And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
“You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”
And He said to them, “ When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘ And He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”
Understanding And Applying the Text
Like shows how far off the twelve were from understanding what Jesus came to do. Their concern was their own greatness. Jesus had to correct them. A king is to serve. Numerous kings in antiquity took the title “Benefactor.” But this was often with little justification. Jesus served. And there is no greater king. The disciples must serve, as Jesus did.
The disciples must serve instead of seeking greatness. But that does not mean they will go unnoticed. Jesus reminds them He knows how they have stood with Him. There will be a place for them in the kingdom. They are promised they will judge the tribes of Israel.
Satan had already entered Judas. But Satan wanted more. Satan demanded permission to assault Peter. It is unclear what is happening here. Was Satan given permission to assault Peter but Jesus prayed for him? Was Jesus’ prayer preventing Satan to sift Peter like wheat? Or did Jesus’ prayer allow Peter to turn back to Christ? The phrase “when once you have turned again strengthen your brothers,” makes it appear Peter would fall away and then return back to Christ.
What!? Wait! Peter would actually fall away?!? How does that idea affect the doctrine of the preservation of the saints? The answer is, it affirms it. Christ redeemed Peter and prayed that his faith would be strong enough to draw him back. Peter sinned and sinned greatly but nonetheless, his relationship was restored. Is it possible for a saint to fall away? Yes and no. Peter’s fell way. But Christ preserved him. Christ prayed for him. And he was restored.
God is in control. Satan had to get permission to assault Peter. When Satan attacked Job, he need permission. There are no sneak attacks. God will not allow Satan to mount an attack stronger than we can withstand “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” ( I Corinthian 10:13)
Greatness is something to strive for. But to attain true greatness where it matters, that is, in the Kingdom of God, you must be a servant. We do not all serve in the same place or in the same way. But we are all servants. It is easy to become jealous of someone else’s talent, ministry, or recognition. But when we do so we forget, we are servants. Peter’s experience and I Corinthians 10:13 gives hope and peace.
Often we try to use short-cut with phrases such as, “Once saved always saved” While I understand the sentiment of that statement it is not technically correct. God will draw the elect to Him. He will not allow one He has chosen from the foundation of the world to remain in a state of sin. He will restore the relationship. It is restored not because of you. It is restored because of Him.