April 3, 2023 – Luke 22:1-38
It is Holy Week, and the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem will soon be replaced with the shameful reality of his naked, beaten body hanging from a Roman cross – only to be replaced again by the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven changing the course of eternity for every person willing to accept this gift.
Luke’s account of the events leading up to Jesus’ arrest moves quickly, but Luke tells us something that the other gospel writers do not. Jesus said, “…I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus knows that Peter denying him is going to cause a crisis of faith. Jesus knows that while he is hanging from the cross, Peter will be tempted to fall into complete despair. And Jesus also knows that Peter will have to choose not to agree with the lies Satan will be whispering in Peter’s ear about his betrayal – so Jesus prays that Peter would not give into the temptation of despair and shame.
So often when we make a mistake, big or small, no one beats us up quite like we do to ourselves, and we do that to protect ourselves from making that mistake again. But have you ever considered that continuing to beat ourselves up is actually disagreeing with God’s will for us? That what God actually desires for us is that we say yes to the rich and satisfying life Jesus died to give us; not that we do the enemy’s work for him by reminding ourselves of our failures. This isn’t an easy task, but Jesus demonstrates that praying for the protection of our hearts and asking God to strengthen us as we face temptation – those prayers have power. Those prayers truly protect us and those prayers might be the exact thing that allow us to experience abundant life after a major misstep.
Questions for reflection:
- Is there something you need to forgive yourself for? Why do you suppose you have struggled to do that?
- Is there something you need to forgive someone else for? It’s possible that holding onto unforgiveness for someone else is preventing you from forgiving yourself.
- Ask God for his help. We believe that Jesus died so we would have life, and it’s life on this side of eternity as well. Claim that promise for yourself today.