A series about sifting…
- When Jesus Christ’s faith was sifted
- I am a son of God… a really hard sifting of my faith in Nov 2013
- Sifted – when God goes silent (and things go nutty)
- Surviving sifting and returning with a stronger faith – ready for ministry
- Sifting the wheat
Previously in this post (I am a son of God) I mention sifting.
For behold, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations and cause it to move to and fro as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least kernel fall upon the earth and be lost [from My sight] - Amos 9.9
Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain,but I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren. - Luke 22:31-32
When a person sifts wheat it looks like this… the grains are shifted left and right rapidly and then poured out and the wind takes the rubbish and the good stuff falls to the ground and is collected again.
But did you know that Jesus Christ’s faith was sifted not just once but twice?
The first was in the wilderness which was just after His baptism but immediately before His public miracles and ministry began. The second was after He gave up His own spirit and descended into the realm of the dead.
The first sifting
The temptation… the Holy Spirit LED Jesus Christ into the wilderness where He didnt eat for 40 days. He was alone the whole time. Then the devil appeared to Him… hungry and perhaps lonely… needy… and the devil tempted Jesus Christ in three ways…
- Make bread out of stones to relieve his own hunger
- Free himself from a pinnacle by jumping and relying on angels to break his fall. The narrative of both Luke and Matthew has the devil quote Psalm 91:11-12 to show that God had promised this assistance, although the devil implies that the passage may be used to justify presumptuous acts, while the Psalm only promises that God will deliver those who trust and abide in Him.
- Worship the devil in return for all the kingdoms of the world. Luke has the devil explicitly claim this authority had previously been handed to himself, the devil.
Jesus Christ was in a place of need and the devil had an opportunity to thoroughly test Jesus Christ’s faith…
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple – Matt 4:5
It was not a part of Jewish thinking that anything unclean could even come near the temple because the pharisees believed that God dwelt there. Just imagine how it tested His faith to be held there by the devil! And as the devil held Him there, He challenged Jesus Christ to prove He was a son of God.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said – Matt 4:6
Would Jesus Christ be tempted to PROVE Himself? No.
In the next test the devil says…
“All this I will give you” – Matt 4:9
Was this a real offer? Was it the devil’s to give? Indeed Jesus Christ later calls the devil “the prince of this world” three times, so He recognised that the devil did have (past tense, back then) SOME standing in the world at that time…
Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. - John 12:31
I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, - John 14:30
and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. - John 16:11
At that time the enemy was saying that ALL of it was his and that would have challenged whether Jesus Christ really had everything in His hands…
The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. – John 3:35
Would Jesus Christ doubt that God had given everything into His hands? Would He doubt Who He is? Would He doubt what God had given Him?
He did not doubt… therefore in response to Jesus Christ’s faith, He came out of the wilderness in power and His public ministry began. At the end of the second sifting (next) Jesus Christ would proclaim that ALL AUTHORITY had now been given to Him.
The second sifting
After He gave up His spirit His body literally died and He descended into the Earth…
Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far - Ephesians 4:8–10
What did He do in those three days? He preached…
After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits – 1 Peter 3:19
He preached despite the “situation” He was in…
What “situation” am I referring to?
Some time ago I received a revelation of the courage that it must have taken to deny what appeared to have happened (He died) and where He now was (in the place of the dead).
This is the sifting moment… when absolutely everything proves that what you know is true is wrong… but will you continue to believe?
As He stood there The change was utterly profound. On the cross Jesus Christ cried out “Father why have You forsaken Me?” and He became sin, not just “in the likeness” of sin, but He became sin itself. The consequence of a single sin is death… so He died (as the final and complete payment).
There He was… imagine it…
- Having been pure and unblemished all of His life, now He was sin itself, and
- Having been the source of life to all He encountered… now He was dead, He was in the place where dead people “live” (in a sense), and
- He was now completely apart from His Heavenly Father with whom He has only ever known fellowship, and
- Having defeated death every time He encountered it, He was now legally held by death… legally, because the consequence of sin is death, and
- Having only ever felt God’s love and having given life and healing to everyone who asked for it, He now felt agony of death (Acts 2:24).
Can you imagine the shock? His whole life had been an experience of perfection and now He was experiencing the complete opposite… the agony of death.
What a challenge to His faith… would He deny His situation and continue trust God to raise Him up as He expected…
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth – John 12:32
That word “if“… it boggles my mind. I struggle to believe that He used that word, because it indicates to me that He was not sure?! Is it really there in the Hebrew? Yes… it’s really there… John 12 in the BLB
And yes, in response to Jesus Christ’s faith, God did indeed raise Jesus Christ up from the dead…
But God raised him from the dead,
freeing him from the agony of death,
because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. – Acts 2:24
(For a full list of scriptures on this topic)
Take note of those words “the agony of death”… His time in the place of the dead was agony… He had no shortcuts. But because of His faith, He was released and raised up by God.
And after Jesus Christ’s faith was proved true He was able to say…
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. – Matt 28:18
His resurrection was very important because it proved He was indeed the Son of God…
And [as to His divine nature] according to the Spirit of holiness was openly designated the Son of God in power [in a striking, triumphant and miraculous manner] by His resurrection from the dead, even Jesus Christ our Lord (the Messiah, the Anointed One). – Rom 1:4
He held onto His faith, despite the agony, despite the death, despite the separation between Him and all that He had ever known… and He was proved right… He was and is the Son of God.
And that’s how Jesus Christ’s faith was sifted… twice.
One last thought… we should never forget that He had no shortcuts… He had to grow…
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. – Luke 2:52
God bless you!