March 19, 2017

A Close Look at Luke 22:31-34

I did some serious delving into this passage in Luke. A few things brought this study about. I recently had someone say that this passage says that Jesus prayed for Peter to be saved. When I read it after this person said that, I immediately thought, this passage doesn't mean what you think it does. I don't know what it is about me unless it is discernment from the Holy Spirit but when someone is using a verse to back up what they are saying or proving a point in a sermon, something often doesn't sit right with me when it is being used incorrectly or out of context. It will immediately nag at me somewhere in the recesses of my mind that makes me go and study further. (That's a good thing by the way!) We should every one of us do this if someone is teaching or preaching something that doesn't sit quite right with us in our minds. Never just assume the preacher, teacher or lay person is right because they should know more than you. I'm not saying you should challenge them on the spot but go and study for yourself and if you find them incorrect then go to them in private and show them what you have found. Many will not hear you because of arrogance and feelings of offence but SOME will! 

Anyhoo, I wasn't sure why it was nagging at me about this passage but I intended to find out and it wasn't an immediate understanding. I had to think it through in different scenarios and compare scripture with scripture and/or other thoughts alluded to in the Bible. (Also, should be how you study!) 

First of all, saying that this is proof that Jesus prayed for Peter to be saved goes against what most preach about the apostles. Most preach that the apostles at this time in Christ's ministry were saved. This is a whole other topic for a different day. But, if you hold to that thought then this clearly isn't what is happening when Jesus says "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." If he was already saved at this point because he was an apostle of Christ, then why would Jesus need to pray for his salvation? 

Now let's look at this reasonably and rationally. What does it say?  ... Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:   But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not:...There was a time in my life when I believed(because I heard it preached this way) that this was a prayer that was in reference to Peter denying Jesus later that night. This thought actually doesn't fit either! If Jesus were praying anything wouldn't you think His prayer, of all people, would have power to be answered? (No, you don't get to go to the Garden when He prayed let this cup pass from me because He also prayed not my will but yours LORD.) In this passage in Luke, He doesn't say Your will LORD. Yet, we know that Peter DOES deny Jesus three times later! So, did Jesus' prayer have no power? 

What does sifting wheat do? At harvest time, the wheat is thrashed and sifted to remove the unusable parts of the wheat. Now, there is nothing noble about Satan's intentions when it comes to a follower of Christ but I believe this is very similar to the story of Job. Satan kept going to God and trying to get permission to do things to Job to prove that Job wouldn't keep trusting in God if bad things happened. Sifting is sorting out the good and the bad. Notice it says Satan has desired but Jesus prays that Peter's faith doesn't fail. He could have just told Satan no, you don't get to sift Peter. Also,He doesn't pray that he be converted. It says WHEN you are converted! 

I believe this passage is talking about Peter's faith not failing in the end, beyond the night of the Crucifixion and unbelief of Jesus' resurrection. (Poor Thomas gets a bad rap because in reality, NONE of the apostles believed until they saw Jesus in bodily form or have an angel tell them he was resurrected) We know, because we have the rest of the Bible after Luke and the gospels that Peter went on to be a strong leader and witness for Christ to the Jews and gentiles. (Paul may be considered the apostle to the gentiles but it was Peter who started that ministry!) Peter is the one whom Jesus said He would give the keys to the kingdom of heaven. He is the one who gets to preach at Pentecost. Peter needed taken down a notch or two from his arrogance. When he denied Christ, Jesus looked right at him and Peter was well aware what he had done and that Jesus had told him so and he went out and wept bitterly (and I believe humbled to serve like never before). 

No other explanation makes sense logically looking at scripture. I fully understand that sometimes we can't look at scripture and try to make sense or be logical because of our finite minds not comprehending but when we CAN figure it out, we should! 

I'm sure some will disagree with my take on this passage. If so, feel free to post a comment to try and prove your point. I certainly don't mind debate. Maybe I have missed something to look at but right now, I believe what I have posted is correct. And, if I have done nothing else but make you study then I have succeeded at my intention! Have a blessed time in the Word! :)

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