Jesus’ “passion” (ie, his “suffering”—beginning in the garden of Gethsemane and concluding with his crucifixion) was a time of great temptation, both for Jesus and for his disciples. Jesus passed his test with flying colors; his disciples—not so much. Truth is all Christ’s followers fail—and that’s why the cross is necessary.
Twenty hours before the cross Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples, speaking of his upcoming sacrificial death. Believe it or not, this quickly led a discussion among the disciples as to which of them was the greatest! Peter, which means “Rock”, too often was over-confident (Luke 22:31-34). Peter did not understand the wickedness in every human heart (Jeremiah 17:9; cf. Abraham in Genesis 12:10— 13:4; Moses in Numbers 12:3 and 20:8-13). Satan wants to derail you in your area of strength. When that happens, the question is: “How will I respond after I fail?”
Peter shows us that failure need not be final—it can be formative (Luke 22:31-32). Jesus did the most important, most powerful thing for Peter: he prayed for him. Make sure you pray for yourself, and ask others to pray for you, too. Prayer is not a substitute for work, or perseverance, or planning, or good old common sense. But it is a powerful and indispensable support for all of these things (Hebrews 7:25; 1 Corinthians 10:13).
After a major failure, sometimes we feel unredeemable, but oftentimes that makes us the person best qualified to help others who have failed. No matter what you have done, God can use you—if you let him. Each of us will face our “Gethsemane”, and it will require prayer (Luke 22:39-42). We must respond as Jesus did: “Father, not my will but thy will be done.” If we do, God will strengthen us (v. 43).
But although Jesus persisted in prayer, the disciples did not (v. 46). I wonder: did the disciples’ prayerlessness lead to their cowardice and defection? In contrast, notice how absolutely serene Jesus remained (v. 47-53). Peter—bold, impetuous, rash, loyal—lashes out with a sword. That is not God’s way. Peter fought the wrong enemy (Ephesians 6:12) with the wrong weapon (2 Corinthians 10:3- 6). Peter had the wrong attitude and trusted in the wrong energy. Notice what Jesus did. In his last recorded miracle, Jesus healed his enemy, thus showing grace. In fact, by going to the cross Jesus showed grace to all of us, didn’t he?
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- As you represent Jesus, prepare for Satanic opposition by cultivating the discipline of consistent, reliant prayer.
- Don’t allow your failures to derail you; serve others who have experienced similar failures. Point them to Jesus and Peter!
- Commit to the exclusive use of spiritual weapons as you serve others. Let these passages guide you: Ephesians 6:10-20; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)