Summary: Satan would like nothing more than to destroy you and your witness for Christ. But, even if you fail, Jesus has prayed for you and wants you, out of the failure, to strengthen others when you recover.
There are several events that have shaped the course of my life. Some have been quite dramatic. And because of the nature of the drama surrounding those events, they remain vividly etched in my memory.
My wedding day, although over twenty five years ago, remains a fresh memory on the landscape of my mind.
The adoption of our son, Kevin. I have a friend whose parents tell him they cannot remember the circumstances surrounding his adoption. There are graphic remembrances of everything leading up to and including the day we went to get Kevin.
Being called as pastor to my first church.
All of these events drastically changed the course of my life and because the circumstances surrounding them are so spectacular, they remain intensely vivid.
There are other events that have also changed the course of my life ... but due to the fact that they were less dramatic, while still important, they do not come up with such clarity.
Our Scripture passage for tonight is one of those events that seems to be overshadowed by the dramatic events unfolding around them. In the twenty-second chapter of Luke we have events that have greatly impacted the Christian faith for 2,000 years.
The institution of the Lord’s Supper; our Lord praying with such intensity in the Garden of Gethsemane that He sweat great drops of blood;
Judas’ betrayal of Jesus; Peter’s denial of Christ;
All of these events have had a great impact on our faith. It is easy to understand that our Scripture passage would be somewhat obscured by these great happenings. But there is a tremendous lesson for us in these two verses in Luke 22:31-32.
Please open your Bibles and follow along as I read.
Jesus betrayer had departed. Jesus was with this handful of men to whom He would ultimately entrust the future of Christianity. They had been hand-picked.
They had been with Jesus for three years, learning at the greatest seminary ever known to man.
They watched as He had performed one miracle after another. They were there when He walked on water.
They saw Him turn water into wine, magnificent wine.
They marveled as He raised Lazarus from the dead. They were on the hillside that day when He took a small boy’s lunch, and fed a multitude. And yet, they were still lacking in their preparation ... their seminary under the tutelage of Dr. Jesus.
He was about to be crucified and He wanted to warn them of the terrible trial that awaited them.
As He looked at these men, He knew their strengths ... their God-given gifts, He knew their potential ... each and every one of them. But, He also knew their weaknesses, their vulnerabilities.
And He wanted them to know that in spite of their potential, they were going to fail, and fail miserably.
Satan Wants to Sift You Like Wheat
Look at verse 31. Although Jesus comments were spoken to Peter, His message was to all the disciples. The "you" in verse 31 is plural. His message was simple, Satan desires to destroy your faith.
He told them, "Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat."
I find it interesting that Satan had to obtain permission to manipulate these men. That same idea is expressed in the book of Job. Satan wanted to prove that Job was not the man that God said he was, so he asked permission to try to destroy Job’s faith. Job was devastated by disaster after disaster and it came about by divine permission. The disciples were about to be "sifted like wheat" and it was going to happen with God’s knowledge and permission.
Jesus used the picture of a farmer separating the grain from the chaff to describe what the days ahead would be like for the disciples. Sifting grain is the last step in cleaning the trash out of the wheat before it can be used for food. One writer said, "Violent shaking in a sieve makes this process a fitting description of the agitation that tries one’s faith almost to the point of destroying it."
Although, Jesus’ remarks were for all the disciples,
He addressed Peter. He knew Peter’s weaknesses. Peter thought he was invincible against Satan’s attack.
After all, he was the one who had walked on the water like Jesus. He was the one who had been on the mountaintop and saw Jesus glorified along with Elijah and Moses. He was part of the inner circle of three to whom Jesus devoted additional time.
But Peter was on the brink of disaster and the very thing that Peter thought was his strong point, was the place that Satan had planned to attack. Satan was about to sift him like wheat.
Patty and I married July 10, 1971. We have always had a great relationship. We have always tried to be courteous to each other and we have the kind of relationship where we communicate and respond in love.