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The Scriptorium

Cue the Chaff-Master

We all need sifting now and then. Luke 22.31-34

Luke 22 (1) (6)

Pray Psalm 55.16-19.
As for me, I will call upon God,
And the LORD shall save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.
He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me,
For there were many against me.
God will hear, and afflict them,
Even He who abides from of old.

Sing Psalm 55.16-19.
(Bread of Life: Break Thou the Bread of Life)
Lord, I will call on You, answer and save!
Noon, morning, evening too, my voice I raise.
Grant me Your peace, O Lord; answer my foes!
All who reject God’s Word He overthrows.

Read Luke 22.1-34; meditate on verses 31-34.


1. Of what did Jesus warn Peter?

2. How did Peter reply?

Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would not “be eclipsed”, as the Greek has it. Eclipsed by what? By the darkness of soul that yet remained in him—a darkness Jesus intended to surface and remove.

Just as happens when wheat is sifted. In the sifter, the good flour falls through to the bowl, while any hidden chaff is exposed and thrown out. Jesus knew that spiritual chaff was hiding in Peter’s soul—the chaff of self-reliance (v. 33). For Peter to fulfill the calling Jesus had appointed to him, that chaff would have to be removed.

But how best to do this?

Jesus determined to call in the chaff-master, whom He had bound and chained (Matt. 4.1-11; 12.22-29), to do the chaff-raising for Him. Satan had been begging for a go at Peter, for he well knew the role Jesus had appointed for him (Matt. 16.18). Satan wished to frustrate that plan, but Jesus intended to use the chaff-master for His own purposes.

In City of God, Augustine explained how Satan and other spiritual powers can only do what the Lord Himself assigns them: “For they are in power, but even as wicked men upon earth are, so that they cannot do what they please, but are mere ministers to His ordinance, whose judgments no man can either fully comprehend or reprehend justly.” Satan would expose Peter’s sinful self-reliance, thus taking him another step along the path of being ready for the calling that awaited him after he returned to Jesus (v. 32).

Jesus remained sovereign over all the events of His life, and of the lives of His disciples as well.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail…” (Lk. 22.32).

Jesus was warning and comforting Peter—warning that there was the potential of losing his faith; comforting in the positive by saying, “when you have returned to Me” (Lk. 22.32).

And what was he supposed to do when he returned? “Strengthen your brethren” (Lk. 22.32). A lot of Peter’s life was covered in that one sentence.

Jesus was telling him, as God told the Israelite captives taken to Babylon, that there is always hope after a good sifting. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29.11).

The difference in our brother Peter, before and after being filled with the Holy Spirit, is astonishing. His change was mirrored in the words of Paul to Timothy: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1.7).

Jesus’ words of warning fall next upon us: Mind how you go. Satan wants to trip you up. But I pray for you in the same way that I prayed for My disciples, that you will have unfailing faith. “I do not pray for these alone, but for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Jn. 17.20, 21).

The mandate now is the same as to Peter: “Strengthen your brethren”; and through your obedience to Jesus and love for others “the world may believe” that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

The strength to live out this mandate? The same Strength that changed Peter—being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1.8).

And the words of encouragement from Peter to those who will believe in Jesus through his testimony?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love…receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1.3-9).

The answer to Jesus’ prayer for us.

For reflection
1. We all need “sifting” from time to time. How would you do this in prayer? What would it be like?

2. We are all too prone to rely on ourselves rather than the Lord. How can you know when you’re beginning to be like Peter, so all-self-confident that you would deny the Lord’s Word?

3. Read Ephesians 5.18-21. What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? How would you seek that filling?

Faith in the elect is like the sun in the heavens, which is hidden and darkened for a time with clouds but not actually extinguished. For affections, errors and sins are like black clouds bringing darkness, but the sun of our faith is confirmed and inflamed again by the merit of our intercessor in such a way that with firm and bright beams it eventually puts away those clouds and brings a clear conscience.
Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575), An Ecclesiasticall Exposition upon Saint Luke 22.10

Pray Psalm 55.1-3, 20-23.
As you think about the day ahead, what temptations or trials do you anticipate? Prepare for them now in prayer.

Sing Psalm 55.1-3, 20-23.
(Bread of Life: Break Thou the Bread of Life)
Hear now my prayer, O Lord, hide not from me.
Answer me by Your Word and set me free!
Wicked men sore oppress; restless am I.
Lord, ease my soul’s distress and hear my cry!

Many assail, O Lord, many betray.
See how they draw their sword across my way.
Take up my burden, Lord; strengthen and bless!
Let judgment by Your Word their souls distress.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can download all the studies in our Luke series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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