Good morning. My name is David Sorn and I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
I love studying the Bible.
I sat down this week to dive deep into our passage, and my first thought was, “Huh, what do I even say with this one?”
And yet the more I read it and the more I studied, the richer, and deeper this passage became to me.
It’s a beautiful passage that helps us more deeply understand the trials we all face.
I think there is much here that we can learn about God.
In fact, so much that I’m going to take the back half of our passage today and we’ll cover that in House Groups (for those who have it this week), and that will allow us to dive even deeper into the first 4 verses.
So, everybody grab a Bible
We are continuing in our teaching series through the Book of Luke in the Bible.
Luke is 1 of 4 books in the Bible about the life, teachings, death & resurrection of Jesus.
We are in Chapter 22, where it’s a Thursday night, the night before Jesus is going to be crucified on Good Friday.
Jesus has just had the Last Supper with his disciples, and now he’s in a long conversation with them.
Let’s take a look: (Explain that simon is peter)
(Luke 22:31-34) – NIV
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
SIFT YOU LIKE WHEAT…SO THAT YOUR FAITH MAY NOT FAIL
Okay, keep that open, we’re going to refer back to it often
This is what we do here…we study God’s Word.
I don’t just stand up here and tell entertaining stories, give you life hacks, and then pop a Bible verse on at the end
Listen, yes, we want the Bible to be relevant to your life so you can apply it…
But we want you to be in it, to know it, to study it, and to love it!
It’s the Word of God, and so we teach through it
Whether we’re going verse-by-verse through a Book, or just covering a random passage at a time, we read it, study it, love it, obey it.
All right…if you’re unfamiliar with this story of Peter, sorry I’m going to spoil what’s going to happen later in the chapter (a passage we’ll cover in just 3 weeks)
Later that same Thursday night, shortly after Jesus is arrested, Jesus is at one of his many “false trials” he must endure
And Peter is sitting outside the trial in a courtyard, and 3 times Peter is asked if he’s a follower of Jesus, and 3 times he denies it (and then the rooster crows…just as Jesus predicted)
But eventually, after Jesus’ resurrection (man I’m spoiling a lot right now), Peter is forgiven by Christ, and he becomes one of the great leaders of the early Christian movement.
So let’s walk through this…starting at verse 31
(Luke 22:31) – NIV
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.
Now, whenever we have a passage on Satan (the devil) or even demons, I always like to pause for a second.
Because there are certainly some of you who are asking: “That’s just pretend right? Like, they believed that back then, but we don’t, as modern people believe that now, right?”
I would tell you to look closely at the Bible:
Jesus speaks of Satan and demons as if they are 100% real.
And I always tell people, if you’re an atheist, I get why you wouldn’t believe in Satan.
BUT, if you think like it is indeed logical that there is a Spiritual being called God, and He has spiritual beings called angels…
If you already believe all that, it’s no less logical to believe that evil spiritual beings exist as well.
In fact, it might be less logically consistent to believe that good exists and evil doesn’t.
So Satan, the leader, and the worst of all of the fallen angels, has asked to come at Peter
And Satan has asked not just to tempt Peter, or lightly bother him, but to “sift him as wheat” Jesus says
Now wheat has chaff (the inedible part around it), so you had to sift wheat to get rid of the chaff, so you could just have the edible or good wheat.
So think of a sieve here (or even a strainer if that’s more helpful for you in modern day)
And what Satan is asking for is to toss Peter up and down and around…brutally on the sieve…
And why does he want to do that?
We see that in the middle of verse 32
Jesus tells us that he has prayed for Peter…and what exactly did Jesus pray for?
Do you see it? Look at it.
He prays… “that your faith may not fail”
That is the devil’s objective.
He wants to toss this believer up and down…so that…he would let go of his faith…
His faith being the part of him that trusts God.
The word faith means, not only to believe, but also to act on what you believe
That’s real faith.
Christian, this passage really rich and really important.
The devil’s main objective is not to make you sick
It is not to make you miserable or depressed
It is not to simply worsen your circumstances.
His objective…is to make your faith fail.
And it’s critical that you recognize this scheme.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:11 that we are to be “aware of the devil’s schemes”
And so it’s essential that when your life gets hard that you do not let your heart begin to question the goodness of God.
That’s EXACTLY what Satan wants you to do.
He wants you to yell at God and say, “If you were good, and even real, you would have never let this happen to me! I’m not even sure I believe in you anymore.”
And so if you can be aware of the exact nature of Satan’s schemes on the front end, your heart will be so much safer from this dangerous temptation.
SATAN HAS ASKED
So we see that the devil wants your faith to fail, but did you notice that very interesting in verse 31?
Jesus says that “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat”
He has to get permission from God first.
This is very similar to what we see in the Book of Job in the Old Testament
Job was an incredibly upright and righteous man…and God tells that to Satan.
But watch what happens:
(Job 1:9-12a) – NIV
9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
And if you keep reading, Satan wreaks havoc on Job’s life.
And if you’re wondering why, we’ll talk about that, or you could also skip ahead tonight to Job 38 and read the Lord’s response to Job (who, along with his friends) spend 36 chapters questioning why God would do such a thing (as that’s what the book is about)
But let me point out here a number of things that Luke chapter 22, the Book of Job, and other places in Scripture teach us about Satan
And I want to actually quote from John Piper here.
It’s a bit lengthy, but I believe it’s very helpful:
(Notice that) one implication is that Satan has a lot of power in this world. Jesus calls him the "prince" or "ruler of this world" (John 16:11), and Paul calls him the "god of this age" (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the "ruler of the authority of the air" (Ephesians 2:2). He blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4) and holds them in his snare until God releases them through the gospel (2 Timothy 2:25, 26). He can take life, as with Job's children; ruin health, as with Job's body (cf. also Luke 13:16); torment with demons (Luke 11:18); provoke evil deeds (Luke 22:3); and cause natural disasters (Job 1:19). The fact that Satan has such power in the world should give a kind of seriousness to our lives which unbelievers don't have. It ought not to make us paranoid or fearful, but sober and earnest in our prayers and persistently conscious of needing God's power. But a second implication is that Satan's power is by permission from God. There are not two ultimate powers in the universe. There is only one: God. – John Piper
So there is no evil that can happen in your life without God allowing it
When you suffer, it’s important that you know that God is not in heaven thinking, “Oh no! If I only could have helped them!”
Satan is not on God’s level.
He can’t even move without God’s permission.
Why then does God even allow Satan to continuing existing?
It’s a good question, and one we must trust God for the answer
Part of it is surely due to God’s ultimate plan of glorious victory that He’s working on throughout the ages.
An easier way to say that is that we see God’s glory more clearly through the defeat of an adversary
Just as a hero doesn’t look like much of a hero without a villain to defeat
No one is talking about how great Spiderman is if there are no villains to defeat and he just jumps around New York City for fun.
But I believe that God allows Satan to prowl around in part because it’s our struggles that actually end up bringing strength to our faith.
We’ve taught on that often here
(Romans 5:3-4) – NIV
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Or a few weeks ago in Romans 8, we learned that “in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him…”
And He uses those hard times to what? Conform us into the image of His Son Jesus
STRENGTHEN YOUR BROTHERS
There is a purpose to what God allows.
There’s a really powerful small word in verse 32…one that probably meant a lot to Peter
(Luke 22:32) – NIV
32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus is saying to his disciple Peter: “It’s going to get rough”
In fact, I’m going to allow it get rough.
But when you turn back…WHEN, not if.
In other words Peter, in the hard times…
In your shame, and doubt, and depression…
Don’t forget, you are going to turn back…
and WHEN you do…
Strengthen your brothers…the other disciples and Christians…
I’m going to use you.
See Peter is going to get used by God PRECISELY because of what he went through
Let me explain:
When you read through the whole book of Luke (or any of the other Gospels), one of the things that jumps off the page is that Peter is always the first one to speak up or jump in.
He’s even the one who walks on water out to Jesus
He at times seems brash and impulsive, but he definitely seems…courageous
In fact, this is really interesting if you think about it a bit.
Peter is going to deny Jesus in matter of hours after this meal
If you could somehow time travel to minutes earlier in that meal…
And you could say, “Hey Peter. Hi, I’m from the future. Listen, you are going to mess up badly in a few hours. I’d like you to guess how it’s going to go happen”
I don’t think Peter would have ever guessed that it would be his courage that would fail him.
And yet it did.
I mean, look at what Peter says back to Jesus!
(verse 33)…He says, “I am ready to go with you to prison and to death”
And yet…he wasn’t.
Not yet anyway
And precisely because Peter wasn’t ready, God allows Satan to sift Peter as wheat
And Peter fails in an area that he thought he would probably never fail in
See… even here…Peter’s self-reliance must be broken.
God is going to need Peter to become a believer that fully, FULLY relies on Him
And guess what? Peter never boasts about his courage again.
From now on, he teaches about humility
And through this trial, this sifting, Peter will emerge a better leader.
Jesus wants him to afterwards, go and strengthen his brothers…the other disciples
And Peter is able to do that, and do it effectively, but only after he got knocked around the sieve a few times first.
Sifting gets rid of the chaff, the part that is not useful.
And God allows that jostling of Peter’s life because it, and it alone, can get rid of those parts of him that aren’t useful.
Suffering cures us of self-reliance much more efficiently than success does.
I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU
And yet in our suffering, we are not alone.
How powerful is it that Jesus says
(Luke 22:32a) – NIV
32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.
Jesus Himself is praying for Peter
This is the reason that Peter survives this awful moment of denying his Lord.
It’s not because Peter picked himself up by his bootstraps and vowed to work harder and never fail again.
That’s how the American Gospel would read, but the REAL Gospel says it’s because Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith may not fail.
And did you know that Jesus is praying for you?
It’s right here in this passage
He’s praying “that your faith may not fail”
And Pastor Josh covered this beautiful theological truth a few weeks back in Romans 8 as well
(Romans 8:34b) – NIV
Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Jesus is always praying for you in your struggles.
So I want you to step outside of your troubles for a moment, and hear the truth of God, from His Word today:
Nothing is happening in your life that God hasn’t allowed
God is going to use this to strengthen those around you
The testimony of the Christian who suffers, but still praises God, is more powerful than any sermon
And in your suffering, Jesus Himself is praying for you
I want you to think about that fact right now…
Before you let Satan lie to you and let your faith fall
I want you to try and hear the words of Jesus…
Can you picture Him…praying, specifically, for you to the Father?
Do you see Him, at the right of the father, saying your name, “Father, I pray for ___, that their faith may not fail”
Trust Him. See His heart.
Satan may ask to sift you as wheat but the power and purpose of Jesus will prevail.
And you may be here today and not even know Jesus like that.
You don’t personally know of His love for you.
And I want you to know that sometimes God even allows us to go through pain, if it’s that pain that will lead us to Him
Earlier on in this same book of Luke, in chapter 15, Jesus tells a story of a son who takes his father’s inheritance, runs off to a faraway land, and spends all of his father’s money on wild living.
But when the son’s bad choices make a mess of his life, and all he can find is getting a job feeding pigs…
And he’s so poor and his life has become so hard, that he longs to fill his stomach with the food of the pigs.
And in that moment, he says, “Maybe I should go back to my father?”
And he does, not knowing what His father will say…
But when his father sees him a long way off, the father RUNS to him with open arms, and forgives him”
And Jesus teaches that’s the heart of God for you
And it may be my friend, that God has allowed you to get to this difficult point in your life, so that you would, “Maybe I should go to the Father…in heaven?”
This is your opportunity to look up, and see the love of God.
And see that He is standing there with open arms, ready to receive you in.
Will you come to him, or for some of you, come back to Him?
If you’ve never turned your life over to Him before, it’s not complicated.
The Bible tells us that Jesus died on the cross
But in dying on the cross, Jesus was dying for your sins, in your place.
And the Bible tells us:
(Acts 16:31b) – NIV
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved
The son in that story didn’t have to get his life together first
He didn’t have to make sure his good deeds outweighed his bad deeds before He came home
He just needed to come to His father
And he cries out, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you!”
But the Father says, “This son of mine was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found”
Because of his faith to come home
You can make the same choice to come to your Father in heaven.
And tell him that you’re not good enough to live on your own.
It’s faith in Jesus Christ who died for you that can save you
And if you’ve never made that decision before, I urge you to make it today.
I want to give you this next song to think about it…and I pray you have a very serious conversation with God about it
And for the rest of you, I pray that you use this time to thank God for his work in your life, even in the hard times
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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