Do you ever feel like Satan is “sifting you like wheat?” If so, you aren’t alone. In fact you have some pretty good company. Peter was a close friend and disciple of Jesus. Yet even being so close and near the Lord, Satan still wanted to destroy Peter. Jesus told Peter, that Satan has “asked to sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31-32). That’s just like the enemy to do everything he can to ruin God’s people. But notice Satan had to “ask.” He didn’t have access to Peter aside from going through Christ and getting permission. Just as Satan didn’t have access to do Job harm aside from going through God for permission (Job 1:6-12). God is never the author of the trouble or harm, Satan is, but he must go through God to obtain permission.
Jesus then tells Peter he has prayed “that your faith may not fail.” Jesus knew what Peter was going to do. He knew Peter was going to deny and disown him, yet he still prayed that Peter’s “faith may not fail.” He didn’t pray that Peter would not deny Him, He prayed that Peter’s “faith may not fail.” And then he prayed that when Peter had “turned back” that he would “strengthen your brethern.” Of course Peter told Jesus that he was “ready to go with him to prison and to death.” But Jesus answered “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me” (Luke 22:34).
As the story progresses and Jesus is arrested, we see Peter at first “following at a distance” (Luke 22:54) and making his first denial (Luke 22:57). After that first denial, Peter’s heart became even colder toward his Lord. John 18:18 states “It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them warming himself.” The danger of following Christ at a distance usually results in “standing” with His enemies! Following this, Peter makes his second and third denials of Christ and as soon as he hears the rooster crow “the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster cows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-61).
But remember, Jesus had prayed for Peter. He prayed that his faith may not fail and that when he had turned back, he would strengthen his brothers! And that’s exactly what happened. After Jesus’ resurrection, he met the disciples, including Peter, and told them to stay in Jerusalem until they were “endued” with power from the Holy Spirit and that they would become His witnesses throughout the world! (Acts 1:4-8)
On the Day of Pentecost, Peter and the others are filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to do the work of Christ. Then Peter stood up and addressed the crowd. On this day he wasn’t ashamed of Christ! Peter declared with great confidence: “…let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). No more denying who Christ was! You see Peter’s faith didn’t fail. He failed. But he repented and moved forward to be one of the most influential leaders in church history! That day, 3,000 were baptized and added to the Church of Jesus Christ! All because Peter’s faith didn’t fail.
When you make a mistake, don’t buy into Satan’s lie that it is the end. Use it as a tool to “strengthen your brethern.” Just because you fail at some point, doesn’t mean that your “faith has failed“ and that you are finished as a follower of Christ. When you sin, keep your faith, repent, turn back to God, and strengthen your brothers. Use your mistake to help another. This is what Jesus prayed for with Peter, and that is what Peter did. Jesus does the same for you…can you do the same as Peter?
In what area have you “failed” the Lord? Have you repented and used it to help others? Remember just because you fail, doesn’t mean your faith has to fail.