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Simon, Simon

"Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you (all) like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”-Luke 22:31-4

Artwork: Gerard van Honthorst (1624)
(This is a re-post, edited and rewritten)

"Simon, Simon", the Lord called out to Peter, from across the table, in the upper room.  Luke records Jesus as peculiarly and particularly, saying his formal, given name two times, to get his attention, or to underscore the seriousness of what he was about to tell him.  Just previous to this, we see the disciples arguing about who is the greatest among them.

If I heard my full name, especially repeated twice,  that would get my attention.  This is very important.

Jesus and the disciples had been eating the meal and Jesus had shown them how the meal was about him and told them to keep having meals together, 'do this': eat together, to remember him and celebrate what he has done, together, in communion. (1)

Jesus mentions that someone at that very table was going to betray him.  The disciples discussed who it could be.

Then, the dispute about 'who is greatest?'  After an intimate time with Jesus, they begin arguing about who is the greatest.

After three years with Jesus, they did not get it.  It is so often the case, that we also do not get it.

But Jesus calls us and uses us anyway.

Living the life in Christ and doing his ministry, always requires on the job training.  Jesus deploys troops on the battlefield or players in the game who are not experts, not seasoned, and not really ready.

To stay on the sidelines or at home base, because you say you are not ready is a mistake.  Christianity, living in Christ and participation in Christ's ministry is always with on the job training.  It is also very common to get into ministry and think we are ready, when we are not ready.

That was the case here with Peter and some of the other guys.

They had that intimate time with Jesus around the meal.  Jesus shared many of his deepest teachings with them that night.

In the midst of Jesus teaching them, they turn to one another and begin arguing about who is going to be the greatest.  Jesus responds by teaching them about servanthood in the kingdom.  Then Jesus turns to Simon Peter and gives him a very serious word about what Satan wants to do to him and the others, in the hours ahead.

Jesus tells Simon that Satan, behind the scenes, has asked permission to sift them, like wheat.  Sifting wheat is when it is tossed and shaken, until the husk or chaff is separated from the edible grain.  The wheat is flailed, threshed, or beaten; until the separation occurs.  It is thrashed.

Satan wants to thrash them.  Peter first.

Peter experienced Jesus, close up, for about three years:  Intensive discipleship, training, teaching, mentoring, and fathering from Jesus.  He still does not get all of it, but that is how Jesus uses all of us, while we are in process.

Satan wants to destroy us.  If he can't wreck us, he wants to corrupt us.  He says, "Let me thrash them".  This is what happened to Job (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6).

Satan asks to and gets permission to thrash us sometimes.  But there is grace, a blessing, or a gift from God attached to it.  And Jesus says to Peter, that he has prayed that his faith would not fail.

Satan brings flailing upon us, so that our faith will fail.  But Jesus prays for us (Rom. 8:34, Heb. 7:25) that our faith will not fail.

Imagine that Jesus spoke to you.  I will use myself as an example.  "Steven, Steven, look out!  Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail.  When you return, strengthen your brothers."

Bad news and good news, right?

It looks like 5 phases:
  1. Pay attention.
  2. Satan has been given permission to thrash you.
  3. But, the Lord has already, ahead of time, prayed for you.
  4. You can come through this.
  5. When you come through, strengthen (help establish) your brothers.
Jesus first says, "Look out".  Many translations say, "Behold".  It means, "Pay attention", or, "Now get this".  I often hear preachers say, "Watch this", when they are about to make an important point, they want you to get, that is key.  I think that 'watch this' is the modern 'behold'.

Before the thrashing, before the trial, before Peter falls away; Jesus tells him that he has already made provision for him.  Jesus implicitly says, "You are going to fall, but you are also going to return, because I say so".

This is Jesus.  Before a key leader fell, he tells him what is about to befall him, as a strange encouragement.  He then adds, "I have already prayed for you: that your faith will not fail".  Finally, he encourages him some more by prophesying, "And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

Have you ever heard of or seen one of us prophesy to a brother or sister, that he is about to get hit hard, but that after the storm of it, he will return and minister to others who also got hit?  This is a hard word, as you can see by Peter's difficulty receiving it.

Mature prophetic ministers give words just like this.

Peter's first response is not good.  He says, to Jesus, "No way", or "You're wrong".  In a word, Peter is audacious.


Jesus responds to him, straight up, head on; and gives him specifics.  Peter stops talking.  He is now beholden to Jesus' words, even though they don't make sense and he has not yet lived out the trial that is soon to be:  He will fall and return.

In the midst of the best dinner party so far, these roughneck guys are not aware that history is being made right before their eyes:  The most important event in the history of the world is about to transpire within hours.  In the midst of this, they argue about who is going to be 'the top one' in the kingdom.

Can you identify?

Jesus patiently teaches them about servanthood.  He is The Servant and they are to be servants.

But then, Jesus tells them Satan has requested to thrash them.  It was not enough for Satan to gain access to Judas, for Jesus' betrayal.  Satan also wants them all to go down and be done.

Permission is given to Satan, to thrash Peter, but Jesus has asked his father to help Peter.  The principle here is, "What God allows, he makes provision for".

God already loved Peter before this time.  But, when Satan makes a move on him, God provides provision for Peter to come back from it.

That is good news.

It is sobering news that, "You are going to get hit".  But God always provides for us in life's trials.

We need to pay attention to Jesus as we go into hard times, and realize that he has been and is praying for us.

I remember when I was witnessing and feeling the pain of one of the worst things in my life and I sensed the Spirit of God tell me to turn my eyes upon Jesus.

The trashing still went on, "But I saw the Lord, in my deepest pain, and it dazzled me", to quote a famous saint.  I really experienced that.  I can remember a number of times in my life, when the pain was acute, and I saw him.  It is very special, precious and awesome:

Jesus

In your trial, in your sifting or thrashing, you are going through; God is there.  He has already made provision for you, just like he did for Peter.

In whatever is being done to you or you are doing to yourself, God has given you a grace package, provision, or a care package.  It is a gift for this time, from Father God.

In your trial or after your failure, it is available.  This is sobering and encouraging.  We need encouragement, because life kicks us down, and it seems that our courage is gone.

Open the gift of provision that Jesus has prayed for, personally for you, when he saw that you were going to go through bad stuff.

__________________________________________________________________________________
1. Remembrance does not mean sadness, mourning and solemnity.  Remembrance means celebration, living, experiencing, sharing, seeing and hearing the living Christ.  And Jesus makes mention that, in the future, they will all be having meals together, eating and drinking in the kingdom.

There were no thimbles of juice or wine and no small plates with niblets of bread.  Instead, there was a delicious spread of homemade foods.   And there were pitchers of wine and goblets.  There was a loaf or loaves of bread.

At the beginning or the maybe the middle of the meal, Jesus took a cup, gave thanks, and shared it.  And then he took up the bread and tore it and said, "This is my body, given for you".  And the meal continued.  

After the supper, he took up a cup again and said that it is the cup of the New Covenant.  John says that he shared the cup, "In the same way".  He shared the second cup in the same way that he had earlier shared the bread.  A meal time is in-between the sharing of the bread and the sharing of the cup.

Jesus shared a cup and a loaf at the beginning of the meal and shared a second cup at the end of the meal.  In many churches today, we edit out the meal and combine the two cups and shrink the bread or take it 'pre-broken'.  But it is pretty obvious that the 'do this' means to share a meal, together, with Christ at the center.

We have combined Jesus two cups and cut out the meal.

The keywords are: 'share', 'do this', 'remembrance', 'eat', 'drink' and 'thanks'

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