Faith of A Mustard Seed

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington, M. Div.

… but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:32).  Again, Luke’s Single tradition verse embedded in the Triple tradition ‘Peter’s Denial Prophesied’— his eleventh and final occurrence of ‘pistis/faith’.

I am beginning to recognize the significance of directed study of the occurrences of words in scripture.  Thus far this word for faith used most specifically in the Gospel’s sayings, teaching and ministry of Jesus.  Several rare concepts have been identified in conjunction with it’s usage.  And here, again, a very rare concept is used.

Jesus says to Peter, I have ‘edeithen/prayed’ for you that your ‘pistis/faith’ may not ‘eklipe/fail’— where both word forms used for ‘prayed’ and for ‘fail’ are so rare that Young’s has not identified either.  Needless to say again that the problems with this text persists in that it is a verse that is only recorded by Luke, a saying which appears as a ‘pop-up’ in ‘Peter’s Denial Prophesied’ recorded also by Matthew and Mark.  Subsequently, ‘this prayer’ is one that is difficult to get a handle on.  What is it about this prayer that Jesus prayed that makes it ‘stand alone’ in scripture with no parallel?

Kittle places ‘edeithen/prayed’ among the ‘deisis’ word study group; first used for ‘specific prayer in concrete situations’.  ‘Eklipe/fail’ is placed among the ‘dokimos’ word study group which has the sense of ‘tested in battle’; ‘reliable’; ‘trustworthy’; ‘certifiable’; ‘to find worthy’; ‘proven valuable’.  While instances are found in secular Greek, Grundmann suggests that it first acquires religious significance in the New Testament and that in Pauline thought and usage of this concept “we are brought face to face with ideas that are peculiar to the New Testament”.

To have reached a moment in the history of the nation where no clear life directive can be seen; is realized by some as chaos.  By order of a health Pandemic Crisis that speaks of disease and death in numbers ravaging the population that can neither be understood nor seen.  By order the Church, as I say, banished into cyberspace, collapsing the corporate voice of faith; now left to the so called evangelicals whose concern for a god of unknown origin and purpose ram rods it’s way into the political life of the nation, with narrow concerns for only a few as the times now dictate.  By order, the University intellectual life of reason is halted by the already ambiguous ever changing educational systems now bounced like a rubber ball in a spiraling momentum.  Job and business loss now catapulting life into economic depression.  In late 2020 the ‘Mental Health America’ described the mental health crisis at it’s highest levels seen as the Pandemic perseveres; stating ‘the troubling trends of isolation and loneliness giving rise to alarming levels of suicide and self harm in both the adult and child population’.

The small stuff?  A single prayer from Jesus found only one time in the entire realm of scripture: specific and concrete!  Listen up Peter.  You are about to be in the throes of great temptation.  Your understanding of faith has not reached for THE single and solitary TOP where there is ONLY GOD!  Your satan makes demands upon your life to which you will yield.  You will be sifted as wheat.  But, in this concrete situation, in this space in life time, I have prayed for you!!  Not for your deliverance, you must go through— not for your salvation, not for your healing, not for your wealth, but, specifically, concretely that ‘your faith may not fail’.  I pray for you, Peter, that you will have a faith ‘tested in battle’.  A faith that is ‘reliable’; ‘trustworthy’; and ‘certifiable’.  A faith ‘to find worthy’; and ‘proven valuable’.

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