I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Peter. He is my very favorite disciple and of all the people I’m looking forward to meeting in heaven, he’s at the top of the list.
One of my favorite stories of Peter is when he denies Christ three times. I drink deeply of this story not because of what Peter did, but because of how Jesus loved.
When Jesus and His disciples participate in the Last Supper, Jesus tells Peter a test is coming.
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
It’s a great comfort to me to know that Jesus is praying for me. But if I got to choose the type of prayer, I think it would be more of a ‘live long and prosper’ prayer.
“But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail.”
If I were in Peter’s place and I’d just found out that satan was asking about me, I think I would prefer that Jesus say, “I have prayed for you, that satan may not touch you,” or “that satan would leave you alone.” After all, the best battle is one you don’t have to fight, right?
But Jesus doesn’t pray that Peter be totally delivered from his coming trial. Why? So that he can “strengthen his brethren.”
Imagine what it must have felt like to mess up as badly as Peter did. The Scriptures say he ‘wept bitterly.’ Imagine the tears that fall because you just saw the look of hurt on your Savior’s face, and you know you put it there.
Then imagine the feeling of total grace. Think about how it must have felt for Peter, when he saw the Lord again and knew he was forgiven. What an awesome gift.
Fast forward a bit and picture Peter ministering to someone who thinks they are too far gone for Jesus’ love. Peter would have responded, “You think that’s bad. Wait till I tell you what I did.” The Bible says those who are forgiven much, love much.
No matter how hard we try, we’re all going to fall short. We’re all in need of that grace. And when we can have a brother or sister come up to us and say, “I’ve been there. God’s grace is sufficient,” it comes as a tremendous encouragement to us.
My favorite bit: “When you have returned to Me.”
Jesus doesn’t say ‘if,’ He says ‘when.’
Jesus is telling Peter, “I am praying for you. Your faith will not fail. When you return to Me…”
He’s not telling Peter that if he tries really hard he might make it to the other side. No. He’s assuring him that there is another side.
When you have won this battle… When this trial ends… When you’ve passed the test…
We are already more than conquerors through Christ Who loves us. Our hope is secure in Him. He has already won the war.
We don’t have the promise that trials will never come, or that we will pass each test with flying colors. Peter didn’t, and look how mightily he was used by God.
“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
There are hard times right around everyone’s corner. But take heart. Jesus is praying for you, and when the battle is over, when you stand before the Lord in eternity… that’s when you’ll know it was worth every faith strengthening second.