Study 7 WITH PETER IN DARK GETHSEMANE
OUR LORD’S INTERVIEWS
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Luke 22:7-34)
Surely there are no two verses that are more tender and at the same time more terrifying than those which tell us of Jesus’ interview with Peter in Gethsemane (Luke 22:31-32). They reveal to us something of the infinitely tender love of our Saviour, but how terrifying they are! Did Satan want Peter? Did he, in fact, ask for Peter? Did he become active in Peter’s life? And does he want us, and is he at work in our lives? Do not confine these words to Simon Peter; they have their application to every Christian. When Jesus said, “Satan has asked to sift you…” that word is plural; it refers to all the disciples and it includes every Christian.
1. THESE VERSES REVEAL SOMETHING ABOUT THE LORD
- 1. They speak to us about God’s perfect knowledge of our whole future path. He knew all that would happen in Peter’s life. He knew that Satan would attack Peter and that he would deny his Lord. He knew Peter would be filled with remorse and awful discouragement, that he would be restored, and that as a result of his failure he would be better qualified to strengthen his brethren – compare John 1:42 with John 21:18. Now look up Luke 22:33-34. How solemn it is that the Lord knows beforehand about our failures, trials, sorrows and testings! But there is great comfort here – look up Job 23:10.
- 2. They speak to us about the Lord’s personal concern for each of His children. This is very wonderful. We have noted that the ‘you’ in verse 31 is plural: now notice that the ‘you’ in verse 32 is singular. Why is this? Because Peter was in special danger and Jesus was personally concerned for him. Thus, in Job 23:10 the pronoun is ‘I’ and not ‘we’, and the same is true in David’s expression of confidence in Psalm 138:7-8. In the wonder of our Lord’s general care for His children, do not lose sight of His loving concern for you.
- 3. They speak to us of the Lord’s powerful intercession for us, which guarantees our security. Why did He say to Simon, “I have prayed for you”? First, because He was actually going to pray for Peter; but second, because here we have a picture of what Jesus is doing now (Hebrews 7:24-25; and compare Matthew 14:22-23). Although Peter failed, the Lord kept him and brought him through, and all this was the result of His intercession – look up and compare Psalm 37:23; Philippians 1:6. If you are His child, He will bring you through.
2. THESE VERSES REVEAL SOMETHING ABOUT THE DEVIL
- 1. They tell us that his great objective is to destroy the Christian, the child of God – but he will fail (1 John 3:8); but while he is allowed to work upon our lives the process can be very painful. Luke 22:31 means literally, ‘Satan has earnestly asked for you’ (compare Job 1:6-12; John 10:10; John 16:33). All the time we are in the body we shall be assaulted by Satan, but we are secure and the Lord will bring us safely home at the end of the journey.
- 2. They tell us that the spearhead of Satan’s attack is aimed at our faith. Jesus said, “I have prayed for you…that your faith may not fail.” Why does Satan attack our faith? – Hebrews 11:6 gives us one answer. How amazing it is that the Devil, with all his ingenuity, has not changed his tactics since that time in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1)! If our faith goes, everything goes – our joy, peace, love, power and usefulness – therefore Satan’s frontal attack is to destroy the faith of the Christian. Be on your guard then, Christian!
- 3. They tell us that all that the Devil does in our lives is only with the Lord’s permission, and for the fulfilling of the Lord’s purpose. The Devil can go so far, and no further (Job 1:10-12). This mystery makes us ask: why does the Lord allow Satan to operate in our lives? One answer is that he may “sift us as wheat”. Why is wheat sifted? – to separate the chaff from the good grain. Satan sifts to get the wheat, but in actual fact he only gets the chaff. He tosses us about in the sieve and causes friction in our lives. Christian, do not be discouraged. The Lord is surely working out His sanctifying process in your life.
3. THESE VERSES REVEAL SOMETHING ABOUT OURSELVES
- 1. They show us that we, like Peter, are in need of a still far deeper work of grace. How poor Peter failed! But do we not fail just like Peter and the other disciples? (Read Luke 22 to get the answer to this question). Is there not much chaff to be removed from our lives – pride, impetuosity, hardness and so on? Jesus said that Peter needed to be converted.
- 2. They show us that we, like Peter, are so often blind to our own failings and inconsistencies. Peter’s one great fault at this time was his over-confidence; he was so filled with it that he did not see his sin and his danger, and although the Lord warned him about it – see how he replied in verse 33. When we are blind to our own sins and failure, the Lord has to allow the sifting process to go on in order to remove the chaff, and only then, when we are in the sieve, do we see and confess our true state.
- 3. They show us that we, like Peter, can be transformed by the Lord’s mighty power. Look at Jesus’ prophecy in verse 32: “When you have turned back…” So Peter was going to be converted, fully turned…and then what a strength he would be to his brethren. But most wonderful of all, even his failure, his fall and his relapse would qualify him for fuller service and greater usefulness.
The Lord brought Peter through because He prayed for him, and He will bring you through…because He is praying for you – look up John 17:9,10,11,12,15, and particularly verse 20 and verse 24.