Shake Well Before Using

Title: Shake Well Before Using

Bible Book: Luke 22 : 31-34

Author: Franklin L. Kirksey

Subject: Victory; Commitment; Dedication



Former United States Secret Service Agent, Bob Pawson, who currently serves as a Gideon, sent the following forward via e-mail:

Ask yourself the question "would you run?" after you read this!!!

Imagine this happening to you:

One Sunday morning during service; a 2,000 member congregation was surprised to see two men enter both covered from head to toe in black and carrying submachine guns.

One of the men proclaimed, "Anyone willing to take a bullet for Christ remain where you are."

Immediately, the choir fled the deacons fled and most of the congregation fled.

Out of the 2,000 there only remained 20. The man who had spoken took off his hood. He then looked at the preacher and said "Okay Pastor, I got rid of all the hypocrites. Now you may begin your service. Have a nice day!"

And the two men turned and walked out.1

Music Evangelist Price Harris used to sing a song titled “Jesus Use Me” which begins, “Dear Lord I'll be a witness, if you will help my weakness. I know that I'm not worthy, Lord, of thee. By eyes of faith I see Thee, upon the cross of Cal-v'ry, Dear Lord, I cry, ‘Let me Thy servant be’”. I especially remember the words of the chorus, “Jesus use me, and O Lord, don't refuse me, for surely there's a work that I can do. And even tho' it's humble / Help my will to crumble, Tho’ the cost be great, I'll work for You.”2

Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) states, “Sometimes your medicine bottle has on it, 'shake well before using,' this is what God has to do with some of His people. He has to shake them well before they are ever usable."3

Simon Peter is Exhibit A as we read in Luke 22:31 and following, “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.’

This passage reveals:

I. A Vigorous Shaking (Luke 22:31)

Luke records, “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). To sift something requires a vigorous and even violent shaking. We know from our Lord’s parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30), that it is difficult to tell those who are true believers from those who are make believers. Note that Jesus speaks in the positive about Peter related to his condition. After reading our passage we know that Peter repented, returned and recovered, but Jesus knew it before it happened by divine revelation. Remember Jesus knew the difference between what was in Peter’s heart and what was in Judas’ heart. The disciples could not tell the difference between Peter and Judas.

Rev. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) shares the following on Luke 22:31, “The true meaning of these words seems to be this. It is ordered in providence that Satan should at this time extraordinarily seek and hope to have you, and it is so ordered to that end, that by his temptations he might sift you as wheat; that is, that there might be a separation made between you and your corruptions, your pride and self-confidence, as wheat is separated from chaff by sifting; which proved to be the effect of those trials that Peter and the rest of the disciples had at that time; they were sifted and purified, and came forth abundantly brighter than before, as gold that is tried in the fire. It is not Satan's end in desiring to have them that is here spoken of, but God's end in so ordering it that Satan should desire to have them. Satan's end in desiring to have the saints, is not to sift them and purify the wheat from the chaff, but to destroy them.”4

Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) explains, “Satan, in his temptations, aims to destroy our faith in God's all-sufficiency, knowing that he shall gain his point if he can do that; as we keep our ground if our faith fail not, Luke 22:32.”5

“Jesus knows and tells Peter plainly what he will soon do. In verse 31, Jesus called Peter ‘Simon.’ But Jesus had already changed the name ‘Simon’ to ‘Peter’ (see Matthew 16:13-20).”6

Dr. John Phillips states, “Satan would like to do to Peter what he was about to do to Judas—turn him into a suicide. He had already been given permission to try him. Little did Peter know how greatly he was about to be tempted.”7

Rev. John Bunyan (1628-1688), author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, confesses in another classic titled Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, “Now, about a week or fortnight after this, I was much followed by this Scripture, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you. And sometimes it would sound so loud within me, yea, and as it were call so strongly after me, that once above all the rest, I turned my head over my shoulder, thinking verily that some man had, behind me, called me: being at a great distance, methought he called so loud. It came, as I have thought since, to have stirred me up to prayer and to watchfulness; it came to acquaint me that a cloud and storm was coming down upon me; but I understood it not.”8

Rev. John G. Butler explains, “‘Sift you as wheat’ is a figure of speech for testing something. Satan wants to test Peter and prove that he is a phony as Judas was. Satan also felt Job was a phony, and he would run him through the sieve of tests and prove his character was not truly pious but only convenient. But Job won.”9 Dr. Steven J. Lawson titles one of the chapters in his commentary on the book of Job, “Speechless, Spitless and All Shook Up”.10

Dr. William Hendriksen (1900-1982) and Dr. Simon J. Kistemaker remind us in the Baker New Testament Commentary of several instances of “superterrestrial warfare”, for example Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; and Zech. 3:1-5.11 In Zechariah 3:1-5 we find Joshua. Please remember this is another Joshua, not the successor of Moses. Here we read, “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’ Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him He said, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.’ And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by.”

We also note that Satan attempted to separate the disciples in Luke 22:3 and here he selects one in particular for sifting. Sifting indicates a time of testing as in Luke 3:17 and Amos 9:9.

Not only do we find a visible shaking we discover:

II. A Visible Shaping (Luke 22:32a)

Our Lord continues His prophetic message to Simon Peter, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me. . .” This is a message of help and a message of hope! First our Lord revealed His praying for Peter, possibly referring to His praying highlighted in John 17:9, 11, and 15. Jesus Christ is our Advocate with the Father as we read in 1 John 2:1. Secondly, our Lord reveals His prophesy about Peter. Jesus foretold Peter’s restoration before he repented as we read in John 21:15-17.

There was a whole lot of shaking going on in Peter’s life. But after the shaking there was a shaping that took place. Simon Peter was transformed from a cursing fisherman to a cultured fisher of men! The Scripture tells us that believers are “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

A saying came into usage among those in the United States military during World War II, “Shape up or ship out.” Originally it meant that a soldier needed to do a better job or be shipped overseas to a combat zone. Now it has come to mean get it together or get out.

We read in Matthew 4:18-21, “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.” Note that our Lord promises His followers that He will make them.

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe observes, “It is interesting that this word of warning followed the dispute over who was the greatest! Imagine how the disciples must have felt when they heard that not only would one of their number betray Him, but that their spokesman and leader would publicly deny Him! If a strong man like Peter was going to fail the Lord, what hope was there for the rest of them?”12

Luke reveals a vigorous shaking, a visible shaping and

III. A Vital Sharing (Luke 22:32b)

Jesus commissions Simon Peter with three words in our English text, “strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:32b).

Rev. J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) shares, “[Dr. Henry] Alford (1810-1871), author of the Greek Testament, says that the Greek word for strengthen here is twice used by Peter in his two letters, and the word 'steadfastness,' which is also used, is directly derived from it. (1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 3:17.)”13

It is amazing to see just how the Lord used Simon Peter! For example, on the day of Pentecost, Peter boldly preached the message of the gospel and 3,000 people were saved (Acts 2:41). This was the first of seven sermons preached by Peter recorded in part in the book of Acts, according to Dr. W. A. Criswell (1909-2002), who lists six of them in The Believer’s Study Bible as follows: (Acts 2:14-40; 3:12-26; 4:5-12; 10:28-47; 11:4-18; 15:7-11).14

Peter was divinely inspired to write two letters bearing his name. First and Second Peter are a part of the Word of God described in this way, “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Dr. Bruce B. Barton shares the following, “Jesus prayed for faith, not the removal of the test. Apparently, he knew that Peter would fail; otherwise, there would be no need for Peter to repent. Yet Jesus was confident of this turning back, and also understood that, having faced this trial, Peter would be able to strengthen fellow believers. Indeed, the book of 1 Peter deals entirely with encouragement for believers who are undergoing trials and difficulties. Peter became a source of strength to many who needed it.”15

Thoralf Gilbrant and Ralph W. Harris explain, “The content of His prayer is also special. Persecution, a Luke and Acts theme, is the reason Peter's trial and subsequent restoration are mentioned. Peter will be better able to strengthen his brothers through their trials and to restore them should they fall.”16

Former United States Chaplain of the Senate, the Reverend Dr. Peter Marshall (1902-1949), once quoted a Dutch evangelist who said, “The measure of life is not its duration but its donation.” Did you ever hear that George Michael song, sung by The Temptations, that says, "papa was a rollin' stone / Wherever he laid his hat was his home / And when he died / All he left us was alone"? What about your legacy? In Peter’s case, his legacy included his letters to the church and his leadership in the church. Peter wisely invested his life in people.


Remember Simon Peter’s self-confident reply, “But he said to Him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.’ Then He said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me’” (Luke 22:33-34).

Many believers feel they are ready to be used, only to painfully discover they are woefully unprepared for the task at hand.

Dr. F.B. Meyer (1847-1929), Baptist pastor and evangelist from England, comments, “The Master apparently did not pray that temptation should be withheld. The quick eye of his affection had discerned the tempter’s approach. His quick ear had detected Satan’s request of the Father; as though he said, “Let me have the chance for one brief hour, and I will show that these men, so far from being gold, silver, and precious stones, are only wood, hay, and stubble.” But though He knew all this, the Master did not request that the winnowing wind should be withheld. Why? Because temptation is part of the present order of the world. Why it is so we cannot tell; that it is so we know assuredly. Why the Almighty permitted the evil one to intrude into paradise, and to assail every single soul of woman born, that has passed to years of consciousness, we shall probably never understand until mystery drops from our eyes in the meridian light of heaven. We only are sure that the permission of temptation is not inconsistent with His almightiness or beneficence.

Because temptation tests character and reveals us to ourselves and to one another. — Was it not well that Peter should know how weak he was; that he might become truly penitent and converted? Was it not befitting that Judas should be exposed before the Day of Pentecost? Was it not best that the foundation stones of the Church should be well tested? It is better to learn our weakness now and here than at the Judgment-seat.

But if Satan tempts, our Advocate pleads. He anticipates the advent of temptation by storing up his prayers. He warns the soul when the hawk begins to hover. If He may not arrest temptation, He will at least ask that our faith may not fail; and will seek us out as He did Peter.”17

Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), England's best-known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century, explains, “Peter was the man to tell another of the weakness of the flesh, for he could say to him, ‘Do not trust yourself.’ But he was also qualified to bear his personal witness to the power of his Lord’s prayer. He could never forget that Jesus had said to him, ‘I have prayed for thee.’ And could not Peter speak about the love of Jesus to poor wanderers? And could not Peter fully describe the joy of restoration?”18

Dr. Joel Hawes (1789-1867), tenth pastor of the First Congregational Church of Hartford, Connecticut, and later professor at Yale College (now University) recounts the following, “The late Dr. [Adoniram] Judson [1788-1850] of Burmah Baptist Mission, after he had been years in his field of labour, earnestly engaged in his work, and no doubt as a true Christian man, experienced a change in his religious feelings and views which, in all its essential elements, may properly be regarded as a second conversion, and which gave a new impulse and a new power, as well as a greatly increased spirituality, and joy, and hope, to the whole of his subsequent life.”19

Dr. Reuben Archer Torrey (1856-1928), an American evangelist, pastor, educator, and writer, shares in his Revival Addresses, “I remember when I was a boy, one night we five children were in the sitting-room at home, and we asked our father to tell us what his properties were. We were going to figure them up and see how much we were going to be worth when he was gone. He was rather amused at the idea, and he began to tell us what he thought he was worth; and when he told us of all the possessions he could think of, we all of us added them up, and divided them by five to see how much each of us would be worth when my father saw fit to hand things over to us. This looked splendid on paper, and I felt quite rich that night; but there came a financial crash in America in 1873 which affected my father’s properties, and little by little, by the year ’77, when my father was called away, practically the last vestige of all that he possessed was taken from his hands, and he left only a few thousand dollars. And that was mismanaged, and in a few months not a penny was left. All I had was a matchbox and a pair of sleeve-buttons, one of which I have lost, and I don’t know what became of the other. ‘The world passeth away.’ I thank God that that money did pass away. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me.”20

Dr. Torrey’s book titled Why God Used D. L. Moody is essentially the manuscript of his memorial address celebrating the life and ministry of his dear friend. I believe someone could write a book titled Why God Used R. A. Torrey. Hopefully, someone could write a book about why God used you and why God used me.

1“Would You Run?”  Forwarded  by Bob Pawson via e-mail 11/24/09

2Bill and Jack Campbell “Jesus Use Me” Shaped Notes (Gospel Publishing House, 1956, 1961)

3The Vance Havner Quotebook: Sparkling Gems from the Most Quoted Preacher in America, compiled by Dennis J. Hester (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986) Database © 2006 WORDsearch Corp. 

4Jonathan Edwards, "Notes on Scripture," The Works of Jonathan Edwards: Volume 15, Stephen J. Stein, ed, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998)

5Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume “2 Chronicles 32:9” (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991) Database WORDsearch Corp.

6The Complete Biblical Library, Luke international editor, Thoralf Gilbrant and  executive editor Ralph W. Harris (Springfield, MO: World Library Press, 1990) Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

7John Phillips, The John Phillips Commentary Series, Exploring the Gospel of Luke: An Expository Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2005) Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

8John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, (Philadelphia, PA: Leary & Getz, 1833), sec. 93.

9John G. Butler, Analytical Bible Expositor – Luke (Clinton, Iowa: LBC Publications, 2008) Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.

10Holman Old Testament Commentary - Job, ed. Max E. Anders, (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2005), p. 347

11Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke. eds., Dr. William Hendriksen and Dr. Simon J. Kistemaker (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic A Division of Baker Publishing Group, 1973) Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.

12Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1 © 2001 by Warren W. Wiersbe. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

13John Charles Ryle, Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (1856) Database © 2004 WORDsearch Corp.

14The Believer’s Study Bible, ed. W. A. Criswell (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991), p. 1542

15Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary, ed. Bruce B. Barton (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001)

16The Complete Biblical Library, Luke, international editor, Thoralf Gilbrant and  executive editor Ralph W. Harris (Springfield, MO: World Library Press, 1990) Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

17F. B. Meyer, “Devotionals on Luke” Our Daily Walk (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1951)

18The Biblical Illustrator, St. Luke, Vol. III, ed. Joseph S. Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, n.d. [ 1887]), p. 530

19The Biblical Illustrator, St. Luke, Vol. III, ed. Joseph S. Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, n.d. [ 1887]), pp. 528-529

20R. A. Torrey, Revival Addresses (New York / London: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1903), p. 105

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and  / [email protected]  / (251) 626-6210

© December 6, 2009 All Rights Reserved

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