Friday, March 21, 2014

March 21: Sifted like wheat

“Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death!” Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know me.”  (Luke 22:31-34  NET)

Jesus said this just a few hours before His arrest and crucifixion. It would be a time of terrible testing for the disciples. Simon Peter was to be especially tempted by Satan, but Peter wouldn’t accept Jesus' warning. He was sure that he was strong enough for anything, even saying he would die or go to prison with Jesus. But he was wrong and Jesus knew he was. 

Had Peter listened to Jesus and humbled himself, he could have better prepared himself for what was coming. A Bible verse says, "Let him who thinks he stands be careful lest he fall." Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times before dawn, and Peter should have been wise enough to know that Jesus always spoke the truth. A few hours later, Peter found himself in a panic, publicly swearing that he never knew Jesus.  At the sound of the rooster, his heart and his pride were broken and he wept bitterly in shame.

The Bible compares Satan to a lion prowling about looking for someone to devour. He is also compared to a false prophet who masquerades as an angel of light. We can’t afford to make the mistake Peter made—thinking that we are strong enough to handle anything without relying humbly on God. If we don’t cling to Jesus, we can fail just as Peter did. Remember that Jesus prays for us just as He did for Peter.  He doesn’t condemn us when we slip and fall.  Instead He reaches out to us, lifts us up again, and strengthens us so that we can also strengthen each other.

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