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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sifted


Had I heard Jesus' words I would have....


Mathew 26:17-30

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?”

“As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’”  So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there.

When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the twelve disciples.  While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”

Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?”

He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me.  For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?”

And Jesus told him, “You have said it.”

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”

And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.  Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”

Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

Luke 22:7-38

Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed.  Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, “Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together.”

“Where do you want us to prepare it?” they asked him.

He replied, “As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’  He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.”  They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.

When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table.  Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins.  For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”

Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves.  For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.”

He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”

After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.

“But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me.  For it has been determined that the Son of Man must die. But what sorrow awaits the one who betrays him.”  The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing.

Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them.  Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’  But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.  Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.

“You have stayed with me in my time of trial.  And just as my Father has granted me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right to eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.  But 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.”

Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.”

But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you out to preach the Good News and you did not have money, a traveler’s bag, or an extra pair of sandals, did you need anything?”

“No,” they replied.

“But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!  For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’  Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true.”

“Look, Lord,” they replied, “we have two swords among us.”

“That’s enough,” he said.

 

I think if you get nothing else out of reading this, you have read the Word of God.  In these two passages Jesus says some pretty profound stuff, but what jumped out at me was Luke 7:31-32 (which I have underlined above).

Jesus said that Satan has asked to sift each of them like wheat.  When sifting wheat, the wheat is shaken to remove the chaff (which is the husks and other junk); to separate the wheat from the rest of the waste.  Sometimes the wheat will fall through the sifter.  When Satan is going to sift them like wheat, I believe satan wanted to shake the disciples up.  To make them question the leadership of the Lord, to make them question their beliefs.  And true to form, they did all these things.  They reactions were out of character for what Jesus taught them.  They ran away and hid, they became violent; all things that Jesus had been teaching them not to do.

But, here’s the cool part.  Jesus prayed for them to be strong in their faith, even though He knew they would fail.  He said, “So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”  How awesome is that!  Jesus knew they would fail, He knew they would run and hide; He knew that Peter would deny Him three times.  Jesus didn’t say if you have repented, He said when you have repented; meaning He knew the hearts of the disciples.  He knew that they were just men and when they had turned back to Him, He could use them to build His church.

Fact of the matter is, Jesus knows our hearts.  Webster’s defines repent as to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life, to feel regret or contrition or to change one's mind.  I kind of like the first part of this definition best; to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.  Jesus said when you have repented and turned to me again, this tells me we still have a chance; we can still be used.

I believe we all have a story to tell (a testimony), sometimes we are a cautionary tale and sometimes we are inspiring.  As Christians, Jesus said if we repent and turn to Him again; we can be used to strengthen brothers and sisters in Christ.  Talk about a hallelujah moment!  I have done things in life that I’m not proud of, but God has used them in my testimony to say “we can come back from anything, if we have God in us”.  I think that we shouldn’t be discouraged about our testimony, if we truly have Jesus in our lives; then He can use every part of our lives to encourage others (Romans 8:28).  Don’t hide your testimony; in fact every testimony can be used by God.  It is not just the “wow” testimonies that God uses; even if you have been a faithful follower of Christ you whole life; that’s a testimony that we can live like that, it can be done.

 

Sifted,

cej