Calvary Road Baptist Church


Luke 22.31

Sometimes, just when you think things are going so well for you, all Hell breaks loose. Such was the case with a man named Job, the married father of ten who enjoyed great wealth and intense devotion to God. What could go wrong? For him, life was very good. Then, one day, a messenger told Job that Sabeans had stolen his oxen and asses and had slain the servants tending to them.[1] While that messenger was speaking, another told him the fire of God fell from heaven, killing all his sheep and those who tended them.[2] While that second messenger was speaking, yet a third came and told Job that the Chaldeans had stolen all his camels and killed those who tended them.[3] Then, while all this was being told to Job, a fourth messenger rushed in and delivered a thunderclap of calamity. A great wind had destroyed the house where his ten children were dining, killing them all.[4]

It would be impossible for me to imagine so devastating a series of hammer blows, with the worst of course being the deaths of his beloved children. Yet, on top of all that, Job was additionally overcome ďwith sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.Ē[5] How could such things happen to a man all at once? How is a man to grieve for his sons and daughters when his own flesh is rotting away? Though there is no indication in Godís Word that Job ever knew of the involvement of Satan in his lifeís afflictions, we know from Godís Word that though Satan could do nothing to Job without Godís prior permission, permission was granted and Satan was given liberty to afflict Job most grievously in his finances, in his family, and physically.

I mention Jobís afflictions to you because there are things about life you need to come to grips with. One of the things you need to know is that from Jobís experiences we discern that many times things, even devastating things, can take place in your life for reasons and involving personalities you are entirely unaware of. You think you know what is going on, but you have not a clue.

This morning we will examine the Lord Jesus Christís warning to His apostles about Satanís assault on their lives and testimonies. Turn to Luke 22.31. When you find that verse, recording a statement made by our Lord after He instituted the communion of the Lordís Supper, but probably before He took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He was crucified, please stand and read along silently while I read aloud: ďAnd the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.Ē

If you are familiar with the events surrounding Judas Iscariotís betrayal of Christ and the Last Supper, you will remember that Jesus and the twelve were observing Passover in an upper room. During the course of the evening, our Lord selected a portion of the traditional Passover meal and with it initiated the ordinance our church now observes as the communion of the Lordís Supper. Then He indicated that one of those present with them would betray Him, thereby creating great consternation among the twelve, eleven of them wondering if it was him, and one of them knowing that the Master knew about his arrangement with the priests for money. He then dismissed Judas Iscariot to do what the others did not know to be his dirty work. At about the same time, an argument broke out among them concerning who would be the greatest among them.[6]

Will you read our text once again with me? ďAnd the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.Ē Notice that the Master does not use the name He gave to him, Peter, meaning stone. Rather, perhaps to emphasize Simon Peterís weakness, and perhaps because Simon Peterís was likely the loudest voice in the argument about who would be the greatest, Jesus speaks his name, twice. It is very significant in scripture for someoneís name to be spoken twice in this manner. When the LORD said, ďAbraham, Abraham,Ē it was to stop Abraham from slaying his son, Isaac, atop Mount Moriah.[7] When the LORD said, ďMoses, Moses,Ē He spoke to him from the burning bush on Mount Sinai.[8] Darius, the Persian king cried out, ďDaniel, O Daniel,Ē to see if his aged friend, Daniel, had survived the night in the lionís den.[9] Thus, it is easy to see that when God calls out a manís name twice it is very significant. When Darius called out Danielís name twice it indicated his great fondness for the man of God, as well as his fear for Danielís safety.

Consider, also, those instances when the Lord Jesus Christ twice uttered a personís name. Once, when visiting her and her sister Mary and brother Lazarus, Jesus said, ďMartha, Martha,Ē as He lovingly rebuked her for being too busy.[10] Then, after His resurrection from the dead, Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus, who was traveling to Damascus to persecute Christians, and said to him, ďSaul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?Ē forever changing the life of the man who would be known as the Apostle Paul.[11] If the other times in scripture when someoneís name is uttered twice are any indication, something momentous is about to take place to Simon Peter. On this occasion, the Savior issues a warning. ďBehold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.Ē

Things seemed to be going so well for the apostles. Only last week, the Lord Jesus Christ had given sight to blind Bartimaeus and his friend, in Jericho. Then He dined with the wealthy publican, Zacchaeus, before heading west to Bethany and the home of Lazarus and his sisters, just outside Jerusalem. A couple of days ago, two men were dispatched to fetch a young donkey colt and the Lord actually rode into Jerusalem in great triumph, fulfilling prophecy, and declaring Himself by His actions to be Israelís Messiah before cleansing the Temple. The whole city was in an uproar. The man they had followed and served for more than three years was on a roll. The air in Jerusalem was electric with anticipation. Simon Peter and the others seemed to feel that something stupendous was about to happen, but they did not know what it was. Jesus had actually wept while riding the young donkey into the city, even while everyone around Him was shouting Hosanna and throwing their outer garments and palm branches along His path.

This evening they were finding the Passover meal intoxicating. It began by the Master actually washing their feet. Imagine. Then He said something about one of them betraying Him, causing great confusion and bewilderment. They ate bread and drank wine, and then He sent Judas on some errand or something, and one of the twelve started an argument about who would be the greatest, before Jesus rebuked them all. Just as the remaining twelve men in the room paused to catch their breath from lively conversation, Jesus spoke in a low tone, but very serious: ďSimon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.Ē This was very clearly a warning. Of what was Jesus warning?

We find out by considering the four aspects of the Masterís warning:

The First Aspect Of The Warning Is THE FACT THAT SATAN DESIRES

ďSimon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired. . . .Ē

Notice two things about Satanís desire:

First, there is the demand of Satan. I recognize that the English phrase reads, ďSatan hath desired to have you,Ē but the word that is used in the Greek text is considerably stronger. Not that Satanís was not a real desire, but more intense than we usually mean when we use the word desire. One commentator indicates that the real sense of the passage is this: ďSatan has laid claim on thee. He has asked God to deliver you up to him. . . .Ē[12] Satan, similar to the demands he made that Jobís loyalty and devotion be subjected to a real test, had apparently asked for and obtained the right of subjecting all the disciples to a severe test.[13] This is consistent with the verb used here, the word exaitew meaning to ask for with emphasis and with implication of having a right to do so.[14] It should be a sobering notion for you to be informed that Satan was insisting on the freedom to subject your faith to a test.

This should be reinforced by the direction of Satanís demand. Satan has no good intentions toward you or me, or anyone else for that matter. Since he led the rebellion in heaven, he has always opposed the plan and purpose of God. In Revelation 12.9, we are told that he deceives the whole world, while the very next verse informs us that he is the accuser to God of the brethren, and that he accuses the brethren to God day and night. He tempted Eve and lured her into sin, whereupon Adam sinned and plunged humanity into the darkness of depravity. He provoked David to commit sin.[15] He resisted the high priest, Joshua.[16] He tempted Jesus in the wilderness.[17] He drew Judas into betraying Christ.[18] Thus, there can be no doubt that Satanís desires have malicious intent and are properly described as diseased desires.


While it is true that the Savior spoke directly to Simon Peter, saying, ďSimon, Simon,Ē He spoke in the presence of them all and was referring to them all. Two considerations:

First, there is the form of the pronoun you. It is the Greek word humas. Humas is the plural form of the word you. If the Lord Jesus Christ has been speaking to Simon Peter about Simon Peter and not the others, He would have used the word se. Thus, there is no possible confusion about who Jesus was talking to (Peter) or who He was talking about (all of them). Why speak to Simon, in particular, while intending the warning to be addressed to them all? It is likely because Simon Peter, as the first among equals, and as the one most confident that he will not fail his Lord, is the most vulnerable of those remaining. Ye that stand take heed lest ye fall.

Next, the fuel of Satanís passion. Satanís great motivation is his fiery hatred of God, owing to Godís holiness and his own malignant wickedness. Being estranged from God, Satan cannot help but oppose the plan and purpose of God in order to avoid the lake of fire that he knows was created for him and those who followed in his rebellion.[19] Since Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, we understand why Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. However, having failed in his attempts to entice Jesus to sin, Satan turns to less direct means to thwart Godís purpose. He now directs His attacks against the twelve apostles, who will sit in judgment over the twelve tribes of Israel, we are told in Luke 22.30: ďThat ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.Ē My friends, it was precisely because the Lord Jesus Christ had such great things in store for the apostles that Satan was so intent on bringing them down and destroying their faith. He must destroy the apostles in order to succeed in his opposition to God and Godís Son.


 To be sure, Satanís desire is their destruction. However, it is important that we understand the means which he seeks to employ to destroy the faith of the apostles. Consider Christís unusual description:

He provides a picture of Satanís desire: ďthat he may sift you as wheat.Ē ďA writer who has first-hand information about Oriental practices because he has been an eye witness to these, tells us that a woman generally manipulated the sieve. This is his record of the process. She Ďgrasps the sieve, half-filled with grain, in both hands. She begins her work, which she carries out with remarkable dexterity, by vehemently shaking the sieve from left to right some six or seven times. Naturally, such shreds of straw and bits of chaff as were still mixed with the grain rise to the surface. Most of these she can take and throw away with her hand. Now she puts the sieve through the motion of a teeter-totter, raising this side first and then that, blowing hard over the screen of her tool all the while. This part of the procedure, executed with special skill, has three results. First: all the dirt, and all the shriveled kernels fall to the ground through the interstices. Second: such straw and chaff as still remain are scattered or brought to rest by her blowing in that part of the sieve which is farthest from her. Third: the good grain remains, heaped up in the center of the sieve, and the bits of stone form a separate mass in that part of the sieve which is nearest her. Thereupon she takes the stones, straw, and chaff out with her hand.Ē[20] What Jesus is describing here represents a violent shaking to make the separation of the wheat from the chaff so much easier. The picture, of course, represents what will really happen to those well-intentioned men. Their lives will not merely be turned upside down. That would be an understatement.

This, of course, exposes the purpose of Satanís desire. The whole purpose of sifting is to subject the grain to such violence that the undesirable is separated from the desirable. By shaking the sieve up and down the twigs and the small pieces of rock become separated from the grain and can be easily picked out. By violently rocking the sieve back and forth and blowing, the heavier wheat falls back into the sieve while the lighter chaff is blown away. The difference with Satan, of course, is that he does not want the wheat separated from the chaff, leaving the wheat and casting off the useless chaff. Speaking of the Savior in Matthew 3.12, John the Baptist shows our Lordís motives: ďWhose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.Ē Jesusí desire is to gather His wheat and burn the chaff. Satanís purpose is quite opposite. While Job had the same experience, Satanís intention was to harm Job, while Godís intention was to purify Job. As Joseph said to his brothers after his father died, in Genesis 50.20, ďye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.Ē Make no mistake about it, my friend, the Devil means it for evil when he sifts a man. He works to destroy a manís life, to test the limits of a manís faith, to put on display the realities of a manís spirit and soul. His goal, of course, is destruction.


 When should Simon Peter be ready for Satanís sifting? When should the apostles be ready for Satanís sifting? When should you be ready for Satanís sifting? You should be ready now. Notice two things:

First, notice the tense of Satanís demand. ďIn order to appreciate the fine shade of distinction in the text, we must remember that in Greek a particular action can be designated in two ways. Sometimes the action is presented as one which takes place completely and instantaneously, and sometimes as one which continues. The Greek language has a way of indicating whether an action is instantaneous or continuous. The remarkable thing is that in this text Christ points to Satanís desiring as occurring instantaneously, in a given moment of time. When Christ says: ĎSatan hath desired to have you,í that form of the verb is used which indicates the instantaneous and not the continuous action. In other words, Christ indicates that Satanís sinister desires have reached a climax.Ē[21]

Then, notice the form of Satanís demand. What did Jesus say? ďSatan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.Ē Our Lord Jesus Christ is reporting to His disciples that Satan had voiced a request to God, had expressed what bordered on a demand from God, had urged upon God that those men be subjected to the same scrutiny Job had been subjected to. In other words, Satan had prayed to God, asking, insisting, demanding, pleading for those men, that he might sift them as wheat. He did not pray to God to their good end, for Satan desires only and always evil for God and for Godís own. However, he did pray.

Why do you think the Lord Jesus Christ warned those men? Satan wanted them, demanded them, all of them, to sift them, and he wanted them now. It is apparent that Satanís siftings are not at all pleasant, and are not designed to evoke warm and fuzzy feelings of well-being about your relationship with God. His goal is to destroy, to discourage, to demean, to defile, to dismember if possible, every aspect of your faith. That being the case, why do you think the Lord Jesus Christ warned Simon Peter and the other ten who remained after Judas Iscariot was lost to their cause? The Lord Jesus Christ warned His men because Satanís prayer, Satanís plea, Satanís demand, was granted.

Do you think Satan tempted Eve without first obtaining Godís permission to tempt her? Do you think Satan provoked King David without first obtaining Godís permission to provoke him? Do you think Satan could have tempted Jesus in the wilderness without first being granted permission by God the Father? The point that needs to be made this morning is that though Satan can do nothing without Godís permission, as we clearly see in Job chapters 1 and 2, God does grant permission to Satan to sift people.

Mark it down, my friend. Permission will be granted by God for Satan to sift you as wheat. Are you ready for it, because he wants to sift you right now? When it happens, and it will happen, remember this morningís message from Godís Word. Some of you have been sifted as wheat. Others of you are being sifted as wheat. The rest of you will be sifted as wheat. Those who have been sifted, and those who are being sifted, will tell you if you ask them that they were not ready for it.

This eveningís message deals with being ready for it when it comes.

[1] Job 1.14-15

[2] Job 1.16

[3] Job 1.17

[4] Job 1.18-19

[5] Job 2.7

[6] Luke 22.21-30

[7] Genesis 22.11

[8] Exodus 3.4

[9] Daniel 6.20

[10] Luke 10.41

[11] Acts 9.4

[12] Klaas Schilder, Christ In His Suffering, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House reprint, 1979), page 256.

[13] Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary On The Gospel of Luke, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1951), page 566.

[14] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 344.

[15] 1 Chronicles 21.1

[16] Zechariah 3.1

[17] Matthew 4.1-11

[18] John 13.27

[19] Matthew 25.41

[20] Schilder, page 257.

[21] Schilder, page 259.

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