"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:31 NIV emphasis added).
Friend to Friend
I'm so glad Jesus picked Peter to be one of His disciples. Time and time again we see him with his foot in his mouth, his pride in his pocket, and his temper on his sleeve. Satan knew Peter was going to have a big impact on the church at large, and he tried many times to get him off course. During the last supper, Jesus warned Peter that he was about to be tested..."Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:31 emphasis added).
Peter puffed out his chest, lifted his head and said, "I am ready to go with you to prison and to death."
I imagine Jesus thought, Sure you are, buddy.
Just a few hours later, the sifting began. As Peter stood by the fire just outside where Jesus was being beaten and tried, a little servant girl asked if he was one of Jesus' followers.
"Woman, I don't know him," he said.
"Man, I am not (one of his disciples)!" Peter replied.
"Man, I don't know what you're talking about!"
And just as the third denial slipped off Peter's lips, the rooster crowed to remind him of Jesus' words, "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times."
Peter went outside and wept bitterly.
Jesus knew that Peter was going to deny him, and yet, before he even fell from grace, Jesus was picking him up. Yes, Peter was absolutely crushed at his weakness in denying Jesus three times. But then, the ray of God's love reminded him of Jesus' words... "When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
After Jesus' resurrection, he reminded Peter to invest what he had learned in other people. Three times Jesus asked, "Do you love me?" After each of Peter's affirmations, Jesus said, "Feed my lambs...take care of my sheep...feed my sheep." Peter did exactly what Jesus asked and spent the rest of his life investing in other people.
Have you made some mistakes that left you feeling disqualified? Do you feel like you have been sitting the bench because of too many technical fouls? Oh dear friend, you are not disqualified. Jesus has not put you on the bench. Just as we have seen with Peter, when we fall, Jesus is waiting for us to get back up on our feet and back in the game to strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ. Listen closely. Can you hear it? Jesus is whispering...Do you love me...take care of my sheep.
Dear Lord, I am so thankful that you loved Peter...and that You love me. I don't want to sit the bench when it comes to the game of life. I thank you for forgiving me and putting me back in the game. Help me to have the courage to get back on my feet when I fall, dust the shame off my face, and join the team on the field!
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
What came to your mind when you read... "And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:31-32)?
Do you think Jesus knows when, where, and how you are going to fail?
What did he want Peter to do after he had repented?
What does God want you to do after you have repented?