And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren. But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”
Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” Luke 22:31-34
Since Jesus declared that Peter was going to get sifted as wheat, let’s find out about this process. Why does wheat get sifted and what does the process look like? According to below article, sifting wheat is a two step process: The first is manual threshing, and the second is winnowing.
Threshing: The first step in the process of sifting wheat is to loosen the chaff from the edible grain, which is called threshing. The old fashioned way to do this is to spread the wheat onto a floor made from stone, concrete, or tamped earth, and to beat it with a flail.
Winnowing: The next step is called winnowing, where the loosened chaff is removed from the grain. The old fashioned way of doing this was to throw the grain in the air, the lighter chaff would be blown off by even a decent breeze. The heavier grains would fall back to the ground below where they were thrown. From: How Do Farmers Sift Wheat? | eHow.com
The wheat gets sifted, so the hard outer shell can be broken through and removed. You want the actual wheat to remain and nothing extra. As you can imagine, that’s the same process a person has to go through. God breaks down the outer shell of a person, so the real seed of life can remain.
Peter’s sifting came in a much unexpected way. He had such self-confidence that he didn’t think anything could move or shake him. This man was not a fearful man. He was a confrontational man, and he even declared that he was willing to die for Jesus. He was also very sure of his love for Jesus. Satan came to attack the place of Peter’s greatest strength, which was his self-confidence, and God allowed it to happen. While much of Peter’s natural strength would be threshed by the trial, there remained a kernel of true faith and love in Peter’s heart. Peter may have felt like a pebble after the sifting was completed, but He was spiritually much stronger than ever before because the outer shell of self-confidence and pride was broken off of him.
When Jesus was arrested, many left him because they feared persecution, but Peter followed where Jesus was taken. That’s who Peter was and that was right down his personality alley!! What he hadn’t anticipated was that in a matter of minutes his greatest strength would be tested. When asked if he knew Jesus, fear set in. The man, who was cutting off the soldier’s ear just a few hours ago, now could not even admit he knew Jesus. The giant had turned into a grasshopper! The lion had turned into a sheep!! But you see Jesus had given permission to the enemy to do this to Peter.
Jesus knew that before Peter could shepherd His flock, Peter needed a good understanding of what it meant to be a sheep. God was developing something in Peter that he didn’t possess before. All his life he had ridden on his confrontational strength to get the job done!! He was rough, he was abrasive, and he was impulsive! However, the work Jesus had for him while it certainly had a confrontational dimension, it also required humility, gentleness, dependency on the Lord, and an understanding of human frailty.
Peter’s love for Jesus was another element of sifting for him. He could not believe himself denying the one he loved. How could he be such a coward!? He probably thought he disappointed Jesus and that Jesus made a mistake by picking him. If Jesus thought Peter was a courageous go-getter this would have completely shattered that idea in Jesus’ mind. Peter must have thought, “I’m not any good for Jesus. Why would he want cowards to be his disciples and leaders?” Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself. You see Peter was surprised by his response to Jesus, but Jesus wasn’t surprise! Jesus had already told him that Peter was going to deny him three times before the rooster crowed. Jesus knew if you were going to be His leader, you must understand your true nature!!!
A mature person knows their limitations. They don’t act impulsively and presumptuously. They don’t have self-confidence but God-confidence. This needed to be shifted in Peter. This was the sifting that Peter went through. The bad news was that Peter thought it was all over. I’m just going to go back to fishing. At least I knew how to do that well even if my heart is not in it anymore.
The good news is that Jesus not only did not give up on Peter, but He also saw the process as the very thing Peter needed to become a powerful shepherd in His kingdom. Now Peter was prepared and ready. Now the keys of the kingdom could be trusted to a man who doesn’t think too highly of himself. His flesh will not get the best of him. Now pride had been broken and the enemy couldn’t have a field day with him as he used to so many times in the past.
Peter went through a very painful process. If you are in a process with God that is difficult and makes you feel like giving up, please don’t!!! In difficult times, we can easily entertain the idea that I am not qualified to do God’s work. We are surprised by what we see in ourselves. The key is, to recognize that Jesus is not surprised. Praise God for showing you that it is not because of your qualifications that He picked you. One must know their true nature and learn not to depend on it when dealing with God’s work. The Lord by His gracious hand has to allow for our natural strength to be killed, so we can truly have room for his supernatural strength to take over our lives!! Praise God for His process!! Just hang on to Jesus. He will see you through!