testing, The Last Supper

Word Wednesday: Satan Demanded to Sift all of the Disciples as Wheat, not just Peter


I haven’t been able to read the Bites of Bread verses this week one by one.

I’ve needed to read them all together. Which has proven a deeper, longer time with the Lord each day. And so I wanted to suggest that to those of you who want more than a “bite” during your quiet time. Read all seven scriptures for seven days.

This week the verses are haunting to me.

The gospel writers give us a glimpse inside that solemn room on the night they shared their last Passover meal, Seder, with Jesus. This was the night he revealed his part of that meal. His blood, his broken body, he the Passover lamb sacrificed for God’s children to be freed from slavery to sin and death.

He tells them to serve one another, to be servants rather than rulers.

And then his gaze catches Peter’s eyes and he tells him, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31).

According to the Greek text, Satan did not simply ask. He demanded or insisted. The ancient word is exaiteo and it’s meaning is very interesting:

. . . require something to be given up. . . to require for one’s own satisfaction or purpose, perhaps even to insist upon being granted a request which one is owed. . . . (Key Word)

It was Satan’s final attempt. He knew he was losing. God didn’t owe Satan anything, but in his wisdom, God wouldn’t give Satan any reason to doubt the disciples’ faith–their choice to trust and believe.

There is something else that’s very interesting about this passage. The English translation reads, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat,” but Peter is not the only one who Satan wished to shake. The word “you” is not singular in this text. It is plural.

So Satan demanded to sift all of them. 

The summer after my freshmen year of college I worked in a grain elevator during the wheat harvest. I weighed the trucks when they came from the field full of grain. After the trucks were weighed, we took a sample of the wheat and sifted it to find out what percentage held chaff or weeds. The wheat kernels would separate from the weeds, falling through the holes.

It’s impossible to sift one wheat kernel. Satan demanded to sift or test all of the disciples, not just Peter.

But Jesus says to Peter. “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

I find Jesus’ words comforting. Though Peter’s faith faltered three times, Jesus had prayed for him to come back to faith stronger than ever. What looked like such a failure in the world’s eyes was not.

This story gives me hope because Jesus prays for all of us. And his prayers never fail.

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)

We all have had our faith (less) moments. How do these words to Peter encourage you?

Friday is Passover. Come back to learn more about the symbolism of that meal.

Life in the Word,








  1. Les Farrell

    To God be the glory!!! Andy, that’s so true…have you read the Spiritual Formation by Peter K. Nelson?

    1. Hi Les! I have not read that book. I’ll try to read it. Thanks for the suggestion, and thanks for stopping by.

  2. Awesome, insightful, and perfectly timed. Thanks, Andy!

    1. Thanks Tina! Love when the timing is right.

  3. Dear Andy ~ Thank you so much for sharing about the plural ‘you.’ I’d never heard that, and I think it’s so fascinating.

    Hope you have a most lovely Easter celebration. Christ is risen!

    Love you,

    1. Thanks Emily! It was fascinating to me too. Blessings on your Easter as well. Much love.

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