Main point summary
Simon-Peter said he was willing to die for Jesus, but Satan had demanded to have him. Jesus allowed Peter to deny him, but he had already prayed that his faith would not fail and that he would turn from his sin to strengthen his brothers.
behold, b Satan demanded to have you, 1
c that he might sift you like wheat,
but d I have prayed for you
that your faith may not fail.
And when you have turned again,
e strengthen your brothers.”
Peter 1 said to him,
“Lord, I am ready to go with you both f to prison and g to death.”
h Jesus 1 said,
“I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day,
until you deny three times that you know me.”
Jesus is speaking to Simon-Peter about the imminent temptation to deny him. Verse 34 makes this explicit, but Jesus's prior words in v31-32 reveal the battle occurring in the spiritual realm over Peter's soul. Satan demanded to have him Satan had a particular purpose behind his temptation - he wanted Peter. Just as he had deceived him before (see Matthew 16:21-23), Satan wanted to deceive him again. This reveals the relentless nature of Satan. Peter even testifies to this later in his first epistle - the Devil is a lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Peter knew the devil's attacks on his life, but we know that the devil could not prevail against him, and neither over the Church of Christ (Matthew 16:18). What was Satan's purpose behind having Peter? He desired to sift him as wheat, to toss his soul about. Peter was bold enough to go to prison with Jesus, even to die for him, but Satan knew that he had an ally in Peter's flesh. Therefore, he used this opportunity to successfully tempt Peter to sin against his Lord. This grieved both Peter and Jesus (Luke 22:61-62). This is what Satan is seeking - he seeks to disrupt our fellowship with Jesus as much as possible. Application: We often do not think of the activity of Satan and how he desires to have our souls. How can we ignore this great danger to our souls!? We know that the elect cannot be snatched from God's hand (John 10:28), yet it is still possible for them to be deceived (Matthew 24:24). Satan clearly wants to disrupt our fellowship with Christ, yet we need to be vigilant on our part to be restored to that fellowship with Jesus. The verse itself does not teach us how we should respond to Satan, but other verses clearly teach us to watch and pray (Matthew 26:41), put on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:11) and to resist Satan (James 4:7). However, these verses do tell us an important promise that we can trust in the fight against sin; Jesus prayed for him Contrary to Satan's demands to have Peter, Jesus had already dealt with the situation - he had already prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail. If Satan's purpose was to sift Peter and destroy his faith in God, then Jesus's prayer was the perfect counter-attack. The prayer of the righteous Jesus had great power over Satan (James 5:16). Despite his imminent denial of Jesus, Peter was preserved though the temptation and did not utterly fall away; he was saved out of the net (Psalm 25:15). This was not the first time Jesus was seeking to strengthen Peter's faith. When Peter asked the Lord to walk on water he took him at his word (Matthew 14:29 ), and yet it was not long before be doubted (Matthew 14:30-31). Jesus knew that Peter's faith was weak and so he used this opportunity to reveal his faithfulness to Peter in saving him from drowning, and we see his faith strengthening when all those in the boat worshipped Jesus afterwards (Matthew 14:33). Just as the Devil had fighting against Peter to cause him to sin, Jesus had been continually fighting for Peter's faith. Application: If ever there was a verse of comfort for the soul facing temptation it would be this one. What a comfort it is to know that the God of all comfort is praying for you, and has already prayed for you. We have this great assurance that our faith will not fail us, not because of our efforts to maintain it, but because Jesus himself intercedes on our behalf. He surely knows our weakness (Hebrews 4:15) and his Father knows what we need before we even ask him (Matthew 6:8). Again Peter himself encourages us in this matter to cast all our anxieties on him, because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7), which leads us onto the final point; Strengthen your brothers In addition to Peter's faith not failing, Jesus also gave him a command to strengthen his brothers. This however was conditional on his repentance - he was to strengthen them when turned back from sin. As we know from verse 34 Peter was going to deny Jesus three times. However, Jesus assures Peter that he was going to be restored (the word 'when' implies this). He knew Peter was to be restored after the resurrection (John 21:15-17), and so he gave this instruction to strengthen the brothers, just as he commanded him then to feed the sheep. Application: Those of us who have turned from sin and are walking by the Spirit have a responsibility as those who are spiritual to restore our brothers and sisters who are still struggling with it(Galatians 5:16, 6:1). This was not a command for Peter alone, but for all of us; we all need to be encouraging one another daily lest sin deceives us again (Hebrews 3:13). The devil might not be able to drag us into hell, but he seeks to ruin our lives and prevent others from coming to him. Therefore, we need to be active in strengthening one another that Christ's army would be fight against Satan on a united front, looking to our Captain who is praying for us. In this way we are like Joshua fighting against Amalek in Exodus 17:10. Jesus has stationed himself not on a hill, but in heaven at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us. It is his prayers that keep us and help us to win the fight of faith, just as Moses's intercession led to victory over the Amalekites. Therefore, may we be constantly reminding one another of Christ, of his love and prayers for us. May we seek to encourage one another and build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).