We just finished a full weekend of four Living Cross presentations. Thousands witnessed the Gospel through the presentation of the life of Christ. As this week leads up to Easter, I feel it's appropriate to do my best to focus on the events surrounding the reason we "celebrate." I can honestly say I don't even like the word celebrate in relation to Easter. Yes, we celebrate our risen Lord. Yes, we celebrate His victory over death and the grave. But really it's a time to reflect and remember and recommit.
I may reference a few scenes or lines throughout the week but one that really has captured my attention this year comes straight from Luke 22:
"Peter, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." (vs. 31-32)
Jesus sets the scene. What is to come is Peter's denial of even knowing Christ (vs. 34) despite his pledge to go with the Lord even to death (vs. 33).
Sifted. To examine closely, to separate, to scatter. Here it is. Satan wanted to see what Peter was made of. He wanted to know where his faith would land after being tested.
Having shared such intimate times with his Master, Peter had every good intention of remaining true to that admission to follow Christ even if it meant death. But he stumbled. He fell. He caved under the pressure. Satan attacked him at a vulnerable spot in a weak moment and doggoneit if he didn't hate himself for it!
Peter and I were apparently in the same boat (and sadly this time it's not the boat where we get out and walk on water...)
But what I keep going back to is the Scripture (we're not just talking about a line in a play) where Jesus says He PRAYED for Peter's faith not to fail. See, Christ knew Peter would stumble and fall but He was interceding for his beloved disciple not to lose his faith. WOW!
Have you been sifted? Have you stumbled? Have you fallen? Have you denied Christ? Against Him and Him alone have we sinned, according to Psalm 51. We've certainly hurt Him at some time or another, maybe not denying we know Him but denying our identity in and with Him by the action of our sin against a Holy and Blameless Savior.
But let's finish the verse...
"...And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." (32)
Jesus knew he would stumble, he knew he'd sin, but he also knew he'd return. Jesus had already instructed Peter to feed His sheep. He would learn to lead after being tested, sifted, falling flat on his face, and getting back up to love and strengthen others in their faith.
Are you in the boat with Peter and me? Let's be sifted out and called His. Let's be separated as one of His disciples. Let them examine us closely and pray they see authentic faith. Let's be careful not to fail when our faith has been tested but to turn back and use the testing as a testimony to strengthen others!