Lead us not into temptation…
Some days when I read my Bible, I am relieved that all of my failures and shortcomings don’t get recorded for millions of people to read every day!
But at the same time, it is somehow comforting to know that people from the Bible did face temptations, tests and trials, just like I do, and they either were victorious in them or they were redeemed in their failures by God’s amazing grace.
In Luke 22:30 we read that Satan has asked Jesus for permission to “sift” all of the disciples as wheat–meaning he would shake them violently to separate the chaff from the quality product. Incredibly, Jesus gives permission to Satan to test or sift Peter just as God did for Job in the Old Testament.
Jesus prays for Peter that “your faith may not fail”. He knows supernaturally that Peter will give in to the temptation to bow down to his fear and deny his Lord. What takes my breath away in all this are the next words of Jesus. “…and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus knows that Peter will fail. Jesus is not surprised by this and he is not surprised by our failures either. His love for us is that enormous.
Part of Peter’s very public failure at his test includes a remarkable and equally public redemption. Peter is among the first to whom Jesus appears after the resurrection (Luke 24:3, 1 Cor. 15:5). And he is fully redeemed by Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus asks him to care for his sheep. Peter rises to a place of leadership in the early church and where he once failed his test and gave in to the temptation to be controlled by his fear, he bravely faces imprisonment, torture and martyrdom.
I don’t know why Jesus didn’t refuse Satan’s request to sift Peter. I don’t know why Jesus didn’t pray that Peter would not sin. What he did pray for was that Peter’s faith would not fail. And it did not. It was strengthened beyond measure.
We will all face temptations in this life. Tests and trials–from small to huge come at us regularly. Sometimes we are victorious, and other times we are not. But like for Peter, we can be sure that Jesus is praying for us too. When we fall into temptation, we can repent and be assured that the abundant love of Jesus will restore us fully just like Peter.