WORDS OF WARNING AND HOPE TO A CLOSE FRIEND
Simon Peter was one of the first to leave everything to follow Christ. He, along with James and John, made up an inner circle of Jesus’ close friends. Simon was deeply committed, but he was impetuous and tended to have a bit of brashness in his speech, sometimes talking before he thought and speaking before he knew all the facts. Jesus loved him, so when He spoke to Simon it was not in harsh accusation, but rather in loving warning. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat” (22:31). Jesus knew what was about to happen to Simon—Simon did not. Simon was his name when he first came to Jesus, who gave him the name Peter, which means “rock.” Sensing his vulnerability as he faced the threshing floor, Jesus used his preconversion name Simon rather than the name Peter. He had the capacity to be more like chaff than a rock.
Sometimes it is good that we do not know what is coming at us in the future or we might give up before we even get there. However, there are times when it can be lifesaving to be put on alert so we can be extra diligent and make extra preparation. Driving through life with no warning or stop signs can be catastrophic, and Simon needed Jesus to warn him about what was around the next bend in the road. Satan had asked to attack him. As active and sinister as Satan may appear, he is not all powerful and cannot act where God prohibits, as the story of Job demonstrates (Job 1–2). He planned to sift Simon as wheat, which would be a clear illustration in that day. The kernels of wheat, still lodged in the heads and attached to the straw, would be beaten on the threshing floor and tossed in the air so the wind could blow away the chaff, leaving the wheat. Satan planned to shake Peter’s life and separate him from his faith.
What Simon could look forward to was grim, however Jesus said, “But.” That is a conjunction that has the capacity of reversing the outcome. Jesus continued: “I have prayed for you” (Luke 22:32). It is encouraging to have people tell us they are praying for us. The boost to our spirit is important, but more important is their contact with the Almighty on our behalf. Some things are only possible through prayer, and sometimes we are unable to adequately pray for ourselves. Jesus, God’s Son, who has unique knowledge of the Father and access to Him, said to Simon, “I have prayed for you.” Satan’s attack would be furious, but Jesus was praying. We are assured in John 17 that Jesus prays for us as well. It is a part of His intercessory ministry while He is in heaven and we are on earth.
Jesus told Simon He was praying “that your faith may not fail” (22:32). The greatest attack by Satan does not predetermine failure. Jude pointed us to the Lord who has unlimited glory, majesty, power, and authority, and gave us this wonderful benediction: “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 24). The apostle John wrote that the children of God overcome every evil spirit that comes against them “because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Jesus knew Simon would suffer a moment of failure, but that he would find his way back to a place of restored relationship and strengthened faith. He told Simon, “When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). Amazingly, God in His great mercy restores those who return to Him, and He has the ability to weave our failures into the fabric of our fully restored lives in such a way that we can help others be strengthened. Often, those who have been through great trial have a capacity for understanding and helping others who go through the same trial. There is a sense in which redeemed persons can “redeem themselves,” in terms of accepting forgiveness for their failure, by strengthening others where they themselves were broken.
22:31 Simon, Simon. The repetition of the name (cf. 10:41; Acts 9:4) implied an earnest and somber tone of warning. Christ Himself had given Simon the name Peter (6:14), but here He reverted to his old name, perhaps to intensify His rebuke about Peter’s fleshly overconfidence. The context also suggests that Peter may have been one of the more vocal participants in the dispute of v. 24.
The word you in Luke 22:31 is plural; Satan asked to have all the disciples so he might sift them like wheat.
“Satan obtained you by asking that he