Friday, February 28, 2014

Significant Passages #1: Luke 22:31-32

Upon the startling discovery that I actually have a reader, I pledge to post a little more consistently.  You can expect posts about once a week, on Friday or Saturday.  At least that's the plan!

Here we go.

Sometimes a Bible verse or passage seems to practically leap off the page and attach itself to my brain (or my heart, maybe; I can't decide which).  In the old days, they may have said something to the effect of one's "bowels being moved with compassion," but in our times, "bowel movement" has come to mean something entirely different.  In today's culture, what used to be represented by the bowels has come to be referred to as the heart, but that's a little too weak and emotional for my meaning, whereas the brain has come to mean (in many church circles) something cold and clinical, lacking passion.  What I mean is something between the heart and the brain, taking the best parts of both and maintaining a balance that is proper and good.  At least that's what I think I mean.  All of that to say this: Sometimes a Bible verse or passage becomes important to me, in a way that nails together my theology, and—more importantly—anchors my faith more upon God and His Word.

This is such a passage. 

And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren" (Luke 22:31-32 NKJV).

The setting is this: Jesus is in the upper room with His disciples, having just finished the Passover meal.  He has just instituted the Lord's Supper, which we now know as the Eucharist or Holy Communion.  Some of the disciples are now arguing over who's going to be the greatest.  Then the Lord drops this bombshell on Simon Peter: "Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat."  Then Peter says, all bluster and wind, "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death," to which Jesus replies His famous words, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me."

There are two things I take away from this passage that are very precious to me: First of all, that Satan has to ask permission before he can do anything to one of God's chosen.  It's like the throne room scene in the book of Job all over again.  Satan can accuse, but he can't touch—not without God's permission.  There is no attack or temptation that can touch us without the direct knowledge and consent of our Father in Heaven.

Secondly, regarding what is sometimes called "the perseverance of the saints," Jesus tells Simon Peter, "I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."  Notice that Jesus does not say "if you return to me"—He says "when you return to Me."  There isn't any "if!"  The prayer of Jesus does not return to Him unanswered.  If Jesus prays for you, you're in a good place.

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25 NKJV).

Apparently, Jesus continues to pray for His chosen ones—He always lives to make intercession for them.  Hopefully, that number includes you and me, who have put our trust in Him, who have come to God through Him … and He is able to save us to the uttermost.