ISSUE: 2015, Volume 12, Issue 4
The YPS Magazine has also been produced in PDF format. To read these PDF's you will need a PDF Reader. The popular free Adobe Acrobat Reader is available from Adobe's website by clicking here.
In John’s Gospel, we read four short phrases which begin with the words ‘it was’. In themselves, they seem to be just simple statements of fact, which appear to add nothing of consequence to the narrative. But since we believe that there are no wasted words in the Bible and that the Holy Spirit directed the writers to write what they did, it would be wise to look for the lessons that can be learned from them! In this article, we will consider the third of these ‘it was cold’.
We read this little statement in John’s account of the Lord’s arrest and trial. Peter followed the Lord after His arrest and gained admittance to the courtyard of the palace of the high priest. As Peter passed through the door into the courtyard, the girl who opened the door for him asked him if he was one of the Lord’s disciples. He denied it.
Once Peter was in the courtyard, we read in John chapter 18 verse 18
‘And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.’
We know that these events took place in the Jewish equivalent of our month of April, a spring month in Israel, and that it was late at night, for the Passover celebrations and the Upper Room ministry described in John chapters 13-17 had begun at 6.00p.m. So, given the time of year and the hour of the day, it would not be unusual for it to be cold. Therefore, this seems an unnecessary comment, apparently adding nothing to the story!
Yet we know that it was around that fire, among that company of servants and officers, whose loyalty lay with the high priest and who were hostile towards the Lord Jesus, that Peter denied his association with the Lord two more times, before the cock crowed in fulfilment of the Lord’s word to Peter, John 13. 38.
We know that the word ‘cold’ can have a metaphorical as well as a literal meaning. We use it this way in everyday life. We might describe a person as ‘cold blooded’ meaning that they have no feelings. The Lord used it in a similar way when the disciples asked Him about the signs and the times of His coming. He told them that one of the signs would be that ‘the love of many shall wax cold’, Matt. 24. 12.
It would seem that in that courtyard, in that company of those who had no love for the Lord, Peter’s love also cooled, and led to his denial of Him.
None of us should be overly critical of Peter, but, perhaps, we can learn something from his experience concerning the company that we keep. That night, Peter found himself alone amongst people who, at best, had no sympathy for the Lord and, at worst, were openly hostile to him. This was a recipe for disaster! We should learn from this that if we surround ourselves with those who have no love for the Lord, it could have potentially damaging effects on our spiritual life.
There is a really good example of the need to distance ourselves from bad company in the story of Jairus and his daughter. Jairus had just heard that his daughter was dead. There was no point in troubling the Lord anymore! At this stage, the Lord encouraged Jairus to trust Him. When they arrived at the house, the mourners were weeping and wailing. When the Lord told them that the little girl was not dead but asleep, they stopped their crying and started laughing. The object of their laughter was the Lord Himself. The Lord’s response was to empty the room of those people whose attitude towards Him was hostile and unbelieving! He replaced them with those whose faith in Him was strong, namely Peter, James and John, Luke 8. 51.
In this way the Lord bolstered the faith of Jairus, by surrounding him with those who would encourage him and by taking away from him those who were not. It is just the same for us. Christian fellowship should be very important to a believer.
Of course, in everyday life we rub shoulders with those who do not belong to the Lord – people such as our neighbours, work colleagues, etc. We need to be good examples of what it means to be believers, both in what we say and how we behave! We should be wary of spending too much time with unsaved friends as they have the potential to weaken our faith. If we neglect Christian fellowship we may soon find our love for the Lord growing cold. We need to get into the habit of spending time in fellowship with other believers at meetings, and socially! This was one of the hallmarks of the early church, Acts 2. 42. We are warned not to neglect this in Hebrews chapter 10 verse 25.
Life lesson – Be careful who you spend the majority of your time with. It will affect your development as a believer.