“A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:25-27
“Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21
“After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” John 21:15
What do all these verses have in common?
Jesus is addressing the heart.
These verses show that…
You can love others more than Jesus.
You can love yourself more than Jesus.
You can love money and material things more than Jesus.
You can love your job or position more than Jesus.
Peter thought he loved Jesus more than anything, even more than his own life. He said he was willing to die with Jesus, but when faced with the reality of Jesus’ arrest what he really loved, his own life, was exposed.
Jesus told Peter that Satan had asked to “sift him as wheat.” Sifting was something they did to the grains of wheat after it was threshed from the chaff. The grain was scooped up from the threshing floor and sifted to separate it from any rocks or debris from the floor. Sifting purified the grains of wheat so they could be ground into flour.
The sifting process required a great shaking as the grain and rocks and debris were jostled together.
Sifting came suddenly upon Peter.
Peter’s world was shaken.
Peter’s faith was jostled.
Peter did something he never thought he would. He denied three times the One he had left everything to follow. The One who showed him the power and love of God, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
But, that night when Jesus was arrested and taken before the high priest, Peter’s world was shaken…his expectations, his desires, his faith, were suddenly challenged with fear for his very life.
This suddenly…this sifting…this shaking…brought Peter to the end of himself. Looking into the eyes of Truth, the loving eyes of Jesus, Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Satan’s agenda for “sifting Peter as wheat” was to shake Peter of what he believed…
to jostle him with fear so that his faith would fail…
then to accuse and condemn him so that he would completely forsake Jesus.
But, Jesus had given Peter a promise…
“Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” Matthew 16:17-19
And, Jesus had prayed for Peter…
“But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32
In this place of doubt and uncertainty Peter decided to do what he had left three years ago. He decided to do what came naturally and that which was comfortable. Peter went fishing. His friends came with him and though they fished all night their nets came up empty. In the morning a “man” on the beach told them to throw their nets on the right side of their boat. Immediately their nets filled to overflowing!
Peter knew in a moment it was Jesus!
I’m sure he remembered the first time this happened…when he first met Jesus…
“When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.”For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught,” Luke 5:8-9
This was where Peter first believed!
This was when Peter first fell to his knees in worship of Jesus!
This is where Peter’s faith was born!
Jesus saw beyond Satan’s agenda for “sifting Peter as wheat” and prayed that God would use it for Peter’s good. He used what was meant to turn Peter away from God to be the very thing that drew Peter closer. Jesus’ prayer for Peter used the strategies of the enemy; fear, lies, and shame, to bring Peter to the end of himself; to show him the sin he was capable of, to humble him. Jesus’ prayer that Peter’s faith would not fail gave Peter grace to confess and repent of his sin.
Jesus was jealous for Peter; He wanted his whole heart, soul, strength, and mind.
Jesus intended for Peter’s faith not to fail, but to become even stronger, and for his heart to be purified of all that Peter loved more than Him.
“After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. John 21:15
What Satan meant for harm, God intended for good!
Sifting didn’t disqualify Peter!
Sifting purified Peter!
Sifting strengthened Peter!
Sifting promoted Peter!
The next time you find yourself “sifted as wheat,” when your world is suddenly shaken, your faith jostled to the point it is about to fail, remember…
Jesus knew about your sifting, it has passed through His loving hands.
Jesus has prayed for you, that your faith will not fail.
Allow the sifting to bring you to the end of yourself. If you have sinned, look into the loving eyes of Jesus, and weep bitterly. Godly sorrow over sin brings cleansing and healing. Confess and repent of your sin. Embrace the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Ask Him to remind you of when you first fell in love with Him, and to purify you of all you love more than Him.
Sifting can be harsh and painful. It can be heart breaking and confusing. But, when you trust your Heavenly Father and yield to the working of the Holy Spirit, you will come through your season of sifting with greater faith, a purified heart, and a story to tell others that will encourage them.
I praise God that my faith didn’t fail when my world was shaken by the death of my dream!
*The cinnamon rolls were a surprise made by Kayla for our 36th wedding anniversary! She’s an amazing baker!