“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you…”
Jesus spoke these sobering words to Peter before going to his death. And what a terrifying thought!—to be had by the evil one, to be under his dominion and rule and a prisoner to his deathly purposes. Jesus continued,
“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)
Yes, this exchange would’ve been sobering for Peter—how should it impact us? Equally sobering is Satan’s active work to make this a reality for as many people as he can—and especially for Christians. If you’re a believer, what the enemy wants is to fail your faith. He wants to have you: eternally defeated, estranged from God, condemned for eternity—
But Jesus promises he won’t let you go.
What Jesus Promises
Satan’s demands must’ve looked and sounded something like they did in Job (see 1:1-12), a confrontation in the heavenly places when God sovereignly let out Satan’s leash without releasing it completely. This was a spiritual exchange—but only insofar as God said it would go, according to his eternal wisdom and perfect plans.
Similarly, Satan demanded to work in Peter’s circumstances, to knock him off his spiritual feet. But Jesus doesn’t respond to Satan’s desires in a way we’d expect. He doesn’t say:
- “Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I won’t let him!”
- “Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I will change the circumstances he throws at you.”
- “Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat…so you’re on your own.”
No. What does Jesus say? “But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” He doesn’t promise comfort or escape. Nor does he throw up his hands in defeat, leaving Peter alone to fight Satan’s schemes. He promises spiritual strength. He promises endurance to the end.
Even today, Jesus’ protection over us isn’t necessarily about shielding us from Satan’s attacks (though he can and does do this), but from the spiritual effects of those attacks. His prayer isn’t for us to be free from trouble, but for us to stand firmly in faith when trouble and temptation come.
He prays that our faith will endure no matter what…