And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:…
Our Lord is conversing here with His dear disciples a little before His crucifixion. In the tenderness of His heart, He almost thanks them for their faithful adherence to Him (vers. 28-30). And now comes a sudden transition, showing us the strong feeling at work at this time in our Lord's breast. He thinks the next moment of the perils these men will have to pass through in their way to those thrones, and gives them abruptly a warning of one of them.
I. We must begin with THIS WARNING.
1. See in it our Lord's knowledge of the invisible world. We know nothing of Satan but what we are told. But the Lord Jesus does see him as he goes about and He not only sees him, He can look into his heart and discern the secret purposes and desires of it.
2. See next here the crafty policy of Satan. "He hath desired to have you," our Lord says; "you especially; you, believers in Me, rather than the Jews or heathen around you; you, My most beloved disciples," etc. Why? Because they stood more in his way than any others.
3. We may see here the limited power of Satan. He cannot touch one of these men without God's permission.
II. Leaving now the other disciples, let us look at THE EFFECT OF THIS WARNING ON ONE OF THEM, PETER. "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you."
1. Observe, that it excited his love. If mere feeling could have made a martyr, Peter was already prepared to be one.
2. And observe again — this warning did not shake Peter's self-confidence. And yet it was given in a manner calculated to shake it. It made no impression on him or a very faint one.
3. And mark again — this warning did not prevent Peter's fall.
III. We may come now to another point in the text — THE TENDER MERCY OF OUR LORD TO PETER NOTWITHSTANDING HIS SELF-SUFFICIENCY AND FALL, or rather, in anticipation of his self-sufficiency and fall. "I have prayed for thee," He says, "that thy faith fail not."
1. We must be struck at once, I think, with the lowliness of this language. Our Lord has been speaking just before in the almost unveiled dignity of the Godhead. He has been manifesting, too, a knowledge of Satan and a knowledge of the human heart such as none but the infinite Jehovah can possess; and yet when His fallen apostle is to be rescued, what does He say? "I will rescue him"? or, as in Paul's case, "My grace is sufficient for him"? No; He speaks now as a feeble man; "The mighty God only can rescue him. I have prayed for him." What a view does this give us of our Lord's humility! And what a view, too, of the awful nature of sin! of the difficulty of extricating even a servant of God out of it!
2. Observe, too, the peculiar tenderness of His love for those who are peculiarly tempted.
3. And there is the intercession of our Lord to be noticed here — its influence on our preservation from sin or recovery from it. Faith lies at the root of every grace. It is that within us which first lays hold of the Lord Jesus, and it is that which keeps hold of Him. It seems the lowest, the poorest, and meanest of all graces, but it is notwithstanding the most active and operative of all; it secretly does the most.
(C. Bradley, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: