The Strengthening of Peter

Luke 22:31-32 (ESV)

“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.”

This is a wonderful part of Scripture that not only details the weakness of the Apostle, but also sets up the redemption of the same in later verses.

It was not only Peter, but all the twelve that Satan had desired to create doubt and a willingness to forsake their Master at a most crucial time. So why did Jesus single out Peter in His intercession? There was something about Peter’s temperament: he was known for being hot-headed, rash, and egotistical, unstable and inconsistent. At one moment he was brave as a lion, heroic in all his impulses, and tense in all his purposes; the next he was timid, vacillating, and cowardly. His self-confidence made him quick to speak and act—and one need only read Scripture to know how God feels about too much self-confidence. Too much self-confidence can shut out the need for confidence in God; it then becomes the enemy of faith. Jesus knew this, and He knew that for Peter to be a true leader, He must purge this self-confidence from him—a sifting of the wheat so the grain can be separated from the chaff.

This sifting is the testing of one’s faith—in this case the tempting of the devil to see who will fall away. Thus, by Jesus allowing the devil to tempt Peter, He knew this was the only way to strengthen Peter for the challenging road that lie ahead.

It is noteworthy here to recognize that even with Peter’s instability, Jesus chose Peter to be the rock on which His church would stand. When you consider all of the man-made kingdoms of the world and the strong men who built them, all failed because of their inherent weakness in being strong unto themselves. Here, Christ is building His church upon a weak man; but a weak man whose strength will ultimately be found in the Lord.

Christ did not pray to give Peter strength, piety, or wisdom, nor did He ask that this temptation not befall him. He simply prayed for Peter’s faith to not fail. What can we can learn from this?

It is in our own faith where we can overcome the world. Satan’s “sifting” will be severe at times, and trials can come along in both quantity and degree. Regardless, we should never allow our faith to waiver. We should view these trials as opportunities to grow in our faith and resolve in the Lord Jesus Christ. Temptations and trials build character—something we cannot develop while the road is smooth and easy.

Through these trials, we become equipped to help others who are going through similar times. And in these moments, we become thankful to God for putting us through the tough times and begin to see His providence working in our lives. We begin to realize that through His grace, no temptation or trial will be more than we can bear, as long as our faith rests in Him and not in ourselves (1 Corinthians 10:13).