PETER’S EXPERIENCE OF KNOWING HIMSELF
Before the Lord’s crucifixion Peter was very confident in himself that he would not deny the Lord (Matt. 26:33-35). So, the Lord in His sovereignty arranged the environment for Peter to deny Him three times, even in front of the Lord’s face (Luke 22:55-61). Through those kinds of experiences, Peter was subdued. After the Lord’s resurrection according to John 21, the Lord met Peter at a place where he and the other disciples were backsliding (v. 1). As they were fishing, the Lord appeared on the seashore. When they saw the Lord, they realized that they were naked (v. 7). This is very meaningful. The Lord met Peter in a backslidden condition when he had no covering.
When they arrived on the seashore and while they ate breakfast, Peter was very subdued and was probably not very comfortable. He may have felt very ashamed because of his recent failures: he had denied the Lord, he had not remained in Jerusalem, the place where the Lord had charged him to stay (Luke 24:49), and he had taken the lead to backslide, going back to Galilee to pick up his old job of fishing (John 21:3). Peter might have been excited to see the Lord inwardly, but due to his failures, he may not have had the faith to express his feeling outwardly.
After breakfast, the Lord asked Peter a question, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” Peter responded to the Lord by saying, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” Peter’s response indicates a great deal. He did not just say, “Yes, Lord, I love You” nor did he say, “No, Lord, I’m sorry. I’d like to love You, but I cannot love You.” Peter’s answer to the Lord’s question reveals that he was really subdued. He had lost all confidence in himself. Peter’s confidence had been transferred from himself to the Lord. Because he no longer had any confidence in himself, he wanted to know what the Lord would say. He may have remembered both his own confident declaration that he would never deny the Lord and the Lord’s word that he would deny Him three times. Through this failure Peter realized that only what the Lord said really counted. So, when the Lord questioned Peter, Peter turned the question back to the Lord to see what He would say. By this little word, you can see that Peter, having no confidence in himself, was subdued and broken. This is the Christian life, a life which is subdued and broken.
A SPECIAL WORD TO THE TRAINEES CONCERNING GOING BACK TO VISIT THEIR SUPPORTING CHURCHES
As trainees, you may have become disappointed or discouraged by your experience of exposure in this training. Because of this, you may consider to withdraw from the training to go back to the church which supported you. Your going back in this way may make you even more miserable. Because you do not know yourself, you may think that you need to do something. Actually, you do not need to do anything. You simply need to tell the Lord, “Lord, here I am. I am pitiful. I have no confidence in myself. My confidence and trust is just in You. Without You or apart from You, I am just a pitiful person.” To come to this realization is really positive.
Your attitude in visiting your supporting church, parents, and relatives is very important. If you go back with an attitude and realization that you are nothing and that your confidence is really in the Lord, this would be wonderful. Such a testimony would nourish everyone who listens to you. But if you go back testifying how marvelous the training was, everyone who hears your testimony may be killed. If your experience with the Lord in the training was proper, you were being exposed every day. Everything in the training only served to expose you. Such experiences are very profitable, because it indicates that you are beginning to really know yourself. Though you have learned and been equipped with a great deal in this training, this learning may be considered as only some “gold” to adorn you outwardly. To give people the impression that you are now gilded with gold would not be so fitting. The best impression to give others is that you are a broken and subdued person with no apparent gold. If your supporting church would receive such an impression from you, this would be very profitable.
(The Experience and Growth in Life, Chapter 30, by Witness Lee)