Luke 22:31-32, “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Recently, we summarized the characteristics of someone who needs to be converted, and we examined our personal responsibility to be converted and convert others. Whenever there is evidence of strife, sitting, or sifting in someone’s life, take it as a call to action, and begin planning their conversion. Converting someone cannot be a hasty, knee-jerk action, but it requires a certain method – Jesus’ method. How do you help someone who needs to be converted, who lacks strength? Jesus gives us an example to follow by the way he strengthened Peter after his fall.
Notice a few specific actions Jesus took to strengthen the weak:
Jesus gave him scriptural admonition and personal example.
Before Jesus ever taught the disciples what to do by His words, He showed them by His actions. His life example gave weight and meaning to the powerful words He spoke. Jesus could warn Peter about the coming hour of temptation only because he himself had endured a fierce hour of temptation successfully. Knowing that Jesus overcame every type of struggle we will ever face should bring great comfort to our hearts. “For we have not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). We learn from Jesus that if we are going to be successful at strengthening and converting the weak, we must first have a personal victory that gives credit to our verbal admonitions. What an influential life we will lead when we can admonish others with what Jesus said to his disciples, “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 12:15).
Jesus prayed for him, encouraged him, and gave him hope.
When Jesus told Peter, “I have prayed for thee,” there must have been a refreshing assurance that everything Jesus asked on his behalf would be granted. Living consistently on level of intimacy with God meant that God was willing to respond to his requests in intercession for Peter. After praying, he encourages Peter with this encouraging, somewhat prophetic statement: “WHEN thou art converted…” How did Jesus know that he would be brought back after his disastrous failure? Was it because he knows all things? Yes, but more than that, he had gained a confidence earlier in prayer concerning Peter’s restoration which he then voiced to him. This became a great source of hope and encouragement, giving Peter a promise to cling to. We must walk with God and persistently pray for others who need to be converted. Only in the secret place of prayer will we gain the confidence needed to say to someone, “WHEN you get through this,” or “WHEN this is over,” or “WHEN this all works out, you will be able to use this to help strengthen someone.” God has given us the privilege of prayer to give encouragement and hope to others. Let’s utilize it!!
Jesus looked upon him with a look of love and sorrow.
Jesus accomplished more with one penetrating gaze of compassion than he would have with a hundred words. “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord” (Luke 22:61). When Peter was in desperate need of conversion, Jesus refrained from using words. He could have easily and truthfully uttered the words, “I told you so,” when Peter’s fall happened precisely when and exactly how the Lord predicted. Already experiencing the weight of his failure, Peter would be more affected by this piercing glance than by any words spoken at that moment. The look on our face says a lot about the condition of our heart. We must give some thought to our facial expression toward people who have failed and need to be strengthened. A look of frustration or anger can cause further hurt and damage, while a tender look of care can bring conviction and eventually conversion. “Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). It was this godly sorrow that led him to repentance after being met with a look of love and sorrow.
Jesus is our example of how we should help strengthen those who are weak, as he is our perfect pattern in every other area of the Christian life. Peter responded to His methods, and shortly after his conversion and strengthening, he was preaching on the day of Pentecost, and thousands were saved. Would there have been three thousand souls saved on that day if Jesus had overlooked His duty to strengthen Peter? Who does the Lord want you to strengthen so that person can be used in reaching others with the gospel. Follow Jesus example of strengthening others, and realize how many people can be touched in a positive way when we are willing to be used to bring strength to others.