In the Gospels, the Apostle Peter was a flake. He sometimes got it, and sometimes didn’t. Peter could discern Jesus was Messiah, but then turn around and refuse that Christ had to die on a cross. He would get bold and walk on water, but end up falling short and needing help from drowning. Peter stood tall for Jesus, and then denied him three times.
In the book of Acts, however, Peter is a completely changed man. He gets it. He is brave. He confesses Christ. And all the while he does not falter, flinch, or back down. What is the difference between the Gospels and Acts? The Holy Spirit comes upon him and he is never the same again. Everything falls into place for Peter, who preaches in such a way that thousands repent of their sin and believe Jesus is the hope of the world.
“God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death,” Peter proclaimed about Jesus, “because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” Let that one seep into your soul. If it was impossible for death to keep its grip on Jesus, then there is absolutely nothing that can deter Jesus or hold him back from accomplishing what he wants to accomplish. Flaky believers are not going to frustrate Jesus or upset his plans; he’ll just send the Holy Spirit.
We too often imprison ourselves in self-made spiritual jail cells, flaking-out in the Christian life, sometimes getting it right and once-in-a-while hitting upon some right combination we can’t explain, like a golfer who hits an amazing shot but can’t reproduce it no matter how hard he tries. The truth is: Jesus has conquered sin, death, and hell. By faith, we have forgiveness of sins in him and have the way opened to a new life in the Spirit. It isn’t a secret; it is a new reality.
The season of Lent is a time of remembering those things that hinder us in our walk with Jesus, and repenting of our sins so that we can live anew. As we quickly approach Holy Week, the golf clubs of vulnerability, confession and prayer will keep us in God’s fairway and allow us to shoot par.
Gracious God, who raised Jesus from the dead, may the same power reside in me so that I can do your will in every situation through the power and presence of your Holy Spirit. Amen.