Thursday, March 27

by Nancy Sutton

I have experienced the peace of Christ through reflection on the Spirit’s help in weakness.

I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.  –Luke 22:31-32

In the Impact study of Acts we see Peter in his destined role as leader of the apostles. How did that come about after so great a failure on his part?

Peter’s story is one of embracing and resisting and God’s grace in it all. Peter’s faith in Jesus – a faith that caused him to leave his fishing boats, that propelled him out into the water to go to Jesus, that caused him to be the first to confess Jesus as Messiah – that faith failed him at the crucial moment.
When those hostile to Jesus ask Peter where his allegiance lies, he denies knowing Jesus – not once, but three times! So it can be with us. When we try to stand up to pressure in our own strength, we may wilt.

But just as Jesus knew Peter would betray him, so Jesus was interceding for him. So also it is with us.
When we think of ourselves as people of little faith, do we not realize that the Lord is interceding for us that our faith may not fail? Even when our faith is no bigger than a mustard seed, Paul says in Romans 8:26, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.

Just as the Lord looked at Peter and saw him trying to stand up to pressure in his own strength, he looks at us as we are. There are no secrets. He sees us without our masks and pretensions. The Lord sees the worst things we have done and the worst we are. He sees us more clearly than we see ourselves, maybe because most of us live in a state of perpetual denial about our faults.

The resurrection message is that we can give up pretense and denial forever. The Lord looks at us as he looked at Peter and sees everything there is to see and still says as he said to Peter, “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”

Jesus teaches God’s grace in this warning to Peter: Do not trust in your own strength, but realize that after failure, there will be opportunity for restoration. Jesus intercedes for his own even when he knows they will fail him. Intercession evidences God’s love and grace for Peter and for us.
Peter’s failure of nerve is not a failure of heart and it is not permanent. Peter turns from his denial. The turning also is a gift from God, something the Holy Spirit brings about. His call then is to strengthen his fellow disciples.

The risen Lord remade Peter and he will do the same for us. In his death and resurrection, Jesus paid the price and won the victory. We are free and in this freedom we too are called to strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ. Thanks be to God!

Prayer: Gracious and merciful God, help us to take time during this Lenten season to look into the depths of our sin and, even as we consciously acknowledge the seriousness of our predicament before you, at the same moment help us recognize you as the one who extends your mercy to us even in the midst of our condition. In Christ’s name, we pray.

Lift in prayer today
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