The Faith of Following Christ
The form and manner of Peter’s second denial as it is variously recorded in the gospels is nevertheless related. One writer records the words “I know not the man” (Matthew 26:72) while the other records the words “I am not of them” (Luke 22:58). One might think these are two separate denials, but they are not.
Can a man know Christ and not follow Him? No. We see here the mystery of faith in the fall of Peter. No man knows Christ unless he follows Him and to whom Christ has united Himself. If it is true that we are not one with Christ, it is also true that we do not know him, because knowledge consists in union with Christ. It is for this reason that the philosopher said, the soul, in understanding a thing, is made the very thing which it understands. In this sense we call the image of our face in the mirror, the face itself, or the impression in the wax, the seal itself.
Likewise, there is no union of Christ and us, or no dwelling of Him in us, or engrafting of us into Him, without that faith whereby we follow Him. This makes us to be so nearly one with Him that the name of Christ is sometimes in Scripture taken for the church of Christ. And therefore only to those that believe He has given to know Him. Christ is not truly apprehended either by the fancy or by the understanding. He is known by possession. It is an experiential and not a speculative knowledge that knows Him. He only understands Christ who has experienced Him. We see Him in His grace and truth, in His Word and promises, not in a carnal or physical manner. Pilate knew Him in this manner and Judas also. A true believer can see and know Him better in heaven, than the Romanist can by the hands of the priest in the transubstantiated bread. Let the faith of the Romanist have the assistance of teeth and jaws; ours, though toothless, eats Him with less injury and more nourishment.