You are they which have continued with me in my temptations (Luke 22:28).
When Jesus made this statement, none of His disciples had deserted Him yet. No one had denied Him yet. They were the ones that had remained when everyone else had left (John 6:66). The Lord tells them furthermore what has been appointed for them in the future, but before they could share in His glory, they had to first share in His suffering. Then He said to Peter, Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not; and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren (vs 31-32).
If Satan is asking about you, it’s because you are a threat to his kingdom. He knew Peter was a threat. He knew that Peter (just like Jesus) was sent to destroy his works. He wasn’t afraid of what Peter was doing now (works). He was afraid of what Peter was going to do (greater works). Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do because I go unto my Father (John 14:12). One day, Peter would be filled with the Holy Ghost. He would no longer deny Christ, but he would receive holy boldness. The sick would even be brought into the streets so that when he passed by, his shadow (with healing power) would fall on some of them.
The word, sift, means to examine thoroughly so as to isolate that which is important or useful. It means to separate and to scatter. This is what the enemy wanted to do to Peter. He wanted Peter to separate and isolate himself from God and the brethren (the people who could help and strengthen him). He wanted to take away the very word that was sown in his heart. The enemy knows that all things are possible to him that believes and this is what he wanted to attack – his belief and his faith.
I know that Peter heard what Jesus said, but I’m not sure that he understood what He was saying. He then told Jesus, Lord, I’m ready to go with you, both to prison and to death (vs 33). After Peter spoke these words, the test came.
While Jesus was praying in Gethsemane, he told his disciples to pray that they don’t fall or enter into temptation (just for one hour), but instead they slept. When Jesus was arrested, Peter became fearful and followed from afar. He didn’t just deny Him one time, but He denied Him three times. While Peter spoke the third time, the cock crew and the Lord turned and looked at Peter (vs 61). He then went outside and cried. I know if it was me, I would have been beating myself up, thinking that Jesus was mad or disappointed in me.
But one day, an angel told Mary Magdalene and Mary (the mother of James) to tell Jesus’ disciples AND Peter, Jesus is going to Galilee ahead of you and you will see him there as he told you (Mark 16:7). Can you imagine how Peter felt? The angel called Peter by name. Jesus wanted to see him, too.
I have called you by your name and you are Mine (Isaiah 43:1).
Before my son’s basketball games started, he would tell me about his practices. One day, he told me he was sore. Another day, he told me he sprained his ankle. My thought was, If basketball brings that much pain or discomfort, why won’t he just stop playing? So I asked, Why are you still playing basketball? What makes you go back to practice? He said, It makes me stronger. (That was from the mouth of a 14-year-old).
In order for your faith to grow from little to great, it has to go through something. It has to be tested. Many in the Old Testament were made strong and became mighty through faith (Hebrews 11:34). The enemy is after your faith because it is your faith that wins the victory over Him and the world (1 John 5:4).
And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us. And if we know He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him (1 John 5:14-15).
Don’t throw away your confidence. Have faith in God. He is not a man that He should lie. Don’t beat yourself up about things you have done or said in the past. Remember the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet? Luke described her as a sinner (7:37). Her sins were many, but Jesus forgave them all (7:47). Just like Peter, you are going to make it because Jesus is sitting on the right hand of the Father praying for you. The sifting and the testing didn’t destroy Peter. It only made him better and stronger. And because he was strong, he could now bear the infirmities of the weak and strengthen others.
You may have failed in some areas of your life, but your faith is not going to fail.