Peter's Third Boat: The Call to Restoration
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Before we get to Peter’s third boat moment, once again, we have to talk about the backstory. We’re going to look at the account from Luke’s Gospel because it adds a fascinating piece of information which is not included in the other Gospels. This conversation took place after Jesus and His disciples shared the Last Supper meal together, before Jesus was arrested:
Luke 22:31-34, NIV
[Jesus speaking] 31“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
Ok, wow. There are so many things in that beautiful exchange.
The double use of Peter’s name, “Simon, Simon,” indicated an emotional emphasis with an undertone of tenderness. Jesus lovingly warned Peter that Satan had asked to “sift” the disciples “as wheat.” Jesus told him that He had prayed for his faith not to fail, and that WHEN he turned back (insinuating that he was going to mess up) he was to strengthen his brothers.
One commentator explains the process of sifting as the grain being “agitated” so the “chaff and dust were thrown off.” What would remain would be the good, usable grain. He describes the situation this way: “Satan desired to try Peter; to place trials and temptations before him; ‘to agitate him’ to see whether anything of faith would remain” (Barnes Notes on the Bible).
You might recall another incident in the Bible in which Satan asked for permission to test the faith of a righteous man - Job. When I read this account of Satan once again asking to “sift” Peter and the disciples, something amazing struck me. We know that only through the sovereign approval of God can the devil test or try those who belong to Jesus Christ. So, when God sovereignly allows the devil to try our faith, a phenomenon occurs.
What the devil intends to destroy us, to see whether ANY faith will remain, God uses to “sift” us so that ONLY faith will remain - to make us usable!
This is God using for good what Satan intends for harm (Genesis 50:20)! We’ve talked about trials and tribulations into which God leads us, but there is another category of trials and tribulations which come as the result of the fact that we live in a fallen world in which sin and death reside until God makes it perfect again. BUT, even in these types of situations, in which we face tragedy or trauma, we have a promise we can hold onto that God WILL work ALL of it for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)!
When we love God, He WILL bring good and create purpose from ALL things in our lives.
Jesus, in his loving compassion, warns Peter of the sifting that was coming. Did you notice how, in the last verse, Jesus called Peter by the name “Peter” instead of “Simon?” Jesus had changed Peter’s name from Simon to Peter, which means “rock,” and He told Peter that “on this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus wanted to remind Peter who HE said He was. It was as if Jesus was saying, “Peter, you’re going to mess up tonight, but don’t let it cause you to forget who I’ve said you are!”
Peter genuinely thought he would be willing to die with Jesus if necessary. Someday, this would be true of Peter, but not this day: