Luke 22:31-32 Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of 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 your brothers.
Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.
The process of sifting wheat involves putting the harvested wheat into a sifter, similar to a large blanket tossing and shaking it back and forth. The wheat is sifted until the chaff (husks) are separated and all that remained is the best part of the wheat. This process enables the undesirable parts to be ‘winnowed out’ without destroying the wheat. Without sifting, the wheat is unusable.
In this passage, Jesus is referring to all disciples, not just Simon. Satan asked God for permission to sift all believers. Our enemy wanted to break us, make us weaker and cause us to lose our faith. But, as with all things that are intended for evil, God will turn it around and use it for our good and for His glory. The sifting process is not fun, but it removes the unusable parts and makes us more like Jesus.
“We can imagine a picture like this: Satan has a big sieve with jagged-edged wires forming a mesh with holes shaped like faithless men and women. What he aims to do is throw people into this sieve and shake them around over these jagged edges until they are so torn and weak and desperate that they let go of their faith and fall through the sieve as faithless people, right into Satan's company. Faith cannot fall through the mesh. It's the wrong shape. And so as long as the disciples hold to their faith, trusting the power and goodness of God for their hope, then they will not fall through the mesh into Satan's hands.” (John Piper, Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church)
But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon that your faith should not fail.
Jesus prayed specifically for Simon. I love that Jesus went to His Father and interceded for Simon so that during the time that he stumbled, his faith would not be completely destroyed. Jesus knew what Simon was about to do, but Jesus also knew that the power of God could help Simon come out on the other side of his transgression.
We all make mistakes. We are human and God knows we are going to trip even before we know. But, He will never leave us or forsake us. He will be there through it all and He will be there on the other side with loving open arms and a high-five.
So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.
What a great example of my Pastor’s favorite quote, “failure is not final”. In a sense, Jesus was saying, “Yes, Simon, I know you are going to mess up, but I also know that your heart is true to God. I know you will repent and turn your face back towards Him. When you have been sifted and are made stronger, teach others to do the same.”
We need to encourage one another. We need to be honest about the times we are tripping or stumbling. Perhaps our lessons will help another follower avoid the same trap. Perhaps our sifting will encourage someone else as they are being sifted. We need to be transparent about our struggles because as Christians, we are all being sifted and we are all working towards the same goal.
Father God, I know that you never leave me, and that knowledge, gives me hope during the difficult times. Thank you for helping me stand strong in my faith. Teach me to have stronger faith so that it will not fail. Help me to see the lessons that I am learning through the sifting process and help me to pass what I have learned, to others. I welcome the sifting because with each shake of the sifter I am more like Your Son Jesus, Amen.