And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you, both to prison and to death.” Then Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know me.” Luke 22:31-34
As Simon Peter followed Jesus and saw his amazing miracles and ways he commanded many situations, it was impossible for Peter to envision the crushing disappointment of his own weakness. Jesus reminds Peter and the others that in this life we have a still potent enemy who is sometimes given permission to “sift us like wheat”. View this video for the impact of Jesus’ metaphor.
Jesus’ assurance “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail” became not only Simon’s security in the midst of his human failure, but the security of all those who have followed Jesus over the centuries.
And He said to them, “When I sent you without money, bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning me have an end.” So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough” (35-38).
These words prepare the apostles for the resistance and battles they will face during and after Jesus accomplishes the world-changing events of the next few days and weeks. Jesus reminds them that all they needed was available when he earlier sent them out on their own – but they will now need to more thoughtfully prepare after Jesus returns to his Father.
Our culture’s traditions about the Way of Jesus sometimes contain ideas that give those who follow him the impression they should expect ongoing prosperity and ability to sail through any problem with ease. So when inevitable trials come that require perseverance, a few depart Jesus’ Way looking for easier answers.
Are you or a loved one in the midst of a “sifting”? Go to Psalm 62:1-2 for encouragement to never be shaken, see how Simon Peter learned to view sifting in 1 Peter 1:3-9, see what Jesus is now doing in Hebrews 7:25 or search the scriptures for more words promising God’s support, encouragement and presence. Meditate on what Jesus is saying to you about himself and his care for you and your loved ones.
By Kathleen Petersen