Tonight is the last night for the North Central Ohio Passion Play. And being involved in it, I’ve not watched it completely through. It’s not good to get immersed in the dramatic reenactment when you need to be on time for cues. But there are times during the program that have washed over me. The crucifixion scene, technically speaking, is the hardest. But it’s also one that has reminded me of just how much I need Christ and the immeasurable love that God continues to show an undeserving me.
Another part, which I want to examine further, is Peter’s denial of Christ before the rooster crows. It’s way to easy for me to look down on Peter. How could he do that I ask myself. Peter witnessed the power of Christ. He saw Jesus feed thousands, healed the sick including his own mother in law, caused Peter himself to walk on water and Peter witnessed the staff meeting (transfiguration) Jesus had with Moses and Elijah. How could he deny Christ?
To deny means to reject or refuse the truth. Peter rejected the thought of knowing who Jesus was. He refused the truth of being one of His disciples. I guess the way I see it, it’s not much different then sin. Sin is a rebellion against God. It’s missing God’s mark, His purpose. It’s rejecting what God has told us to be truth and choosing wrongly.
My question, then, of how could Peter deny Christ is quickly turned my direction. Now I’m not going to walk down memory lane of past failures. Satan needs no help there and is a battle I face on a regular basis. But my desire is to remind myself of what Jesus said during this conversation with Peter before he denies Him – because in this conversation, I find encouragement!
Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;
First Jesus says to Peter that Satan has “demanded permission” to tempt Peter. In other words, this was a scheduled, on time event. To seek permission means to seek the authority to do something. To rephrase, Satan was seeking authority to tempt Peter. Satan himself has no authority other than that which God grants. When temptation comes your way, do not view it badly. Instead see it as an opportunity to tell the enemy that he has no authority and that Jesus Christ is THE authority in your life. Look on your trials as a time that God is building character.
James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
James 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
James 1:4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Furthermore, when you sense temptation, stop and make a mental note of it. The quicker you become aware of it, the quicker you can react to it with prayer and scripture! Remember, the two most powerful forces (heaven and hell) are fighting for your soul. And you alone make the decision of who wins. Yup! You’re that important!
Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus prayed for Peter. This is a precursor to what Jesus does for us now! He intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father.
Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Jesus “always lives” to make intercession for us. This means that Jesus pleads to and converses with the Father on our behalf. He pleads our cause.
Luke 22:33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Luke 22:34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
Call this what you want, I’ll call it self-confidence to the point of being foolhardy. Peter doesn’t say, “With your help and prayers, Lord, I will go through this with you”. The connotation in verse 23 is Peter relying on himself. Peter was confident he could face the trials before him. Don’t let over-confidence be a stumbling block for you. If we could face the trials without Christ, what need would we have of Him? That’s absolute nonsense! We are to be ready to face trails with an awareness and confidence in His provision and prayers during the battle.
Later on, with the power of Christ, Peter would be able to face trials and persecutions of all kinds – but only after he experienced failure. If we do fail, just as Peter did, remember that failure need not have the last word. Satan can win a battle, but indeed lose the war. Peter became stronger in spite of failure. We can as well!
If you have opportunity, catch tonight’s last performance of the North Central Ohio Passion Play here beginning at 6pm. As you watch, consider what Christ did through the cross. Consider God’s immeasurable love. Consider what Christ is doing right now, sitting at the right hand of God praying for you. Consider it joy, no matter the trials, knowing that nothing can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). Consider Jesus Christ everything you need to face trials and temptations and consider yourself unable to face them on your own. Finally, consider not allowing failures to have the last word. A battle may have been lost, but the enemy has not won the war. You choose who gets the flag of victory!