Luke 22:31-34: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”
While reading my Bible and sipping my coffee this morning I heard the neighbor’s rooster crowing at the break of dawn and my smaller game rooster responding with less volume, “cock-a-doodle-doo.” I paused and pondered what the day might hold: would I betray Jesus as Peter did, or how often might I deny Him with my words or through acts of disobedience?
Peter, just prior to Jesus’s arrest and crucifixion, could not conceive that he would deny Jesus, but later denied that he was a disciple and follower of Christ in the face of opposition:
Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:54-62).
However, as you and I examine our hearts we recognize the potential in us to act disloyally and deny our Savior for a period of time. But we can also take comfort and find courage to fight against anything that would remotely resemble Peter’s betrayal of Jesus in light of Jesus’s intercession for Peter: “I have prayed for thee.”
Jesus, too, prays and intercedes for believers on the basis of His accomplishment of redemption for them on the cross. Paul wrote:
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Romans 8:32-34).
Thomas Watson wrote:
The prayer of Christ for Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not,” is the copy of his prayer now in heaven. Peter’s faith did fail in some degree, when he denied Christ; but Christ prayed that it might not totally fail. The saints persevere in believing, because Christ perseveres in praying.
Observe two realities from Peter’s denial and eventual restoration:
1) Because of our sinfulness we are capable as believers of betraying and denying Jesus Christ in the face of opposition.
2) Through Christ’s intercession on our behalf we are forgiven and given strength to fight against the tendency to disown Christ and repudiate our faith.