Supper is nearly over. It is nearly time for Jesus to head out to the garden where He will be arrested. But before He goes, He has some final words for His disciples including a startling revelation and prophecy concerning His disciples, especially Peter. In Luke 22.31-38, we have the final discourse of Jesus around the supper table.
The Savior’s Prophecy concerning Peter
“Simon, Simon” is a for emphasis. We saw this earlier in the Gospel of Luke (cf. 10.41) when Jesus addressed Martha. The redoubling is emphatic. And notice that Jesus calls Peter by his “old” name: Simon. It has been said that this name means “pebble” as opposed to Peter which means “rock” or “stone.” Could Jesus be subtly reminding and even repremanding Peter concerning what is coming, that he will act like a pebble, not a rock. Possibly. Or is it understood that Simon and Peter both refer to the same person and are interchangable? Inasmuch as Jesus seems to make no distinction between the two when addressing Peter and his impending fall (v.31, 34: He is Simon, then Peter and in both verses Jesus addresses Peter fall), there does not seem to be a necessity to make that distinction.
The startling revelation Jesus has for Simon is that “Satan has demanded to have you.” Several things should be noted here: first, “you” in this verse (v.31, used twice) is plural in the original language. It is something akin to “y’all” in Texas. Hence, Satan has asked not for Simon Peter only, but for the whole group of disciples. Second, Satan asked to have them for himself. At first blush this would seem incredulous. But when you read that phrase, think Job in the Old Testament when Satan appeared before God and God doted on Job as being a man unlike any other on earth. And Satan asked to try him. That’s what we have here: Jesus knows what is ahead for this band of followers and knows that Satan wants to pick them apart like he did Job. There is coming a time of testing for His disciples and indeed has come upon them. Satan has tempted Judas and won him to the kingdom of darkness. Will others follow?
Jesus, though, assures them that He has been praying for them in v.32. This word has do with begging and pleading. Think of all the times Jesus went off to a lonely place to pray (4.42; 6.12; 9.29; 11.1; et al) which was a common practice in the ministry of Jesus. How often did the Lord wrestle in prayer and plead of the Father on behalf of His disciples? It should be noted that Jesus speaks specifically to Peter; the pronoun “you” in v.32 is singular. Others say that this singular use of the “you” is really Jesus speaking to the group as a whole, a single unit. Whatever the case, no doubt Jesus has prayed concerning all of them and their faith, that it “may not fail.” Would they all fall? Certainly. All desert Jesus in the garden. But Peter’s would be especially great, this noted in Jesus’ words in v.34. But his fall would not bring hopeless despair but deep remorse and repentance. He would return, change his beliefs and ways, and turn back to God. When he has done that he is to “strengthen your brothers.” Establish them and make their conviction stronger.
Peter, it would appear since the Greek simply says “he,” speaks up and says that he’s ready for confinement and crucifixion with Jesus. But Jesus knows (someone has called Jesus “the Heart-reader”) and makes a startling prophecy concerning Peter. “The rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that know me.” There is no article in the Greek before “rooster” which paints the picture even more graphically – before any rooster crows this day. There is some difficulty in Mark’s account inasmuch as he says the rooster will not crow twice before Peter’s denials but there is no contradiction if you consider that Mark is perhaps more specific (some say Mark used Peter as a source of information and who would know better than Peter) and the other gospel writers are not specific or the word “twice” in Mark is a scribal addition. Nevertheless, the strength of the denial should not be overlooked – “utterly deny.” Certainly, Petrer’s denial of even knowing Jesus would fit this.
The Scripture’s Prophecy concerning Jesus
Jesus now reminds of the provincial care of God in their lives. He refers them to earlier in their work when he sent them out. This is recorded in Luke 10.1ff when they went out without moneybag, knapsack, or sandals. So Jesus reminds them of this and asks if they lacked anything. They admit that they lacked nothing, hence they were supplied in their needs. Unfortunately, televangelists and health/wealth propsperity preachers love to twist Scriptures like these to say God will grant all your wants. This is not what Jesus is saying at all. And when you read the account which Jesus points to in Luke 10, this becomes clear that what was needed (food, drink, shelter) was met by the providence of God.
Now, though, Jesus addresses them concerning those very things they were not to have before. Grab those things and even a sword. Sell your cloak and buy a sword with the money. What’s that about? It would seem this is a warning of things to come. Before they had their needs met by people in the town or villiage they visited. Now it would be different. They would not be greeted with open arms and would have to supply their own need. The sword appears to metaphor for the defense of the message. Indeed, the word of Jude fit appropriately: “Contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Those things they did not need (money, clothes) will no longer be supplied, but instead they will have to supply it from their own means. Before they may have been greeted and treated well, now they may have to reasonably defend themselves. This seems to be the force of the words of Jesus in light of His overall teaching and what we see later in the garden when Peter tries to use a sword.
The reason it will be like this and the attitude of people will be different toward the disciples is because of what Jesus will do in fulfilling the Scriptures. The message of the cross will be a stumbling block to Jews and offensive to Gentiles (1 Cor 1.23). When Jesus quotes from Isaiah 53.12 in Luke 22.37, He is pointing toward His impending suffering on the cross. He would be numbered with transgressors in His death inasmuch as He was crucified between two theives. Those things written in the past which came from the lips of God are binding. When God spoke them, He was legislating human history and speaking as the One who is outside space and time, who can declare the end from the beginning. And so even as Jesus speaks these words, they find fulfillment (presently) and will find fulfillment (future) in the crucifixion. And the “me” in this passage is emphatic. Jesus and only Jesus can fulfill these prophecies.
The disciples hear about swords and someone takes inventory of their supply. They seem to miss the who part about fulfillment of the prophecy in Jesus and also the figurative nature of the bags, sacks, and swords Jesus was referring to. They have two swords and almost seem proud of it, like children who are showing off their toys. And their seems to some anticipation in their exclamation, like “finally, we get to do what we’ve been waiting for” or “finally, Jesus will start acting like the Messiah we have been waiting for.” Jesus’ words of “It is enough” seem to be His way of closing the subject for now. They’ve missed it. And so for now the case will shut to be reopened in the garden when Peter will use a sword to try and take off the head of the high priest’s servant and Jesus will impart one more lesson about the sword. But for now, “It is enough.”
Supper is over. Lessons and traditions have been imparted. Some of them have been missed, but some of them haven’t. All that is fuzzy or vague will come to light and be clear in a short time. But next we will see Jesus take yet another step deeper into the darkness that surrounds His final hours before the cross. Next we move into the garden.