The Refining Process: Matthew 26:31-35
“31) Then Jesus *said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.’ 32) But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 33) But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” 34) Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 35) Peter *said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too.” Matthew‬ ‭26‬:‭31‬-‭35‬ ‭
Your relationship with Jesus will be tested. Good intentions and mere religious devotion will not stand the test of fire. Apart from John standing with the mother of Jesus, all of His disciples abandoned Jesus. (John 19:26-27) But it appears that even John gave up hope and joined Peter back at the fishing boats and nets. (See John 21:2-3)
Before becoming too critical with the disciples, two facts must be pointed out. First, this happened before the day of Pentecost. The flesh cannot serve God. When the heat is on, it will always seek self preservation. Second, after being filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, every disciple remained loyal and all but John died the death of a martyr. The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
The testing itself is a refining process. Of the writers of the New Testament, it was Peter that elaborated on this theme in 1 Peter 1:6-9. Everyone will be tested by trials to prove the genuine nature of their faith.
The word “tested” is intriguing because it can be translated as either “tested” or “tempted” depending on the context. Both take genuine faith and love for Jesus to overcome. Both faith “in Jesus” and love “for Jesus” are wed together in 1 Peter 1:6-9. Both were tragically lacking in the twelve disciples as Jesus endured the cross. A personal weakness exposed is an invitation to seek deeper devotion to Jesus.
To understand the total isolation of Jesus on the cross, in Matthew 27:46 He cried out; “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?” It was not only His disciples that turned away, but even His Father turned His back when Jesus took on the sins of humanity. Yet with all of this… Jesus remained faithful!
Though I have let Jesus down at times, He has never let me down. Some of my trails have been difficult and severe without understanding what purpose they served. There have been times I have drawn back and questioned God. In the end, I have always found Him to be faithful and loving.
As I survey the years, with each test more dross was burned away from my faith. I have not arrived yet, but by His grace I am starting to see more and more pure gold showing up in my walk with God.
I trust you can relate to my story. When Jesus said, “you will all fall away because of me…”, He was including more than the twelve. Every believer will have their faith and love tested. In the end, you will either be exposed as a fraud like Judas or become refined and sincere like Peter.
Let me stress again, that the ministry of the Holy Spirit was the pivot point for the disciples. He was the promised helper. (John 14:16-18)
My early years were marked by formal theological training that minimized and marginalized the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Overcoming this negative bias and inhibition has added amazing grace, strength, power and intimacy to my walk with God. Never hold the helper at arms length. It didn’t work for the twelve before Pentecost and it won’t work for you or me! Marginalizing the Holy Spirit automatically maximizes your self sufficiency. It’s a pathway to failure.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global