And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:…
I. THE CHARACTER OF PETER. The character of Peter is a very marked one. His character stands out in bold prominence and relief, like an object situated on a height, and seen between us and a clear sky. We notice at once his natural sincerity and boldness, his vehemence and self-confidence; his liability to be hurried away by the tide of events and the current of prevailing feeling. We perceive that as a disciple of Christ he is under the guardian care and grace of heaven; but we discover sin lurking within, and bursting forth from time to time as the liquid fire of the volcano breaks out from the mountain whose surface may be covered with the loveliest foliage. His love to Jesus was genuine and sincere — for with all his failings Peter was no hypocrite; yet he not infrequently resists the will of his Master, and at times is positively ashamed of Him. He is zealously affected in every good thing, but his zeal is often unthinking and impetuous, and proceeds from a self. confident and self-righteous rather than a humble and trustful spirit of dependence on God; and it comes forth when it should be restrained, and fails when it should flow.
II. TEMPTATION OF PETER BY SATAN. "Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." We see that we are to regard our temptations as coming from Satan the tempter, the accuser. He who rebelled against God in heaven seeks to thwart His will on earth. "The devil entered into Judas Iscariot," whom he hurried from one crime to another till he laid violent hands on himself. May he not succeed also with his brother apostle? In tempting us Satan takes advantage of two circumstances. He employs the world to seduce us, and he addresses the corruption of the heart. First, he takes advantage of the circumstances in which we are placed, and of the worldly and sinful character of those with whom we mingle. Breathing as we do an infected atmosphere, we are apt to take in malaria which breeds moral disease.
III. THE RECOVERY OF PETER, THROUGH THE PRAYER OF JESUS SUSTAINING HIS FAITH. It is of vast moment that Christians should know wherein lies the secret of their strength. It lies first of all in the intercession of Christ, and secondly in their remaining faith.
1. It does not lie primarily in yourselves — in the liveliness of your feelings or the strength of your resolutions. Purposes formed in our own strength are like the writing upon the sand, which is swept away by the first breath of the tempest or the first swelling of the tide. The believer's steadfastness does not lie in himself, but in another. His strength is in the foundation on which he rests, and that foundation is the Rock of Ages. How was it that Peter was restored? The cause was to be found in the work of Christ. "I have prayed for thee." He was recovered, not by the meritorious power and efficacy of his own prayers, but by the prayers of Christ. When Peter was brought to repentance he prayed; but there is a previous question — What brought him to repentance? If Christ had not first prayed for him, he had never prayed for himself.
2. There was, however, a secondary power, and this was Peter's faith.
IV. THE COMMAND, "WHEN THOU ART CONVERTED, STRENGTHEN THY BRETHREN." In this conversion there was much searching. This we learn from the interview with which our Lord favoured Peter after His resurrection. " Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?" was the question; and Peter could answer. Brethren, according to the sins of which you are conscious, so let your love and zeal now be in the service of God.
(J. McCosh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: