"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. 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 and build up your brothers," Jesus said in Luke 22:31-32 (NLT). He was warning Peter that he and all the disciples were in danger of being “sifted like wheat” no doubt because of the tremendous Kingdom work they were doing.
Simon, also known as Peter, was vital to God’s earthly Kingdom. Jesus said, in Matthew 16:18 (NLT), "Now I say to you that you are Peter (his name meant “a large piece of rock”), and upon this rock, I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it." Those were pretty big shoes to fill.
When you become a threat to Satan, he gets his sifter out and goes to work. We are not to be ignorant of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11), but rather, able to stand against them, understanding that the Lord equips us with unique pieces of spiritual armor to withstand the trickery and attacks of Satan in our everyday lives. Our adversary, the devil, is an extreme legalist and continually looks for legal reasons to war against us in areas such as our health, relationships, finances, businesses, and on a higher level, in governments, judicial systems, and national/international matters. He’s a schemer and planner of evil, and his mission is threefold: the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10).
Sifting wheat in a sieve is a violent shaking of the wheat, and the result is that the chaff, or worthless part of the wheat, is shaken off and discarded. The meaning of “sift” in this text is to shake in a sieve, to winnow; to drop the person by inward agitation; to try one’s faith to the verge of overthrow; to remove. It’s what Satan wanted to do to Job, and God allowed him to try.
Sifting can happen so quickly—sharp, sudden temptations come at us, tossing us to and fro; fear of man leaps out at us when we fail to perform at school or work; death of a loved one taunts that our life, too, is over; a business collapse destroys a marriage and home. The sifting process is intended to distract us from staying focused on the Lord, and when you have a whole lot of shakin’ going on, it’s TOUGH to remain focused on anything!
How brilliantly perceptive and wise of Jesus to include in His warning to Peter these words: "BUT I HAVE PLEADED IN PRAYER FOR YOU." Oh, how many times the Lord pleads in prayer for us, and I am sooooooo glad! Jesus knew that Satan would find a legal reason to torment and sift Peter, so He was already ahead of the game by pleading and interceding on Peter’s behalf before the Father. He does that for us, too. Wonderful Jesus! He’s already ahead of the game in your life--praying, anticipating, believing, and pleading with the Father.
Are you in the sieve right now? Is the enemy of your soul tossing you to and fro and bombarding you with impossible obstacles and trouble? Have you failed again and cannot stand up one more time? Take heart! Jesus is praying for you, and here’s the proof:
Romans 8:33-34 --Who then will condemn us? Will Christ Jesus? No, for He is the one who died for us and was raised to life for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us.
Hebrews 7:24-25--But Jesus remains a priest forever; His priesthood will never end. Therefore, He is able, once and forever, to save everyone who comes to God through Him. He lives forever to plead with God on their behalf.
1 John 2:1--My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if you do sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely.
Jesus Christ, our Advocate, Intercessor, and Savior, can stop that old sifter dead in his tracks! Jesus prays perfect prayers for us every time because He was the Father’s perfect sacrifice for us. Everything Jesus does is excellent, including those prayers. They are perfectly perfect in every way. When your world starts shaking, stand tall and strong, knowing that the prayers of your Savior can stop the sifter.
© 2023, Chris Werre