Sifted as Wheat
I eavesdropped on the cosmic conversation between the Lover and the enemy of my soul, and my knees didn’t feel like they were made to hold up a whole body any more. Good that they were already on the floor.
I read the text again and wondered, How often?
How commonplace is it for the evil one to strut into the Throne Room and demand to shovel the Father’s beloved into a sieve to be shaken up and banged around and knocked right through the screen?
How often does it happen, this discussion?
They’d spoken in the past about Job — more than once. The earth careened backwards for Job after that.
But Job was an aberration, right? I’ve always liked to think so.
And I’ve often offset my discomfort with my own failure to be blameless and upright with supposing that at least I’ll probably never fear God and shun evil quite enough to make me into that kind of target for such devilish shenanigans anyway.
Jesus told Peter this. That Satan had asked.
It was right after they’d shared that meal together where Jesus said He wouldn’t eat or drink with them again, not until the Kingdom came in its fullness. Right after Judas skulked off to give Him over to the priests. And right after the disciples scuffled over who was more awesome and should sit closest to Jesus.
(If Job had been around, he might have suggested they opt for the seat that wasn’t quite so awesome.)
Satan had asked. If you like the ESV better, he didn’t ask. He demanded. Rather makes me think this was no oddity. Perhaps he retraced steps into the presence of the Holy that he’d taken time and time again, seeking some latitude from our Keeper to put one of His faithful to the test.
Perhaps the cosmic conversation was more familiar than I’d like to think.
But what interest would Satan have in sifting the disciples like wheat? To run the harvest through the sieve was to snag the gravel and debris before storing up the grain that ran out the bottom. Why would he spend his time testing, proving, purifying these men? What did he care if they came through clean?
Would he not take interest in testing only to prove them wrong?
He’d much rather see those kernels of wheat stuck on top of the mesh, still rattling around in the basket with the dirt clods to be chucked away from the threshing floor.
Perhaps when he insisted on clearance to jar them about in the sieve he was thinking of the way God sifted Israel and nearly destroyed every last one of her people and hoping to destroy these men the same way.
What he didn’t count on was Jesus.
Jesus who, on knowing of Satan’s demand, would rush the Throne Room Himself, shove him out of the way and plead in Peter’s stead for his faith to stay firm.
But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. (Luke 22:32)
Peter found His plea unnecessary. Just hours before the cock would announce his failure, Peter would crow of his sure-footedness.
But I’m sorry to have to tell you this, Peter, Jesus would say.
He had to pray.
He’d been praying while they’d been sleeping, because He knew what Peter was up against.
He knew what Peter would do and what he would say. How he would curse to make the painful point that he didn’t even know the man who was the Son of Man.
He prayed for Peter’s faith to remain firm, knowing full well how utterly it would fail.
Knowing how utterly my faith would fail — how it was failing in that very moment — I crumpled over at the bedside in my office. Reading past hot tears, I begged.
Would You, Jesus, pray that for me?