"Satan demands to have you that he might sift you like wheat." With a pressing earnestness, Jesus had spoken these words to Peter earlier in the night before Jesus was arrested. Not long before that, Peter had been arguing with the other disciples about who was the greatest of Jesus' followers.
Upon the arrest of Jesus, it was Peter who was quick to defend Jesus by drawing his sword. Jesus rebuked him for this. Known for his boldness, his passion and his eagerness to follow the Lord at any cost, Peter could do nothing now as Jesus was being led away. Peter set off to follow the procession from a distance.
Just that night, Peter had tried to convince Jesus, "I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death." In response, Jesus said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day until you deny three times that you know me."
Peter followed the group to the house of the high priest. In the courtyard, they stopped and gathered around a small fire. Peter, discreetly joined them. Peter's test came when light shone on his face and a servant girl recognized him saying, "This man also was with him." Peter denied it. A little later another saw him and recognized him, "You are one of them." Again, Peter denied he was with Jesus. After an hour had gone by, another insisted, "Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean." But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about." And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the rooster crows today you will deny me three times." And Peter went out and wept bitterly.
How is it that Peter did not have the courage or the strength of faith to overcome the temptation to lie? The Lord was not done with Peter. Maybe the Lord's words, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation," began to mean something more to Peter that night.
When Jesus first called Peter, he immediately followed leaving everything he had behind. When Jesus walked on water, it was Peter who stepped out of the boat to join him walking on the water until he took his eyes off Jesus which caused him to sink. Being young in his faith, Peter relied upon himself and his own strength, still having a long way to go in learning how to fully rely upon the Lord. Jesus loved him and was looking out for him through this.
"I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." Jesus would mature Simon Peter to become a great servant of God. Satan was allowed to sift him, so that Jesus could prepare him for the mission ahead. Peter's faith grew and the church grew because he became a foundational rock in sharing the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.