The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 47

“Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail” [Luke 22: 31-32, emphasis mine].

When Jesus was teaching a principle, he used examples from real life that his listeners could relate to. Because of this, the people of his day who were open to spiritual truth were in a much better position to relate to, understand and apply his teaching than we are. We often look for hidden meanings and adopt an analytical and scholarly approach, to the extent that we lose the power of simplicity.

In this passage, Jesus singled out Peter, warning him that a time of great testing would come upon Peter when Jesus went to the cross. But, whilst the warning had direct and immediate implications for Peter, it was also meant for all the other disciples. That this is so is evident from the trials and persecutions they went through later. And the same truth holds for all of us who follow Jesus: Satan will never cease to ‘sift us as wheat’.

It is helpful to understand what Satan’s objective is in ‘sifting”. The purpose of ‘sifting’ is to separate. In Jesus’ time, wheat was sifted in order to remove the chaff. The sieve would be grasped in both hands and by shaking it forcefully from side to side, together with a seesaw motion; the lighter chaff would come to the surface and would then be blown away with the mouth. It was a vigorous process.

Notice that Jesus assured Peter not to fear the sifting because He (Jesus) had prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. Jesus knew that Satan’s efforts would be directed first towards Peter’s hope - because when hope is gone, courage fails and man gives up. Hope has to do with visions of the future. Hope is entertained in the mind, whist faith is entertained in the heart. Hope has to do with the intellectual belief system. All of Peter’s dreams (hopes) about what Jesus would accomplish as Israel’s Messiah-King were dashed to the ground when Jesus was facing the cross. Satan attacked Peter’s mind first, causing him to lose hope, so that he would become discouraged and give up. Is the same not true of us?

When Peter denied Jesus his faith did not fail; neither did his love. It was his hope that failed! His heart and his mind were in opposition.

When hardships come our way, the things that we hope for seem out of reach and unattainable. We begin to justify our negative thoughts by our circumstances. But all is not lost! As we trustingly hand over our circumstances to Jesus, we will find our hope renewed. Just remember that Jesus, our Great High Priest, prays that our faith will not fail us. Jesus’ prayers are always answered!

            Devotional                                                                                                                            Preach The Word The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues