“But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32
Self-appointed leaders and Spirit anointed leaders have one thing in common. Each can be tempted to become full of “S.E.L.F.” (Selfish Egos Living Freely)
One of the more intriguing passages of Scripture is found in the statement made to Simon Peter prior to Jesus informing his leading disciple of His personal intercession for him. Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.” Luke 22:31
In understanding the intent of the content of Scripture, context is everything. Jesus had just overheard “a dispute among them as to which of them was regarded as the greatest.” Luke 22:24
Apparently Peter’s was not the only over-active ego that was running amuck among The Twelve. Any claim Peter had on being the greatest among the disciples was disputed and debated. Jesus stepped in to clear the air.
The price of leadership and the cost of discipleship are equally expensive. They each require death to self. When Jesus heard His disciples discussing how valuable they were to The Kingdom, He specifically reminded Peter of the price on his head, and the target on his back.
In the book of Job, all hell was unleashed on the hero of the story, right after God had bragged about him. Satan challenged the value of Job’s virtue and the purity of his motives. Spoiler Alert: God allowed the evil one to put both to the test. Even with a happy ending, it was not a pretty picture. It rarely is.
Jesus warned his disciples about laying claim to the role of a leader based upon the world’s value system. In His Kingdom, the servant is held in the highest esteem. “The greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.” Jesus (Luke 22:26)
Jesus specifically interceded for Simon Peter based upon the personal target that had been placed upon his back. Satan deals out his worst attacks on those he perceives are the leaders of any Spirit-led movement of God. Those who rush to the head of the line, or campaign to have their names placed on the next best speakers’ program may not be God’s chosen leaders. However, they catch Satan’s eye. He puts a price on their heads and a target on their backs. It never ends well when posers persist in leading, while they resist praying.
The Prayer: Jesus interceded for Peter, by name. His intercession was for his faith to remain strong in the face of his failure. He knew Peter would fail. He prayed for him so his failure would not be permanent.
The Permission: Satan was permitted to sift, and Peter was allowed to drift. This may be disturbing, but it is the truth.
The Prophecy: The sifting of Satan would lead to the drifting of Peter. Jesus knows His followers are capable of great faith, and great failure. The purpose of His intercession for Peter was for him to turn to Jesus to find fresh, life-changing faith in the midst of his failure. Peter did. Judas didn’t. Big difference.
The Pride: Peter was so full of is own sense of self-worth, that he missed the point of the assessment Jesus placed upon the purity of his faith. His faith was in himself, not in His Savior. When Peter was about to drown in the Sea of Galilee, he cried out, “Lord, save me.” His prayer was answered. This time Peter suffered from “I” trouble and missed The Savior’s helping hand. Prideful people are prayerless, but they are never selfless.
“But he said to Him, ‘Lord, with you I am ready to go both to prison and to death.’” Peter – Luke 22:33
The Provision: Faithfulness is produced in those who refuse to drift from consistent companionship with The Savior. The Spirit fills them with this particular fruit of the character of Christ, in direct proportion to their dependence on Jesus, not their independence from Him.
“When I sent you out, without money belt, bag and sandals, you did not lack anything did you?” Jesus – Luke 22:35
Note to self: Sifting is inevitable. Drifting is not. Being sifted by Satan doesn’t mean you have to succumb to the painful process of sifting to the dangerous detour of drifting. Failure to believe in The Savior’s capacity to turn the worst thing that could ever happen to you into the best thing in your life is a lack of faith. There is more faith where your first faith came from, and you must humbly pray for more to receive more. When you do, expect more faith, and more sifting. To avoid falling on your face in failure, fall on your faith in Jesus.
The Cross and The Resurrection reveal the capacity of Jesus to take the impossible and turn it into The HIMpossible. Failure may appear final to Satan. The appearance of The Cross deceived The Deceiver. The Father specializes in providing more faith to those who empty themselves and pray to be filled with His Spirit and His Son’s faithfulness. The faithful in every generation have always done the best of things in the worst of times. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!