Prophecy fulfilled. Betrayal. Spiritual warfare. Denial. Mockery. Luke 22 is full of drama! But, as usual, there’s hope and encouragement for us too.
Open your Bible and read Luke 22.
There’s so much we could glean from this chapter, but today I’m drawn to the story of Peter.
Jesus, Our Protector
In verse 31, we get a glimpse of what happens “behind the scenes” of our lives. Satan had “demanded permission to sift [Peter] like wheat”. Notice that Satan had to ask God’s permission.
Things haven’t changed. God is still in charge, and Satan can’t touch a child of God without God’s permission. Take comfort in that.
There’s more comfort in verse 32. Jesus said, “but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail…”
Did you know that Jesus has prayed for you and continues to pray for you? The Holy Spirit is praying for you.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God (Romans 8:26-27, NIV, emphasis mine).”
“Therefore he [Jesus] is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf (Hebrews 7:25, NLT, emphasis mine).”
You can read one of Jesus’ prayers for you in John 17:20-25.
Faltering, Failure & Faithfulness
Peter inevitably faltered, but he did not fail. After denying Jesus, he returned to a life of faithfulness and obeyed Jesus’ command to “strengthen your brothers”. This is a victory, but it’s not because of anything Peter did. It’s not because he had remarkable willpower or strength of character. It’s because of Jesus, his Intercessor.
Friend, don’t let your failures define you. Rather, let Jesus’ faithfulness define you.
Following at a Distance
Now, I think Peter’s story gives us a lesson on how to prevent the kind of faltering faith he demonstrated when he denied Jesus in verses 54-62. Just before he denied Jesus, Peter was “following at a distance” (v.54).
Even before Peter outright denied knowing Jesus, he was distancing himself from Jesus. This distance made it easier to deny any association with Him. If Peter had stayed close to Jesus, it would have been hard to deny association with Him convincingly.
This reminds me of the progression we see in Psalm 1. The psalmist refers to a slippery slope of dissociation from the Lord. It starts with
- following the advice of sinners,
- progresses to standing around with them, and
- finally ends with joining in with them (Psalm 1:1).
Like Peter, the farther we get from Jesus, the greater our likelihood of failure.
How to Stay Close to Jesus
Psalm 1 tells us one way to avoid this kind of failure.
“But [those who] delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night… are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do (Psalm 1:2-3, NLT).”
But Jesus also gives us an effective method: “Pray that you will not give in to temptation (Luke 22:39, 45, NLT).”
But even when we falter, we can take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus is praying for us. He is our Intercessor. And He has overcome our enemy.