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Sifted and Sent

Peter was a marked man, marked by the devil himself. Hell viewed this fisherman as something of a soft target. Peter struggled with consistency as he walked beside the Savior of the world.

Jesus met Peter, we read in John 1, because his brother Andrew, a faithful disciple of John the Baptist, was sure he had found the Messiah. At once, the Lord gave him a new name. Simon, the son of John, became known as Peter – a stone.

Did his fellow fishing friends giggle at the Lord’s declaration? I can imagine them doing so. “Stone? More like putty,” they may have murmured. What must Andrew have thought? He knew his brother better than anyone.

Jesus saw Peter, however, from the God perspective, from the Finished Work perspective, from Resurrection life perspective. He understood that Peter would come under fire. He also knew the mighty man of God Peter would become.

In Luke 22, at the Last Supper, the Lord said this:  “Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you like wheat.”

The Story of Job

Sifted, the Bible doesn’t leave us in the dark about what this means. We can read about it in the book of Job. This ancient story begins with Satan coming before God. There, the Lord asked the devil if he noticed the faith of Job. Satan mocked at the Lord’s boast: “Of course, Job blesses and believes in You – he has wealth and children. Take away his things, and you’ll see – he will curse You.”

The Lord let Satan have Job’s possessions and his people. Soon, all was gone – his herds, his sons, his daughters. Even in this state, Job blessed the Lord.

Satan again came before God, and again the Lord pointed out Job’s faithfulness.  Satan scoffed:  “Yes, he survived that round, but just let him get sick a little bit and you’ll see – Job will curse You to Your face.”

This time God let Satan attack Job’s body. Boils broke out upon his skin. It staggered him. He sat on an ash heap and tried to get some relief from the rash by scratching himself with a piece of pottery. His wife could not bear the sight of him. Brokenhearted at her husband’s pain and appearance, she begged him:  “Curse God and die.”

The story proceeds with friends who, at first, refused to talk to him and then talked way too much to him and about him. Their words centered on single note:  Job has sinned and offended God and brought misfortune upon himself and his house.

The story reaches a remarkable conclusion: the Lord showed up to speak with Job. It was not a pleasant meeting, as God confronted Job with myriad questions. Still, Job stood fast before his God. He refused to run away; he did not go out from the presence of God the way Cain did in Genesis 4. Job had said much about the Lord and complained bitterly at the unfairness of his plight. But then he recognized his place in the order of all things. He covered his mouth and listened to the Lord reveal His mind.

Everything Job suffered led to a new and living way for this man of God. Click To Tweet

Everything he suffered led to a new and living way for this man of God. It all resulted in a double portion for Job in terms of his herds and flocks and 10 more children were born to him and his wife.

Beyond all this, Job’s heart was enlarged, as described by the psalmist: “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (Psalm 119:32).

The Faith of the Son of God

The sifting of Job was something God worked together for good. But the devil never learns the lesson. And so Satan wanted to see how his sifting would work on one of Jesus’ main men.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you like wheat.”

It’s here in Luke 22 that we learn one of the most important elements of our lives in Christ. The reality is that He is ever with us. Right after Jesus talks about the sifting, He said this, “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Christ prayed that faith would not fail in Peter. What music this should be to our hearts! This is the message of our security in Him.

We don’t have to keep ourselves in Christ. Our spiritual success is the Father’s business, a business that the Son is ever about (see Luke 2). He ever intercedes for us; He always advocates for us; He continually presents the Blood of His once-and-for-all offering for our sins.

Peter tried on his own to stand with Jesus. He swung a sword and chopped off an ear. His strength proved small, however. When pushed to identify with his Lord and Master, Peter fell hard and fast. His triplet of denials caught the ear of Jesus, who turned and looked upon His sifted disciple (see Luke 22:61-64).

Peter wept – bitter waters poured out of this “stone.”

New Beginning in Resurrection

This, however, marked a new beginning for Peter. His failures were not final. Something died within him in that moment, as he warmed himself by the fire in Jerusalem. His self-confidence buried, Peter was now ready to rise.

Three days later, the resurrected Lord and Savior appeared to Peter and to others. These chosen witnesses shared the truth of Jesus Alive. Their hearts now enlarged, made big by the reality of the Risen One, they began to wait and pray.

The death, resurrection, and ascension of the Savior opened the way for an even greater expansion within them. Soon the Holy Spirit filled them all.

And Peter, once reduced to tears, became the bold voice for the truth of the Resurrection. He stood upon the Rock and preached of salvation in Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Read Acts and see Peter preach at Pentecost. See him pull a lame man to his feet. See his shadow bring healing to sick. See him talk back to the religious authorities trying to shut him up:

“We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (see Acts 4:20).

The faith of the Son of God never fails. Resurrection power is ours now and forever.

 

 

 

 

Steve Andrulonis

Steve Andrulonis

Spent more than 25 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before entering full-time ministry in 2006. He assists the Senior Pastor of Greater Grace, helps to manage church services, coordinates the Grace Hour radio broadcast, and teaches at Maryland Bible College and Seminary and Greater Grace Christian Academy.
Steve Andrulonis

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