photo 59Luke 22 v 32. “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Believers are not to behave like the people of this world. For followers of Jesus the value system is different and it often turns the value systems of the world on its head.

Jesus had taught his disciples that true greatness lay in serving others, not lording it over others, as the Gentiles do. He had also encouraged them by reminding them of the extraordinary privileges that were to be theirs in the coming Kingdom (verses 29 & 30). It is true that suffering and rejection would be experienced by those who followed him (v 28). But this could be compared to the joy which would be theirs in the world to come.

Now he turns the focus on Peter, to warn him of the trial that would soon befall him. Notice that Jesus calls him ‘Simon’, not Peter the rock, until later on in verse 34. This may have been a way of reminding Peter that he was after all, a weak creature. He was not a rock at this stage of his life.

Jesus warns Peter that Satan is about to sift them, like wheat is sifted. In those old days wheat was put into a sieve and shaken vigorously, often by a woman, to get rid of the chaff. This trial was to happen this very night, although the disciples did not know it.

Although Jesus addresses only Simon, he is predicting what would happen to the entire group. Satan wants to sift all of you (plural).

We know that our enemy the devil is always waiting to sift us, that is why we ought always to watch and pray.

But when Jesus says: “I have prayed for you”, he shifts to the singular. We don’t know why, but perhaps it is because he knew what Peter’s particular failing would be that night.

And what did Jesus pray for? He prayed: “that your faith may not fail”. That is: “that your faith may not utterly fail”.

All of us have moments when we can say our faith failed us. We often feel that. But that does not mean we have turned away from Christ. In other words, our faith did not utterly fail. Thank God, He holds on to us when we are weak.