31 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
The setting is at Last Supper, just hours before Jesus' arrest. From this passage we learn the following:
Satan must have God's permission to sift believers.He is asking here for permission to sift Peter. The same was true with Job. But God is sifting for something different. While Satan believes our faith will fall through and be lost, the Lord believes a strong faith is what will remain. Satan said Job would curse God. What he really said was, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."
When Satan attacks, he attacks our faith.We know this because Jesus prays that Peter's faith may not fail. Faith is the vital component in our relationship with God.
We entered into Christ by faith.
Faith is the point of contact between a believing soul and God.
Faith is the very heart of righteous living, because "the righteous shall live by faith."
"Without faith, it is impossible to please God."
Satan wants to steal our faith because it is powerful. "Your faith has made you well."
"And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him."
Satan wants to steal our faith because it is obnoxious to him. God loves our faith, so Satan hates it.
"And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor except in his home town, and in his own household.' And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief."
Satan wants our faith to fail.
Did Peter's faith fail? Yes. Somewhat.
He did deny Jesus three times before the cock crowed. He then went out and wept bitterly. But his faith did not utterly fail. There is still a flicker of faith in his heart. He hangs around, staying with the other disciples (unlike Judas, who had not faith, and hanged himself). He watches the crucifixion. When the women report the resurrection, he is one of the first ones to run and check it out. He is with the disciples when the risen Jesus appears to them. Finally, Peter is completely restored.
"I have prayed for you." Here is the reason that Peter's faith did not utterly fail. Jesus prayed for him.
"But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."
Jesus prays for that which is most important. He doesn't pray that Peter not be sifted. He prays that his faith may not fail.
Jesus' prayer is always successful. He is always able to prevent Satan from stealing our faith. It may be tested and tried. But Jesus will not let it utterly fail. And He encourages us to pray as well. "Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one."
After Peter's trial, he is stronger. He is able to strengthen others. He preached powerfully at Pentecost and 3,000 people are saved.
Jesus is praying for us, that our faith may not fail.
24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
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