7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mk 16:7.
This divine sentiment is needed particularly today and this message addresses an area that we really need to approach because it will darken our door one day and we will need to live through it. When we consider Peter, who here is addressed specifically and invited specifically to MEET Jesus in His resurrected state, is because we need to note where Peter is in this story. He is lost in his own failure. He has denied Jesus 3 times, failed Jesus, denied Jesus before men, and Jesus addressed this issue in His teaching that denying identification of Jesus before men would mean that Jesus would deny identification before the Father of that person also.
We are living in a season of shaking, refining, calamity on many levels. We verify the pressure that is being brought to bear on our day to day. Only this week I had to deliver some preparatory words to people who needed to know that they needed to build strong foundations now because very tough times are ahead. In this shaking some will fall. In this shaking some will fail. However we must examine and compare with how Jesus deals with Peter to know how Jesus will deal with those who fall and fail. It’s not about retaining ministry position it is rather a more important objective, that is, retaining the faith. There are failings that may carry a disqualification from a level of ministry that one exercised. God does restore, but I am not sure that they can retain that same level without some proving and some restitution. We must stop judging on a human level, and stop to ask GOD to take us into a different level of understanding of what is happening right now.
What has surfaced in the last decade has been the level of heresy, abuse, fraud, unfaithfulness in positions of authority throughout the whole Church universal, right from Catholic priests, to Pentecostal pastors, and current scandals involving Hillsongs. There will be those who in those communities of faith will be lost, because their faith into even the things they were taught will be undermined by this revelation of such corruption in leadership circles. However what we all forget is we are ALL subject to the same weakness and same potential for similar sins in various ways. What gets betrayed is the standard we put into leaders. And God understands that, that is why He holds to the standard, the much that is given much is required.
We must first map what happened with Peter as there are some extreme positions out there. Some hold to the view that those who belonged to churches where error and heresy is taught is that these members are not true believers. I sense and do not see the consistency that this could be true, because it has all to do with the sincerity of pursuit of God, and God knows the hearts, and we must pray that such are enlightened to the truth. I think we need to give more credit to the Holy Spirit’s ability to bring divine light through the Scriptures.
Jesus tells Peter that Satan has asked specifically to try Peter, as winnowing grain. There is a discussion between God and Satan, in which Jesus intervenes by two ways, he tells Peter about it, and assures that He has prayed for him. Peter is very much a loose cannon, throughout the 3 years he spends with Jesus. Yet Peter is the only one who speaks about Jesus as the Messiah and is commended, however he misunderstands totally Jesus’ mission. Yet in the moment of great trial Peter denies Him 3 times, as Jesus promised. Peter did not know what was ahead. Jesus saw, and saw how weak all the disciples were, as we could all have been in the same situation. I think when we evaluate Biblical personalities we must identify their humanity and how Christ dealt with them.
I think in the life of every Church, ministry, minister, there is that moment where the enemy is given permission to try and winnow us. It reveals the weakness of our human intention, the weakness of our reactions in moments of crisis. However, we must count upon the prayers of Jesus to keep us. And it is here our human interpretations concerning why God is shaking such a Church, what He does with the sheep there, whether they are sheep or goats, only Jesus sees and knows. Our position in that situation is to be like Jesus, pray that faith does not fail.
The calamities and scandals abroad must involve us all in terms of culpability because none of us are better than others, and they are happening to those who confess the same Jesus as we do. And if we remember out of the 12 disciples, all fled, all but one, in fear, in fights, in confrontations, and only John is seen at the Cross, just shows how the majority fell, and saw their own ambitions shattered. We cannot look on when a Church, or minister is exposed and see that it has no connection to us, it does, because it exposes the failure of human nature, and only the divine nature can save and restore. And as the “fire is falling” we must all cry out for mercy and for Jesus to come.
Jesus sends a message, through the women, and Peter is given a special mention, because despite where he is, Jesus wants to meet with Him. God is sending out a invitation to those who experience calamity, the abused, and abusers alike, so that He who knows how to engage us, can. The abusers I am not sure how Jesus can deal with this, it is beyond my human comprehension, because many narcissists occupy many positions of leadership, they need considerable interaction from Jesus. Yet Peter is singled out for special invitation, and the invitation I saw, in January 2019, that God’s high calling is of special invitation. At that time God spoke to me on a trip to the midlands regarding that high calling for which Paul refers in Philippians. I sense that this special invitation will go out, because Jesus is summoning us to dialogue with Him. It is part of the Passover process. It puts us on our way to our Promised Land.
In John 21 we read the interaction between Jesus and Peter, in which Peter is taken down 2 tracks, the way of love, and call of ministry. Peter had to see where he failed, and see that despite that, Jesus had not lost faith in Peter, because He had prayed. The exchange between Peter and Jesus goes beyond the things we read there, because it has to have resulted in Peter regaining faith in Christ which then gave him faith in himself, because Jesus would enable him to walk in obedience, not by his own capacities. The interaction must have resulted in both enlightenment about how Jesus deals with failure, and how Jesus calls to ministry. He called Peter to pastor pastors and leaders. Ministry comes out of Jesus’ election only, and based on Jesus’ qualification and righteousness. So any failure now must set many on new paths that evidence restoration. And we see evidence to the depth of restoration that Peter experienced by the message on Pentecost Day.
We have created great errors in how we evaluate human reliability, and we must now evaluate ministers not on their natural capacity but the way they have processed the processes of God in their lives. When motivations have been tried in the fire. Where only the Word is focus, not money or influence.
For the abused, casualties of the scandals and all this shaking process, we need to ask God for a strategy. Jesus knew how to restore Peter, we need to ask Him to give us tools to restore those who are victims. We must be clear on disciplinary procedures, and safeguarding the flock from ravenous wolves. What the shaking has proved is years and years of hiding these things and being complacent.
What is even more tragic, is that secular media has been more thorough in the exposure of these things. This is because the Church did not want to face it. And because of this a culture of fear has come in. Let us pray that this worldly fear and paranoia is replaced with godly fear.
We must trust Jesus that His prayer that our faith would not fail, and that out of it all we experience a new Pentecost.