Only Luke tells us that there, in the upper room, on the night of Jesus’ betrayal, in the context of revealing that he would be betrayed, while everyone was asking “Is it me?”, there was another conversation going on:
Who will be the greatest (22:24)?
It has been a thread throughout Luke (9:48; 13:29; 14:11; 18:14-17).
Position, access to power, recognition, these were all important in the ancient world. And why not? Those are “all important” in our world. They are signs of selfcenteredness. As long as we are thinking about our “rights” and “place” and “saving face” and being “respected,” we will never be thinking about lifting up the fallen or supporting the weak. God’s value system is nothing like our world’s. Comparatively, ours is upside down, and as long as our values are so different, we will be susceptible to being “sifted like wheat” by Satan.
The purpose for sifting is to get rid of everything that doesn’t belong there. Why would Satan want to help us in this way?
He wouldn’t. He imagines that the sifting will destroy us. Jesus prayed for Peter, for his faith, that it wouldn’t fail. When your value system is awry, you can be sure your faith will be weak and only the intercession of Christ will help. Even then, it’s not a slam dunk. Peter would fail, but he would not fail like Judas. Peter would return to the Jesus he had denied and find forgiveness.
I imagine Peter never forgot his “sifting.” It was likely the defining moment of his life. When our defining moment appears, remember that it is not defining until we’ve decided whether to return to Jesus. What we decide then, makes all the difference.