Jesus warned Peter in Luke 22:31-32 that Satan had asked for Peter by name and was planning on sifting him as wheat. Jesus then told Peter that He would be praying for him that his faith would not fail. Satan’s plan was to berate Peter mercilessly for denying Jesus.
“You call yourself a follower?”
“What kind a follower are you?”
“You can’t even defend him from his accusers. You’re nothing but a coward.”
“Demon’s believe in him more than you.”
Satan knew that if he could depress (to demoralize; to dispirit) Peter to the point of deep anguish, it would create a hold on Peter’s life that he may never go forth and do the work that God had called him to.
We have to understand that Peter was a big player in the building of the church. In fact, Jesus told Peter that upon him, “on this rock”, He would build his church (Matthew 16:18). So, Satan knew the kind of threat Peter was to him. If he could destroy Peter’s faith, then the work of the church would be thwarted. Now, God could build the church through anyone, but Satan knew that Jesus had specifically handpicked Peter for the job.
Satan’s plan then was to sift Peter as wheat. One of the meanings for sift is to separate. How perfect it would be for Satan to discourage Peter to the point of making him believe that he was separated from God after denying Him. Why would God ever want to use a man like Peter? He was hopeless—couldn’t even depend on him; all talk and no action. Again, all lies from the enemy. It is imperative that we can discern the voice of the Lord because otherwise, we could be in a heap of spiritual trouble. Just know that God will never ever berate us. He would never make us feel like a failure—a less than. Those are all the tactics of the enemy. His job is to steal, kill, and destroy all that God has set apart for us to accomplish. He is called a thief (John 10:10). But Jesus, He came to give us back our lives. He would want to encourage and strengthen us in Him.
In Luke 22:32 it reads of hope and our usefulness to Christ. “And when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” In some translations it adds, “…as you have been encouraged.”
Jesus knew that there would be no sharper tool in His arsenal against the enemy than Peter. Peter had personally grappled with the battlefield of the mind, and he would be able to identify with those that would struggle with the same confrontation by the enemy. God leaves nothing wasted. He uses all of it. The good, the bad, and the ugly of our struggles and turns it into something useful and beautiful. He takes our pieces of nothingness and blesses them to feed the thousands.
“Peter do you love me? (John 21:17)” Jesus asked Peter three times after His resurrection. Jesus knew that nothing could stop Him from loving Peter, but could Peter love him no matter what came his way?
“Peter do you trust Me to accomplish My work through you?”
“Do you love me enough to discern My true voice when I tell you that I love you even when things will not go the way you want them to?”
“Peter do you love me enough to place your life in my hands?”
Jesus wanted to be sure that Peter understood that Satan’s attacks would not be isolated. That more may be required of him and could Jesus count on Him? “Then feed My sheep.”
Jesus wants to know that we love Him enough to stay the course because the course can sometimes get very rough—especially when persecution and fiery trials come our way. Will we love God enough to say, “even so,” just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said before entering the fiery furnace? Even if God doesn’t choose to save us, even so, we will worship Him (Daniel 3:14-18). Do we love God that intimately? I am growing in that love daily as I lay my life and the lives of my loved ones on that alter.
Jesus has the inside track ~
Nothing gets by Jesus. He knows that Satan’s ear is close by listening to find out who are those whom the Lord has commissioned a work for the Kingdom’s sake. Therefore, Satan will be certain to send out a barrage of hits to discourage us and try to destroy our faith. He knows that we are an imminent threat to him and his plans. Our influence on the lives of others can mean a multitude of believers for the kingdom. Jesus uses us to win souls to Him, and Satan wants to make sure no more are added to the fold.
Jesus—Our High Priest ~
Jesus is our great intercessor. He is there petitioning the courts of heaven on our behalf day and night. We have nothing to fear when we realize that He loves us so deeply that He wishes to not lose anyone of us. He knows the tactics of the enemy. He knows that we are mere human flesh and fall vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks on our faith. Therefore, He prays on our behalf to keep the faith in the face of adversity.
Jesus Believes in Us ~
Jesus didn’t tell Peter, “if”, he returned back to Him, but when. There was no doubt in Jesus’ mind that Peter would be returned to his faith. In fact, he would be even better than before the trial hit him. We may lose faith in Jesus, but Jesus doesn’t lose faith in us.
Jesus’ Admonishment ~
“Go…and strengthen your brethren.” Jesus knew this would not be the end to Satan’s attack on His children. In fact, it was just the beginning, and Jesus knew He needed followers like Peter to go and strengthen and encourage his brethren because he had experienced the same discouragement and fork in the road—and who better to send, but someone who has been through it and survived it. Remember God is about getting us through.
Jesus’ Love Never Fails ~
Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Peter had to settle in his heart once and for all that God’s love would never depart from him no matter what. Jesus wants us to love him enough to believe that His work will be accomplished in us despite our failings. He just needs to know that we will not lose faith in Him to do it, and we are steadfast in our belief.
Over and over in my life I have seen Satan’s slimy hands all over it, trying desperately to have my faith fail me—to convince me that God could never love me, use me, or need me. I believe I have gone through those battlefields in my mind so that I would be able to encourage others of the same struggles I have gone through and to impart hope. I have spent more years than I care to admit depressed and dejected. Now, I realize that that was always the enemy’s plans—to keep me spiritually sick, so that I would never have the strength to be any threat. I believe that the calling on my life is to remind you to be confident that God will complete the good work that He has begun in you (Philippians 1:6), no matter what the enemy may be trying to whisper in your ear. I am honored to be called to be my brethrens’ encourager. I am in awe of God’s constant prayer and intercession on my behalf to be brought back to faith. His prayers are faithful.
Pray with Me ~
Thank you Father God that You have not lost one of your little lambs. How desperate we are to hear your voice call out to us—to hear it from a distance and come running towards it. We are honored that in our fleshly inadequacies You find usefulness. Thank you Father God that we have a High Priest who is ever, ever present, praying without ceasing for His flock, Thank you Father God that we are never a lost cause to You. Glory be to Your name that we have been found and are enclosed in the ever present shadow of Your loving expansive wings. Amen.