follow Jesus, knowing little of the grandeur of the step, the vastness of its results, the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that were in store for them. That they had been drawn out of the mass of the nation was the gracious work of the Father; for no one cometh to the Son, except the Father Who hath sent Him draw him. John, Andrew, Simon, Philip, Nathanael, and others were not led by opinions, mere notions of their own which they might change or give up, as some in Jerusalem unto whom Jesus would not commit Himself (John 2:23, 2423Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, (John 2:23‑24)); they were plants which His heavenly Father had planted (Matt. 15) to root in Him, and to find in Him not only all that their needy souls required, but to have dispensed to them by the Father the unsearchable riches of His Christ; here in measure and still to be more and more unfolded throughout the ages to come. How little we realize of the Father's love in the first drawings of our souls to His beloved Son, and in every bit of truth concerning Him which we afterward receive! How He alone, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, can strengthen us by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, that we, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height: and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge (Eph. 3)!
It is no doubt a gradual process, but as the Father testifies of Him we see how a soul, like Peter, is strengthened to take deeper root in Him, and to make a truer confession of Him. When Jesus said, “But whom say ye that I am? he answered and said, Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Blessed, indeed, to have the mind and thought of the Father as to Jesus, and to know the Father in knowing Him.
What blessing can be compared with it in time or in eternity? Happy Simon Peter! so the Lord testified; though an unlettered and ignorant man, as the heads of his nation judged him to be (Acts 4:1313Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)). Ponder, yea deeply ponder, the unhesitating, clear, full, precious testimony he rendered to his Lord when challenged. He speaks with absolute certainty; not as one who has to veil his imperfect knowledge under obscure terms, or to make abortive efforts to explain. It is too important a question, when the Lord puts it, for one of His own, however “ignorant and unlearned,” to hesitate about. Let unconverted men debate and reason, the Father reveals, and that to babes.
At such a time as this, the warning written by the late Mr. Bellett may be useful— “Let not this evangelistic age, dear sister, give you the work of Christ alone. It tends that way. Without His work all would be nothing. But let not doctrinal acquaintance with His work turn from personal acquaintance with Himself...Faith sits and sings
“‘All human beauties, all divine.
In my Beloved meet and shine.'“
Again (from J. N. D.), “It is the joy an blessedness of the saint who has eyes to see, that He (Jesus) was down here a man amongst men but it is GOD whom we see there. I find both, and if I lose either, I lose everything.”
Deeply interesting and suggestive also is the fact, that we get not a word about the church until the truth of the person of Christ is revealed by the Father, and then the Son names it at once (Matt. 16:1818And I say also 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. (Matthew 16:18)). It is His own church, and it has never entered into the heart of man to conceive of love so intense in devotedness, so tender in sympathy, so costly in sacrifice, so lofty in purpose, as His love for the church. If we would have the comfort of this really and abidingly in our hearts, we must surely know, not the love only but, with reverence let us say it, the Lover.
“Jesus, lover of my soul.”
Blessed, then, is every one to whom the Father hath revealed HIM.