BEING SIFTED LIKE WHEAT
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)
In the evening just before His betrayal, capture, torture, and trial, Christ turned to Simon with these final words, encouraging him to remain strong. Satan wanted to crush Simon Peter and the other disciples like grains of wheat. In fact, he hoped to find only chaff and blow it away. Of course, Peter boldly proclaimed that he would never deny Christ, but Christ knew better (vv. 33-34). Therefore, Jesus assured Peter that his faith, although it would falter, would not be destroyed. It would be renewed, and Peter would become a strong leader in His body.
Actually, our text is quite forceful. Christ claimed that Satan has "begged earnestly" (literal translation of "desired"), not just for Peter, but for all the disciples, as seen in the plural pronoun "you," to "sift you as wheat." Satan knew (as he still knows) that the fall of Christian leaders causes many others to fall, and if all of the disciples could be made to abandon the faith, the gospel could not be spread.
Christ turned specifically to Peter as the generally recognized spokesman for the disciples, and even though He knew Peter would fall, Christ informed him that he had been prayed for, that his "faith may not fail." Indeed, Peter did turn around, once he saw the risen Lord, and became a leader in Jerusalem church, as well as a minister of the Gospel to those in other places. Through the witness of Peter and those he strengthened, the gospel has come to us.
Satan's desire to sift those who would spread the gospel and lead others has not decreased. He knows the destruction it causes in the lives of those influenced by the one who falls. The "ripple effect" may last for years, and many weaker brothers and sisters may never recover. But take heart! The One who prayed for Peter "…is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them [us]." (Hebrews 7:25; see also John 17:6-26). Just as God answered Christ's intercessory prayer for Peter, so He will answer Christ's intercessory prayer for us. If you are actively spreading the gospel and leading others to Christ [in word and in deed], then do not be surprised when (not if) Satan desires to sift you like wheat. Be not afraid! Jesus has prayed for you and God will not forsake you.
With brotherly affection - Andy