Simon, Simon
Based on Series of Sermons on the Repetition of Name and Titles
preached in PCC Worship Services, Apr 2013 to Feb 2014
Part 1 of 3


We have been considering those passages of scripture which contain name repetitions, and we now come to Luke 22:31-34, where Simon’s name is repeated. Luke is the only gospel writer to record this incident. 

The 16th century reformer John Calvin made many significant contributions both to the church and to society. One of his unique contributions in Christian doctrine is in the area of Christology or the doctrine of Christ, particularly in regard to His work as mediator. Calvin saw that the work of Christ on behalf of His people could be understood in terms of His three offices. 

Louis Berkhof, in his Systematic Theology, wrote, “While some of the early Church Fathers already speak of the different offices of Christ, Calvin was the first to recognize the importance of distinguishing the three offices of the Mediator and to call attention to it in a separate chapter of his Institutes.” 

In that chapter of Calvin’s Institutes, we find these words in the heading, “To know the purpose for which Christ was sent by the Father, and what He conferred upon us, we must look above all at three things in Him: the prophetic office, kingship, and Priesthood.” 

Calvin goes on to write, 

“Therefore, in order that faith may find a firm basis for salvation in Christ, and thus rest in him, this principle must be laid down: the office enjoined upon Christ by the Father consists of three parts. For he was given to be prophet, king, and priest.” 

Then following in Calvin’s footsteps, both the Heidelberg Catechism of 1563, and the Westminster Standards of the mid-1600s, contain statements on the three offices of Christ. 

Luke’s gospel contains three passages in which the Lord Jesus repeats the name of a person when addressing him or her. In the first passage, found in Luke 10:41-42, the Lord said to Martha, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

The Lord saw that something was wrong in Martha’s life. She had lost sight of what was truly important as a believer. And so as her Prophet, the Lord gently rebuked her and directed her back to that which truly mattered, and reminded her to give priority to hearing His word. 

In the second passage, found in Luke 13:34, the Lord wept and lamented over Jerusalem, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” 

Jerusalem, the Old Covenant people of God, had departed so far from God that they would not only kill the true prophets of God, but they would even kill THE Greatest of all the Prophets, even Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And so in His office of Prophet, the Lord Jesus rebuked the unbelieving Jews and pronounced God’s Judgment upon them in the near future. 

The passage that we’ll be looking at now is the third in Luke’s gospel where the Lord repeats someone’s name. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you…but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not…” 

Whereas in the first two passages, the main office which Christ exercises is that of His prophetic office, in this third one, we see all three offices being exercised. 

Context 

The context is the Last Supper and the Last Discourse or Lesson, which our Lord gives to His disciples. In this final discourse, from verses 21-38 of chapter 22, the Lord makes known the identity of His betrayer, addresses the issue of greatness in His kingdom, predicts Peter’s denial and subsequent restoration, and gives final instructions to the disciples on their ministry after his departure. Then having concluded his final discourse, the Lord, in verse 39, leaves the Upper room with His disciples to go to the Mount of Olives, where He would enter into a season of intense prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

I’ll like us to consider three things as we look at this passage. First, I’ll like us to learn something about Satan and what he seeks to do to believers. Second, I’ll like us to learn something about Simon Peter and indeed about ourselves. And third, and most importantly, I’ll like us to learn something about Christ our Saviour as He exercises His threefold office on our behalf. 

Something about Satan 

In verse 31, we read, “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:” 

The first thing we learn is that Satan is not an imagery figure or fairy tale character. He is a very real person and he is very active in his hatred and opposition to the kingdom of Christ. For over 6000 years, he has been actively fighting against Christ and His people. 

We may not be able to see him with our physical eyes because he exists in the spiritual realm, but we must not be indifferent toward him or ignorant of his devices and schemes. We must not take him lightly or treat him as if he were very weak and powerless. 

Peter himself, having personally experienced the awful effects of Satan’s wrath, warns us in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” 

And so the second thing that we learn about Satan is that he is seeking to devour Christians, or in the words of our text, he desires to have them, that he may sift them as wheat. Satan had already successfully done that with Judas Iscariot for we read in verse 3 of this very chapter, “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.” 

Satan desired to have Judas Iscariot to sift him as wheat, and he succeeded. Judas’ soul was destroyed. Like a roaring lion, he was caught in Satan’s jaws and devoured. The word “devour” literally means to swallow up. The Greek Septuagint uses that same word in Jonah 1:17 to speak of the big fish swallowing up Jonah. 

But Satan was not satisfied or content to swallow up just one of the 12 disciples. He was hungry for more. He wanted Simon Peter and indeed the rest of the disciples. The word “you” in verse 31 of our text is in the plural. 

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desire to have you (all of you, beginning with Simon the leader of the band)…” And then beyond the 12 disciples, Satan has an appetite for every single follower of Christ throughout the ages, including you and me. 

The phrase “sift you as wheat” is an analogy drawn from the language of farming. The sifting of wheat basically refers to the repeated, swift, and violent shaking of the wheat in a sieve. But whereas the purpose of the farmer in sifting the wheat is to separate the wheat from chaff and other unwanted material, Satan’s purpose is to choke the wheat in the sieve. He seeks to shake the sieve so violently that the believer is utterly destroyed. A modern equivalent of the idiom “to sift as wheat” would be something like “to pick someone to pieces” or “to take someone apart.” 

Perhaps the best biblical illustration of Satan desiring a believer to sift him as wheat is found in the story of Job. Satan went before the presence of the Lord to seek His permission to afflict Job, and twice the Lord gave Satan the green light to do so. The first time, Satan took away all of Job’s possessions and children in a single day. The second time, he attacked Job’s body and brought terrible sores upon him from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 

And as if all that physical and emotional suffering was not enough, Job’s three friends came to comfort him, but they proved to be miserable comforters. If anything, they were really the instruments of Satan to add salt to his wounds and to further provoke him to sin. Job was violently shaken and tossed about in Satan’s sieve that in the midst of all that sifting, he cursed the day of his birth and said other things that he should not have said. 

But Job was by no means the only one who went into Satan’s sieve. Abraham went into the sieve and he lied about Sarah being his sister rather than his wife; not once but twice. Jacob went into the sieve and he cried out, “all these things are against me.” David went into the sieve, and he committed both adultery and murder. 

And now Simon Peter was about to go into Satan’s sieve…

…To be continued, next issue

─Linus Chua