“You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
In the preceding verses, Jesus’ disciples start arguing about something very annoying. The words above are literally Jesus’ way of mediating an argument about who is the greatest. I think if I were Jesus I would have gotten fed up and said, “I’m about to get freaking murdered and you’re arguing about who is the greatest? Have y’all learned nothing?!!!!” I don’t even say y’all. I’d be so frustrated, it would be a heat of the moment kind of thing.
So anyway, it’s a good thing I’m not Jesus.
His tone in answering his disciples is very sentimental and sweet. “You have stuck by my side through it all.”
Jesus values brotherhood. He values community. He spent His earthly lifetime laying the foundations of His church for a reason. In verse 30 He is hanging out with His buddies and already planning future fellowship, if that tells you anything. I imagine that in this moment He was probably thinking about the meals and the conversations and the laughter and the tears He’d shared with these men. I imagine He was filled with incredible love for them.
But the part that comes next means even more to me.
“Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
When once you have turned back.
I so want to talk about the fact that Jesus addresses Simon Peter directly, but I’m not sure I have words. Maybe in some future post.
Peter was gifted with such faith that Jesus calls him the rock–the foundation–of His church in Matthew 16:18. He was one of the first apostles. The gospel spread like wildfire because of him.
But in order to turn back, you have to first turn away. Jesus knew that despite his giftings, Peter wasn’t perfect. Yet, He still asks him to be the one to strengthen his brothers. I believe we have that same call on our lives.
Lately one of the things that God has been teaching me is that in any relationship, romantic or platonic, family, friends, classmates, coworkers, whoever, the goal is to build the other person up so that they are a better person for having known me. It’s a concept that goes against my selfish nature; it definitely needs to be Spirit-led.
If one of my greatest purposes in life is to “strengthen my brothers” (and sisters), that changes things. That changes how I spend my free time, how I talk to people, how often I complain…that list could get pretty long. It changes just about everything. Before I knew Jesus (and for a long time after I knew Him) I lived my life like my main purpose was to strengthen myself. But, and this is going to sound strange, I’m learning how to steward the people God has put into my life well. I don’t want to treat them the way my flesh tells me to. My flesh tells me to try and dazzle everyone–make them impressed with me so that they’ll validate me. Or, use them to get where I want to go. This may come as a shock (#sarcasm), but that’s not God puts people into our lives for. If the believers around us are our brothers and sisters, then that’s sibling rivalry.*
Part of making disciples is ministering to disciples. That’s why we need community. When we’re weak, our community can strengthen us, and when we’re strong, we get to pour out. Community made an enormous difference in the way I walk with Jesus. It has reinforced my faith when it faltered, and I’ve had opportunities to strengthen others. There really is nothing like it. That’s why part 3 of this random little blog series is “Go strengthen your brothers.” Let them strengthen you. It’s part of living in the Kingdom, and it’s so fun. 🙂
*When I was 2 I
allegedly pushed my 11 month old brother off the couch and broke his arm and I think that’s what kicked off a grand childhood sibling rivalry between us. Love you, Joe.
This is part 3 of the “Go” series. You can find the first post here and the second post here.