Enrico Caruso, the famous Italian Tenor, was told by his voice and music teacher to “give it up, because your voice sounds like wind whistling through a broken window!” Sometimes failure surrounds us and more times than should be, others encourage us to fail. I don’t suppose they mean to, but there it is.
What of those times when we encourage ourselves to fail? The Lord warns us when failure is near, but often, there are more “user friendly” things to do than listen!
Jesus warns Peter in Luke 22:31-34 that the enemy is trying to destroy him and that he will surely even deny Christ, his Savior and Friend, shortly.
“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”
Simon Peter didn’t take seriously the warning that he was given. This wasn’t a buddy coming with a thought or a brother coming with an idea. This was Jesus, coming with the truth! Jesus told him, “…and when you have been converted…” These were words of truth and life. Peter missed these words because he began to defend his position so quickly that he didn’t ponder the truth that was being presented to him. The Lord just finished telling him that his faith was at risk to fail and that at some point he WOULD BE converted! Would be converted? That should have made him stop where he was and instead of making declarations, start asking some questions.
Luke 22:39-46 “And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, And said unto them, Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”
A stone’s cast. That means a simple toss of a rock. That’s how far Jesus was from his Disciples, “A stone’s throw away.” That’s within hearing distance. That’s within seeing distance. That’s close enough to hear your friend Jesus agonize in torments and pain. That’s close enough to run a few feet to Him and hold His head up as He prepares to accomplish the triumph of the ages. That’s close enough to see Him sweat blood as you fall asleep. That’s close enough, but yet, too far away …………
They were told to beware of the looming temptation. They were warned. Sleep called louder and the reward seemed greater. However, in just a few brief moments, the one they held more dear than their own lives would disappear with pain and agony and they have this testimony: they did nothing to encourage Him, not even when asked to. They didn’t pray for Him, they didn’t pray for themselves or the world around them.
Luke 22:54-57 “Then took they him, and led him,and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.”
Peter sat down! He sat down because he first followed “afar off” and was then separated from the cause of Christ. Jesus is in the house of the High Priest and for no “good reason.” How could Peter be so distant in such a time of need and simply sit down?
It appears that Peter failed because he prepared for failure. He could have prepared differently, but this was his choice. Peter prepared for failure in three ways by:
1. Following “Afar Off.” The word of God tells us that many people followed “afar off” on that day. The gospels say that many people followed “afar off” and watched “afar off.” Are we “afar off”, lest the pain of what we will see and hear change us? Walking with Jesus “close up” has it’s privileges and requirements. Sleeping, so often, is much easier. But, there are no rewards for resting in a time of war.
2. Doing Nothing. Luke says Peter “sat down.” John says he just “stood there. “John also says that Peter was standing by the door to the entrance where Jesus was being abused and yet he never entered the building, he stood outside and got warm. Again, consumed with the needs and desires of this body.
3. Denying Jesus. We deny Jesus in different ways throughout our lives. Sometimes, it’s as simple as not giving Him His way. Maybe you have never told someone you don’t know Christ, but let’s not worry about your mouth for a minute ……….What does your life shout?
Luke 19 says that “ the enemy will come upon us on every side and lay us even with the ground when we do not know the time of our visitation from God.” Our visitation is now, when Christ is talking to us and urging us to get prepared. Paying attention during a time of preparation will ensure our victory and secure the Glory and Honor of God in all that we attempt for His sake. Revelation 12 says that “ the enemy knows his time is short so he comes with wrath.”
What is the Lord telling you to do? Is He provoking you to get prepared for the task at hand. Listen, whether you are prepared or not, the task is still at hand! The event is still on the way. The calling still has your name on it. Preparation will makeyou excellent as you lean upon Jesus. Let it not be said today as it was in Jeremiah’s day (8:20) “The harvest is past, the summer is ended and we are not saved.”
Preparing for success looks a little different for each of us. What are you doing to succeed? Are you going to the movies on Saturday night, or are you staying home to read and pray in preparation to meet the Lord in the “congregation of the saints” the next day? Are you preparing to be a blessing, or preparing to simply be blessed! Are you coming to be served all the time, or are you coming to serve another?
Don’t prepare for failure by being consumed with your own desires or the words of others. The Lord is the only one around here that REALLY knows what He’s talking about and He says that we can do it! May we be able to say, “Bring it on, I’m ready in the name of Jesus!” Truly,when we have done all to stand, then all that’s left to do is stand! He will cause you to be glorious in what you attempt for Him!