Luke 22:31-32, “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, STRENGTHEN THY BRETHREN.”
This passage records perhaps the darkest hour in human history. The Lord Jesus Christ is about to be betrayed into the hands of sinners and suffer the agony of crucifixion. Judas, who walked closely with Jesus as his ‘friend’ is soon to betray him with a kiss. During this time you would expect the disciples to be united as a team to support their Savior before his dying hour. Instead, they were fighting over who was going to be the most prominent in the kingdom of God. “And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest” (Luke 22:24).
Peter is among those jockeying for position, unaware that he is headed for a devastating fall. In the near future he will deny the Lord, curse out loud, and completely lose his testimony. Jesus, who knows all things, foresaw this failure and warned Peter of it. Jesus knew the hostile intentions of their enemy the devil toward him before he urgently warned, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satanhath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31).
Peter did fall, and Jesus allowed it because He knew that someday Peter would useful to strengthen other people. The same adversary desires to cause every believer to fall and deny the Lord. But the same Jesus who wanted to use Peter to strengthen others desires to use you to strengthen those who are weak.
Be someone who give strength to others and not someone who zaps strengthfrom others. Peter had a future ministry of strengthening others and imparting life to them. But first, he needed to be converted. The word ‘convert’ means ‘to turn around,’ and it is often used for someone who makes a profession of faith. But here and in other places of scripture it is referring to someone already saved who needs to turn from something to Someone.
What do you need to be converted from?
This passage shows us three symptoms of someone who needs to be converted:
Strife is an indicator that someone needs to be converted.
Verse 24 narrates an argument that took place, which was a contest for position. They had an ambition to be recognizedas a superior follower of Jesus. Rather than striving for position or recognition, we should be serving God by serving others. “And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach patient” (II Timothy 2:24). Are you someone who zaps strength from others because of strife? Or are you someone whose service to others imparts life, health, and strength?
Sitting instead of serving clearly shows a need to be converted.
It seemed to the disciples that being served at a meal was an indication of greatness. Surely the one being served had more dignity than the person doing the serving, right? But Jesus rebukes their way of thinking and gives them the true way of greatness: “he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve” (Luke 22:26). We live in a society that is consumed with getting rather than giving, and sitting rather than serving. The welfare system is evidence of this, but many Christians have adopted the same philosophy into their daily lives. Are you a servant or a sitter? If you are accustomed to sitting and not used to serving, then you need to be converted.
Sifting is part of God’s process of bringing about conversion.
The process of sifting involves the separation of the outer shell of the wheat. Peter, before his fall, had a self-confidence that seemed unbreakable. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death” (Luke 22:33). God had to break him of this fleshly confidence so he could experience Father confidence. His self-confidence had to be replaced with Savior-confidence. He needed to be reminded that he could only do all things through Christ, who strengthens us. God allows us to experience failure at times to show us the futility of our flesh. When this happens, God is bringing us to reliance upon Himself by breaking our outer shell. Are you confident? In what? In Whom? Until our confidence is in God and God alone, we need to be converted.
Peter was told by the Lord that he would fall, but he was also told thathe would be converted. Jesus didn’t say “if” but “WHEN thou art converted,” and this is an amazing promise to all of us. Peter had an anchor that would hold even when his self-confidence was shattered. He had the Savior of the world praying for him then, and we as believers have Jesus praying for us today. This promise sounds a lot like Isaiah 43:2 “WHEN thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee, WHEN thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” God, who has begun a good work in us, has promised to perform it until it is complete.
Though we may fall and need to be converted, God is faithful to bring us back to Him. He has appointed us to help strengthen each other and convert each other. Being turned back to Him can happen more quickly and without resistance if we will yield to His command to strengthen the brethren. “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one CONVERT him: let him know that he which CONVERTETH the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). Have you been converted? Are you converting and strengthening others