“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32 ESV)
Peter faltered but he did not ultimately fail. Why? Because Jesus prayed for him. Not long after the above conversation Jesus was taken to the high priest’s house. A servant girl there recognized Peter as having been with Jesus. He lied and said he hadn’t. Two more bystanders approached Peter about his relationship with Jesus. Here’s what happened:
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 he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:60-62 ESV)
Peter wept bitterly.
I wonder if, while weeping, he remembered the first time he met Jesus? “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Did he recount the time Jesus taught in the synagogue, walked down the road to Peter’s house and healed his mother-in-law? Or when he walked on the water–and was rescued by Jesus when he looked down at the water. Surely his mind was flooded with memories of time spent with Jesus he loved so much.
Peter wept bitterly. But Jesus had prayed for him.
Jesus was crucified and resurrected and went looking for Peter. He found him fishing again. Peter had abandoned his pulpit for a fishing net. A conversation ensued. Jesus asked Peter two times if he loved him. Peter answered “Yes!” Then he asked one more time.
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:17 ESV)
Peter was grieved again. Three times he had denied Jesus. Now three times he has affirmed his love for him. He was so disappointed in himself. Would Jesus ever use him again? Did he have a future with this Jesus? Jesus’s response reassured Peter.
Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:18-19 ESV)
Peter did more than follow! He preached the first sermon after Pentecost. He became the pastor of the Jerusalem church. He wrote two remarkable letters that made it into the New Testament. Why? Because Jesus prayed and Peter repented.
Jesus is praying for you. How will you answer his prayer?