24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,that he might sift you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”35And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.” Luke 22:24-38
Sitting among the disciples, I wonder if they recognize the irony of this moment. As they argue over who will be the greatest among them, they are being sought after by Satan, to be sifted, to be shaken, to be separated. To become less than rather than greater than. Like chaff from wheat.
With each passing minute of this night, it is clear that things are changing. We are approaching the point of no return and the disciples are not quite tuned in to that.
But rather than admonish, Jesus teaches.
Rather than give up on them, Jesus prays.
Rather than leave them to their own devices or abilities, Jesus equips.
He offers them as much wisdom and understanding as he thinks they will be able to handle.
And, lo, the one standing there at the end of Jesus’ words is Peter. The same Peter who without hesitation stepped out of the boat at Jesus’ bidding even though a storm raged around him. The same Peter who without question lowered his nets at Jesus’ bidding even though he had just fished all night and caught nothing. The same Peter who without so much as a stutter or stammer declared Jesus to be the Messiah, the Christ at Jesus’ asking.
But tonight, he is not Peter. He is not the Rock. He is not the Cornerstone.
And he certainly is not the greatest.
Tonight, he is Simon. As if he has gone back to who he was before he met Jesus. Before he walked with Jesus in his ministry for the last three years. Before he was changed by Jesus.
Tonight, he is Simon, Simon. That term reflects the love of the speaker. That term reflects the earnestness of the speaker. That term reflects a warning from the speaker. And what a warning Jesus gives. Couched in love, yes, but dire nonetheless.
The Enemy is on the prowl. He seeks to devour these disciples who claim Jesus as their Lord. As their Messiah. The you that Jesus uses when he addresses Simon in this moment is plural, not individual. The Enemy wants all of them. He wants to shake their faith and separate them from their Jesus; sifting them like chaff from wheat.
But Jesus will not allow him to have them.
Jesus won’t let him have them.
He refuses the Enemy’s request.
And he prays for Peter. He prays for all of his disciples.
He prays for their faith. He prays for their strength.
Jesus knows that Simon will falter. But he knows that Peter will stand.
Jesus knows Peter is the Rock. But he also knows that Peter will not succeed without him. Without his strength. Without his prayers.
My heart beats a little faster as I watch this exchange between Simon and Jesus. How incredible.
How amazing is it to know that Jesus prays for us. That Jesus prays for me. That he sees what’s coming and he prays for what I will need in order to face it.
Oh the suffering that Simon will experience when he denies his friend, his Lord, his Savior. But, Jesus is already planning for his return, for his renewed strength, for his renewed faith.
But why does Jesus fight the Enemy for Peter but not for Judas? I can’t help but think it has to do with the heart of a man. With his faith. With what he believes. Truly believes.
Judas doesn’t believe in the Jesus he knows. He believes in an idea of Jesus that he created.
Peter believes in Jesus. He believes in the man. He believes in the Lord. He believes in the miracles. He believes enough to walk on water. He believes enough to lower his nets. He believes enough to lay down his life. Even if he isn’t ready to do it right now, he will be. He will.
And I cannot help but wonder, what about me?
Would I lay down my life like Peter did?
Because I want to.
I want to live a faith like Peter’s. I want to walk on water. I want to perform miracles because Jesus said I could. I want to follow him. I want to know him. I want to see him, to know him the way Peter knows him, not the way Judas saw him. I want to know him because I have walked with him. Because I have talked with him. Because I have been in his presence.
Because he is Jesus.
And I want to know that Jesus prays for me.
Watching Peter in this moment, I picture myself as the one to whom Jesus speaks: Judy, Judy, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.
Jesus prayed for me. I will fight another battle, I will stand strong, because Jesus prayed for me. For me.
And, really, is there any bigger miracle than that?