“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,
that he might sift you like wheat”
Luke 22.31

Did you ever consider God has an ace up His sleeve no one can trump?

As Jesus eats His last meal with His disciples before being crucified, He warns Simon that Satan has demanded to have Simon. Can Satan demand anything of God? The Greek word exaiteomai, translated as demand, is defined as demand (for trial)[1] Using this definition, it would appear that Satan desired to test Simon or put him on trial.

Satan is the fallen angel because he was thrown out of the heavenly realm after trying to usurp God’s rightful place as King of the Universe. Ever since then he has made attempts to show trust in God is misplaced and God’s redemptive plan for humanity is faulty.


A Conversation

Job 1 and 2 records a conversation between God and Satan in which Satan suggests Job worships God not for who He is, but for the gifts and blessings Job has received from God. God allowed Satan to destroy everything in Job’s life, including his health, in order for Satan to prove his point.

Yet God has an ace up His sleeve. Despite losing everything, God’s interaction with Job resulted in exactly the opposite of what Satan speculated. Job’s faith was stronger than ever, he had a far greater appreciation for who God is and he has no doubts that God is worthy of his all his trust.

Centuries later, Satan is ready to go after Simon. He seems set on proving that choosing Simon as the rock upon which Jesus will build His church is faulty. Though Simon cannot see what is coming, Jesus can. His comment and the reason for His prayer is a warning for Simon to be on guard, to remain faithful.

Jesus knows tests are coming Simon’s way. Passing or failing the test doesn’t seem to be the point. Learning to lean on Jesus and trust Him is the point. Jesus makes this clear when He says, “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22.32, emphasis added)

The testing doesn’t take long to occur. Peter denies knowing Jesus. And consistent with Peter’s style, he does this in dramatic fashion by denying knowing Jesus three times and within Jesus’ hearing. As the cock crows, Peter is devastated. He has just forsaken the man he loves and swore he’d go to prison or even die for.


A Life Well Lived

Once again, God has an ace yet to be played. To better understand this ace, consider Jacob’s son, Joseph. Joseph experienced ongoing changes of fortune. He was his father favorite son, then sold into slavery by jealous brothers. He became his master’s trusted servant, but was then thrown in prison on false charges. Finally he became Pharaoh’s second in command. No other servant had greater power or authority. Throughout all these highs and lows, Joseph never lost sight of God’s sovereignty over his  life.

When Joseph’s repentant brothers were finally confronted with the potential that Joseph might retaliate for having sold him into slavery, Joseph told his brothers, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Gen 50.20)


The Ace That Can’t Be Trumped

God’s ace? His mercy. His unmatched willingness and ability to use evil circumstances for good, to bring beauty from the ash heap. God does this in Simon’s life. Simon may have denied knowing Jesus three times, but that did not stop Jesus from building His church on the rock He knew Simon would be.

The power and authority with which Simon, also known as Peter, spread the good news came in part because of the forgiveness and compassion he experienced as a result of his denials. He knew without a doubt that forgiveness and redemption were real. Mercy was a gift God gives in abundance and without hesitation.

What was true for Job and Joseph and Simon is true for each of us today. God’s ace is not hidden up His sleeve. He’s laid it out in plain view. He asks us to have faith in Him in the midst of whatever we experience. We can trust Him fully and know that when the time is right, He will play His ace, His mercy.

[1]Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, paragraph 1820.