Recently I was reading through Luke 22 and came to the account of Jesus foretelling Peter’s denial of Christ. I will list it for you below:
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,[d] that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
You will notice footnotes next to the word “you” which I took time to investigate. In Jesus’ first sentence the first two uses of the word “you” are plural, the second two uses are singular. So we could paraphrase the passage like this:
“Simon, listen to me very carefully. Satan demanded to have all of you disciples to sift each of you like wheat. But Peter, I have prayed specifically for you so that your faith may not fail. When you have returned from your stumbling and testing, strengthen your brothers.” Peter told Jesus, “You don’t have to worry about me! I am ready and willing to go to prison and death with you.” Jesus said, “Peter, you won’t make it through this night before you abandon and turn away from me.”
I was struck by a number of thoughts as I meditated on this passage.
1. Satan is allowed to sift God’s people like wheat! (For other examples see Job, Jesus, Paul.) Sifting like wheat is the way farmers separate what is worthless from what is valuable.
2. Jesus was confident that Peter would return in faith. But Jesus’ confidence was not in Peter but rather that the Father would keep Peter safe from Satan’s goal of destroying Peter’s faith.
3. Peter was confident in himself. I think this was the first chaff blown away during the sifting process.
4. Not only did Jesus pray for Peter but He also came looking for Peter and made sure he was fully back on the path. John 21:15ff
5. Peter’s promises of devotion and faithfulness were empty because he had no power or ability to keep them. But Jesus’ prayer for Peter had the power to accomplish the Lord’s will in Peter’s life.
6. Failure is part of the Christian life but God is at work in us to restore us and put us back in service.
7. Once we have turned back we are to encourage and strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ.
8. What Satan means for our destruction the Lord allows for our growth and dependence on Christ.