Read thru New Testament Devotional – April 30, 2017

April 30

 

Luke 22:31-53

Luke 22:31-34-Jesus tells Simon that Satan is going to tempt him.  The phrase, “to sift you like wheat” means that it will be extremely intense and will push him to question the very existence and substance of his faith.  Indeed, Jesus says, “when once you have turned again.”  The words “turn again” mean “to turn, to return”…suggesting that Peter would make the wrong decision during this time of temptation.  In order to return, you must have first turned the wrong way.  This was no small indecision on Peter’s part, it would be a crisis of his faith.  But, Jesus gives him assurance by telling him two things.  First, He has prayed for him that his faith will not “fail” (means: to quit, stop, cease), but that it will endure.  There is a wonderful significance to the word “prayed”.  The basic meaning of this particular word for prayer means, “to bind, tie, secure”.  So, Jesus is telling Peter that He has bound Himself together with him, spiritually.  His strength, His faith will be accessible to Peter…so that he will endure the temptation and not fail.  This was a reminder to Peter that his “faith” was not to be placed in his own ability to be “faithful”…but, his “faith” was to be placed in the ability of Jesus.  Jesus would not be standing at a distance cheering him on in his struggle, “Go Peter, you can do it!  Try harder.  Man up!”  No, instead, He would be with Peter in the midst of the temptation.  Peter’s faith would not fail, because Jesus could not fail…and Peter was bound to Jesus!  When Jesus said that He had prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail…He was not saying that He hoped that it would not fail; but that it was a settled fact that it would not fail.  “I have prayed for you…and as a result, your faith will not fail.”  The prayers of Jesus never fail…so Peter would not fail.  Second, He tells him that after it is over, he is to strengthen the other disciples.  The fact that Jesus tells him to do this assures Peter that no matter how intense it becomes he will make it through.  Peter would falter, but not fail.  In verse 33, we find the focal point of the temptation that Peter would face.  He says, “Lord, with You I am ready to go to prison and to death!”  Peter meant it.  The only problem was that in a short time it would appear that Jesus would no longer be with Peter.  Peter assumed that Jesus would always be there and that side-by-side they would continue in His ministry.  But, within hours all of that would begin to change.  Peter would come to the realization that Jesus was going to die…and without Jesus there, it gave a totally different perspective on his willingness to go to prison and to dying for the cause.  Perhaps this is the reason that Jesus had told Peter that He had prayed for him…remember, it means to be bound together with him.  Peter would definitely need to remember that.  Jesus then tells Peter that before it was over he would deny Him three times.  At the moment, Peter was probably very disturbed that Jesus would say such a thing, maybe even a little embarrassed by it.  But later, it could be that Peter would find comfort in the fact that Jesus knew what he was going to do; and yet, He still told him that he would return and even told him to help the rest of the disciples through their uncertainties, as well.  It is so encouraging that Jesus doesn’t look for faultless people, but for faithful people.

Luke 22:35-38-Jesus tells the disciples that because of what is about to happen to Him, their lives are going to be radically changed.  He speaks of a previous time when He sent them out to fulfill His ministry (cf. Luke 9:1-5).  At that time, the people readily received them and provided for their needs.  But things will be different after the crucifixion.  They need to be aware of the change in the attitudes of people and to make preparations.  They will not be as readily received as when He was with them and the people were responding to His miracles.  Now, He would be portrayed by the religious leaders as a sinner and in rebellion against their faith.  There would even be those who would violently oppose them…threatening their lives.  They would need to be prepared to defend themselves…even to extent that they were to buy a sword for protection (:36).

Luke 22:39-53-Typically, Jesus and the disciples spent the night on the Mt. of Olives (see Luke 21:37).  After the Passover celebration they headed there.  Jesus leaves the disciples, instructing them to, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”  By this, He is not saying that they will not be tempted…we are all tempted, it is a fact of life.  However, the prayer is that we will not “enter into temptation,” meaning that when we are tempted we will refuse to be involved with it, to “enter into” it.  Jesus knows what is about to happen and He wants them to be prepared.  It is the strength that comes from faith in Him that will give them this ability.  Jesus withdraws a short distance from them and begins to pray.  He prays one of the most instructional prayers recorded in the Bible.  “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  The reason that this prayer is so significant is because it teaches us to come to the Father with absolute transparency…no pretensions, not praying what we think He wants to hear.  We are to pray from the honesty of our hearts.  Initially, Jesus actually prays something that is not in keeping with the Father’s will.  Knowing fully the extent that He is about to suffer, Jesus prays that He will not go through it, “remove this cup from Me…”  If He had stopped there…He would have been seeking that which was outside of the will of the Father…and that would qualify as sin.  This was His honest, heartfelt prayer.  However, He did not stop there, but continued, “yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  The lesson that we learn is that we should honestly express our desires and feelings when we pray.  Tell God exactly what is on our heart and what we are thinking.  Then, we must always place this prayer into the hands of the Father and allow Him to then modify it to be in keeping with His perfect will.   Jesus was “in agony” (meaning: a struggle for victory, of severe mental struggle and emotions) as He prayed.

 

Agony:

Eng., "agony," was used among the Greeks as an alternative to agon, "a place of assembly;" then for the contests or games which took place there, and then to denote intense emotion. It was more frequently used eventually in this last respect, to denote severe emotional strain and anguish. So in Luk 22:44, of the Lord's "agony" in Gethsemane.

(http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G74&t=NASB, Vines Expository Dictionary of the New Testament)

 

His agony was of such a degree that He began to sweat drops of blood.

 

For an explanation of this condition from a medical perspective see:

http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1086

 

Jesus returned to His disciples and found them “sleeping from sorrow” (meaning: sorrow, pain, grief, annoyance, affliction).  The stress and worry they were going through had literally taken all of their energy.  They were worn out…and now, they could not stay awake.  Jesus admonishes them to wake up and pray.

Luke 22:47-53-While He is speaking, Judas arrives with a mob and they arrest Jesus.  A fight ensues and in the chaos the ear of Malchus, the slave of the high priest, is cut off by Peter (cf. John 18:10).  Jesus stops the fight.  These fishermen would be no match for soldiers.  He then touches the ear of Malchus and heals him.  Jesus addresses the chief priests, temple officers, and elders who were in the mob.  He asks them why they didn’t arrest Him when He was at the temple.  It is a rhetorical question…He knows full well that they didn’t do so because they were afraid that the crowds would rise up against them…so, they did so now, under the cover of dark.

Prayer: Lord, life can be hard.  There are times when temptation is so strong.  The temptation to doubt.  The temptation to worry.  The temptation to quit and just run away.  I toss and turn in my sleep…and, it steals my energy to the point that I cannot focus, or remain awake.  Remind me, like Peter, that You constantly make intercession for me (John 17; Hebrews 7:25) and that You will always be with me (Psalm 23).  Help me to place my faith in You…not in faith, itself; and not in my ability to be faithful.  But, in You.

 

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