After all of the disciples’ false bravado, claims of fealty, and growling over how strong they all think they are, Jesus pops a big one on them. “You are the target of Satan,” he revealed. “Just as happened in the story of Job, Satan has asked to break you into pieces. He wants Our permission to have at you and ruin you.”
When Jesus says, “But I have prayed for you, Simon,” it seems to imply that partial permission was granted. Their self-acclaimed greatness will quickly be held to the fire to see what substance it has. Their fealty will be fed to the flames, and their bravado taunted by trouble. Jesus knows they’ll emerge from the back end of it scarred and scared, but ultimately secure and more seasoned.
Peter still wants to look like the hero, and it’s not a charade. He feels very deeply inside that he has what it takes to stand strong in the face of whatever is coming. It’s possible he has never stood down in his life. And he is a strong man, but Jesus knows he is inadequate for the onslaught that he is about to experience. “Before the day is out, you will fail,” Jesus says. “Not just once, but three times. Be prepared for a time of rejection and persecution. I myself will be dragged into the tiger’s pit, but these things have to take place. It’s all part of the plan.”
Jesus sees his fishermen and tax collector companions brandishing swords. It must humor him how little they know, how little they will be able to do, and how much this will all change their lives.