The line was long. Much longer than I had anticipated when I stepped up to the end, clutching one little jean shirt with cute little ruffles. A seven dollar shirt. A really cute seven dollar shirt.
Did I need this shirt? Nope. Did I want this shirt? Yes. But how much did I want it? Enough to wait in this meandering and rowdy Old Navy line?
I waited. And waited. And waited. And finally the front grew near. The cheery salesgirl took my one shirt and exclaimed, "You're getting out of here with just one shirt?" She glanced at the tag and said, "One seven dollar shirt?!"
"Miracles happen," I retorted. It was certainly a miracle that I had landed in the line with only one item.
She smiled and put my shirt in the bag. "I guess it's the time of year for miracles," she said quietly.
Good Friday. Yes. Nearly Easter- the time for real miracles. Life-altering, world-changing miracles. Not just a resurrection, but so much more.
In Luke 22 Jesus engages his disciples in a Passover meal, after which he reveals some crucial information to his faithful one Peter as they lean together enjoying the last of their time with Jesus. He says:
"Simon, Simon, behold Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." Peter said to him, "Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death." Jesus said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me."
Before perfect Jesus dies to pay our penalty and raises again on the third day to reveal his deity and sovereignty, he works miracles in the hearts of the men who dropped everything to follow him.
Miracle 1: Jesus contends with Satan on our behalf. He tells Peter how Satan demanded to have him. To devour him. To dismantle him as wheat and chaff are separated. Wheat would be thrown into the passing breeze and the chaff would blow right off. Satan assumes Peter is weak. Satan assumes Peter will break. Jesus knows Peter will betray him but that his faith will ultimately survive. Jesus himself prayed this for Peter. He knows that in the end, Peter will be the one to strengthen his brothers in their own faith because of what he learns through his denial of Jesus.
Miracle 2: Even when we talk big and let Jesus down, he still has a plan for us. Peter vowed he was ready for anything. He was certain that his rock-solid faith would prompt him to follow Jesus to prison, or even to join him in death. He talked a big game, but he was flawed, and human, and well-intentioned but fearful. How many times have I been afraid to speak out? To share the love of Jesus who has shown his everlasting love for me? Peter witnessed earthly miracles day after day, and yet he wasn't perfect because he wasn't God. He was a rough and tough fisherman. Regardless of Peter's sin, God had future plans for him as a missionary.
Miracle 3: Jesus knows we will fail, but he doesn't love us any less. When Jesus reveals himself to the disciples after his death and resurrection, it is Peter to whom he first appears. He knows that Peter is repentant and looking to connect with Him. The forgiveness and mercy that Peter needs are supplied and he is restored to a close relationship with Jesus. There was never a moment when Jesus felt less love for Peter. He draws him near after appearing to the disciples later as they fish (John 21) and engages Peter in a series of three questions to confirm Peter's love for Him. If Peter is anything like I am (and I think he is) it must have felt relieving (although embarrassing) to verbalize the love Peter has for Jesus.
Yes Jesus, I love you.
Yes Jesus, you know I love you.
Jesus, you know everything; you know that I love you.
It's a private encounter that Jesus gives to Peter to affirm what is in his heart. To show that even though Peter has failed, he does love God and he will serve God moving forward. It's a loving gesture for Jesus to put Peter through. To confirm his place and identity as the true rock of the church. (Matthew 16:18)
My "miracle" shirt needs a lot of ironing. There is a high probability that this shirt might hang in my closet for a long time before I get motivated to actually wear it.
I'm grateful this Easter that miracles rest in God alone. Every day he contends with Satan on my behalf. He has a plan for me even in the midst of all my failures and flaws. Miraculously Jesus even loves me in spite of my tiny faith. My stunted understanding of this world and my place in it are not unknown or unseen by my near God. The miracle of his eternality shines over me every single day.
He lives...for you and for me.