Scripture: Luke 22:31-34
The word of encouragement and consolation and hope that I want to offer you today from God’s Word is that, if you love God and are called according to his purpose, if you are despairing of your own resources and looking to Christ for hope, then to you belongs a most wonderful promise: Jesus prays for you, and he will never let Satan destroy your faith and bring you to ruin.
In Luke 22 we have a record of some of the things that happened at the Last Supper. In verse 15 Jesus said, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” What a precious meal it must have been! And even though Jesus had to give a mild rebuke to his disciples for their concern with who the greatest was, yet he followed that up in verse 28 with an astonishing and reassuring promise: You are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
There must have been a stir of excitement. What a prospect: the great messianic kingdom established, and the apostles ruling with Jesus! Talk about a spiritual high!
But then came the sobering words of realism in verses 31-34. The Kingdom is not yet fully come. So Jesus portrays life as threatened and fraught with spiritual difficulties. But in doing so he reveals a promise that I could scarcely live without, especially in the week after Easter.
“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 brethren.” And he said, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” He said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you three times deny that you know me.”
Only hours after being told that he would be a ruler in Christ’s kingdom, Peter is going to crash. From the heights of joyful anticipation and confidence to the pit of failure and bitter weeping in one night. Think it not strange that Easter Sunday should be followed by blue Monday. But take heart; Jesus prays for his own and will never let Satan destroy our faith and hope.
Let’s take verses 31 and 32 a phrase at a time and see what the implications are for that time and for ours. “Simon, Simon, behold Satan demanded to have you.” The first thing to notice here is that the word “you” is plural. (This is obvious in Greek, not English.) Jesus is telling Simon Peter that Satan has demanded to have all the disciples. To whom has Satan made this demand? Probably to God the Father. In the book of Job Satan is pictured as having access to God and making demands of him.
Two implications from this are important for our lives. One is that Satan has a lot of power in this world. Jesus calls him the “prince” or “ruler of this world” (John 16:11), and Paul calls him the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the “ruler of the authority of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). He blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4) and holds them in his snare until God releases them through the gospel (2 Timothy 2:25, 26). He can take life, as with Job’s children; ruin health, as with Job’s body (cf. also Luke 13:16); torment with demons (Luke 11:18); provoke evil deeds (Luke 22:3); and cause natural disasters (Job 1:19). The fact that Satan has such power in the world should give a kind of seriousness to our lives which unbelievers don’t have. It ought not to make us paranoid or fearful, but sober and earnest in our prayers and persistently conscious of needing God’s power. When the enemy is supernatural, so must the weapons be. We are aliens and exiles in the world not merely because our values differ from those who don’t know God, but also because our struggles are different than those who don’t know Satan.