To See the End

1 Peter 1:9

The world is always ready to sit at the deathbed of Christianity. From time to time it has confidently proclaimed the end of Christ and all for which He stands.

Sad, indeed, but far more sad when a disciple suffers a spiritual declension and sits down “to see the end” (Matthew 26:58). Not merely an eclipse, a temporary obliteration, but the dark, dismal and final end; the end of all the hopes that came suddenly to life on that bright morning when brother Andrew cried, “We have found Him!” (John 1:41). The end of the grand adventure, the miracles, the walking and talking, the confession at Caesarea Philippi, the holy transfiguration, the intimate supper, the tender prayer, “I have prayed for you” (Luke 22:32). The end! The collapse, the defeat, the final disillusionment.

The disciple becomes a spectator of the last act in the tragedy, before the curtain rings down upon unrelieved night. In and out of the entries and passages, along the narrow streets, the dejected and desperate Peter was drawn on. Fearing to advance, and unable to retreat, his fierce love and insatiable curiosity fighting against his failing faith, he went forward. The crisis held him, compelled him to go on and “see the end.” Matthew 26 is a terrible chapter for Peter; from the 23rd verse on, he cannot get out of the story. There all his swift declensions and denials appear, until the terrible 75th verse, with its bitter tears.

First, he placed a distance between himself and his Lord. I find myself speculating about the measurement of those words, “afar off” (Matthew 26:58 KJV). How far? Then I remind myself that we do not measure spiritual distances in yards or miles, but in love and loyalties. How far is it from the embittered heart of a loveless husband to the empty heart of the disappointed wife?

Was it the second step in the disciple’s collapse when he “went in” (Matt. 26:58 KJV) among the enemies of Jesus? Gripped in a dreadful reaction of despair, he went into dangerous company as he joined the coldly hostile crowd. Christians cannot be neutral. When we are told that he “sat down,” we realize that his convictions are lost in the crowd.

It was nearly the end of Peter. The love of Christ saved this man—the love that knows no end. The love of Christ will save you and me. Indeed, I have no other hope, have you? The end? Not the end of Jesus, but the end of a chapter in a disciple’s weakness, and the beginning of an experience which enables us to bow our heads for his apostolic blessing: “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9 KJV).

Albert Orsborn, The War Cry

 

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