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TEXT: Luke 22:31-34
SUBJECT: Luke #85: Christ Prays for Us
At last week's prayer meeting I asked you to pray for my uncle who had major surgery and for my father and me who were going to see him the next day. I asked you to pray for his health and for our testimony.
Witnessing has never been easy for me and, as we made our way to his room, I was scared. But then something happened: I remembered you were praying for me and found peace and courage. It's good to know people are praying for you.
Especially when one of them is God!
This is what today's story is about. We often miss it by focusing on Peter and his pride instead of on Christ and His prayer. Peter breaks your heart. If a man of his character fails the Lord, what hope is there for you and me? But if Christ prays for Peter when the man is at his most worst, there is hope for you and me. Because Jesus Christ prays for us.
The Bible says so. In Isaiah 53, God's Servant not only suffers in the place of sinners, but He also "makes intercession for the transgressors".
The prophet doesn't say how often He does this. But the author of Hebrews fills in that blank. In 7:25, he says the Lord "Ever lives to make intercession for them". His prayers for us end when His life ends. But when does His life end? It never ends! And His prayers don't either.
This is good news for some people, but what about me? How do I know the Lord prays for me-and not just for others? I know He does because He says so. In John 17, He prays for Himself first, for the Apostles, and then, in vv.20ff, He prays for everyone "who will believe in Me through their word".
Does the Lord pray for you even when you sin? No, not even when you sin, but especially when you sin. The Lord has long prayed for Peter, but He only mentions it when Peter is about to commit the most shameful sin of his life.
"Where sin did abound,
grace did much more abound".
It's good to know people are praying for you. Especially when one of them is God.
Today's story begins with a name-"Simon, Simon". It is Peter the Lord is talking to, but He doesn't call him by that name. Peter means The Rock and stands for strength and firmness. The man will soon live up to his name, but not yet. For now, he's the weakest of men-and made all the weaker by thinking he is strong.
THE CALL TO ATTENTION
After singling Peter out, the Lord tries to get his attention-"behold" He says in the KJV or "Indeed" my Bible says. This means "listen carefully". What the Lord is about to say is of the highest importance. Peter needs to pay attention, take it all in, and think about it, long and hard.
The devil has appeared in heaven asking for a favor. This may sound bizarre to you, but it shouldn't. Satan is a wicked and willful spirit, but he is not sovereign. He can do nothing without God's leave.
What does he want God to do? He wants Him to let him have his way with Peter and the other disciples. They belong to Christ, but Satan wants to borrow them for a few hours.
What does he want them for? The devil lies to us, but he cannot lie to God. He wants to work them over-to "sift them like wheat". He wants to grind them up and see what they're made of. He wants to know if they're true followers of Christ or if they're just playing at discipleship.
If I were God, I would say no to the devil's hateful request. Why would a loving Father turn His children over to their worst enemy? This is how we think, but the Lord's wisdom is greater than ours, and He can foresee ends we cannot. And so, as He did in the Book of Job, God lets Satan have his day.
The Lord Jesus knows what is going on-and even though He loves Peter and his friends-He does not argue with God's decision. As a Man, He cannot see what good can come of this. But He doesn't have to see it; He will trust His Father's judgment!
And pray for His dear friend!
What does He pray for? He doesn't pray for Peter to escape the horrors that await him. God is always kind and merciful, but He does not always want His people to be safe and comfortable. He sent His servants into Egypt knowing Pharaoh would oppress them. He anointed David king while Saul was still alive knowing the king would persecute him. He handed Job over to the devil knowing he would tear the man to pieces. And now, he lets Satan have his way with Peter knowing what will come of it.
If the Lord doesn't pray for Peter's safety, what does He pray for? He prays for his faith-"I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail".
In the Bible, the word, faith, is used in more ways than one. It can mean doctrine or belief or trust or even an empty profession of faith. None of these, however, quite fit. Here, I believe, the word means faithfulness. And so, the Lord is praying that Peter won't lose his faithfulness or his loyalty. In other words, He wants Peter to remain His disciple-in spite of the appalling failure that lies ahead.
This is a prayer that needed praying. Peter is a proud man who is about to make a fool of himself. He's a brave man who is about to play the coward. He loves Christ, but that very night, he's going to break his Savior's heart.
Heartache, fear, and humiliation are going to put his discipleship to the test. And it must fail if our Lord does not pray for him! But the Lord does pray for him, and so-unlike Judas-Peter does not go out and hang himself. He weeps bitterly all night, but joy comes in the morning. After all is said and done, Peter is still a disciple of Christ!
This is confirmed a few days later. When Mary Magdalene and her friends came to the tomb to care for the Lord's body, it wasn't there, but an Angel was. After telling them they're fools for seeking the Living among the dead, he ordered them to
"Go tell His disciples-and Peter-that He
is going ahead of you into Galilee and you
will see Him as He said to you".
Don't mistake his words: the angel is not saying, "His disciples and Peter" as though Peter was no longer one of them. No, the word "and" connotes "especially". The others he lumps together, but Peter he singles out. Go tell His friends-and in particular tell Peter-that He's coming to meet them and they'll see Him alive and well!
A few weeks later, the Lord Himself affirms His special concern for Peter. If the man denied Him three times, three times the Lord will ask him if he loves Him. Each time Peter says he does and each time the Lord turns His dearly beloved people over to Peter's care.
The call has been made to God. And God will answer the call.
Peter's faith will not fail. Though he messes up royally, he remains a disciple of Christ.
Speaking of messing up, Peter doesn't think so. Others may fail the Lord, but he won't-that's for sure. Peter is so devoted to Christ that not even prison or death will shake his commitment. That's what he says.
But the Lord knows better. Peter's pride is like a balloon, but the devil's got a pin he's coming this way. Within a few hours, the man who swears he won't leave Christ will be swearing something else. He'll be swearing he doesn't know that Man from Galilee. By the time he hears the rooster crow-five or six o'clock in the morning-he will have disowned the Lord three times.
Peter must have been amazed at the Lord's ignorance and his lack of confidence. How could a Man so wise say something so wrong? And how could a Man who knows me so well think so ill of me? Well, maybe He's tired.
The Lord may be tired, but He's also right. This very night, His dear friend will say he never heard of Him.
The near future looks bad for Peter. He's about to do something he never thought he was capable of doing. It's going to break heart and stain his reputation.
But it's not going to ruin him. After telling Peter what he's going to do, the Lord tells him what He wants him to do: "When you have returned to Me, strengthen the brethren".
Christ is not through with Peter. When he comes back to the Lord, he will still be an Apostle. The proud Peter couldn't do much but tell people what to do and bawl them out when they failed to do it. But a broken Peter will sympathize with the weak and make them strong with a kind, gentle, and patient ministry.
How good the Lord is to let a man like Peter back into the Church-and not as a second-class citizen, but as brother in good-standing, and even a leader.
The message is clear, sure, and cheering: when we are at our worst-our cockiest, stupidest, and most sinful-Jesus Christ prays for us.
He prays for us because He loves us, even when we sin. Does He love our sins? No He doesn't. But He loves us. He loves us enough to die for us-Romans 5:8 and He loves us enough to pray for us-I John 2:1.
"But God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ die for us".
"My little children, these things I write to you that you do not sin, but if any man sin, he has an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous".
His prayers don't guarantee a trouble-free life where you get everything you want, but they keep your faith secure. In other words, Christians cannot fall from grace and be lost. Can we backslide and commit atrocious and hurtful sins? Yes we can-and we have. But we cannot lose our discipleship. Because Christ prays for us.
We have the high privilege of doing Christ's work by praying for each other. How honored we should be to have someone ask us to pray for him! And how we ought to remember to do it and to do it without ceasing and from the heart.
One last thing: if nobody in the world prays for you, remember there is Someone out of the world who does. And His prayers are good enough. Good enough for Peter. Good enough for you. Good enough for God.
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