Luke 22:31, 32
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:…
These verses afford incidental but valuable evidence of the surpassing worth of the human spirit, and should help us to feel of how much greater account are we ourselves than anything that merely belongs to us. This is brought out by -
I. THE DESIGNS THAT ARE LAID AGAINST US. It was evidently in a very solemn and earnest strain that Jesus said, "Satan desired to have you [plural], that he may sift," etc. The evil one longed with eagerness, and strove with strength, to pass the apostles of Christ through the sieve of temptation, that he might compass their overthrow. And Peter, at a later hour, tells us that that is his attitude and habit in regard to all Christian disciples (1 Peter 5:8). We may take it that:
1. All the unholy intelligences of the spiritual realm are bent on securing our overthrow.
2. In this malign intention they are supported by human agents. And this, not only because evil naturally propagates evil, and because the wicked feel stronger and more secure as they are more numerous, but because they recognize the value of one human spirit and the advantage secured by gaining it to their side. Hence there is a deliberate and determined design often made upon the individual man by the forces of evil. This is a fact by no means to be overlooked. As we go on our heavenward way there may be an ambush laid for us at any point; at any time strong spiritual foes may do their utmost to contrive our fall. The possibilities of evil and of ruin are manifold. We may fall by error and unbelief, by pride, by selfishness, by worldliness and vanity, by intemperance or impurity, by departure in spirit from the fear and love of God. There is room, there is reason, for vigilance on the part of him who believes himself well on the way toward or even nearing the gates of the celestial city.
II. THE SOLICITUDE OF OUR SAVIOUR ON OUR BEHALF. "I have prayed for thee." The strain of our Lord's address, "Simon, Simon," and the fact of his interceding on Peter's behalf, speak of a tender solicitude on his part for his disciple. Jesus knew well all Peter's infirmities; but he also knew how ardently he could love, how devotedly he could serve, how much he could be. Hence the intensity of his desire that he would not be overcome. And for this reason we may be sure that our Lord is regarding us all with a Divine interest. He knows the worth of any and every human spirit - how much it can know and can enjoy; whom and what it can love; what graces it can illustrate, and what truth adorn; what influence it can instil; what good, and even great, work it can accomplish for God and man. He knows also what sorrow it may bring upon itself, what shame, what ruin; and also what irreparable injury it may do. We need not hesitate, but should accustom ourselves to think that Jesus Christ is regarding us with a very tender interest; is following the choices we are making and the course we are pursuing with holy and loving solicitude; is grieved when he sees us wander from the way of wisdom, rejoices in us and over us when he sees us take the upward path.
III. THE REALITY OF OUR HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY. Jesus Christ prayed that Peter's faith might not fail. And it did not - we should naturally expect. But in part it did. It did not utterly break down as that of Judas did, but it failed to keep him loyal in a very trying hour. It did not save him from the act of denial and from the sorrow which succeeded the sin. It did not in any way relieve the apostle of his individual responsibility. He continued to "bear his own burden," as every man must. Not the very highest privilege, not even the intercession of the Lord himself, will relieve us of that. It must rest with us, in the last resort, whether we will strive and win, or whether we wilt yield and be lost. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: