31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:31-34) NIV
And he did just that. When pushed by the people in the crowd, Peter feared for his life. As bold as he usually was, in this instance he was weak. He denied Jesus. Before it happened, Jesus knew about it. He prayed for Peter knowing full well the weight he would feel for denying his friend, his teacher, his Messiah. Peter had walked side by side with Jesus for three years. He was there for the transfiguration, he walked on water, he sat at his feet. He experienced first-hand the power of Jesus as he witnessed people’s lives being changed both physically and spiritually. I can well imagine Peter’s feelings afterwards—berating himself for failing when pushed to the brink, wondering how in the world he did that. It was no surprise to Jesus; he knew it would happen. He also knew Peter would be able to strengthen his brothers in their journey of faith. It was not the end of the story.
This is where grace enters Peters life. The love of Jesus is shown through the forgiveness of our sins. He showed Peter such love and compassion in light of what he did. Jesus did not hold it against him. (“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Ps. 103:12)
I lived for so long under condemnation for the choices I made in the past. There were people who hurt me, people I hurt, decisions I wish I could undo, and so much shame. The weight was unbearable and almost took me out. Sin has such a ripple affect and touches so many as it spreads. Then I met Jesus and through his love l understood a new way to live. God in His glory forgave me! It was almost as if he spoke those words to me: “Cindy, Cindy, I have prayed that your faith will not fail.” There are no words that can describe the moment I realized that weight of sin had been lifted. Grace is powerful!
Through these verses, I also came to understand God’s sovereign will. Satan has to ask God’s permission to “sift” us. It’s taken a lot of years of relationship with God to know that when he’s allowed trials into my life there is purpose in it. I don’t like it, and I struggle with accepting it, but I knew he has a greater good.
In Peter’s case, we later see him go forward and spread the gospel to the Gentiles. He was one of the early leaders. What a testimony he must have had to share of his time spent with Jesus. Peter could share his highs and his lows. His victories and his failings. And assure others, through it all, he was loved exactly the same—never more and never less.
Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. (3 John 1:11a) NIV
Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us what is good by the life of Jesus. May the wonder of Him, God in human form, never be taken for granted. You came humbly to this earth. You poured out your love on a hurting world. You gave us your only Son who willingly paid the penalty for our sins so we can be with you forever. A baby in a manger; a Savior on a cross. Forgiveness. Grace. A love given freely to those who believe. I shake my head in wonder of it all for understanding is beyond my ability. I praise you for your awesome plan. In Jesus name, Amen