31 “Simon, Simon! Satan has asked to sift all of you disciples like wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon. I have prayed that your faith will not fail. When you have turned back, help your brothers to be strong.” 33 But Simon replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, you will say three times that you don’t know me. And you will do it before the rooster crows today.” 35 Then Jesus asked the disciples, “Did you need anything when I sent you without a purse, bag or sandals?” “Nothing,” they answered. 36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it. And also take a bag. If you don’t have a sword, sell your coat and buy one. 37 It is written, ‘He was counted among those who had committed crimes.’ (Isaiah 53:12) I tell you that what is written about me must come true. Yes, it is already coming true.” 38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “Two swords are enough!” he replied.
This is a serious conversation Jesus is having with the disciples to warn them that once He dies they will face greater challenges and opposition than they have experienced so far with Him. Jesus tells them Satan has asked to make life difficult for them to see if they have real faith. He reassures them that He is already praying for them, that their faith wouldn’t fail completely, and that what they learn from their times of failure would help them to support and encourage others in hard times. Peter – full of bravado, says that he will never let Jesus down; Jesus says quietly: ‘yes you will’, and tells them they need to be prepared to support and defend themselves.
In these times too, we need to keep our defences up against satan and the ways that he tries to draw us away from our kingdom goals. Satan sifts us in the hope that all our faith will be like chaff – the dusty rubbish parts of the grain harvest that fall through the holes of the sieve; however Jesus is praying for us to be like the grains of good wheat that stay firm and contribute to the wealth of his harvest. We need to be realistic about the dangers in the spiritual world and equip ourselves to fight effectively. Better to have a sharp spiritual sword and armour than to have a warm and stylish cloak.
Lord God thank you that you are already fighting on my side, strengthening my faith. I will stumble and let you down but you will always pick me up again when I reach out to you. Please supply me with defences through the presence of your Holy Spirit. Amen
Written by Dimity Milne