Satan can sift you like wheat, but do you know what the lover of your soul does? He keeps your faith from failing.
John 22:31-34, “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.” But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”
Peter, get ready to be sifted by Satan, but I am praying your faith may not fail, though you may fail
Jesus said to his main quarterback disciple, Peter, that Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat. But Jesus also said He has prayed for Peter that his faith may not fail when Satan tries to sift him.
Jesus didn’t say He will protect Peter from the trial and fail. But Jesus promised his interceding support so that his faith in Christ may not fail in the midst of his personal severe trial and subsequent failure.
Satan wanted to destroy Peter fully and completely that Peter won’t preach sermons that will convert three thousand and five thousand people to Christ. Satan wanted to destroy Peter’s faith that He won’t become an apostle to Jews, a pillar of Jerusalem church. Don’t you know Peter later wrote two marvelous epistles and those became the part of the Word of God- the Bible? Satan wanted to sift and destroy Peter’s faith so that he will not be used by God anymore in the above manners.
My friend, Jesus knew all about you and your future. He understands Satan ask permission to sift you also like wheat. Remember what happened to Peter could happen to you. Jesus knows all this in advance. So He warned Peter and reminded him that He is interceding and praying for him so that his faith in Him won’t fail though he may fail in near future.
Look at the past and count how many times Satan wanted to have you and destroy your faith in Christ. Apart from the interceding support of Christ, none of us will be able to continue in our faith. This is true especially at the time of severe testings and trials. Bible says in Hebrews 7:25, “Therefore He (Christ) is able to save completely those who come to God through Him because He always lives to intercede for them.”
Secondly, Jesus said to Peter after you have turned again, he will strengthen his brothers. He will have a new assignment. Out of his failure, Peter will have a commission to strengthen his brothers. Peter is going to strengthen his brothers once he turned back.
Not me Jesus
To this Peter responded and said I am even ready for prison or face death with you Lord. Peter didn’t have any clue what was waiting for him in the next few hours and days. But Jesus saw this ahead of time and warned him. Peter was saying no Lord, I am your main disciple. I won’t fail you. You can count on me Jesus, I will be with you no matter what. Oh, how small Peter’s knowledge and understanding was. He never imagined he will fail God. But that is exactly what happened. Do you think you are immune to failures? Bible reminds us to beware. Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” There is not a single person who is bulletproof and won’t fail. If Peter failed, you will also fail the expectation of God in your life. But the promise of Christ is amazing. I am going to keep your faith from failing. You may fail but He is going to keep your faith in him from failing. This is the promise.
Jesus said to Peter clearly what is going to happen. Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me. It is going to happen Peter. The rooster will crow only after your failure. It is determined ahead of time that even the rooster cannot even crow in the morning until Peter denies Christ three times. You are going to deny me, Peter. What a sad situation that Peter is going to enter.
In the Crucible
Bible says they seized Jesus Christ and led him away. They brought Jesus to high priest’s house. Peter followed him at a distance. There was a charcoal fire in the middle of the courtyard and people sat down together. Peter went and sat down with them. As Peter sat in the light, there was a servant girl saw him and she looked closely at him and said: “this man also was with him (Christ).” But Peter denied it and said, “Woman, I do not know him.”
A little bit later someone else saw him and said, “you also are one of them.” At that time Peter said, “Man, I am not.”
After one more hour still, another insisted and said, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” Peter began to call down curses and he swore to them, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately a rooster crowed.
Something horrible happened when the rooster crowed. Bible says, “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.” Peter remembered what Jesus said ahead of time that he will deny him three times. Peter went out and wept bitterly. (Refer Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:54-62 and Matthew 26:69-75).
Oh, a catastrophic failure! Peter locked eyes with Jesus whom he denied three times. Something in that look of Jesus said Peter I told you this is going to happen. Christ’s iron man, the super disciple failed in an epic size failure.
Peter went out and wept bitterly. But we won’t see Peter anywhere with Jesus after that. Peter just left and he doesn’t want to be anywhere near Christ anymore. He decided to quit and walk away. John was there at the feet of the cross. Mary and few other sisters were there. But we don’t see Peter anywhere near the cross. We don’t even see him at the time of burial. He just left.
Failure can cause you to quit and disappear
You see this is what failure does to us. When you and I fail, we don’t want to be anywhere near to believers. We are tempted to run away from their presence. Why? Peter is ashamed to look at Jesus and he felt dirty. He believed he failed Christ and how can he face him again? He decided to go back to his old trade of fishing. On the other side of the coin, do you know, there are even Pharisee type so-called super spiritual Christian denominations in this world who will start condemning and stoning a person who just failed. They will put you out of their fellowship. They will disown you. Believe me, there are Christian groups like that even today in our world. I sometimes wonder whether they ever understood the heart and love of Jesus? Most probably not. If they did understand who Jesus is they can not keep the condemning spirit instead they would be filled with compassion knowing how vulnerable people are to Satan’s tricks and how loving and compassionate Christ is.
But not the darling our loving Lord. Christ will never succumb to condemnation trap on His own children. If you are faced with condemnation and if they put you out of the congregation, may I say an apology to you for their sake. Jesus will never condemn you. He loves you and He has big plans in store for you. Please don’t allow yourself to be a victim of their condemnation tricks. Jesus had still big plan and assignment for Peter. Christ is going to keep Peter’s faith in Him though he failed. Because Christ’s plan and purpose in Peter will be fulfilled and no schemes of the devil can ever overthrow His plans.
My friend, did you fail in your Christian life? Maybe your failure was caused and initiated by another person. Or it may be self-caused and self-inflicted. You see, as believers, we still live in flesh and body. We don’t have the glorified body yet. Chances are we may fail God’s expectation in our lifetime. Bible is full of examples of men of God who failed God but reconciled back to God. You can read this from the life history of Adam to Abraham to David to Peter. It is all over in the Bible. Bible also examples of people about whom no bad remarks were ever made. They are Joseph and Daniel. But God wants to tell you this important message -He has not finished with you or done with you yet. He called you with an everlasting call and He assigned your spiritual gifts (which are not irrevocable) to use for His glory until you are called home. God will never disown you though people may. God loves you and wants to restore you again and again.
But Christ was thinking about Peter though he failed Him and did all to restore His fallen dear disciple
Do you know Christ’s heart was on His fallen main disciple after this bad incident occurred to Peter? Jesus said to the women who visited Him in the tomb early in the morning, immediately after his resurrection, “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” You see Jesus said to tell His disciples and emphasized the name, Peter. Jesus loves Peter so much that He wants Peter to know that His love is not taken away from him though he denied him three times. Jesus had Peter in His mind and was looking for an opportunity to reinstate His fallen and ran way disciple to His love again. He wanted Peter to know that He has risen from the dead still loves him and wanted to visit Him.
In fact, Jesus did visit with him personally one o one in another time. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that Jesus appeared to Peter before he appeared to twelve disciples. This must be the second appearance to Peter after Christ’s resurrection. But Scripture informs a third and serious encounter with Peter was needed to restore him to his original calling of feeding the sheep. This is illustrated in John 21. His personal failure was so severe and He was so ashamed to continue in his calling of the Lord that he decided to go back to his original trade of fishing. But Jesus pursued him to the Sea of Galilee. All nights they tried to catch fish but didn’t catch anything and now very tired in the morning after the hard toil. Jesus from the beach called and asked them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” Jesus asked them to cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch. As of they haven’t cast the net on the right side yet. They tried all sides but got nothing so far. You see, Jesus is God. He can bring all the fish to the right side of the boat. When He commands, even the fish obey Him. They got a big catch of fish and they could not drag all of the fish because it was too many. Another boat came near and had to help them to drag the big catch of fish.
When they came to the land, they saw a charcoal fire and fish on it and bread ready for them to eat. Jesus said to them “Come and have breakfast”. Did you notice this restoration meeting was in front of a charcoal fire? What was the last time Peter sat among others in the charcoal fire? That was the time Peter denied Jesus in front of a girl. This is very significant. Jesus calling Peters heart to the place where he has fallen.
Jesus always wants us to do come in grip of the reality of our sinful action before the restoration of His fellowship. You and I cannot ignore how we failed the Lord. We need to accept the fact that we are fallen short. We need to accept and confess our sins. Then and then only restoration to His sweet fellowship is possible. But Jesus took all the necessary steps to restore His fallen man back to fellowship.
He will do the same thing to you. He will restore you back to His loving fellowship when you acknowledge and confess your sins to Him. In fact, God is so eager and willing like Christ was eager and willing to restore Peter back to His fellowship. Bible says in John 1:8-10, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
Lord will help you. How? Because he intercedes for your failure and He wants to restore you to His loving relationship and fellowship.
You see, Peter denied Jesus Christ three times. Here in John 21:15-17 after they finished eating breakfast, Jesus asked Him three times the same question in different ways. Listen to the conversation between Jesus and Peter.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
You see how Jesus encountered Peter head-on by asking three questions. Basically same question but in different forms. When Peter answered the question each time, Jesus said to ‘feed my sheep.”
In other words, Christ was restoring his fallen disciples back to his original assignment. Going to fish from the sea of Galilee is not your calling, Peter. This is not why I asked you to follow Me. Your calling is to ‘feed my sheep’ and by feeding my sheep you are going to strengthen your brothers. What were you doing in the sea of Galilee?
From here onwards, Peter will never, never disown the Lord Jesus Christ. His timidity and fear are gone forever. He boldly preached to the Jews on the day of Pentecost and three thousand people repented of their sin and accepted Christ as their savior. In another occasion, five thousand people accepted Christ as their savior. God used him again to write two epistles in the Bible. God used him perform many miracles in the first century.
Peter would not deny Christ anymore in future even in the midst of future horrible death waiting for him
He would never disown the Lord again. The manner in which Peter would die was also foretold by Jesus in John 21:18-19 (immediately after the restoration of Peter). Jesus said, “‘Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!”
John said this to Peter to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then Jesus said to him, “Follow Me!”
The tradition says when they got him to kill him by crucifixion, Peter requested them not to crucify him like they crucified Jesus. But he requested them to crucify him upside down because he was thinking that he is not even worthy to die like Jesus died.
What a transformation happened to this fallen disciple? How God groomed him and used him again mightly for His glory with His loving and compassionate approach. Dear friend, Lord will never condemn you nor leave you. Only you may make up your mind to leave him and walk away from him. It will be your decision. In other words, only you can harm your faith by walking away and not coming back. But God won’t walk away from you in the midst of your failures.
But God wants to keep your faith from failing. He is not the guarantying the absence of trails, testing, and sufferings. But His promise is He will keep you through it. He will keep your faith from falling. When you turn back, you will strengthen your brothers and will be re-assigned with your original assignment. He did this to Peter. Not only, Peter, God did this to many faith heroes in the Bible. He will do this to you as well.
Don’t listen to the condemnation tricks of the hypocrites. They leave the sheep to wolfs and they don’t care a bit. But not my Jesus!
Don’t ever believe the lie of the hypocrites or their condemnation. They are all over. This is what Jesus said to the people like them, “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside, you appear to people as righteous but on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. They are whitewashed.” (Matthew 23:27-28).
When I think about such condemning hypocrites, I remember what Jesus said in John 10:11-15. Please read slowly and let the words of Jesus sink deep down into your heart.
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
Do you know why they point out to you at the time of your failure? Why they condemn you and try to put you out of their group writing down on their face ‘you don’t belong here’? They are not true shepherds, they are hired people, they are not the owner of the sheep and they don’t care about the sheep. You know what they do? They see the wolf coming to destroy and they still keep the sheep outside of their group and flee away. The wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flies away because he is only a hired hand and not at all concerned about the well-being of the sheep. In contrast, Christ is the good shepherd. He knows you as His own and He is the one who laid down His life for you.
If you are one of such a hypocritical person, maybe it is time to repent even at this last hour. May the good Lord help.
If you are a backslider due to failures, Jesus with His love and compassion calling you to come home today. He is sending for you personally to come Home to Him. You are not a failure, period! He is the darling lover of you. He has all beautiful and secure future laid out for you. Please come home to Christ and be used by Him again. Jesus asks you the same question He asked Peter, “Do you love me?” If so, ‘feed my sheep’, He says to you. I don’t know what is God’s assignment for you. When you are restored, He will inform you His assignment for you.
Are you a person who never believed in Christ as your savior? Do you know Jesus Christ loves you? He gave His life on the cross just because He loved you that much. He did this to save you from all of your sin-past, present, and future. Bible says once you accept Christ as your savior, you will be complete in Him. (Colossians 2:10) You will be made complete and perfect in the sight of God. Only the blood of Christ can cleanse and make you perfect and clean all your sins and transgressions. God so loved you, my friend, that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that if you call upon His name by believing in Him, you will be saved and will never be perished. Instead the moment you call the name of Christ and accept Him as your savior, you will be granted eternal life in heaven. (John 3:16). One day when you die, at the moment of your death, you will be taken to heaven to live with God eternally. Do not delay. Tomorrow and even next hour do not belong to you and I. Come Home now and pray with me. Make that decision to come to Christ right now.
Prayer time: God, I come to you in prayer. I understand fully now that your love for me is so deep and wide and your compassion toward me is deeper than the deepest sea. I want your love and compassion. I admit I am a sinner and accept Jesus Christ as my Savior today. I believe Jesus Christ died, buried and risen for my sins. I accept God’s gift of salvation and restoration now. Please save me. Amen.
If you prayed this prayer, please visit www.teachbible.org and go to contact/prayer tab and send me a note. I will be thrilled to hear from you.
Please find a Bible teaching and preaching church in your area and start growing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you.