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'In The Light Of The Fire'

That was where Peter sat when he disowned the Lord. It is a startling discovery to make, when read in the Word, and it carries a warning of great solemnity:

And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the court, and had sat down together, Peter sat in the midst of them. And a certain maid seeing him as he sat in the light of the fire, and looking stedfastly upon him, said, This man also was with him. But he denied, saying, Woman I know him not (Luke 22:55-57).

Sad words to utter and a tragic place to be! Those words of denial come from a man who had previously said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God' (Mat. 16:16). Poor Peter, how could he ever forget? Leaping flames thereafter would bring back the saddest memories to his soul.

Fire attracts. It has a great drawing power. It fascinates. It provides a place of warmth, of fellowship. Its comfort and glow relax the mind, and often loosen the tongue. This is what Peter discovered with great sadness. God's word shows us very dramatically how Peter moved toward the glowing fire of coals, drawn, as it were, by beckoning fingers of fiery flame. He followed Jesus after his arrest, but only as far as the door of the court. It was a cold hour, but even colder were the icy fingers of fear which must have gripped the heart of the fisherman-apostle as he walked after Jesus, stood at the door of the court, and then joined the enemy as he sat with them, warming himself at the fire (Luke 22:55; John 18:15-18). Not far away in the high priest's dwelling the Saviour was being treated like a criminal. His word was scornfully questioned; He was smitten, and His hands were bound before He was led away. Peter still stood warming himself by the fire. Now the talk around the flames became prolonged, and the enemy sat down. Peter sat in their midst.

How different was this experience of Peter compared to the blessed man of the first Psalm!

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (v.1).

The light of the fire would show up the strong, craggy face of Peter, but how his countenance must have changed as he vehemently denied his Lord and Master. Then the cock crowing shocked him into the vivid remembrance of the Lord's prophetic words, '...before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice' (Mat. 26:34). How quickly Peter must have left the light of the fire for the darkness of solitude, where he gave vent to his tears!

Fire was to play a happier role in Peter's experience not long afterwards. The same Saviour, now resurrected, prepared it Himself on the shores of the sea of Tiberias. It was a time of sweet fellowship as together they ate the fish broiled on the live coals, and the bread. What were Peter's thoughts as he sat in the light of this fire, with the Lord in the midst? What are our thoughts? Does the world's fire have a warm attraction for us? Let us beware. Let us learn from Peter that the world has no love for Christ. It still scorns and denies Him. But what warm fellowship we can know with Him and with His own, around the fire of His making!

In his two epistles Peter writes much about fire. He tells us that the proof of our faith is 'more precious than gold that perisheth though it is proved by fire' (1 Pet. 1:7). He warns of Sodom and Gomorrah and their reduction to ashes by fire from heaven (2 Pet. 2:6). He encourages believers not to think it 'strange concerning the fiery trial... which cometh upon you to prove you' (1 Pet. 4:12).

In our Christian lives there may be fiery trials for us, but let us learn from Peter the experiences to avoid. Then shall we serve the Lord Christ as faithful, fruitful servants whose works will endure the testing fire at the coming judgement seat (1 Cor. 3:10-15).