“Simon, Simon, Satan has appealed to sift you like grain, but I have interceded regarding you in order that your faith might not fail. And at the point when you return, undergird your brothers.”
Though Satan sought to sift, just as in the account of Job, Satan needs to ask permission. The word translated here as “appealed” refers to a strong and pleading request—an impassioned plea of sorts—Satan’s hands are clearly tied here just as they were tied in Job’s day. How often we find Satan portrayed otherwise. We see him portrayed as strong and deadly and mighty beyond comparison, and while we should never underestimate our foe, he is restrained by our mighty God. Satan must ask and Jesus’ petition is not that Satan not be allowed to test Peter, it is that Peter’s faith might remain intact and thus after his time of breaking, that he would return to Christ in brokenness.
How often our God allows Satan to test and break us to strip us of our pride. Jesus has rebuked Peter on multiple occasions before, but this will be the point in Peter’s life where he will be changed and transformed from the headstrong spokesperson of the Twelve to the humble Apostle that will proclaim the gospel boldly at the day of Pentecost. No one proclaims the Gospel so boldly as the one who has really experienced the Gospel. It is one thing to have an intellectual understanding of the Gospel, but when you finally get to the point where you realize that by all measure you deserve to be condemned to Hell, then you truly will understand what Christ came to do. Peter understood that only as a result of the experience that would take place a little later this night. Paul understood this as he traveled the road to Damascus. And it was God, then, that used both of these men to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the known world.
Yet, in our time of sifting, where will our comfort be? Will God leave us for a time? No, and absolutely no! Jesus will never leave nor forsake his own (Hebrews 13:5). Our hope, beloved, is in the intercession of Christ for us as we walk through life. He will lift us in prayer before his Father, he will send his Spirit to comfort us and to strengthen us, and he will not allow Satan to pluck us from his hand. Though the darkness may seem to surround us, the plunge into darkness is not without the tether line of Christ’s intercession. What an amazing gift that Christ offers to us as his people. Though trouble assail us and loved ones fail us, we need not fear, for the Lord of all creation has not renounced his claim on the totality of our lives. Be of good cheer, beloved, for even Satan must ask permission and be told the boundaries when he seeks to sift our lives.
For I have been persuaded that neither death nor life, angels nor powers, neither that which has been nor that which will be, neither powers nor heights, neither depths nor any other creature is able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.