I tell you, my Puritan devotional is really good! I’m not going to reprint today’s, but I will talk about it. It had to do with Peter. You may recall how Peter fell asleep in the Garden. Well, he wasn’t the only one. All of them did.
It was quite a night for that crew. They had the Lord’s supper. Jesus sent Peter and John to prepare for the Passover. Remember that? Jesus sent them to look for a guy carrying a jar of water. They were to follow him to the place. Guess what? That is exactly what happened. No big deal, I suppose, because Jesus once told Peter to catch a fish that would have tax money in its mouth. Remember that? At that meal, Jesus wouldn’t eat because he would soon suffer. He would be betrayed. He told Peter that Satan would sift him like wheat. He told Peter that he would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. He told them that Jesus would be killed.
I want to stop for a moment and think about one thing that Jesus said. Imagine if Jesus had told you this:
Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
What in the world was THAT supposed to mean? I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some pretty close brushes with evil; and it is terrifying! Satan, himself, demanded that he might sift you like wheat? And, it doesn’t sound like it will be easy because Jesus also made it clear that Peter will fail. In fact, Peter knew exactly what he meant because it was then Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” I tell you, I pray that doesn’t happen to me. That’s all I have to say about that.
Back to the Garden. Let’s recall what Jesus told these guys – and Peter, in particular:
Matthew 26:36-38, 40-41, 43, 45-46 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”…And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”…. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy….Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see my betrayer is at hand.”
I’ll bet they regreted that.
Does this have any application to us? I should think so. Pay attention to what Peter says to us all – after he had plenty of time to ponder all these things.
1 Peter 5:6-11 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Today may be the day Satan sifts YOU like wheat. Don’t worry. Peter’s assurance is one that even if we “fail” we won’t because Jesus will pick us up and we will move on – with HIM! Our testing may go well or bad, depending upon us, whether or not we stay awake. Right? Take Jesus’ advice. Take Peter’s advice. But, please don’t misunderstand. To be sifted by Satan is no joke. Stay awake.
Father, teach me with these words and examples. I would rather not learn the hard way. Amen.