“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.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” Luke 22:31-34
I love Peter. He reminds me of me. What disciple can’t relate to Peter? Who hasn’t blown it and wondered if God could still use them? That’s why Jesus’ words are so comforting. But His words aren’t just for Peter. When Jesus said, “Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat…” He was speaking about all of the disciples (the “you” here is plural). Satan wanted to shake the faith of every one of the disciples, much like wheat is shaken violently to separate it from the chaff. But Jesus prayed for them (see John 17; Hebrews 7:25). That’s what He does because He is the Good Shepherd.
But when Jesus said, “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail…” He was speaking to Peter specifically (the “you” here is singular). Jesus, of course, prayed for all of the disciples, but He specifically prayed for Peter’s impending thrice-repeated denial (see Luke 22:54-62). Jesus knew that Peter would deny Him so He prayed for him. When Peter is restored after his heart-crushing denial of His Lord, it is not Peter’s determination that restores him. It was the prayer of Jesus that enabled him by grace to return to ministry.
Like Peter, verse 32 is a verse you can build your life on: “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Verse 32 is a verse that is full of grace and redemption. It’s a verse that demonstrates the power of the Gospel for weak disciples like us. It’s a verse that’s full of Gospel hope. Just as sure as you will fail and blow it somewhere and in some way in your life, so too Jesus is praying for you. He intercedes for His people. What a comfort that truth brings to those who belong to the “frequent failure club.” So pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Repent of your sin. Hate your sin. Turn back to Jesus again. Treasure Him. Pray for grace to deal with any consequences. Lift up your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees (Hebrews 12:12). Rehearse the Gospel. His kindness leads you to repentance (Romans 2:4). And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers and sisters.