“Simon, Simon! Indeed Satan Has Asked For You . . .”!!
By Rodney W. Francis
In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 22, Verses 31-34, 49-62, we read of the unfolding of this amazing statement from Jesus to Simon Peter. Peter later on became a leading Apostle of Jesus Christ in the early church and also wrote the two epistles of Peter in the New Testament. The full statement that Jesus spoke that day to Peter was: 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” (NKJV). “The Message” Bible puts it this way: "Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from Me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I've prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start."
The first thing that struck me was the audacity of Satan to boldly ask Jesus if he could have Simon Peter! This, of course, happened in a way that Peter was completely unaware of the battle for his soul. If Jesus had not revealed it to him, he may never have known of that contending which goes on for our lives in the unseen spirit realm. The question I ask is: “Why would Satan so seek to wreck Peter’s life?” Was it because he had some fore-knowledge of the danger Peter would later become to Satan’s kingdom? Or was he trying to discredit the saving power and ability of Jesus? Whatever, Jesus was able to give Satan a certain ability to go after Simon Peter ~ like what happened to Job in the Old Testament ~ he could test him, but not destroy him!
LESSONS TO LEARN . . .
At that point in Simon Peter’s life he still had some lessons to learn as to the reality of the cost of walking with Jesus. He was impetuous, somewhat proud and arrogant as to his ability to be faithful to Jesus, even if all the other disciples were not! Up to that time Peter was a very changeable, “up and down” sort of disciple. Interestingly, I think Jesus actually used the devil to “break” Peter’s heart so that afterwards ~ as a result of Satan’s working on him ~ Peter would come forth a much better disciple of Jesus than he ever was before. (God also used a wicked Pharaoh to get the Israelites to where He wanted to take them,Romans 9:17 ).
When Jesus told Peter about Satan’s request, Peter re-acted in such a way as to make out Jesus had him summed up all wrong. He blurted out: “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death” (v. 33). He really thought he was stronger than the rest of the disciples! He protested: “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be” (Mark 14:29 ).To which Jesus replied: “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me” (v. 34). Not next month, or next week ~ but today “you will deny three times that you know Me”!! Peter could not even imagine that that would happen to him that day! But, as we all now know, it did, and Peter finished up a very sorry and broken man after he heard that rooster start crowing.
On the positive side, Satan asked for Peter because he wanted to “take him out” before Peter came to the place of wrecking the works of the devil and being the powerhouse for God he later became.
DOES SATAN WANT TO SIFT YOU?
I wonder whether you and I are of such a concern to Satan that he has petitioned Jesus to have us, and sift us to see what we’re made of? The word “sift” comes from the Greek word “siniazo” and means: “to sift, shake” (Young’s); “1. to sieve (sand, flour, etc.) in order to remove the coarser particles. 2. to scatter (something) over a surface through a sieve. 3. to separate with or as if with a sieve; distinguishing between. 4. to examine minutely: to sift evidence. 5. to move as if through a sieve” (Collins Dictionary). Satan’s purposes were to expose Peter as not being a genuine disciple of Jesus! He really wanted to put him through a sieve and reduce him to a total failure! How would you withstand him? How would I? He is a very subtle foe and he knows how to tempt and weaken us, especially if we have any unyielded areas of our lives, or we are still full of ego and arrogance, trying to serve God in our own strength, etc. Jesus knew that Peter would buckle and deny that he even knew Jesus that day. How amazing that it all happened so quickly ~ that very day. How easy it is for us to be “coasting along merrily” through our day, when all of a sudden things can change and we can find ourselves in a raging battle over someone or something that invades our peace and contentment!
As the events unfold, we see Jesus and His disciples then go to the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane. There the soldiers confronted Jesus and a disciple took out his sword and cut off one of their ears. John’s Gospel tells us that that disciple was Simon Peter (John 18:1-11 )!! He was so zealous for standing up for Jesus at that point, but he was “ministering” out of a wrong spirit and understanding of Jesus’ Kingdom. Jesus’ ministry is not fulfilled by the use of a sword! Then Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest’s house, and it was there that the pressure really began to come on Peter when servant girls recognized him and his speech betrayed him! Peter denied their accusations and, on the third one, he began to curse and to swear that he did not know Jesus (Luke 22:54-62 )!! The same day! While Peter was in full swing of his denial of knowing Jesus, suddenly a common, ordinary rooster began to crow. That rooster’s voice suddenly jolted Peter into reality and his memories of what Jesus had said to him earlier in the day came pouring into his mind. It shocked him! It so shook him that he began to cry uncontrollably and bitterly; for he knew at that moment that he had denied the very Lord Jesus Who had saved and called him to be one of His followers. That rooster’s crow broke Peter’s heart so much that we read he “went out and wept bitterly” (v. 62). The truth of Jesus’ words first broke him (through Jesus allowing Satan to sift him) ~ and then set him free to walk into a glorious future in the power of the Holy Spirit. The agony of that breaking was made much worse, because before Peter could speak with Jesus and get His forgiveness for his egotistical arrogance, Jesus was led away and crucified on the cross. How that must have been a very painful time for Peter, knowing he had failed the Lord ~ and himself. He really believed he was much stronger in his faith and commitment to Jesus. But he had failed him three times on the very same day ~ and now Jesus was dead.
THE GLORIOUS RESURRECTION!
Three days after Jesus was crucified there was a mighty happening ~ Jesus rose from the dead! How amazing that the stone had been rolled away and an angel of God was sitting inside the tomb where the body of Jesus had lain. He spoke to the three women who experienced this sight and said these words: “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples ~ and Peter ~ that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you” (Mark 16:6-7 ). Did you notice what the angel said? He told those women to go and tell His disciples that Jesus is alive ~ and He specifically names only one of the disciples ~ Peter! Oh, the faithfulness of Jesus toward His disciples. Jesus knew all about Peter’s agony, and He sends him a personal message that He (Jesus) is alive and He will see him again soon! How do you think Peter must have felt to receive that message? It caused him to run to the tomb (John 20:1-10 ). Peter was desperate to see Jesus again, even though (at that time) they did not understand the resurrection.
PETER WENT ON TO IMPACT MILLIONS!
Peter’s life got put back on the right course again and he went on to become a great apostle of Jesus Christ. He had the privilege of taking the Holy Spirit ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 10 & 11), and his ministry has impacted millions of lives ever since. Jesus saw the cry and intent of Peter’s heart ~ even though his ego got in the way ~ so He (Jesus) allowed Satan to sift him and break him ~ but Jesus allowed that trial and testing from Satan to cause Peter to come to a place of brokenness and “death to self”; out of which came forth a great man of God. How the devil must have been angry at the way by which Jesus used him to refine one of His leading disciples. Praise the Lord! Nothing is too hard for our God!
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Whatever you are going through right now ~ even if Satan is sifting you as wheat ~ know that the deep desire of your heart is to love and serve Jesus, and that He (Jesus) is working on your behalf. He has prayed for you that your faith fail not! And when you come through this time of testing you will be able to strengthen your brethren. The word “strengthen” is from the Greek word “sterizo” and means “to make firm, fix firmly” (Young’s); “to set fast, fix firmly; make steadfast” (Bullinger’s). Peter became such a source of encouragement and strength after his trial that many Christians were also all the better off because of what he went through.
If you really want to make an impact for Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven, then know that there is a price to pay. You will be tested in numbers of ways; maybe even by Satan himself as he has been granted permission by Jesus to “have a go” at you, knowing full well that He (Jesus) will use it to refine us to be even more effective than we ever have been before.