God’s Word for You
Luke 22:31-32 Jesus prays for you
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, March 29, 2019
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
31 “Simon, Simon, pay attention: Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have returned to me, strengthen your brothers.”
One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them, for even his temptations cannot take place unless the Lord permits them, and the Lord sets the boundaries of Satan’s temptations. As the prayers of Jesus came into his Father’s ears accompanied by the hushed praise of the angels before the throne, the devil said: “Skin for skin! A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter, and they will surely curse you to your face.” “‘Very well then,” said the Lord to Satan, “strike the shepherd, he is in your hands, but you must spare their lives.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Jesus with great pain and suffering, and incited the Jews to hand him over to the Romans to put him to death.
Jesus is speaking directly to Peter, and rather than call him by his nickname “Peter,” he first calls him by his given name, “Simon.” This in itself may have been a warning, since “Peter” was the nickname Jesus gave him when he made his great confession of faith, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). You see, “Peter” comes from the Greek word petra. The masculine form of petra means “stone,” and became Peter’s name. The feminine form of petra means “solid rock” or “bedrock,” and was a reference to his rock-solid confession of faith that Jesus Christ is truly God. Now Jesus calls his disciple “Simon,” perhaps to show that Simon’s faith wasn’t always going to be automatically “rock solid,” and he should take care, just as you and I need to take care with our faith.
The devil had asked to tempt the disciples. Jesus puts this in the kindest possible way, as we should with everything, and in this case the Savior has foreseen that the temptation the devil has requested will result in nothing more than the sifting of the disciples like wheat. Satan’s plan was to ruin the disciples, but Jesus sees the true result: They will be sifted, meaning that all of the extra and unnecessary things the disciples were still clinging to would be thoroughly knocked away by this temptation, so that, just as a sieve gets rid of what isn’t wanted and leaves only the desired grain, so it would be with the disciples. Their faith would simply be tested, not destroyed.
But Jesus knew that Peter’s test would be particularly difficult. In the end, he would repent and be restored to the brotherhood of the Twelve, not only as a member but as one of the leaders.
This is the result Jesus always wants when we are tempted. Will we be shaken, sifted, jostled around so that our faith becomes stronger and not weaker?
Jesus’ warning for Peter is not unique to Peter. Jesus warns us that we’re going to be tempted, too. Didn’t you know? The path ahead of you is always strewn with thorns and briars, with stinging nettles and slippery patches. It is arrogant of us not to think about this, or to imagine that we will be strong, strong enough to resist, and therefore the path ahead, the one we’ve decided to take, must be the best one. If we were truly wise, we would run away from temptation, or we would bow our heads when it comes and pray with our prayers hovering over us like an umbrella in a rainstorm. But one of our most common sins is that we go forward in a course of action or in a paragraph of speech which will not give glory to God, will not help the work of the church on earth, but will only give in to the cravings and desires of the body or some outburst from the lips that will only be regretted the moment it escapes.
Jesus Christ, reigning on his throne in heaven, prays for you. He prays for the preservation of your soul while you are concerned with the ease or pleasure of your body. Our Savior also prays for the people around you, whom you love. Let your first thought be their life of faith. Am I being a blessing to my family? Or am I myself a thorn, a briar, a stinging nettle, or a slippery patch? What does Jesus want of me? He tells Peter: “Strengthen your brothers.”
But Jesus says it in this context: “When you have turned back, strengthen them.” This is a picture of repentance and of the prayer to turn away from our temptations, whether they are temptations we know about and take anyway, or whether they are unseen and unexpected. And there are enough of the one for us to willingly embrace the other.
If it’s not already clear and beautiful in your eyes that Jesus praying for you is the purest and most delightful gospel, then let me spell it out again, since there is no greater pleasure known to man than proclaiming the gospel to the people of God: “We give thanks to God the Father for he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:12-14)
Pray that your Saving, Loving Jesus would guide you onto useful paths day by day, that he would keep you from the snares and pitfalls of the devil and even from your own sinful habits, and that he would keep on praying for you before the throne of his heavenly Father, who by the grace of God is our heavenly Father through faith in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
You have a place with him forever in his eternal domain, when we will serve him with whatever labor he asks of us, confident in the resurrected and glorified flesh that nothing we do there in heaven will ever depart from his holy will, and we ask that through his guidance and tutoring he would bring us as close as possible to the same blessed condition here in this lifetime, so that we serve without complaining, act without sinning, plan without coveting, want without lusting, and that we would be content with our place, our momentary possessions, and most of all with our dear Savior Jesus.
One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. As Jesus himself prayed on your behalf, the devil said: “Let me tempt that one who is so dear to you.” “Very well,” said the Lord to Satan, “you may tempt that one, but only so far, and no farther than that, for that one is my child, and is always in my hands.”
Pastor Timothy Smith