On a Thursday night in April around A.D. 33, the Apostle Peter was reclining at a table with Jesus and the other disciples celebrating the Passover meal. By this point in the evening, it’s been one surprise after another. First, Jesus surprised everybody by doing the job of a slave and washing the disciples’ feet. Then He took the Passover bread and cup and said it was a symbol of His body and blood that would be poured out to inaugurate the New Covenant. Then He shocked everybody by telling the disciples one of them would betray Him. But for Peter, perhaps the greatest shock came when Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus is graciously warning Peter about an impending danger, but Peter doesn’t see it. He doesn’t recognize just how much danger he’s in. He looked at Jesus and said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you! I’m ready to die for you!” Jesus stared back at Peter and said, “Before the rooster crows you will deny three times that you know Me” (Luke 22:33-34).
Now I want us to understand what happened in Jerusalem that night. Satan, the ancient enemy of the people of God, demanded to have Peter, the author of the letter we’ve been studying since the end of July. Satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat. He was prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for an opportunity to devour Peter. And perhaps most surprisingly, Jesus didn’t say “no, Satan, you can’t sift Peter.” He permitted it. But He prayed for Peter’s faith not to fail, and He encouraged Peter to strengthen his fellow disciples after he came out the other side of Satan’s sieve: “When you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
I believe that’s exactly what Peter is intending to do near the conclusion of 1 Peter. As he moves towards concluding his thoughts, he directs our attention to one final reality of life in exile. As Christians, we’re living in a world that is not our home. We serve the King of Kings, but until He returns to resume His rightful place as ruler of the universe, there’s a war going on. Not against flesh and blood, but against the prince of darkness himself. The very one who demanded to sift Peter like wheat is looking to devour us. But Peter can strengthen you in your war against the evil one if you pay attention to these words:
1 Peter 5:8-11: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (9) Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (10) And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (11) To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Come back tomorrow as we examine these words and what they mean for us today.