Sunday February 21, 2010 | Dwayne Polk
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the
rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?"
"Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment."
Despite Jesus clearly foretelling it, Peter didn’t think he would deny Jesus. But just as Jesus knew Peter would fall, he knew he’d get back up again too.
Dwayne Polk reminded us that this is the season of Lent when many Christians around the world are fasting in anticipation of Easter. Jim Wallis describes fasting this way:
“Fasting is intended to cleanse the body, clear the mind, create some time and space, nourish the spirit, and focus the heart. Prayer is for confession, repentance, turning back to God, and asking for both discernment and courage.”
And Dwayne quoted the liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church as stating: “Let us fast with a fast pleasing to the Lord. This is the true fast: the casting off of evil, the bridling of the tongue, the cutting off of anger, the cessations of lusts, evil talking, lies and cursing. The stopping of these is the fast true and acceptable.”
In our spiritually hostile world, fasting is a practice that helps us strengthen our relationship with God. Today’s text shows that Peter was tested by Satan and that this would result in his turning away from what God is doing. But Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail but that he would turn back both for his own sake and for the sake of other believers. We can be sure that prayer, fasting and repentance were involved in Peter’s walk of faith. Just like Peter, we too will be shaken and influenced by Satan. And just like Peter, there will be times when we lose our focus and are distracted from God and what God is doing around us. And again, just like with Peter, Jesus intercedes for us and gives us the strength we need to come back to God.
Dwayne closed with this challenge: we will fall, but we will get back up again. You will be shaken, but don’t be stirred in your spirit for God has overcome all opposition on the cross!