“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).
words must have seemed strange to Peter, coming as it were out of the
blue. It has been well remarked that Peter in many ways is the most
human of all the disciples. He constantly gets in trouble because he
blurts out the stuff everyone else is thinking but doesn’t have the
guts to say. He is the man with the foot-shaped mouth, constantly
promising more than he can deliver.
This night is no exception. When he hears these words of Jesus, he knows without being told that they contain a great rebuke – a prediction of personal failure that must have seemed impossible. But Peter is nothing if not brave at heart, so he replies foolishly but honestly, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33). He did not know that years later he would keep that promise. But not that night. As he uttered those words, his moment of greatest personal failure – the blot that 2000 years cannot remove from his record – his threefold denial of Christ was less that five hours away.
The same thing is true of our failures. God can touch our broken places and make us stronger than we were before. Though we fall and fall and fall, and though our faces are covered with the muck and grime of bitter defeat, by God’s grace we can rise from the field of defeat to march on to new victory.
We thank you, Lord Jesus, that the devil cannot touch us without your permission. We thank you for the siftings of life that remove the chaff so that we may learn to depend wholly upon you. Amen.