The Sifting

Guest Author: Elsa Abraham

Jesus and His disciples had finished the last Passover meal and began conversing about what would happen shortly. The Lord predicted Peter’s denial, which Peter vehemently denied. In Luke 22:31-32 two specific verses indicate what would happen:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Satan is God’s enemy and the accuser of the saints. Before Satan could sift Peter like wheat, he had to have permission from the Lord. The Lord Jesus is our Great High Priest. Here, the Lord’s role was to pray for Peter. As our Great High Priest, Christ’s role is to plead for us before the throne of God. The Lord does not pray that the sifting does not occur, but gives Satan permission to do so. He instead prays that Peter’s faith would be unshaken. It is encouraging that Satan is allowed to sift us like wheat only with the Lord’s permission – even more importantly, that the Lord is pleading for us before the Father that our faith would not fail.

The process of sifting wheat was not a gentle one. The wheat had to be separated from the chaff by threshing. This was done on a threshing floor by trampling the grains or by animal labor. The next step was winnowing where the grain and chaff would be thrown into the air. The lighter chaff would fly away but the wheat would fall back down. This would purify the wheat so only the grains of wheat remained. Needless to say, the process was deliberate, methodical and rough. The adversary would like nothing less than to see us go through this process and turn from our faith. Perhaps the most important truths to learn from the above passage are the results that the sifting would produce on Peter.

For Peter, the sifting process would produce three important outcomes. First, the sifting would cause his faith to be strong. Peter’s faith and love for the Lord would shortly be challenged with a life and death situation. We know that in his case he denied the Lord. But after coming out of this trial, the Lord used him in mighty ways to impact the world. Furthermore, the sifting would purify and sanctify Peter. It would bring Peter to a point of brokenness and repentance. Like wheat needs to be sifted to remove impurities, the Lord allows us to be sifted to bring us to a point of repentance. Finally, once the sifting was done Peter returned and was instructed to strengthen his brethren. The Lord wanted Him to encourage his brethren during their time of sifting so they would remain strong.

Let us be encouraged that the Lord works all things together for our good. The sifting is with the Lord’s permission, produces in us an unwavering faith, purifies us, and enables us to strengthen others. When the Lord allows Satan to sift you and I like wheat, let us be reminded that we have a great High Priest who is pleading before the Father that our faith would not fail.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.Romans 8:28

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