Jesus has a promise specifically for Peter. Jesus started out this message to everyone but Peter got a pointed portion of it. Jesus took all His disciples to Mount Olive for one final discussion time together. They don’t know it is the final time but He does and He has something important to say before everything breaks loose.
Luke goes straight for the heart of this conversation while Matthew and Mark share a little more of the backstory. Jesus’ first words would make my hair stand on end if He said them about me; “Simon, Simon, behold Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat” (verse 31). ‘YIKE! Why would Satan want me? What did I do to him?’
On the other hand this statement could be ego building too. ‘I must have done something right to get his attention. Why else would he want to stop me?’ There is a short saying that talks about this kind of believer. This is the kind of person that when their feet hit the ground in the morning, Satan says “OH NO! He’s/She’s awake!”
Jesus’ next words should have filled Peter with hope; “But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (verse 32a). Jesus had prayed for so many people over His 3 ½ year ministry. He had even prayed for His disciples before sending them out into the mission field. But Jesus told Peter that He prayed specifically for Him this night. When Jesus prayed for something it happened. Since Jesus prayed for Peter did he think he didn’t need to worry about Jesus’ warning concerning Satan? Did he feel shored up or offended? Did he realize that Jesus reason for praying was because he was going to face a very difficult situation?
The next phrase tells me that Jesus had every confidence that Peter would pass the test. Peter was “wheat” and not “chaff.” “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (verse 32b). Jesus didn’t say “if” but “when.” He knew Peter’s heart. He knew his arrogance and stubbornness. He also knew his deep love for Him. Yes, Peter was going to seriously mess up, but Jesus KNEW that once he came to his senses he would turn back. Jesus had faith in Peter and in His own prayers.
While reading this it occurred to me that Jesus didn’t pray for Judas. Was Judas beyond reaching because Satan had actually entered into him? Satan “demanded” Peter. He didn’t get to inhabit him but to test him only. Did he want Peter because Jesus was so close with him?
Jesus knew that Peter’s ordeal would help him understand others’ shortcomings. It would leave a scar on Peter’s heart that God would use to His benefit.
Father God, thank You that You use our failures for your Kingdom. Thank You that You walk with us through our trials. Peter wasn’t alone in his trial either. He had Your Holy Spirit watching over him because of Jesus’ prayers.
Lord Jesus, I’m so sorry for the pain Peter’s words added to Your suffering. I know I add to Your pain TOO often too. Thank You that I can turn again too, just like Peter. I pray I bring You less pain every day. I am SO grateful for Your forgiveness, I just don’t want to be in need of it as much. Please help me become more like You every day.