“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:31-34 ESV)
Jesus sounds like the consummate parent–he calls Simon’s name twice–and Simon was Peter’s formal name. You can tell he wants Peter to hear what he has to say. Notice his language. If anyone knows Satan, it’s Jesus. He was in heaven when Satan was thrown out. Satan demanded. You have to wonder why Satan wanted Peter so badly that he would demand. Never forget that Satan can only do what God allows him to do. The tense of the verb “demanded” suggests that this happened at a particular time. When did Satan show up to Jesus and ask to destroy Peter?
The first step in the process of sifting wheat is to loosen the chaff from the edible grain, which is called threshing. The old-fashioned way to do this is to spread the wheat onto a floor made from stone, concrete or tamped earth and to beat it with a flail. The next step is called winnowing, where the loosened chaff is removed from the grain. The old-fashioned way of doing this is to throw the grain in the air, where the lighter chaff is blown off by even a decent breeze. The heavier grain falls back to the ground below.
In other words Satan wanted to stomp Peter into the ground and throw him in the air while the wind blew through. Satan wanted to destroy Peter. What was Jesus’s response? I have prayed for you. Jesus prayed for Peter. That your faith may not fail. Peter, I have prayed that you will still believe I am who I am after you see me mercilessly beaten by the Romans. I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail after you see the cross on my shoulders. I have prayed that you will still believe when I am laid in the tomb.
Jesus prayed for Peter.
Peter didn’t get it. He was guilty of Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 10:12: Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. Peter thought he could handle Satan’s attacks. Jesus knew he couldn’t. Jesus prayed for Peter. And Jesus is praying for you too.
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34 ESV)
If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, He is praying for you now. Tomorrow we will eavesdrop on a conversation between Jesus and Peter on the seashore and learn how God answered Jesus’s prayer for Peter. Until then, rest in the reality that Jesus is praying for you.