Can you put yourself in Peter’s shoes? This above verse follows Jesus telling Peter what is to come that I’m sure knocked the wind out of him. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;” (Luke 22:31).
These are words that none of us would desire to hear spoken from our dear Lord. But they apply to each and every one of us. Peter argued with Jesus that he was ready to die for Him, as I’m sure many of us would say the same thing. But Jesus knows our hearts better than we do. And Jesus knows that His disciples are not prepared for their future. A time of great testing is about to come upon them. Even after Jesus told Peter that he would deny him three times that very night, Peter was still in denial. Even when he was in the midst of the situation he didn’t recognize it. It wasn’t until afterwards, and he had failed, that the words of Jesus came back to him. He was devastated! He was so ashamed, so full of guilt and condemnation that he couldn’t even face his brothers. (Because of condemnation, Peter wasn’t even able to remember that Jesus had told him he would be restored, that he was forgiven.) I believe Peter was focused on himself, the great love he had for Jesus wasn’t enough. He was in need of a savior and didn’t even realize it! He went back to the only thing he had been “good” at, fishing.
Peter was the one who received the revelation that Jesus was the Messiah. Peter was on fire for Jesus, but that zeal was often misplaced because of lack of understanding. I believe that fits many of us more times than we care to admit. Maybe we only hear what we want to hear when Jesus speaks to us. Or maybe we are kind of “along for the ride” for we are not able to understand exactly what Jesus is doing. But we LOVE the Lord. That is not the problem. There actually isn’t a “problem”. This is something much more spiritual than what we can understand without revelation from above. Ephesians 6:12 gives us more understanding, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Ever been there? Even when you are with Jesus after the testing, you are so ashamed that you won’t accept His love and forgiveness? Maybe you use the excuse, I can’t forgive myself. Let me ask you a question, if Jesus has given you forgiveness, why are you insisting that your own forgiveness is more important? That is pride and putting yourself on the throne. It’s telling Jesus that His forgiveness, His death on the cross was not enough! I love you, dear one, but the only one who can give forgiveness to wash clean and restore is Jesus Christ! When we accept His gift of eternal life, we have exchanged our life for His and, while we feel embarrassed by our decisions, it will bring about a humility that places Christ as the center; His will be done, not ours.
Our strength is made stronger each time we go through a testing period. We must be refined through the fire, and that fire can get very hot! We will never know the God who lives in us without a period of testing. And without that testimony, our faith will remain weak.
Think of the twelve disciples. They lived with Jesus for three and a half years but still did not understand the depth of what Jesus was doing. They didn’t even believe He was going to be leaving them and ascending to heaven. As painful as that loss was for them, Jesus did it for us as well. As long as Jesus was on earth with them, they were comfortable following Him. (But the point is to become LIKE Him, not just follow along.) They were excited when He sent them out in pairs of two and saw deliverances and healings, but they also experienced demonic presences that they couldn’t even touch. There was a testing time coming to be able to reach that level of faith, some would endure to the end, and some would not. Are you trusting God enough to endure to the end?
When I am in the midst of a great testing, there is a verse of scripture that is a foundation for me that I’d like to share: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.” “(Matthew 16:24-25)
That verse gives me direction and reminds me why I am on this earth. I am a messenger of the Lord, I’m not here for my pleasure. I am so glad that God has blessed me with so many blessings throughout the years, I cherish those, but I also cherish the pain and tribulations that He has taken me through. There have been great testings by fire and many waters where I thought I would drown. But He is always faithful. While these times are not “pleasant” I have learned to have joy in the midst of the struggle and I have found that Jesus provides for all of my needs.
So when Jesus was waiting on the shore that early morning when Peter, James and John were out fishing, Jesus didn’t come to grill Peter about his level of love for Him. He knew how much Peter loved Him. It was time for Peter to step into His calling. Each time Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, notice the response Jesus gave Peter, each response was to love and take care of His sheep, His followers. At this point, there weren’t a lot of “sheep” but Jesus was commissioning Peter to be who God created him to be. Sometimes Jesus has to ask us the same question several times before we understand what He is really asking!
There is a time of “anointing” but that isn’t the time of “appointing”. The appointing follows a time of great trials and tribulations. So, beloved, if you are in the valley, in the midst of a storm, look up and see the salvation of the Lord working a new work in you! Instead of asking “why me Lord”, a better question is “what do I need to learn, Lord”. His love will carry you. I could list so many verses to share His promises, but I am going to leave that to you. As you read them, ask the Lord to speak directly to your heart. Be encouraged, loved ones, we will meet on that beautiful shore one day and hear those beautiful words, well done, good and faithful servant!
Dear Lord, this is a hard thing for us to understand. Thank You for the Holy Spirit to guide us through our days here on earth, through the good times and the bad. There is nothing wasted that You cannot use to turn to Your glory. Help us to understand that our time here is a battlefield, not one of flesh and blood, even though that is what we see with our eyes. Help us to see with spiritual understanding what we really are facing. We ask forgiveness for relying on our own understanding. Help us grow in You! Amen!