Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Vision (7.24.14): But I have prayed for thee....

Note:  Here are some notes from the exposition of Luke 22:31-32 from last Sunday morning’s sermon.

Jesus says to Peter, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat” (v. 31).

Notice four things:

First, Jesus sees and is making aware to Peter and the disciples the reality of a spiritual struggle that is taking place.  Compare:

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

As Joel Beeke point out in his little book Striving Against Satan, we must find the Biblical balance between liberals who deny Satan’s existence and some charismatics who become almost obsessed with Satan and give him too much power and too much place.  Jesus’ words to Peter remind us that there is an unseen spiritual struggle.

Second, Jesus’ peculiar wording here makes it plain that Satan only does what God in his infinite wisdom allows him to do.  The KJV rendering is:  “Satan hath desired to have you…”  The verb here is ezaiteomai, which can mean demand but also to ask permission.  So the NASB reads:  “Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.” And the NKJV:  “Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.”  As in the opening chapter of Job when Satan must ask God’s permission before testing Job, so Jesus reminds us not only that Satan desires to do mischief to Peter but also that he only does what God in his wisdom allows.

Third, though Jesus speaks to Peter directly, his mention of Satan’s desire is to harm all the disciples.  The “you” here is a “you plural.” Satan hath desired to have you all.

Fourth, notice Satan’s desire.  Jesus uses a figure here to describe Satan’s wicked intent.  He desires “that he may sift you like wheat.”  The picture here would be of taking the wheat and sifting or shifting it in order to take out the impurities or insects or other non-wheat portions.  Here, however, the metaphor is turned on its head.  Satan does not desire to sift out the evil and ungodly, but he wants to sift out the good, the noble, the praiseworthy, the godly, the humble, the right, and the true.

Jesus essentially tells Peter here that God is going to allow Satan to sift him.  This will come when Jesus is arrested and Peter will deny Jesus three times.

If left to Satan alone Peter would be completely lost, sifted down to nothing.

Next, however, hear what Jesus says:  “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not….” (v. 32).  Is there anything more encouraging to Christians than to hear Jesus say in his Word:  “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not….”

Notice two things:

First, Jesus is an Intercessor for the saints.  He did so when here upon the earth (see the so-called “High Priestly Prayer” of John 17).  And according to the witness of Scripture, he continues to intercede for us.  Hebrews 7:25:  “he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

Imagine if you desperately needed something done for you or given to you by a wealthy and powerful man, but you had no way to approach him.  Now, how would it be if you knew his own dear son and that son went to the Father and made the request on your behalf?  Would you not think better of your prospects?  So, it is for the saints.

Second, notice that Jesus intercedes for Peter for a specific purpose:  “that thy faith fail not.”  We might say that the first item on Christ’s prayer list for his saints is their perseverance.  This is why we have assurance of salvation.  What the Son asks, the Father grants.  Compare:

Proverbs 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

This is why Paul can write so boldly in Romans 8:

KJV Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We have assurance because Christ intercedes for us.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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