The night Jesus was arrested must have been the worst in Peter's life.
The nightmare began with an argument between Peter and Jesus (Matt. 26:33-35).
He then spends the next few hours sleeping in the garden while Jesus prays in
agony. Suddenly, he is awakened from his slumber by the Lord's rebuke "Simon,
are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour?"
Then came Judas and a band of armed men. Peter sized up the situation quickly, drew his sword and swung for the nearest head. Then, Peter's world went sideways.
Jesus was taken into custody without a fight. The disciples fled, including Peter, but only far enough to stay out of harms way. With his friends scattered, his Lord arrested and his expectations disappointed, Peter lost his nerve. Standing by the fire in the high priest's courtyard he denied all association with Jesus -- three times. The cock crowed and he ran out weeping bitterly.
All of this happened exactly the way Jesus had predicted it would. "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.' But he said to Him, 'Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.' Then He said, 'I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you wil deny three times that you know Me'" (Lk. 22:31-34).
As Peter ran out weeping, it must have gone through his head that, "Everything is going exactly the way Jesus said it would." But I wonder how long it took him to remember that Jesus had not only predicted Peter's fall, but also his return.
Satan had asked for Peter and to a degree God had granted the request. Like Job, Peter was sifted. But if the Father heard the request of Satan, how much more will He hear the prayer of His Beloved Son? And for what had Jesus prayed? "I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."
Peter had been turned every which way, but because of the effectual prayers of Jesus, he would not be turned loose. At some point this must have come into Peter's mind and what a comfort it must have been. Of course we know that after His resurrection, Jesus did in fact restore Peter (Jno. 21:15- 19).
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is our high priest, who ever lives to make intercession for us. This means Jesus Christ is praying for you, today. He knows us each by name, and He prays for His church (Heb. 7:23-25; 1 Jno. 2:1).
Take heart -- though you stumble in many ways, though you are humiliated by your temptations and sins, though you have not done as you have resolved to do, take heart. Jesus prays for you, and you are exhorted to hear this promise with gladness and faith. You are exhorted to do so because the prayers of Jesus are your only hope of being restored to God.
All twelve disciples were scattered, but only eleven returned. Judas decided to deal with his sin his own way. You can give the money back, you can hang yourself on a tree, but it is only the intercession of the One seated at the Father's right hand that can atone for sin.
Only hours before his arrest and betrayal, Peter thought Jesus had completely underestimated him. "No need for prayer here Lord, I'm ready for anything Satan can dish out." As the story unfolded Peter came to understand that his problem was not so much overconfidence as it was misplaced confidence. What Peter experienced that night both shattered his illusions of self-confidence and redirected his attention once and for all to the real source of spiritual power.
The question for you and me is "Where do we place our confidence?" Are you sure that you can withstand anything the Devil sends your way? Peter couldn't withstand the accusations of a little maiden. Are we stronger than he?
Perhaps you are now suffering under the realization that you are not as strong as you thought. Maybe you are being sifted by Satan? Pulled down by your own evil desires? Overwhelmed by the world? Are you doubtful that you can make it?
If so, focus on these truths, Jesus prays for you and not only does He pray for you, but He also speaks to you in Scripture. In fact Jesus promises, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
So commit yourself to the care of "...Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen. Jude 24,25.
By Lawrence Kelley in Lost River Bulletin, Vol. 56, No. 6, Sept.
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