Oh, there are great riches to discover in Luke 22! The physician Luke records in great detail bountiful truth and intimate moments with Jesus. It is almost a shame to have to focus on one part of this chapter, but while reading this passage something jumped out at me that I had never really grasped before. What caught my attention is what Jesus said to Peter after they had taken the Lord’s Supper.
Consider the dimly lit room and the remnants of the supper they just enjoyed spread around them. They were more than likely not at a table as it was custom to sit down on the floor and eat on blankets. The disciples had just finished an absolutely, ridiculous discussion on who was the greatest among them. Jesus firmly but gently put a stop to their conversation by talking about the one who would be great would be a servant of all. They are hanging on every word (as would we). Now, suddenly, seemingly out of the blue Jesus turns to Simon Peter and says, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
In true Simon Peter form, he responds by saying he was ready to go to prison and death with Jesus. Of course, Jesus makes the memorable prediction about Simon denying him three times before the rooster crowed that night. However, I want to focus on the third statement Jesus made. He stated, “and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” On the surface, this may seem to be simply Jesus saying once Peter repented of his denial, he was going to be a key leader in the new church post crucifixion and resurrection. But there is much more here. You see, Peter was a man of action and men of action are accustomed to making things happen using any and all means at their disposal. They can force the square peg in the round hole if needed! However, it is precisely action people like Simon Peter that have trouble shutting down their own efforts and trusting and allowing God to work a greater work in them. Meaning, doing GREAT things yet under the power of Jesus…not their own. How do those words taste? Do they sound familiar? Do they make you think of yourself?
Yielding to God and allowing Him to do his sanctifying work in us is tough, especially when accustomed doing things for ourselves. We want to apply our own will power in conquering sin and bad habits, and we don’t know what it means to do it under His power and not our own. We find that we have limited success yet we almost always regress to the state we were at before if not get worse. I believe Jesus knew this of Peter and that is why He said, “And when you have returned.” He was telling Peter once he realized his zeal and strength were not enough to follow Jesus, but the faith of the Son of God imparted to Peter that would allow him to endure, he then would indeed be able to “strengthen his brothers” and help grow the Church. Peter learned a very valuable lesson through his denial of Jesus. He learned he needed the faith and power of Jesus if he was going to follow Jesus.
What about you and me? Are we still denying the power of Jesus in our lives and striving to sanctify ourselves or have we come back from hearing our own rooster crow having learned that we need to yield ourselves humbly to Jesus and acknowledge our strength and will power falls far short? I’m not saying it’s easy to learn to rely fully on Jesus. I am saying it is the only way to true righteousness, holiness, and victory.