Lenten Season Lectio Divina Series: Peter

This is the fourth entry in our Lenten series of posts taken from Stephen Binz’s Ancient-Future Bible Study: Experience Scripture through Lectio Divina. Three weeks ago we introduced the concept of lectio divina and posted a study on Abraham. The following week we posted a study on David titled “The Shepherd Who Is Also King.” Last week we had a study on Sarah titled “Listen to Sarah, the Quarry of Encouragement.”

Be sure to check out our videos that further explain this terrific series.

This week, we are posting a study from the introduction to Binz’s volume Peter: Fisherman and Shepherd of the Church.

From Crumbled Failure to Rock of Strength

Lectio

Listen to these challenging words that Jesus addressed to Peter at the Last Supper.

Luke 22:31–32

31“Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

After letting these prophetic words sink in, continue searching for their significance in the ongoing ministry of Peter the apostle.

These brief verses from Luke’s account of the Last Supper summarize the ordeal of Simon Peter’s discipleship during the passion account and anticipate his role beyond the Gospel and into the life of Christ’s church. Jesus speaks of three aspects of Peter’s testing: his sifting by Satan, his turning back to following Jesus, and his role in strengthening his brothers.

Jesus says that Satan has demanded “to sift all of you like wheat” (v. 31), that is, to severely test the disciples for the purpose of destroying their faith. The devil has already taken Judas, and now he is attempting to take the other disciples too. Indeed, that very night Peter’s fear will overpower his faith, and he will deny Jesus three times.

Jesus’s plan for his community of disciples involves Peter’s repentance and return to discipleship. Jesus assures Peter that he has prayed for him so that his faith will not collapse in the time of crisis. Though Peter will falter in faith, he will weep bitterly over his failing, marking the beginning of his turning back to Jesus.

In the remainder of his Gospel and in his second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, Luke demonstrates Peter’s pivotal role among the other disciples in his ministry of strengthening them. Peter’s complete return to Jesus is not brought about by his own initiative but through the sovereign initiative of his risen Lord. The disciples exclaim, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” (24:34). The strength of Peter’s testimony convinces the others to join in affirming Jesus’s resurrection. The Acts of the apostles shows that Peter gathers the disciples again as a community in Jerusalem and that he becomes the leading figure in the infant church.

Jesus’s double address, “Simon, Simon” (v. 31), signals Jesus’s particular concern for Simon Peter and his desire to assign a unique ministry to him. This is the only passage in Luke’s Gospel that indicates why Jesus might have given Simon the name “Peter,” a name that means “rock.” Though Simon certainly did not act very rocklike during the passion of Jesus, through genuine repentance and the forgiveness of the risen Jesus, he becomes the rock of strength for the early church.

Meditatio

Reflect on the experiences of Peter in his failure, his repentance, and his strengthening ministry. Consider how he might be a friend and mentor in your discipleship.

Jesus assured Peter of his prayers for him so that Peter’s faith would not fail. How might this assurance of Jesus’s prayers have helped Peter to get through his period of testing without abandoning his faith? In what way do I depend on prayer for my own strength in times of trial?

Peter’s experience of failure as a disciple enabled him later to be a bettersource of strength for others. In what way have I found strength for others through my experiences of failure?

Oratio

After listening to God’s Word in Scripture, respond in prayer to God, who always listens to your voice.

Lord Jesus Christ, you chose Simon Peter as your disciple and prayed for him in times of trial. As the first among your stumbling disciples, he struggled with doubt and fear, failing you in your most desperate hour. Teach me, through the example of Peter’s life, how to trust in you and depend on your grace. As I continue to listen, reflect, and pray these biblical texts of Peter’s life, strengthen me and help me to be a source of strength for my brothers and sisters.

Continue to give voice to your heart . . .

Contemplatio

Jesus assured Peter of his prayers for him so that Peter’s faith would not fail. Remain in peaceful quiet for a few minutes and be aware of Jesus’s prayerful support of you. Feel the passionate care of Jesus for you.

©2011 by Stephen J. Binz. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without expressed written permission is strictly prohibited.

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