â€œSimon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.â€ â€¦
He also said to them, â€œWhen I sent you out without money-bag, traveling bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?â€
â€œNot a thing,â€ they said.
Then He said to them, â€œBut now, whoever has a money-bag should take it, and also a traveling bag. And whoever doesnâ€™t have a sword should sell his robe and buy one. For I tell you, what is written must be fulfilled in Me: And He was counted among the outlaws. Yes, what is written about Me is coming to its fulfillment.â€ Â Â Â Â Luke 22:31-32, 35-37 (HCSB)
Next week is truly my favorite week of the entire church year â€“ Holy Week. I began singing in the church choir when I was 12 years old. It was wonderful to stand in that rear balcony in a cathedral and sing. Notes seem to echo on and on and on. Even a volunteer choir sounded close to heaven! The Gospel message would be 15-30 verses long and I never remember twitching because the words of the Christ’s Passion were riveting.
I have taken all the repetitive ritual of that time and embraced it as a foundation for the â€œRetreat Weekâ€ that I make every year. No, I don’t go off to some convent. I continue to do my every day work but I commit to making time to slowly, prayerfully put myself into the Gospel stories of Jesus’ last week here on earth, allowing the story to touch my heart without reservation. I make this spiritual pilgrimage as a sort of â€œboot campâ€ for the other 51 weeks that will come after it.
Jesus tells Peter (as Job was never told) that Satan has asked to be able to attack him. Jesus has prayed for Peter (God told Satan he could attack Job but not kill him). Now that is a passage that I want to receive for myself â€“ Jesus, please pray for me, too! And He does (Romans 8:34). Peter will remember Jesus’ words when he is a leader. He will know that a leader in Christ’s church prays for others; does not condemn them. And when they stumble, he will encourage and give them a hand up, not a slap down.
Jesus also reminds His disciples in this final hour as it appears He is leaving them, that they have never been without anything that they needed. They may not have all that they thought they needed or that the world made fun of them for not having, but Jesus prepared them wisely. And now they must wisely prepare to move on in their journey. As I was reading this passage I thought of Ephesians 6 and the Armor of God. It was like Paul clarified what I would need in my traveling bag: the helmet of Salvation, the breastplate of Righteousness, the belt of Truth, the shoes of Peace, the shield of Faith, and the sword of the Spirit, because if I am a disciple of Jesus Christ and building His Kingdom, Satan is going to want to harass and distract me!
This Sunday when waving palm branches, am I also willing to walk with Jesus the rest of The Way? Am I willing to put in the time in His boot camp to prepare for the days ahead?
Days of Elijah written by Robin Mark, sung by Paul Wilbur