Getting Acquainted With Peter, 7: Bringing in the Harvest
- Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Because of Israel's cool, wet winter and dry spring, it is the perfect place for growing wheat. Is it any wonder, then, that wheat - the growing of it, the harvesting of it, and the celebration of it - is so predominant in the Bible?
"Wheat" is mentioned in some form over a hundred times; Jesus used the harvesting of it in His parables and teachings. One mentioning in particular, had to do with Peter. To understand it completely, one must first understand the act of harvesting the wheat of Israel.
The Act of Harvesting
The act of harvesting wheat began by cutting the ripened grain, followed by binding it into sheaves. When this was done, gleaners gathered what was left as they walked behind the cutters. If you remember the story of Ruth, the young girl from Moab asked her Jewish mother-in-law that she be allowed to "glean" after the harvesters in order that they might have food to eat. (To truly appreciate this beautiful story, read all four chapters of Ruth, concentrating on the second chapter.)
After the stalks were bound into sheaves, they were transported to the threshing floor. The act of "threshing" is to strike the grain repeatedly so as to separate the grain from the straw. The wheat is then "winnowed," which was done by tossing the grain into the air with a winnowing fork so that the wind blew away the left over straw and chaff (the worthless seed coverings and other debris), leaving the grain at the winnower's feet. Finally, the grain was sifted to remove foreign matter, then bagged for transportation and storage.
Jesus, Peter, and an Example of Wheat
We're all familiar with Peter's great declaration during the Last Supper. He tells Jesus that he'd follow Him anywhere...to prison...or to the death. Jesus then tells Peter that he will deny knowing Him three times before the rooster crows.
But do you know what was said just before this?
"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)
Seven Points to Note
There are seven points I'd like you to note in this scripture.
1. Simon, Simon.
2. Satan has asked
3. Sift you as wheat
4. But I have prayed for you
5. That your faith may not fail
6. And when you have turned back
7. Strengthen your brothers
It's interesting that Jesus reverted to Peter's given name at birth rather than the name Jesus had said he would be known by. Perhaps He wanted to remind Peter of his humanness; that without God's presence in his life, he was incapable of much more than he'd done before meeting the Christ. It is also important that Jesus repeated the name. In John Gill's exposition of the Bible, he writes: "the doubling of the word" is expressive "of love", and finding grace and favour.
Remember when the angel of the Lord spoke to Abraham as he was about to sacrifice his promised son, Isaac. "Abraham, Abraham," he said. Or, when God Almighty first called out to Moses by saying, "Moses, Moses" (Exodus 3:4).
Jesus loved Peter very much and it grieved Him greatly to say what He knew must be said. The Disciples had just been arguing over which one of them was considered the greatest. Pride surely does come before the fall, but even when weakened by our own lack of humility, we can be certain of His love. He doesn't love the pride, in fact His word says he hates it (Proverbs 8:13), but His love for us is unwavering, even knowing our sins past and future.
Satan Has Asked
Remember the story of Job? Here we read of Satan (which is a Hebrew title meaning "an adversary, one who resists." Out of the 23 times it is used in the Old Testament, 11 are found in the first two chapters of Job. Satan's attack against God's servant, Job, came about only because God allowed it after Satan approached the throne of God. "Certainly Job loves you," Satan toyed. "He's got it made in the shade." (Of course, I'm paraphrasing here.) "What if you took away all his wealth...his family...his health? Then would he love you so much?"
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