Peter: Shifted as Wheat
Primary Purpose: God’s allows a sifting process to make us into what he
desires for us to be and do.
We are going to look at the example of Peter this morning and see how God desires to mold us into Christlikeness just as he did with Peter. He uses
trials and all sorts of circumstances to do that. Not that all circumstances that happen to us will be good. I heard about a man who always said “This is
good.” to everything that happened to him.
It seems that he went with his king on a hunting trip. He loaded the guns and the king shot them. Evidentially, he loaded one gun wrong and
when it went off it shot the king’s thumb off. Examining the situation, the friend said as usual, “This is good.”
Well, the king got mad and threw his friend in jail. “No, this is not good.” About a year later, the king goes on another hunting trip to a area
where there are cannibals. The Cannibals capture him and tie his hands and feet and bound him to a stake to cook.
As they come near, they find the kings finger is shot off. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone less than whole. So, they set the king free.
As he returned home, he felt guilty about putting his friend in jail for a year. So, he goes to the jail and apologizes to his friend. He explained what happened to him. He says, “I’m very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.”
“No, his friend replied, “This is good.”
“What do you mean, This is good.”
“How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?”
“If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you.”
The fact is is that we all go through trials and difficulties. Jesus warned Peter that he would go through a testing period in our Scripture reference today. But, Jesus apparently believed that this process was necessary for Peter. Jesus called it a sifting like wheat.
Sifting is a two stage process I have been told. One step involves tossing the wheat in the air to allow the chaff to blow away in the wind. The
second stage involves a sieve that would be used to separate what is valuable and useful from what is not profitable. In this way, the farmer cleans the
wheat and prepares it for the market. He is preparing it for a purpose.
God does that with us. He allows people, circumstances, and events in our lives to take place in order to sift us. Notice what Jesus said to Peter in Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you turn back,
strengthen your brother.” NIV.
We might have expected Jesus to say, “Satan, demanded permission to sift you like wheat, but I didn’t let him.” I wish it had said that, but that’s not what it says. Jesus allowed it in Peter’s life even though he loved Peter. It had to go through Jesus before Satan got permission, but Jesus did allow it. Notice also that Jesus encouraged Peter by telling him “I have prayed for you.” v.32. He believed that Peter is eventually going to be stronger from having gone through this. He says, “When you turned back” not if, but when. Jesus sees what Peter can become, not just what Peter is. Jesus sees what you can become also. He sees what is valuable after all the chaff is destroyed.
John MacArthur tells a story in his book “Twelve Ordinary Men” about Tommy Lasorda, who use to be the manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had a young pitcher who was very accurate and had a strong arm, but he wasn’t aggressive. Tommy encouraged him to show some grit and determination. He gave him the nickname “Bulldog”. Every time he
called the young man that he was reminding him to be strong and determined.
This pitcher was Orel Hershiser, a pitcher how became known for determination and strength on the pitchers mound.
Jesus called Peter, the Rock, even though he often resembled a slippery river rock on the bottom of a river bed more than a foundation stone. Peter is
the one who seems to have a bad case of foot in the mouth disease. He speaks us when where angels fear to tread. He’s going to say something, it may not make sense, but he’s going to talk. But Jesus, saw what Peter could become, not just what he was. He saw his potential.
So, over the years Jesus works with him. Just as he allows us to experience difficulties and trials. He allowed Peter to experience difficulties.
If you look in Matthew 16:13-23 you’ll see the high point and low point of Peter’s life. He is encouraged and called a Rock by the Lord and also called Satan. Jesus had his strongest praise and greatest rebuke for Peter. Jesus wanted for Peter to learn several things:
1. Humility- Peter was the one who tried to cut off the servant of the high priests ear in the middle of what was possibly 600 Roman soldiers gathered
around him. Peter said he wouldn’t deny Jesus even if it meant death. He had to learn that he wasn’t as strong as he thought. He had to learn he wasn’t
always right. He had to learn to submit to the Lord with humility. He had to learn his ways weren’t always God’s ways. Matthew 26:33-35
Maybe this is part of the experience by which Peter then can encourage others when he writes in 1 Pet 1:7 “These have come so that your faith-of
greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is
C.S. Lewis once said that “Pain insists upon being attended to, God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our
pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
2. Love for others- he needed to understand how much God loves all people. 1 Peter 4:8; 1:22 Even in the book of Acts God is showing Peter that he
loves all people, not just Jews and is concerned about all. He gives Peter a vision and from that Peter says, “You are all well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or to visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.” Acts 10:28
3. Submission to God- Matthew 16:23 He needed to learn that his will and God’s will are not always the same. Jesus told him that he would one day die
for the faith. He told him that the road would be difficult ahead. He told him to follow him John 21:18-19