Failure, Forgiveness, and Grace
Matthew 26:30–35; Luke 22:24–37
Matthew Lesson #169
July 16, 2017
“Father, we’re thankful for this time that we have to come to Your Word, to open Your Word together, and to illuminate our thinking with the light of Your Word. Father, we’re constantly reminded that this is not like any other book.
“This has been revealed to us by means of God the Holy Spirit through the prophets and apostles of Scripture who have written down, recorded that which You have for us. Nothing in life has the importance, the significance, or the veracity of that which we read.
“Father, we pray that we might understand that it is through Your Word, the understanding of Your Word, that we are sanctified, that we grow spiritually, and that we are strengthened to face the challenges the heartaches, the difficulties of life. It is Your Word that develops virtue in our souls and gives us the wisdom to live life skillfully.
“Father, as we study today and as we reflect upon these events surrounding the death of our Lord, that You would give us insight into the dynamics of what’s going on and help us to see and understand the principles that must be applied to our own thinking in our own lives.
“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Let’s open our Bibles to Matthew 26:30. Then we will move to some other passages, so you need to maintain a key level of flexibility as we study this morning. We will be looking at several passages.
This morning what we’re focusing on at this particular moment in Christ’s ministry to His disciples, is that He’s going to announce their failure. He is going to announce that they will all leave Him: they will flee, they will be scattered. Most of all you’re going to have Peter who’s going to deny the Lord.
Even if we remember what the Lord said, that a disciple was one who would deny himself and take up his cross and follow Him. We see just absolute total spiritual breakdown and failure on the part of the disciples.
But it’s not hopeless because God never leaves us without hope, without a solution, without a remedy. So though there’s failure, there’s also forgiveness, and there is a restitution to ministry for the disciples. It is all a picture of God’s grace.
So often we can be very hard on other Christians who fail, but we all fail in many different ways. We deny the Lord by some of our sinful actions—it’s more covert. We deny the Lord and at times maybe overtly.
But whatever we do, whatever sins we commit, there’s not one sin that you or I commit that isn’t known (just like these sins) by God the Father from eternity past. And there wasn’t one single sin that got dropped on the ground. They all got nailed to the Cross. That certificate of debt was nailed to the Cross, so that every sin was paid for.
So sin isn’t the issue anymore; it’s not what we’ve done. When you’re talking to an unbeliever, it’s not the sins he’s committed—the personal sins he’s committed—that is the issue. It’s the fact that he is a corrupt sinner by birth, condemned by Adam’s original sin, and therefore, spiritually dead. And there has to be that solution of spiritual life which comes only by faith alone in Christ alone.
In our study in Matthew last week we had communion, which coincided intentionally with our study of the institution of the Lord’s Table by the Lord Jesus Christ. In church history it is known as the Last Supper. It’s not the Last Supper; it’s the last Seder. It’s the last Passover in the Age of Israel.
Because everything we saw about the Passover meal is to foreshadow and teach about the necessity of the Lamb of God who is going to take away the sin of the world. It is that that is depicted by the Passover. So it’s the last Seder, it’s the last Passover. But it’s the first Lord’s Table; it’s the first Communion for the Church.
At this point there begins a transition from the Age of Israel to the Age of the Church. When we looked at the Plan of God for the Ages, we broke it down into ages. You have the Age of the Gentiles, then the Age of the Jews, then the Church Age. Then we have a small conclusion of the Age of Israel in the Tribulation, and then the Messianic Age.
Each of those is further subdivided into dispensations. For example, in the Age of Israel it begins with God’s call of Abraham in Genesis 12. We have a dispensation of the patriarchs that goes from Abraham to Mount Sinai.
Then there’s a transition. There’s new revelation given at Mount Sinai in the form of the Mosaic Covenant—the Sinaitic Covenant—and the Age of Israel goes from there until, I believe, the beginning of Christ’s ministry.
Now there’s debate and discussion over this, but if you break down the categories of what makes a dispensation a dispensation—that there’s new revelation, there’s new expectations, there’s new responsibilities and there’s a unique judgment—that fits that period of Christ’s life.
There’s a new revelation. What is it? The Lamb of God, the Second Person of the Trinity is in flesh among us. That’s new revelation. He is the Living Word. There’s a new responsibility and that new responsibility is to accept Him as the Messiah. There’s a failure and the failure is on the part of the Jews to accept that Kingdom message to “repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
There is a distinct punishment, and what was that? That is the removal of the offer of the Kingdom and the postponement of the offer of the Kingdom. Yet it will come again at some point. We see that emphasized right here at the end of the institution of the Lord’s Table.
If you look at Matthew 26:29 when Jesus had just drunk of the third cup, the Cup of Redemption, He says to the disciples, “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until the day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
As I pointed out last time, that fourth cup, which relates to the Kingdom, was not taken that night. He stops after the third cup. The point there is: this isn’t the end. He is still teaching that the Kingdom is coming, and that idea of the coming Kingdom that is not now but will be in the future runs through all of these conversations that are taking place, as they are still in the Upper Room, as they are still gathered together.
It emphasizes the fact that there is hope, confidence—a confident expectation—of the future, that God has a plan and He is still in control. Even though it may look as if He’s lost control: the Savior’s going to be arrested and tortured and crucified. Jesus Christ, we see from this passage is still in control. He still determines what’s going to happen. He announces what’s going to happen, and He is completely in control. He’s not out of control at all.
This emphasis here is another indication that the church does not replace Israel, for that Kingdom that we have studied from the beginning of Matthew is a Jewish Kingdom. It is a geopolitical Kingdom that is centered in Jerusalem and will be ruled by a Jewish King, Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah.
It shows that this Kingdom that He’s talking about is going to come to pass. Something is going to intervene between that point and the coming of the Kingdom and that’s the Church Age. But the church doesn’t replace Israel. The church is just an unforeseen aspect of God’s plan and program because the Jews had rejected Jesus as the Messiah. This shows that there is still that future and that hope for the nation in the Kingdom.
A number of things were said and done before they left the room, but they’re not mentioned by Matthew. They’re mentioned by John in John 13 and John 14, where Jesus is washing the disciples’ feet and talking to Peter about the fact that if he doesn’t let Him wash his feet, he won’t have any role or share in the Kingdom.
What He says about Judas when He goes on to say that He’s giving them a new commandment that you love one another, even as I have loved you. Then He says He’s leaving, and Peter says, “Well, where are You going, Lord? We want to follow You.”
Then there’s the whole discussion after that in John 14:2 where Jesus says, “… In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if this were not so, I would’ve told you.” He goes on in John 14 and talks about the fact that He’s going to leave, but He’s going to send another of the same Kind, another Comforter to them. All of that still takes place in the Upper Room, but Matthew, Mark, and Luke don’t mention it at all.
Matthew and Mark give a rather abbreviated account of what happens when they finish with the Seder meal. They sing the hymn, part of the Hallel hymns and then they go to the Mount of Olives. It’s a quick summary statement.
Luke adds a few things, so we’re going to take some time to look at what Luke adds to this because it helps us to understand more of the context of when Jesus says that Peter will deny Him. We’re going to put these sections together.
Before we turn to Luke 2, I want to set up a couple of other things. In Luke 22:24, it begins by saying that a dispute arises among the disciples, and the dispute is one we’ve heard before, who’s going to be the greatest in the Kingdom?
Now some people say that this is just, you know, Luke didn’t talk about some of the earlier ones and he’s just sticking it in here. But it has a role, especially in Luke’s narrative of what happens. Luke brings it up and talks about it because it helps set this context for the announcement of Peter’s denial. So we have to understand the background on these conversations about who’s going to be the greatest in the Kingdom, and I want you to notice a couple of things.
Turn back to Matthew 18. The disciples are starting to have a little disagreement among themselves. This is right after the Mount of Transfiguration when Peter and James and John have been up on the Mount of Transfiguration, so the rest of them are getting a little jealous and they been having a discussion among themselves about who is the greatest in the Kingdom.
Matthew 18:1, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, and said, ‘who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ ”
If you remember, as we went through this, Jesus introduces the idea of being childlike. Many people miss the understanding of that imagery there in that metaphor, but a child in that culture was not to be seen or heard. They were irrelevant, they were ignored; they were nobodies socially. That’s what Jesus is saying.
He is not talking about being cute. He’s not talking about being humble. He’s talking about, “You guys are concerned about who’s the greatest, but you are nobodies. You are only what you are because of Me, and you need to understand that your role is to serve the people not to be somebody.”
In Matthew 18:3–4 He says to them. “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted …” Now that’s a bad translation because most people think of converted as getting saved. He says unless you turn, unless you change your mind “… and become as little children …” In other words, quit being arrogant and humble yourselves under the hand of God. He says, unless you turn and are humbled like little children, “… you won’t enter the kingdom of heaven.”
As we studied entering the Kingdom of Heaven doesn’t mean getting saved when you die and going to Heaven. It means entering into the fullness and the richness of the Kingdom blessings, when the Kingdom comes, and having full rewards.
Jesus goes on to say, “Therefore, whoever humbles himself is as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
The path to greatness is being a servant. In other words, you think the path to greatness is self-assertion and self-absorption, and the path to greatness is giving all that up and realizing it’s not about you it’s about God. It’s about His plan for your life, and it’s about serving Him and His people. When you realize that, then you’re going to be on the path to the one who’s greatest in the kingdom.
What I want you to notice, though, is where this heads. It always seems to come back to Jesus and His mission, when these topics come up. He says in Matthew 18:11, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”
Jesus in His role as the Savior coming to serve mankind, to seek and to save that which was lost, is the prime example of greatness in the Kingdom, the greatness of the King. It’s the opposite of this mentality among the disciples. But as we’ve seen many times they just don’t get it.
They haven’t been able to get their mental fingers around this concept that Jesus is going to die and get buried and rise again. As we’ve seen, they turned to each other and say, “What does He mean ‘rise again?’ ” They just don’t get it. They’re just lost, and then they go back to talking among themselves about who’s going to be the greatest.
Turn over to Matthew 19. All of this section, if you remember when we studied it, relates to this idea of what it means to be childlike, what it means to serve the Lord, what it means to be truly humble. The conclusion of this section takes us down to the end of Matthew 19.
We have the whole episode with the rich young ruler who wants to know what he has to do: what’s the transaction? What’s the contract I have to put into place, to put into effect, so that I enter into this eternal life? He wants a contractual relationship because he’s rich and wealthy and an aristocrat in this life. He wants the same thing in the next life.
All of that conversation that Jesus has with him is to point out the same flaw of arrogance: that it’s not about who you are or what your possessions are or how great you’re going to be in the kingdom; it’s about serving Me. The disciples get it a little bit, at least Peter does, and he says, “Lord we left everything, just like You said to the rich young ruler. He needed to sell all his possessions and give to the poor, and then you will have treasure in Heaven.
Jesus wasn’t talking about becoming a Marxist, a communist, socialist, and giving everything up or going out being a mendicant in the desert or something of this nature. Jesus is pointing out the fact that this guy’s put his emphasis on the wrong thing.
Peter recognizes that and he says, “Well, we sold everything. We left our businesses. We left our homes. We left our families. What are we going to have?”
Jesus then answers them and says, “Assuredly, I say to you that in the regeneration”—that’s another term for the Kingdom—“when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on the twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
What He is telling them is that there’s hope. He just told them that, “Yes, when I come in the Kingdom you’re going to be on twelve thrones, you’re going to be ruling over Israel. You may be failures, you may fail me, you may commit various sins, you may deny me.” But He’s already told them what the endgame is going to be, that they are going to be sitting on twelve thrones ruling over Israel.
Again that comes back to Him. But this issue continues into the next chapter. In Matthew 20 it gives the parable of the workers in the vineyard which is teaching the same kind of thing, that He predicts His death and resurrection for a third time in Matthew 20:17–19. Notice that that’s often in the context of who’s going to be great in the Kingdom.
Right after He says that in Matthew 20:20, the mother of Zebedee’s sons—that’s James and John— “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons”— later we will learn that her name is Salome—“came to Him with her sons.”
Now I don’t know about you, but if my mother had done something like this, I’d be a tad bit embarrassed. But she’s got James and John, little Jimmy and Johnny, you know, John’s probably 19 or 18, and James is a little older, and she’s dragging them up there, and she’s going to pin Jesus and say, “Now which one of these two sons is going to sit on your right hand and which one is to sit on your left-hand?” She wants an answer and she wants it right now.
Matthew 20:22, Jesus then says you don’t know what you ask and He goes on into this discussion about the fact that they need to be able to “drink the cup that I am about to drink.” That is a picture of His suffering for sin on the Cross, “be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with,” and they are speaking out of ignorance. Ignorance joins with arrogance.
Some people may say, “Well, their heart’s in the right place.” Well, that may be, but it’s also arrogant. They’re loyal. We do a lot of things out of loyalty that’s also out of arrogance. I don’t doubt their loyalty to Jesus, but they’re arrogant at the same time. And they’re saying, “You bet we can do this,” and they don’t even have a clue what He’s talking about yet.
Matthew 20:23, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, but to sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”
Matthew 20:27–28, “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
When these discussions come up about who’s going to be great in the Kingdom, somehow the conversation always gets turned back and Jesus relates it to His mission to come and to serve those who are lost by going to the Cross. That’s the backdrop.
Then we had this third event that Matthew doesn’t tell us about, but Luke tells us about, that they still don’t get it. In the middle of the Seder meal, they start talking about “who’s going to be great.”
I think it happens after Judas leaves. Judas has left; he’s been pointed out as the bad guy. All that’s left are the good guys. Jesus has just washed their feet and said you all are all clean, indicating they’re all saved. Once again, they immediately turn to thinking about themselves.
Now I know that’s not a problem for anybody here that none of us are quite that self-absorbed, but they are, and they were. You can turn to Luke 22 and we’re going to see what happens. This takes place before they left the Upper Room, probably before they had finished the Seder and sung the last hymn.
Luke 22:24, “Now there was a dispute among them ...” It’s an interesting word for “dispute” there. It starts with a prefixed word from PHILOS meaning to love. It literally has the idea of a lover of quarreling.
Now I don’t think there’s anybody here who just loves a good argument. I can look at two or three of you, and you love a good argument just for the sake of argument. You don’t care who wins or not, you just want to debate. I’m a lot the same way. It’s good to get into a good intense argument, and we love it. That’s what they were doing; they’re just loving this debate about who’s going to be great in the Kingdom.
Luke 22:24, “… as to which of them should be considered the greatest.” It’s right in front of Him, and then He gives an illustration to contrast the attitude of the child of God who is on divine viewpoint with the human viewpoint that is expressed through all the pagan concepts of leadership.
It’s interesting. I’ve been to a number of leadership seminars and training things over the years since I was in ROTC in college all the way up, and I don’t remember too many people talking about the fact that if you’re a good leader, you’re going to be a servant of your men. Some of them will state it in different ways, but in a lot of areas, it’s just a contrast. You hear their view on leadership: you’re the one in authority, you take charge, and you run things—and not that you don’t.
Jesus is not saying there’s no authority, but He is talking about what the core attitude of leadership is. He contrasted it with the rulers of the Gentiles who exercise lordship over them.
This is another compound word, “lordship” from the root KURIOS or the verb KURIEUO, which means to lord it over someone, to demand that they respect your authority and follow your leadership.
See, that’s not what Christian leadership is. You can apply this to parents and children, you can apply this to husbands and wives, and fathers over the family. There are a lot of principles of application there.
Luke 22:25, “The rulers of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors’.” In other words, they make a special case for those who are the rulers.
Then we have “but” in Luke 22:26. Jesus is going to contrast the divine viewpoint of leadership with human viewpoint. He says, “But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.”
He’s telling them there are two different ways to look at authority and leadership. One’s the pagan way, which is where you bring glory to yourself. One is the divine viewpoint way, where the glory goes to God and you’re there to serve those whom you’re in authority over.
Luke 22:27, “For who is greater”—now He’s talking about who is greater according to human viewpoint—“who is greater, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”
I get these e-mails every now and then; I really love them. They come up with some interesting facts. They will say, “Did you know where this came from?” And they talk about different phrases and words that come into the English language. According to this e-mail, and I’ve read this before so I think it’s true, that back in the Middle Ages, most people didn’t have dining room tables or even kitchen tables.
They had just a table and a couple of chairs, maybe, they didn’t even have a table. They had something that folded down from the wall, and if they had anything they had one chair, and the head of the household sat in the chair and everybody else on the floor. If there was a guest that came and you wanted to honor the guest, then the guest sat in the chair and he took that position of authority. Since it was usually a male, the person who sat the chair was called “the chair-man,” where we get our word “chairman.”
This makes a little sense in light of that. The one who sits at the table, the one that sits at the head of the table, he’s the one who has the authority, and everyone serves him. But that’s not how it is if you’re a believer.
He’s there, but He says He’s not the One sitting at the head of the table. “I’m the One among you as the One who serves.” That’s My role; I’m not here to be served by you. I’m serving you. He’s washed their feet, He has served them, so He emphasized that.
Then He says something that is hopeful. See first He corrects them—that you guys are still all distracted by who’s great and you have the wrong view of leadership.
He says in Luke 22:28, “But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials.” That’s like Romans 8 talking about those who suffer with Jesus: you are those who have gone with Me in My trials. This is the prophecy that gives them hope: Luke 22:29, “I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one upon Me.”
He’s still talking about the Kingdom. When they say, “Who’s going to be greatest in the Kingdom,” Jesus doesn’t say, “You don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s not going to be a Kingdom.” He doesn’t say, “Well, we’re just going to have this spiritualized form of the kingdom, and it’s all based on Marx, and we’re all going to be equal.” He doesn’t say anything like that.
He tells them that there is still going to be a Kingdom, it’s yet future. They haven’t quite got it all together, but in Acts 1:6, just before Jesus ascends, they say what? They say, “Lord, are You going to restore the kingdom …?”— or establish the Kingdom, at this point? Acts 1:7, He says, “It’s not for you to know the times and seasons.”
Luke 22:30, “that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom”—because He’s the One who will be at the head of the Kingdom because is a King—“and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Yes, again He emphasizes, “You will be ruling. There is going to be that reward for you, and you will rule over the twelve tribes of Israel.”
What we see in Luke 22 that builds or sets the setting for what’s going to come up in this discussion and debate about who’s the greatest that was generated by the departure of Judas.
Now keep your place there. Let’s go back to Matthew 26 where we will pick up the rest of the story. Just the few verses that I’m looking at this morning. Matthew 26:31, “Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble.’ ”
They’ve just been talking about how great they all are and that each one has evidence that they should be the greatest in the Kingdom. There’s nobody here that is saying, “Nah, I’m just not good enough; y’all debate this.” They all think more highly of themselves than they ought to think. That’s Romans 12:3, that we’re not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.
Jesus said, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night.” What He is saying is that because of what will happen to Him when He gets arrested, those events are what set off the circumstances for their failure. They’ll be caused to stumble.
It’s the word SKANDALIZO, and this is also related to the trip-stick in a trap. Sometimes if you buy a mouse trap, there’s a little stick in there that the mouse goes for the cheese, it flips the stick and the mouse is caught. Or you may have done something as a kid where you set up a box, and you set up a stick, and if the bird got under the box, you’d pull the string that was attached to the stick, and the box would capture the bird.
That trip-stick, that trip-wire, is the SKANDALIZO: it’s what trips somebody up and they stumble or fall. It’s used to picture sinning or failing in the spiritual life. He says they’re all going to fail. They’re all going to fail because of Him that night.
He quotes Scripture: Zechariah 13:7.
Before I go there, what’s interesting in this passage is that Jesus predicts three things. He predicts that they’re all going to be made to stumble and to scatter. He tells them, though, that there is hope. He says, “But after I rise again—they still can’t understand what that means. He says—after I rise again, we will meet in Galilee.” That’s in Matthew 26:32.
Then He will go on to say that Peter will deny Him that night before the rooster crows.
What we will see before we get to the end of the chapter is the disciples will be scattered; that will be fulfilled when we get to Matthew 26:56. The prediction of the post-resurrection meeting in Galilee will be fulfilled in Matthew 28:16–20. The prediction that Peter will deny Him will be fulfilled later on in Matthew 26:69–75.
Again, Jesus is showing that He’s a prophet. He is predicting in the near future that which is going to take place and He is demonstrating that He is a true prophet.
He quotes from Zechariah. Now if we go back and take a look at Zechariah 13, we will discover that this passage relates to the future for Israel. If we read the passage in the English translation, read it in the original Hebrew, or read it in the Greek translation in the Septuagint, we will discover that what Jesus says in Matthew 26:31 doesn’t fit.
It’s not the same; it’s more of a paraphrase. He’s taking the principle, because that’s what will happen in AD 70: Israel is going to be scattered. Many people take that as the fulfillment of this scattering image that they will strike the Shepherd, which is Jesus. Then the sheep—which in the context of the Old Testament—refers to all of Israel, they will be scattered. Then Zechariah 13:7 says, “Then I will turn my hand against the little ones.”
We’ve studied this in the past. I don’t want to take a lot of time to go through it, but there are four different ways in which you have the use of this formula, “this fulfilled the Scripture” or “for it is written.” If you go back to Matthew 2, you’ll see various different prophecies that Matthew refers to from the Old Testament.
For example, that Jesus is born in Bethlehem. That’s literal history, literal fulfillment. You have passages related to “out of Egypt I called My Son” in Hosea and then in Jeremiah that “Rachel is weeping for her children.” You have these different statements made, but only one of those, which is related to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, only one of those is a literal prophecy. The others are either referring to something historical, or they’re referring to a general principle.
What is going on here? It’s that third use that we’ve studied in the past that Jesus is taking a principle that is alluded to here in Zechariah 13:7 and He’s applying it to this situation. He is saying “This is like that.” Just as this is talking about the shepherd and his sheep are being scattered. This is the same kind of thing that happens. I will be struck and the sheep—but He’s not talking about Israel, that’s the original context, He is talking about His disciples—they will be scattered.
Then He gives this message and indication of hope in the future. He says, “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” So He’s again emphasizing there’s a future and there’s a hope. But they’re not comprehending it. They are not putting it together yet.
What Peter hones in on is the fact that Jesus said that they’ll be scattered, and he says, “No, no, no, not me.” In Matthew 26:33 he says, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”
The way he’s talking, he uses a construction in the Greek that says, “It’s impossible!” Just the strongest possible way he could deny something. He said, “I’m not going to stumble. I’m not going fall. I’m not going to sin.”
Jesus tells him in Matthew 26:34, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” We will look at the details of that denial when we get there.
Mark says before the rooster crowed crows twice, and a lot people try to say there’s a contradiction here. Well, let me tell you folks, if a rooster crows twice, he’s crowed once. There’s no contradiction. Matthew 26:24, Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”
That’s not all the Lord said. We go back to Luke 22 because Jesus talks to Peter about the dynamics that are behind this denial that it relates to something much broader and it relates to the role of Satan in history attempting to destroy the mission of the Son of God.
Luke 22:31—this occurs right after they’ve had the discussion and debate over who’s greatest in the Kingdom—“And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you’ ”—see, Luke left out some of what took place between Luke 22:30–31 because it didn’t fit his purpose. “… the Lord said, Simon, Simon, indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.”
This goes back to what we learned in Job 1 and 2. When Satan has to go to God to say, “I want to test Job.” And the Lord says, “Well, you can do everything, but you can’t take his health.” And then he’s going to come back the second time, he is going to say, “I want to test him some more.” He says, “You can take his health, but you can’t take his life.”
Satan can’t do anything without God’s permission. It’s God’s permissive will that allows him to do what he does, and so he’s ultimately under the control of God. Satan has asked for “you,” and the “you” there is a plural. It’s for “y’all” because what Jesus is pointing out is Satan wants to sift all of you.
In Luke 22:32 Jesus says, “But I prayed for you”—singular—“that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
This reminds us that Jesus Christ is always praying for us, that this is a specific test for Peter, and that he is told that he will fail, but then he will come back, and when he returns he is to then strengthen his brethren.
Throughout this section, we see the constant reminder that there’s going to be failure, there’s going to be forgiveness, and it’s all based on grace, and there is going to be that future Kingdom. We’re also reminded here that Jesus prays for them.
Now Peter is still arrogant in Luke 22:33, he goes on to say, “Lord, I’m ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”
That’s where the Lord says, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will, deny three times that you know Me.”
Jesus is the one who intercedes for us. In Romans 8:34 we read, “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who makes intercession for us.”
The point there is this rhetorical question, “Who condemns?” How can anyone condemn a believer? Because Christ who died for us is the One who is constantly praying for us, constantly defending us at the right hand of the Father because He knows that we possess His righteousness.
In Hebrews 7:25 we read, “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.”
The classic intercessory prayer of the Lord for us is in John 17. That’s the real Lord’s Prayer because there the Lord is praying for His disciples. Read that. That gives you an example of what Jesus is praying for, for each one of us during the Church Age.
Then we come to the conclusion in Luke. This passage is only in Luke, and it’s really a foundation for self-defense, for the whole doctrine that the Bible teaches about self-defense.
Jesus says to the disciples, “When I sent you without moneybag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything? So they said, ‘Nothing.’ ”
That’s referring back to Matthew 10, when He is sending the disciples out to the House of Israel and the House of Judah, and the marching orders there was don’t take anything with you. Don’t take your bags, don’t take a lunch, don’t take anything but your walking stick. And God will provide for you on the mission, and that’s what they did.
Some people say, “Well, this is a contradiction because there Jesus says don’t take anything. Here He says take something.” But you have to understand it’s different people, a different time, a different context. Now, because now that the Kingdom has been postponed, the Church Age is coming in. They have a different mission.
Luke 22:36, “… he who has a moneybag, take it with him. Take money with you. You’re going to need it for the journey. “… and likewise, a knapsack.” Pack your bags and take what you will need for clothing along with you and for food also.”
Then He adds something. He says, “… and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.”
This is a foundation for self-protection. It’s a foundation for concealed carry, because that’s how they would carry it. And it’s a foundation for self-defense, that they would be attacked and they needed to be able to protect themselves.
I read one guy who said, “Well, you know, Peter and John went in to prepare for the Passover and the swords that they had were just these ceremonial ritual swords.” That is not what the text says. The text says it was a MACHAIRA. If you want to know what that is, look in front of the pulpit. That is a Roman gladius; that’s the Latin term. Same sword.
That’s a little bit bigger than a Bowie knife. You’re not going to be able to sneak that onto an airplane in your packed baggage. They’re going to be a little upset with that. But that’s what they carried, and they would carry it concealed under their robes to protect themselves. That’s how Peter was able to cut off the ear of the temple servant. He’s going to be armed.
Luke 22:36, “… sell your garment and buy one.” Luke 22:37, “For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: And He was numbered with the transgressors.” He is saying, “It’s still got to be fulfilled that I’m going to be lined up with the criminals, and I’m going to be crucified like a criminal.”
Then in the Luke 22:38, “So they said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, ‘It’s enough.’ ” He wants to make sure that as they go to the Garden of Gethsemane, they’re armed. He has an armed guard. Now why in the world does Jesus want an armed guard on the way to the Garden is Gethsemane?
He wants an armed guard because He doesn’t want anyone to take His life in any other way than going to the Cross. He has to protect the mission, and if they run into a Roman guard on the way, and they attack Him or something happens, He’s got to be protected, so that He survives to fulfill the Father’s plan. So He makes sure He’s got an armed guard that will defend His life until it’s the right time in terms of the plan.
Then the last thing that is said, I believe, is what Peter says in Matthew 26:35. He says, “ ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And so said all the disciples.” It will just be a few hours and they will all scatter and Peter will deny Him.
We all sin. Every one of us. Some of us have great failures. Some of those failures are in our past, some of them are in our future, but there is always forgiveness because Christ paid for every single sin. It’s all based on grace. None of it’s based on works.
We are not to judge ourselves or others on the basis of a works righteousness. But we are to judge ourselves in terms of confession of sin. We examine ourselves, so that we can have forgiveness and continue to walk by the Spirit.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to reflect upon this episode, to come to understand Your grace as it is exhibited by Jesus Christ dealing with the disciples who still just don’t really understand, don’t comprehend, don’t have a clue as to what exactly is happening, and we see their failures.
“But we’re not a whole lot different because we have our failures, our weaknesses. We often say we’re going to serve You and apply the Word, we’re going to study the Word, read the Word, be in Bible class more often, and we fail. And there is forgiveness.
“Now that doesn’t justify or in any way condone our failures, but it is a way in which we can recover and go forward, and hopefully, we will grow and mature as the disciples did and as Peter did to learn to serve You. For that is the path of real greatness, is to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, to serve You and to serve one another.
“Father, we pray that if anyone listening today will recognize that salvation is not on the basis of works, it is not on the basis of their righteousness or their efforts, it is on the basis of Christ’s righteousness. He died on the Cross. He who knew no sin was made sin for us. He bore in His own body on the tree our sins, so that it was paid for, and that by believing in Him, we have everlasting life.
“Father, we pray that You would challenge us with what we studied today. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.”