The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak ~ A lesson from a conversaton between Jesus and Peter

I did not write this, it is written by Mike Bickle out of IHOP in KC. It touched my heart in so many ways and I sure can relate to it. This is such a HUGE truth!! I had to share it.

 Peter’s early struggles: dark but lovely or weak but willing (Mt.26:41)

Jesus warned Peter that he would deny Him (Lk. 22:31-34). Later that evening, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus gave Peter a significant twofold description of how the heart of the redeemed operates in God’s grace. Jesus told Peter that his spirit was willing but his flesh was weak. 

41“The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mt. 26:41)

Peter stumbled because of his “weak flesh,” yet he longed to obey God with a “willing spirit.”  Most Bible translations use the phrase “the flesh is weak.” However, the NIV translated “the flesh is weak” as “the body is weak.” Jesus was referring to the principle of sin operating in Peter’s heart, not his fatigue because it was late at night.

What is God thinking and feeling about us when we discover the weakness of our own flesh? This is essential in understanding the grace of God. This is where the crisis of our faith begins.

Peter’s despair because of his failure when he denied the Lord

Why did Peter go fishing? He was not fishing because the apostolic team ran out of money so soon after Jesus’ death (this is only eight days after the crucifixion). They had enough money that Judas stole from the fund without being caught. They fished all night; thus, we know Peter was not fishing for recreation.

3…Peter said…“I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. (Jn. 21:3)

Peter was resigning from his God-given leadership role as an apostle to return to the family fishing business. He was changing back to his former occupation. An occupation that he had been successful at before Jesus called him to apostolic leadership. Why? If he could not stay faithful to Jesus before the pressure of a young servant girl, then how would he stay faithful for a lifetime? He was saying, “I can be faithful to God as a fisherman without the added pressures of being faithful as an apostle.” 

He didn’t feel qualified to be an apostle. His heart was wounded by his failure in denying Jesus three times. Peter felt that he disappointed Jesus. He could not face the Lord because of this. When we feel this way, we run from God instead of to Him.

In the crisis of discovering our sinful flesh, some determine that it is too painful to reach for the highest things in God if they believe they will constantly fail. As those who have a high vision to love God with all our heart, we face coming short many times. Some would rather resign once than face failing over and over. In other words, they lower their vision so they do not feel the pain of failing. It is easier to settle for living with a “second class relationship” with God than to face the pain of failure that goes with having a high vision of loving God with all our heart.

Such people become accustomed to a second rate relationship with the Lord. It is not because they do not love Him any longer. It is because they cannot face relating to God with so much shame. The truth is that we do not have to live with this shame in the grace of God.

They imagine that God is angry, disappointed, grieved, and even exasperated with them. They give up on walking in wholehearted obedience and devotion to Jesus and live in condemnation.

Jesus asked Peter the same question, three times. He said, “Do you love Me?” 

15Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon…do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16He said to him again a second time, “Simon…do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon…do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” (Jn. 21:15-17)

When God asks us a question, it is not because God needs information. Why was God asking Peter this question? He wanted Peter to discover information about himself. The Lord already knew that Peter loved Him. But He wanted Peter to have confidence in his sincere love for Jesus. Jesus was calling Peter back into the same quality of relationship with Him that Peter had before he denied Jesus. The Lord was revealing to Peter how much he loved Jesus.

The Lord was in essence saying, “Peter, You do love Me. In the garden eight days ago, I told you that you had weak flesh and a willing spirit. You didn’t believe your flesh was weak. You need to understand that you do have a willing spirit. You do have a ‘yes in your spirit’ to Me. I saw it in you before you stumbled. When I see you, I don’t only see your weak flesh, I alsoseeyoursincereloveforMe.IsawyourwillingspiritwhenIfirstcalledyouandIstillseeitinyou.”

Jesus sees our willing spirit more than we do. The Lord was breaking shame off of Peter’s heart for three denials of his faith. Jesus washed his spirit with these three questions. Jesus wanted Peter to say, “I love God.” Shame is broken off of Peter as he is restored to confidence in God.

AMEN!! For me….I want it ALL…His love…His everything…


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