There are some key issues in Jesus’ statement to Peter that apply to all of us today.
Satan had to ask for Peter, just as he had to ask for Job.This confirms that the adversary cannot operate on his own volition, but has to do as God dictates. He is therefore a pawn of the Lord, used to fulfill God’s purposes in a person’s life.
Unlike popular thought, the adversary is not self-employed. He is God’s slave, and can do only what the Father allows. This was true for Job and for Peter, and it is just as true for you and me.
He wanted to sift Peter as wheat.When wheat is sifted the valuable parts are separated from what is worthless. The chaff which is the light, worthless part is blown away through a process of fanning. When the sifting, or winnowing, is competed the heavier and valuable grain remains.
Note that the chaff is necessary for a season. Chaff is actually the outer covering of a seed, so while the wheat grows the chaff is used as an outer protection. But there comes a time when the wheat is mature enough and the chaff is no longer needed. That’s when the sifting must occur.
The same thing happens in our lives. There are certain character traits in you and me that are allowed by God until we come to maturity. But when we mature and He is ready to use us the chaff has got to go, and for wheat the process is unsettling to say the least. It is no longer attached to the stem that gave it nourishment, and it is violently thrown into the air.
The adversary was simply going to be used by God to bring Peter to a place of greater righteousness. In his challenge Peter would face his own carnality. Remember that he denied Christ three times after He was arrested. But his righteousness began to shine through as he wept bitterly, acknowledging his wrongdoing. This opened the way for his own arrogance to be replaced by his confidence in God. This, I believe, is why Peter was the one who was able to stand so boldly and speak before the leaders of that day and testify about Jesus.
Jesus knew about Peter’s victory beforehand and the purpose for it.Jesus knew that because he interceded for Peter that the outcome was sure. We have that same assurance today, since Scripture tells us that Jesus is ever interceding on our behalf. What a guarantee of victory it is for us!
Peter’s victory was not only for himself. Note that Jesus told him that when (not if) he returned he was to strengthen the brethren. So Jesus knew all along that Peter could be trusted enough to be sifted – buffeted by the winds of his own carnality – and return stronger, thus being a blessing not only to himself but a valuable asset to the Kingdom of God. So it is with us.