Luke 22:31-34

Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 

In Jewish tradition, repeating someone’s name signified deep feeling – either of love or sadness.

Jesus repeats Peter’s given name – a sure indicator of a problem.

illus: mom: “Trevor Anderson!” Angie: “Trevor Davis!” That’s when I know…I have sinned.

Jesus to Peter: “You are acting like the old you – the you before you confessed me as Christ, and I gave you a new name.”

First “you” is plural – for all the disciples.

Far from enjoying the thrones Jesus promises (v.30) the apostles are about to be Satan’s playthings.

Satan has asked…

Job 1:8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
Job 1:9 So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 
Job 1:10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 
Job 1:11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”
Job 1:12 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.”
So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

In passing, we note that Satan has no rights to us. He may ask, but it is God who determines. 

Satan needs God’s permission to bring the kind of difficulties upon people that he hopes will show them to be impostors. 

He wants to be able to exclaim to God: “Your people are not truly devoted to You! They say they love You, but really they only love what You do for them.” But God must allow these tests.

that he may sift you as wheat…

“sift you” – “to demand the surrender of”

The metaphor of sifting implies separating what is desirable from what is undesirable.

Here is the thought that Satan wants to prove that at least some of the disciples will fail under severe testing, which would reflect poorly on God’s holiness and might. 

Sifting suggests that there is a turbulent future ahead for the band of disciples – especially Peter.

With the death of Jesus and the failure of the apostles, Satan thinks that he has a real path to overthrowing God.

Amos 9:9 For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.

The warfare with Satan that Jesus won, and that Judas lost had started again, this time for Christ’s disciples. 

Peter stood in Job’s shoes. As the prime example of the righteous of his generation, he must pass Satan’s muster. Satan wanted to accuse him and show him lacking.

Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

But I have prayed for you…

Peter had an ally Job did not. Jesus was praying for him.

What a marvelous word this is: “But I have prayed for you.” What a safety net for the messes every Christian makes!

1 John 2:1 …And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 

J.C. Ryle calls Jesus’ intercession “the one great secret of a believer’s perseverance in the faith.”

J.C. Ryle – The continued existence of grace in a believer’s heart is a great standing miracle. His enemies are so mighty, and his strength is so small, the world is so full of snares, and his heart is so weak, that it seems at first sight impossible for him to reach heaven. [1 John 2:1] explains his safety. He has a mighty Friend at the right hand of God.

Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

James R. Edwards – The chief apostle stands between Satan and Christ, Satan preying on him and Christ praying for him.

If Satan can overcome Peter, he can overcome all the disciples; if Christ can preserve Peter from ruin, He can preserve all the disciples.

illus: One old Scottish preacher, John Kennedy of Dingwall, officiating the Lord’s Table at his church where he pastored for 40 years until his death, once entreated his congregation to “lay all its weight on this gracious Advocate – this ‘glorious I’ – all its guilty yesterday, all its sinful today, all its unknown tomorrow. ‘But I have prayed for you.’ Yes, ‘this glorious I.”

Robert Murray M’Cheyne – If I can hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference; He is praying for me.

that your faith should not fail…

“that your faith will not disappear completely” like the sun in a total eclipse. That Peter’s faith will not be “drained away to nothing” (means “running out of money/mammon” in 16:9).

Satan can provoke a conflict, but he cannot determine its outcome.

Jesus’ words to Peter in vv.31-32 contain both a warning (Satan has asked to sift you) and a promise (but I have prayed for you). It is a miniature gospel message to Peter – first the bad news, then the victory guaranteed by the good news!

The Bible says we are justified by faith (Rom 3:21-26). Take away faith, and we cannot be righteous before God. The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). Take away faith, and nothing we do is accepted by God. The Bible says that faith enables us to extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one (Eph 6:16). Take away faith, and the devil will destroy us. The Bible says that the righteous will live by faith (Gal 3:11). Take away faith, and you take away life itself – the believer is nothing without faith.

On the other hand, if we still have faith, then we live invincible in the power of Christ.

We must notice that the Master did not ask that His servant might be freed from trouble. The enduring of difficulty is fundamental to the Christian way.

Acts 14:22 “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” 

Will Peter be knocked down? Yes. Will it result in disaster? Will he be knocked out? No!

2 Cor 4:8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 
2 Cor 4:9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—

Peter’s denial was indeed a serious breach of fidelity – he demonstrated miniscule faith at best. But it did not mean utter failure.

He flopped but he did not drown. Jesus’s intercessory prayer on his behalf took care of that. 

Nevertheless, his denial of Christ was so contrary to his former spiritual condition that he would need to “return” to Jesus.

and when you have returned to Me…

“once you have retraced your steps…”

Acts 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord

The prodigal son is a clear example of returning…

Luke 15:17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 
Luke 15:18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you

Jesus’ prayer does not keep Peter from stumbling – it keeps his faith from disappearing completely. Therefore, Peter can bounce back from his failure. 

strengthen your brethren…

Acts 1:15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty)

“strengthen” – establish, set in place

Rom 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—

Luke 16:26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.

Even though all the apostles abandon Jesus leading up to and at the cross, what looks like a damaging reversal of their commitment to Christ will end up being restabilized. Peter will be the tool God uses to strengthen them, to set them back in place. 

They will be established as the leaders of the first church.

Since the one ordained to strengthen Jesus’ disciples will not be strong and invincible but weak and fallen, should we not be encouraged to keep running the race with Christ on the narrow road?

Those who have been through deep waters have the experience necessary to help others through the same.

2 Cor 1:6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 

illus: The Haleys receiving comfort from the Neiswenders…

Usefulness in the church, especially places of leadership, does not require perfection or unreserved maturity. It does require first, a journey inward (“return to Me”) followed by a journey outward (“strengthen your brethren”).

Luke 22:33 But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”

This is classic Peter: often in error, but never in doubt.

He insists on his immovable devotion to Christ. Since he would never go away, he would never need to make a comeback.

He vowed his faithfulness until death. He would endure all the persecutions Jesus described as signs of the end. He would be there to take one of the twelve thrones over the tribes of Israel. 

He did not mention Jesus’ prayers. Neither did he mention his own prayers. He was confident he could do it. Later he would, but only after failure.

Peter insists he is ready now, without prayer or repentance, but Jesus tells him that before tomorrow morning he will have demonstrated in unthinkable ways that he is not.

In the long term, this will be true of Peter, but for now the words prove empty.

Luke 22:34 Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”

Jesus brought Peter back to reality quickly. 

You will not be faithful as you promise, Jesus told him. You will turn your back on me three times before the sun even rises. You will refuse even to acknowledge that you know who I am, much less that I am your Lord. Be ready to face your weakness, Peter.

“The same Peter who in the comfort of the Last Supper vows that he is ready to go with Jesus to prison and to death, will swear with equal vigor that he never knew Jesus in the crucible of Caiaphas’s courtyard.”

Isn’t it true that God’s grace comes in many forms? In this instance, it comes in Jesus refraining from scolding Peter for his shameless boasting. Our Lord mercifully allows the crowing rooster to convict Peter of his foolishness.


Christian leaders are not exempt from fears, doubts, and discouragement. Instead, they are repeatedly tested by heaven through various trials, and they are supported by heaven through Jesus’ prayers, enabling them to repent and find grace to continue.

Dustin Benge – Even after Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus called him to, “feed my sheep.” Jesus was saying to Peter, “I know what you’re like and what you’ve done, but I want you anyway.” He graciously says the same to all believers.




Second “you” is singular – just for Peter