Where Do You Stand
by Inglis Fleming
Judas Iscariot, the lifeless professor, was found linked up with the opposers of Christ. He “stood with them.” What shall we say if we find one who really loved the Saviour in a similar position? And yet it was so with Peter. Of his affection for Christ there can be no doubt. It was shown in numberless ways. But the flesh in the believer is the same as in the unbeliever, and it “profiteth nothing.” If we have confidence in the flesh, it is confidence misplaced. Evidently Peter believed that it was impossible for him to deny that he knew Christ. It is plain from his statements that he could not conceive that his love for his Lord and Master would break down. Thus it was that he was not watchful and prayerful. So when the storm broke he fell before it.
The Lord having been seized by His enemies was led by them to the palace of Caiaphas, the high priest. Simon Peter and another disciple followed, and the other disciple who was known to the high priest went in, but, “Peter stood at the door without” (John 18:16).
He was in an uncertain position. His courage failed him, it would seem, and he did not press on with the rest. The other disciple missing his companion went out, and speaking to the door-keeper brought Peter inside. Was not his position very like to that of many? They follow Christ up to a point. There they stop. They do not openly side with their rejected Master. They fear to confess Him. Such are in the greatest danger. Their fellow-disciples and Christian companions may go forward, passing on with their Lord, and frankly showing that they are His; but they themselves hang back and stand “at the door without.”
When brought inside, Peter apparently still feared to identify himself with the other disciple and found his place with the enemies of Christ. It was cold, and they had made a fire of coals and were warming themselves at it. And “Peter stood with them and warmed himself” (John 18:18). The same words are used again of Peter which were used of Judas. He “stood with them.” It is true that those who stood by the fire were not then in active antagonism to the Saviour, but they were really His enemies, nevertheless. And soon it was shown. One after another they question Peter as to whether he was not one of the disciples of Christ. His self-confidence played him false, and again and again he denied Him.
We have before us here a true believer falling lower and lower until with oaths and curses he asseverates that he does not know his Lord. His action in standing with them had denied Him, and now words follow, and His fall is complete.
And is there not a danger of this today? Surely there is. If we stand at the world’s fires to warm ourselves, if we associate ourselves with those who are strangers to the Son of God, if we find our pleasures where they find theirs, our actions tell against Christ, and soon our lips may deny that we know Him. We are only safe as we keep in the company of Christ. He is our salvation. He is our strength. We have no power of our own, and but for His grace we shall give way before the foe.
What a bright contrast to Peter is afforded by those of whom we read in John 19:25-27. “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”
Where did these stand, weak women as some of them were?
They stood by the cross of Jesus. They were openly friends and disciples of the Lord. They were sharing with Him His rejection as they would soon share His glory. And is not this to be our place in spirit? To stand by the cross of Jesus is our highest honour. To witness for Him in the place of His refusal, to take sides with Him where He has been crucified, should be counted among our greatest privileges. No angel can serve the Lord thus. Shall we fail to do so? Soon we shall be with Him in His glory. Now we can be with Him, in spirit, where He suffered.
Then no opportunity shall be ours of owning our Lord in the time of His rejection. Comforting but solemn are the words: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us” (2 Tim. 2:12).
“Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock,
Within a weary land.”
“I take, O Cross, thy shadow,
For my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine
Than the sunshine of His face:
Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain nor loss—
My sinful self my only shame,
My glory all the Cross.”
Help and Food 1928