When our faith is challenged, how should we respond? How can we stand firm in seasons of difficulty? In this message on Luke 22:31-34, Jim Shaddix encourages Christians to pray to be restored in the midst of temptation. He shares what Satan does, why Jesus prays, and how we should respond.
- Satan aggressively tries to destroy our faith.
- Jesus prays and sovereignly orders our faith.
- We respond with praise for our faithful High Priest.
Luke 22:31–34, “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.” (Luke 22:31–34 ESV)
Luke 22:54–62, “Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54–62 ESV)
John 21:15–19, “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:15–19 ESV)
There may not be any times in our lives that our faith is more vulnerable than when Jesus is not acting like we think Jesus is supposed to act. Go back to, for a moment, the Sea of Galilee, when the disciples were in the boat and the storm came up. You remember what happened. They were bailing water as fast as they could, but the Bible says that Jesus was asleep in the boat. He was taking a nap. And that kind of ticked the disciples off, because that didn’t seem to be the way the guy that had taught like they had heard Him teach, and had worked miracles like they had watched Him work, and had done all of the stuff ought to be acting in a time like that. Their faith was vulnerable. In fact, Jesus would say later in the conversation, “Why do you have so little faith?”
I would suggest to you that there may not be times that are more challenging to people’s faith than times like we are experiencing right now as a result of this tragedy that has taken place in Connecticut. And I would challenge you to think, just a moment, about how it’s events like that, that are coming all too often in our culture today, that cause people to look and say, “That’s not the way God is supposed to act. I don’t think I want to follow a God that acts like that, or that doesn’t act in a way that I would expect Him to act in those situations.” There may not be anything in our lives that cause our faith to be more vulnerable than when circumstances arise and situations come up and things come our way that we didn’t sign up for personally, in which God doesn’t seem to be acting like we think God ought to be acting in those situations. Right? And societally, when things happen like happened in Connecticut this last week, those are things that challenge our faith sometimes when we have a particular way we think that God ought to be acting, or should have acted, and He didn’t seem to have acted that way.
No doubt the crucifixion of Christ was probably the quinticential example of this. At least for the disciples that were following Him. They’d had a difficult time getting their arms around the idea that this one who had come to be Israel’s king, to be their Lord and Savior, would actually have to die on a cross. In fact, earlier in the Gospels, Peter himself – in one of those occasions in which he stuck his foot in his mouth – had challenged Jesus when he began to teach about his impending suffering, persecution and death. Peter said, “Lord, we’ve got your back on this deal. We would never let that happen to you.” And Jesus said something incredibly important by way of rebuke to Peter when He said, “Get behind me Satan!” You didn’t get that from anywhere on Earth, you certainly didn’t get that from heaven. That idea that the Son of God and Savior of the world should never have to go to the cross is straight from the pit of hell.
And the disciples struggled with that, apparently, even to the end. Because when we come to this text in Luke 22 – in just the hours before Jesus would be arrested, and ultimately taken to the cross – we find the apostle Peter, and certainly he’s only representing all of these disciples still wrestling with that issue. And there be a great challenge levied at their faith at this point because Jesus isn’t acting like they thought Jesus ought to be acting.
And so, what I want to do tonight is I want us to unpack this a little bit and see what we can learn. See what we can learn about the similar kinds of challenges on our faith. Because they come our way, as believers in Jesus Christ – whether we process it this way or not – they come our way when circumstances and situations arise that we didn’t sign up for. And we look at it, and we analyze, and we say, “Gosh, that is not the way I thought God would have acted in this situation. I didn’t think God would allow that. I didn’t think Jesus would do this. I didn’t think He would give permission for that to happen.” And there’s probably nothing that challenges our faith any more.
And I want us to think about it from a personal standpoint. Some of us have been there. We’ve been through those seasons in which our faith has been challenged, and sometimes we’ve lost the battle. And we have said things or done things that exemplified a life, that not only was not conducive for a relationship with Christ, it in fact denied Christ. No consistency. I want us to think about it from a personal standpoint. There’s no doubt in my mind that there are probably some in a crowd this size who are living right there. They’re living at that place right now – a time in which you’ve gotten frustrated, or discouraged, or disillusioned, or disappointed because Jesus didn’t act in your life the way you thought Jesus was supposed to act. And you’ve turned your back and you’ve walked away for all practical purposes.
I want us to think about it from the standpoint of people around us as well. And this is where these situations night converge. I want us to think about it from people in our circles and our families and our small groups in this congregation, who are right now living in seasons of denial. Who’ve walked away from the faith that they once embraced. And I want us to think about how God would use us as instruments in His hand. Of strengthening those people and praying for those people and calling them back.
And we come to Luke 22, we see one of the heroes of the faith at a low point. The apostle Peter in conversation with Christ in those hours right before Christ would go to the cross, and Jesus tells Peter about something that is going to happen by way of a challenge to his faith.
I want us to unpack it from these three standpoints. I want you to think a little bit with me tonight about what Satan does. And I hope, in looking at that, we can learn a little bit about his strategies, and his approaches, and his agenda in our lives so that we never let our guard down. And then, I want us to think about why Jesus prays. Because the passage we heard just a moment ago, that we study tonight in Luke 22, is a passage about the prayer life of Jesus. And this is an interesting way to end this series in which we’ve been asking this question, “Why Pray?” And we’ve been responding to that from ways that Jesus taught us to pray – the ways that He modeled prayer. We want to take that in a little bit different direction tonight, and I don’t want us to think so much about our prayer lives as the prayer life of Jesus and why He prays. And then, I want us to think about how we respond – what do we do with all of this stuff?
What Satan does …
Luke 22:31–34 tells us that Satan aggressively tries to destroy our faith.
So let me show you some things about the enemy’s strategy. I want to call your attention to this passage, and I want you to look at what Satan does in this situation. So you’re in Luke 22 there, and let’s look at those few verses – verses 31–34 – and start at this point with what Satan does. Here’s the first thing right out of the gate that we need to understand. And that is that he aggressively tries to destroy our faith. That’s the mission he’s on. He wants to take us out as far as our faith is concerned. And this is what Jesus tells Peter that Satan wants to do with him. If you look in verse 31 there, Jesus says that he has demanded to have you. The language of the New Testament, watch this as almost kind of a side note, but I don’t want you to miss it because it’s a really important lesson and truth to keep our ears open and our eyes open for. In the language of the New Testament, the second person pronoun here is in the plural. Jesus is having a conversation with Peter, but He says, “Peter, Satan has demanded to have you.” Group. Corporate. “And sift you as wheat.”
And I think maybe one of the things that we see here is that sometimes Satan will strategically turn up the throttle of heat on a particular individual, believing that there will be a ripple effect if that person’s faith can be compromised. But Jesus said to Peter, “Satan has demanded to have you.” It’s interesting, this word translated “demanded” in my English text here is not found anywhere else in the New Testament. It’s found nowhere in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. It is an incredibly rare word as far as Scripture is concerned. But maybe one that is indicative of what is going on in the spiritual realm in conversations between Satan and God, related to the faith of the children of God.
It is very indicative and consistent with the request that Satan made of God regarding the faith of Job in Job 1–2 when Satan wanted to take Job out and take some shots at him. So Jesus reaches into the agricultural economy of the day, and He pulls out an illustration to drive home to Peter the magnitude of Satan’s request. So He says, “What Satan wants to do is, he wants to sift you like wheat.” So He draws on the picture of a sieve – you cook and you sift things through sometimes. You put flour through it. They would take these big sieves and they would put a husk of wheat in it and they would shake it profusely so the chaff, the unusable stuff, would come to the surface and they would blow it off and only the good stuff that could be used and was productive and beneficial would remain. Jesus uses that as a picture of what Satan wants to do with Peter’s faith.
Be sure of something: Satan didn’t have any interest in showing anything authentic about Peter’s faith. He wasn’t wanting to sift him as wheat so that the real genuine article would remain. He wasn’t wanting to purify Peter. He was wanting to sift him in such a way that he proved that there was nothing authentic and nothing real. There was nothing left, only the chaff to be blown away. Satan’s agenda was to destroy Peter’s faith and show that it was completely illegitimate.
Peter would later describe Satan in his first epistle this way. He says that he’s a roaring lion, roaming about, seeking whom he may devour. When he said that, he wasn’t writing to unbelievers, he was writing to Christians. He was writing to people who name the name of Christ. Peter, I think maybe, partially due to this incident here, would learn this lesson – that this is the mission that Satan is on and he will do everything within his power to show that your faith doesn’t exist with regard to authenticity and legitimacy. That it’s not real. That it’s fake. That you’re faking your way through. He’ll do everything he can to make whatever he can come your way, to cause you to look at it and say, “I’m not sure that’s the way Jesus is supposed to be acting in my life. I don’t think that that’s the way a loving god would be acting in a situation like this.” And he’ll do everything he can to create circumstances and initiate events to cause us to look at situations through the lens of the world and draw the conclusion, “That is not a god that I want to follow.” His goal is to destroy our faith.
Luke 22:31–34 tells us that Satan cleverly exploits weakness in our faith.
Let me show you something else. Satan cleverly exploits weakness in our faith. Did you notice that in this situation right here? Peter, you’ve got to love this guy. I don’t know how you feel when you read about Peter in the Gospels, but here’s a guy that I find myself identifying with. He’s called the apostle with a foot-shaped mouth, and maybe this is one of those situations that contribute to a reputation like that. Jesus is trying to tell him about this battle and He’s trying to tell him how real this is. He’s trying to turn him onto something that so many Christians forget today, and that is that we have a real enemy and he really is on a mission to destroy our faith. And he’s militant, and he’s vicious, and he’s volatile, and he’ll do everything he can to deceive us and bring our faith to naught. Jesus is trying to tell Peter that, and Peter responds quickly. Look at it here, “Peter said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.’” (Luke 22:33 ESV)
That’s three paragraphs removed, in Luke’s narrative, from the time that he would deny Jesus three times. Just a few hours in chronology, before a servant girl around a campfire and some other individuals, he would say, “I don’t even know the guy.” Just a little bit before, here’s Peter saying, “I’ve got your back on this Jesus, I’m with you. I’ll go to prison. I’ll even die for you.” It’s as if, you think about it, think about if you’ve noticed Satan working this way in your life. I know in mine it is true, it’s almost as if Satan would identify a soft spot in Peter’s faith. He identified a soft spot in his faith and that’s what he attacked. That’s what he targeted. That’s what he went after.
Peter, like Jim Shaddix so often, tries to cover it up. He tries to deflect attention from it and maybe talk big about that area of his spiritual life to convince himself and to convince other people that this is a strength, when in fact, it was a real weakness. Be sure, beloved, that the enemy will not sleep until he identifies the soft spot in your life and does everything he can to get a foothold in it and drive a wedge in it to the point that he undermines your faith.
The lesson there for us is to guard against those spots in our life. As we identify those weak spots, to be honest with them and not fake our way through them, but to deal with them by the grace of God, and ask for His strength to build those areas up. Because this is what Satan does – he exploits weakness in our faith.
Luke 22:31–34 tells us that Satan ultimately wants us to deny our faith.
Then, know this – Satan ultimately wants us to deny our faith. He ultimately wants us to deny our faith. Jesus told him, straight up, this is what’s going to happen: “This is where Satan was headed in this deal. He’s asked to have you and sift you as wheat. And, Peter, in just a few hours, he’s going to have his way with you. And what he desires is exactly what is going to happen.” “Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.’” (Luke 22:34 ESV)
Just a few paragraphs before – we heard it read a moment ago in verses 54–62 – that’s exactly what happens. Understand this, understand this. This is what Satan wanted. This is where he was headed. He wanted to bring Peter to the place where he said, “I don’t even know Jesus.” He wanted to undermine his faith and compromise his faith to the point that his life would not, by his own admission, be identified with the person of Christ. Beloved, know tonight that this is what Satan wants to do. He wants to do it with you, he wants to do it with me. He would desire that each and every one of us would come to the place, whether it be through our lips, actually saying it like Peter does, or living a life that speaks as loudly of no relationship with Him, of not knowing Him at all.
But now, listen to me. Having understood that, let me tell you something else about Satan. He’s short-sighted. He is short sighted with regard to his agenda in your life and mine. The things that he sees as endgame, ultimate goal, are incredibly short-sighted when it comes to the ways of God. When you look at the beginning of verse 32, Jesus shows us this when He says, “But I have prayed.” But I have prayed.
You understand that Satan gets what he wants out of Peter’s life. But what he hasn’t gotten his arms around is the activity of God through the high priestly prayer of the Lord of Heaven on your behalf and my behalf. His work and activity in the unseen world, not on the surface, not in the news. Not in the physical. But what is going on in the portals of heaven on your behalf and on my behalf. Listen to me church, come in here real close – this is exactly what happens in our culture that causes the compromise of the faith of so many that would look at events like we have seen unfold in Connecticut this last week. We look at what’s on the surface, we try to analyze it from a human standpoint. But just like with our adversary, we don’t see far enough.
It happened with the cross. Isn’t it true? Isn’t it true that Satan could only see as far as the crucifixion, and he felt like that would be endgame? Look at it. You go back to verse 22:3, look at it in the chapter there, “Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve.” (Luke 22:3 ESV) Satan’s involved in this whole thing. He is working in people’s lives to move toward the crucifixion of our Lord because he believes that’s endgame. That it will destroy Jesus and it will all be done, but he is too short-sighted. He couldn’t see past the cross to the resurrection. He couldn’t see past the most horrific tragedy of all of human history, the murder of the Son of God. To see the sovereign God use that horrific tragic event to ultimately be the means by which you and I are saved.
What I want you to do is take that and move it down on a personal level. Let me suggest to you that Satan can see the destruction of your faith, and he can see the compromise of your faith by exploiting weakness in your faith. And he can see as far as you denying that you ever knew the Lord Jesus Christ. And all the time, be unable to see the prayer life of Jesus on your behalf. To be able to take something that you and I would look at on the surface in our own lives, that is inconsistent with even knowing Christ – take that and use it for His glory and His honor.
Why Jesus prays …
He sovereignly orders our faith.
I want to show you why Jesus prays. He prays, first of all, because He sovereignly orders our faith. His prayer, His prayer life for you, for me, is a direct result of the fact that He sits sovereign over our faith. Isn’t it incredible in verse 1, by implication that Satan has to come to Jesus to get permission to attack Peter? What is that about? How encouraging is that! To know that nothing can come against your faith and mine as children of God, without the permission of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Check it out – in Job 1 and 2, this is exactly what Satan had to do. He had to go to God to get permission to take shots at Job. Here, Satan has to come to Jesus to get permission to to take shots at Peter. Jesus sits as sovereign over your faith, beloved. Over my faith. He gave birth to your faith. He orchestrates your faith, He develops it, He matures it. He sits as sovereign over it. This is how Satan’s inability to see past your denial, and my denial, in times of weakness and discouragement and frustration is redemptive. Because Jesus is praying for us as a result of His sovereignty over our faith, and nothing can come against our faith. No challenge to it. No effort on the part of the enemy. No strategy that he could put in place could be levied against it without the permission of our Lord. Because He’s sovereign and He prays.
As a result of His role as the sovereign ruler, if I could encourage you to take that same truth we talk so much about here at The Church at Brook Hills – about the sovereignty of God over all things – and keep that in mind when we look at reports of things like we saw in Connecticut this week. Things that the enemy would initiate in bringing about evil. Things that he intends to be, not only horrific and tragic as they are, but he intends for them to be for the immobilization of the kingdom of God and the defaming of the person of Jesus Christ. And know this, that there’s not anything that he could do in a situation like that without going through the sovereign Lord, who at the cross, and who in Peter’s life orchestrated those very same events to be used for the advancement of the kingdom and the announcement of the glory of God among the nations.
He faithfully preserves our faith.
Jesus prays because He is sovereign and He sovereignly rules over our faith. But notice also that He faithfully preserves our faith. Through this prayer life that He’s engaged in, He keeps our faith alive and He keeps it in existence, and He keeps it from ever coming to nothing. Look at it there in verse 32, “I have prayed for you.” And then there’s another seemingly insignificant word, just like the word, “but” at the beginning of the sentence, the word, “that” is there indicating a purpose clause. “I have prayed for you for this purpose, to this end, that your faith,” watch it now, “may not fail.”
In the language of the New Testament, this word, “fail” means “to disappear.” It means, “to be whittled away to nothing.” This is what Satan was after. He equated that with Peter’s denial. Don’t miss it! He equated the obliteration of Peter’s faith, with his denial. But I want you to notice that he was short-sighted in the sense that he got what he wanted. Peter denied Jesus, no doubt, but Jesus said, “It’s possible, Peter, for you to have a weak moment, a setback. It’s possible for there to be a season in your life that is so inconsistent with who I am. It speaks of everything but knowing me. It speaks of denying me. But Peter, what I want you to know is, because I’m praying for you, your faith will not disappear.” Here we see this sovereign grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is the protector and preserver of our faith through His prayer life. Through interceding for us.
Let me read you a couple of passages of Scripture. Romans 8:34. Listen to this. Paul says, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34 ESV)
The author of Hebrews would say that He is able to save to the uttermost. In other words, He’s able to complete our salvation and save us completely and bring it to it’s end. Those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Let me tell you something, if Jesus ever stops praying for you and for me, our faith is history. It will die. It will disappear. It will be obliterated. But the author of Hebrews said He ever lives for this. That means Jesus would have to stop living in order to stop praying and that would be contrary to His nature. That’s how secure your faith is. That’s how preserved your faith is.
The apostle John would say it this way, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1–2 ESV) Every sin you ever committed. Every sin you will ever commit. Jesus died to provide the payment for that sin. Because of that, He’s at the right hand of the throne of God, praying for you. And that prayer life preserves your faith and will not allow it to disappear. He preserves our faith, faithfully.
He graciously restores our faith.
Let me tell you one other thing. He graciously restores our faith. He graciously restores our faith. Because, you see, the fact that He preserves our faith doesn’t mean that we won’t ever fail. When Jesus told Peter, “I’ve prayed for you that your faith may not fail,” He wasn’t saying to Peter, “Peter, you won’t ever fail.” Because Peter failed just a few paragraphs later. And we fail. And we drop the ball sometimes. We turn our backs on Him. But one of the things Jesus did here that He does for us is that He graciously restores this faith that He’s preserving.
I love this rooster. God uses some of the strangest things sometimes, doesn’t He? In this text, “Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.’” (Luke 22:34 ESV) Now oftentimes, we come to this passage, and a lot of Bible scholars approach it this way, and see here Jesus make this dire prediction with acknowledgement of His omniscience, His ability to see the future and to know what’s going to happen, and we see this as Jesus prophesying to Peter. “Peter, I know what’s going to happen just a few hours from now, you’re going to deny me three times, that you even know me.” So Jesus does know the future.
But I want to suggest to you that there is more here because Jesus didn’t have to bring this rooster into it. To have just seen the future, know Peter was going to deny Him and tell Peter that. He could have just as easily said, “Peter before the day is over, you’re going to deny me three times.” “Peter, before the sun comes up, you’re going to deny me three times.” He could have just said that. But He doesn’t. He attaches it to something tangible, something visible, something audible. And He says, “Peter before this happens, you’re going to deny me three times, and when it happens you’re going to know this.” You know what? That’s exactly what happens when you look down in your Bible just those few paragraphs. The middle of verse 60, right after the last denial is rolled off of Peter’s lips, it says, “And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.’” And then, don’t miss it, church. “And he went out and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:60–62 ESV)
There was the beginning of Peter’s restoration. Could I suggest to you, tonight, that Jesus didn’t just look into the future and see that Peter would deny him after the rooster crowed. But He orchestrated the rooster to crow in conjunction with Peter’s denial to remind him of this conversation and to call Peter back to Himself. When that rooster crowed, Peter remembered the conversation and he was launched on the pathway of restoration and repentance that restored his faith.
So I would ask you tonight, what roosters are crowing in your life? Brother, sister in Christ who has turned and walked away from your faith, what has God orchestrated in your life and recent days, maybe even tonight? It’s been as loud and obvious as a rooster crowing that is a manifestation of His grace to call you back, because He’s not satisfied tonight to leave you wandering. He’s not satisfied and leave you in a pathway of having denied Him and walked away from the faith that you once embraced. Maybe it is the piercing glance of a brother, sister in Christ who has been pleading with you to come home. Maybe it’s the weary expression on the face of a mom or dad who’s been crying out to God on your behalf, asking Him to draw you back to Himself. An unsolicited card or letter or text or email or voicemail from someone who’s just reminding you, “I’m praying for you, I’m praying that you’ll come back to the faith that you’ve been rooted in.” What roosters are crowing in your life tonight? They’re expressions of the grace of our Lord who prays for you.
How we respond …
We praise our faithful High Priest.
What are we to do with all of this? How are we to respond? Well, verse 32 is obviously central to this text, and I think there are three pretty good indicators of the responses that are on the table for us. One is that we praise our faithful High Priest. We do that, this is an obvious response. When we really get this, we really get the fact that He’s praying for us. We read in verse 32, Him saying to Peter, “I’ve prayed for you.” We hear those words applied to our lives. “Jim, I have prayed for you.” “Bob, I have prayed for you.” “Susan, I have prayed for you.” What response could we give but to praise this one with the gratitude of our hearts? And worship Him as our faithful High Priest who is interceding for us and who is preserving our faith. That’s response number one.
We repent of faithless living.
Secondly, did you notice in verse 32, Jesus said, “When you have turned again.” That’s the language of repentance. It is the verbiage of someone realizing they’re going in the wrong direction and making a conscious decision to turn and go the other direction. Jesus says to Peter, “When you have turned.” Therein is a response for some of us tonight who might be on that pathway of denial and we might be in the season of wandering, and of having straightaway been disappointed in God, believing that He’s not acting like God is supposed to act, at least in our minds. The response that we are beckoned to tonight is to repent of faithless living. This is what this great High Priest calls us to when we are in those seasons of denying Him – to repent of faithless living and to turn and to come home. If you’re here tonight as a believer in Jesus Christ but find yourself at that place, maybe through your lips or your life there has been a denial of even knowing Christ. But beloved, hear our Lord tonight beckon you to turn and to return.
By the way, some of you have never been home as far as a relationship with Christ. The same call is on your life tonight. If you’ve never ever professed Him, never trusted Him as Savior and Lord, hear his voice tonight. He would beg you and plead with you to turn from your sin and place your trust in Christ and Christ alone.
We strengthen the faith of others.
One final response is we strengthen the faith of others. You see it there in verse 32, “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32 ESV)
It was as if there was never a question of whether Peter was going to turn and be restored or not. That’s true. There was never a question. You know why? Because Jesus was praying. The question is not whether Peter would have repented or not, the question was what he was going to do with his repentance. So Jesus said, “Peter, when you repent and when I restore you, you’re going to wake up one day and realize there’s a whole lot of folks around you that need help with the same thing. You help them.” Could I tell you tonight that Peter made good on those instructions. We read about it in John’s Gospel. Jesus, there on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, restored him and three times said, “Feed my sheep, feed my lambs.” And Peter did that, he preached powerfully at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out. He shepherded the new church in the advancement of the gospel. He fostered the advancement of the gospel to the Samaritans and the Gentiles. He ultimately would go to prison, and church tradition tells us that he ultimately was crucified upside down for his Lord.
Let me tell you what Peter didn’t do. He didn’t crawl into a hole in self pity and say, “Boy, I blew it. Yes Jesus forgives me but I’m good for nothing because I denied Him.” He didn’t kick his Christian life into neutral and say, “I just need to be a part of a group. I can never make a contribution. I can never exercise spiritual gifts. I could never tell somebody else about Jesus. I could never be used for the kingdom of God.” Peter made good on Jesus’ instruction when Jesus said, “You strengthen the faith of others.”
There are some of us tonight who would stand with Peter and say, “Been there, done that, brought home the t-shirt. My life has denied Him. My lips have denied Him.” We would be tempted to kick it into neutral, to crawl into a hole and look back on our life and say, “I can’t believe I did that. I’m never going to be public with my faith because somebody might point out the fact that I denied Him.” And Satan would seek to immobilize us in our faith after Christ has restored us. And Jesus would say, “You strengthen your brothers. You strengthen your brothers.”
What Satan does…
He aggressively tries to destroy our faith. (Luke 22:31; cf. Job 1:6–2:10; Zechariah 3:1–5; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:10)
He cleverly exploits weakness in our faith. (Luke 21:33)
He ultimately wants us to deny our faith. (Luke 22:34; cf. Luke 22:54–62)
Why Jesus prays…
He sovereignly orders our faith. (Luke 22:31; cf. Job 1:6–2:10; Zechariah 3:1–5; Romans 8:34)
He faithfully preserves our faith. (Luke 22:32; cf. Romans 8:26–27; Hebrews 7:25)
He graciously restores our faith.
(Luke 22:34; cf. Luke 22:54–62; John 21:15–17; 1 John 2:1–2)
How we respond…
We praise our faithful High Priest. (Luke 22:32; cf. John 17:1–26)
We repent of our faithless living. (Luke 22:32; cf. Romans 2:4; 1 Peter 3:9)
We strengthen the faith of others. (Luke 22:32; cf. Matthew 18:15–20; Acts 18:23; Romans 1:11, 16:25; Galatians 6:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:2,13; 2 Thessalonians 2:17; 2 Timothy 2:24–26; James 5:19–20; 1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 1:12; 1 John 5:16)