Grace For The Journey
In Luke 22 Jesus reveals to Peter an intense conversation between Satan and Himself. In verses 31-32 Jesus tells Peter, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for yo hat he may sift you as wheat. But, I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” I pray today’s blog will be a source of encouragement to you and cause you to be excited even as you face uncertain and difficult days knowing that our Lord knows what is going on in your life and will bring you through whatever you face in a magnificent way and for a significant purpose. As we look at this encounter of Jesus with Peter, we learn several truths:
The first reality to consider is that spiritual warfare is ever-present whether we see it or not. Most of the time we are oblivious to it. However, our Lord saw fit to inform Peter of Satan’s demands to sift him like wheat. Jesus was not going to let Peter go it alone in his ignorance. He comes to Peter, even before Peter realizes how much he needs the Lord and reassures Peter of His love and protection of him! Let me break down this passage in more detail.
“Simon, Simon” – When a name is repeated in the sacred writings, it appears to be always intended as an expression of love, manifested by a warning voice. It is as if Jesus is saying, “While you and the others are contending for supremacy, Satan is endeavoring to destroy you all: but I have prayed for thee, as being in most danger.”
“Satan hath desired – you” – That is, all the apostles, but particularly the three contenders: the plural pronoun sufficiently proves that these words were not addressed to Peter alone. Satan had already got one, Judas (Luke 22:3); he had nearly got another, Peter; and he wished to have all. But we see by this that the devil cannot even tempt a man unless he receives permission. He desires to do all evil; he is permitted only to do some.
“May sift you as wheat” – Grain was agitated or shaken in a kind of fan or sieve. The grain remained in the fan, and the chaff and dust were thrown off. Christ says that Satan desired to try Peter; to place trials and temptations before him to see whether anything of faith would remain. Some might be surprised that God granted Satan’s request! In His inscrutable purposes, God uses Satan, who thinks that he will achieve his evil purpose, but God overrules him and turns it for His greater purpose of good.
In verse 22 Jesus declares that He had already counterattacked Satan by praying to God for Peter, and for all the other disciples (cf. Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).
Notice that the Master did not ask that His servants might be freed from trouble. The undergoing of difficulty and hardship is an integral part of the Christian way. Jesus described Peter’s “faith” as being stretched to its limit. He was confident that Peter would survive this attack with God’s help. His confidence indicates the superior power of Jesus over Satan in spiritual warfare. When he did turn back to Jesus, Peter would need to help the other disciples (“brethren” – Acts 1:15) – whose faith Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trials, crucifixion, death, and burial would challenge (cf. John 21:15-17; 1 Thessalonica 3:2, 13; 1 Peter 5:10).
Jesus implied that Peter would turn away from Him temporarily (“when you have turned back”). When Peter objected to this assumption, which he considered insulting (verse 33), Jesus said frankly that Peter would deny Him because He knew the future (verse 34).
Peter had a responsibility even though Jesus prayed for him.
Prayer and action are not
Peter’s commitment to Jesus was admirable. Luke alone recorded that Peter promised to die with Jesus, and this is the first time that one of the disciples perceived and or acknowledged that Jesus was about to die. Nonetheless, Peter overestimated his own ability to remain faithful when persecuted. Luke is also the only evangelist who mentioned that Jesus told Peter that he would deny that he even knew Jesus. Perhaps this was a particular temptation for Theophilus and Luke’s original Greek readers. “Rocky” would hardly behave as a rock. His overconfidence should be a warning to every disciple.
How would Peter (and us) stand to benefit from such knowledge? I see several reasons:
- Jesus wants to comfort us with the knowledge that Satan is more powerful than we are, but that Christ is more powerful than Satan (John 16:33; Colossians 2:15).
The god of this world is more powerful than we are. Christ wants us to know this. Satan, must, as in the case of Job (Job 1:6-12), ask permission to harm any of God’s children and is powerless to harm a hair of our heads without divine permission, regardless of his pitch or tone. This knowledge simultaneously humbles us and exalts Christ. Jesus wants us to know that we cannot conquer Satan without Him.
- Jesus reveals the weapon He used to sustain Peter – “But I have prayed for you.”
Christ’s end goal, to sustain Peter through Satan’s attack, does not merely come to us in factual terms only. Jesus also gives us insight into the means by which He sustains Peter. If Christ needed prayer to defeat Satan, how much more do we need prayer to defeat him! O Lord, forgive us for taking prayer too lightly! Perhaps the intensity of our prayer would not be lacking if Christ informed us of every time He used them to fight off the enemy on our behalf!
- The third benefit of Christ informing Peter of His conversation with Satan is that it gives us insight into the long-suffering character of God.
Christ not only predicts Peter’s fall
But also predicts Peter’s recovery.
Only a God of great omnipotence
Could predict such things.
Only One with absolute authority can allow Peter’s faith to temporarily fail and rise again for His sovereign purposes.
It should lead us to answer three questions:
1. What should this knowledge of spiritual warfare do to the frequency and fervency of our prayers?
2. How might we apply these prayers to our brothers and sisters who may or may not know they are experiencing spiritual warfare?
3. How might we apply this to our future?
Christ’s love of Peter
Saw beyond his failures.
God’s choice of Peter to lead the other disciples came not because our Lord overlooked his sins but because He paid for them. It is an overwhelming thought to consider that Christ presently sustains me despite His knowledge of my future sins. Let us consider the power of appealing to such a longsuffering mediator as our Lord Jesus.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”