“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)
What does it take to turn your back on Jesus? Why would you betray or deny knowing someone you had been so close to over the past few years?
I don’t find it possible to read of the acts of Judas and Peter and be in any sense judgmental in what they did. I certainly don’t find it possible anymore considering some episodes in my own life where by behaviour and thought I denied Christ.
It still makes for excruciating reading reading of both incidents. Considering how Judas conspired with those who sought to kill Jesus to help them out for financial gain. Then to serve how Jesus at the Passover with his disciples would go on to speak woe against the one who would betray him. Reading that with nothing else already sounds hugely tragic – to know that whatever fate Jesus would face would not equate with the fate of the one who betrayed him. That’s very sombre to contemplate for Judas. It must have taken something considerable for Judas to have heard that and still gone ahead with his plan. Truly Jesus’ last words to Judas must have echoed in his mind – you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?
That is one thing to carry out something before Jesus warned you, while Jesus warned you and after Jesus warned you. However, to fulfil something Jesus said within hours of him saying it says much about how much circumstances had changed within those hours. What happened in those hours to have turned Peter from staunchly sticking with his Rabbi to insisting vehemently that he didn’t know the guy? Whatever it was, there as his master was being questioned, he no longer wanted to be associated with him. That status of Jesus as religious enemy number one had done enough to spook Peter. If they did that to Jesus, what would they do to those who followed him closely? He did not know the guy … But when the rooster sounded out, Peter knew then and there what he had done. He knew and his master knew.
Thank God, though, that in as much as Jesus knew, he prayed. Thank God that though we may deny him, he doesn’t necessarily leave us without hope. Thank God that there is still an opportunity to return and when we do we can be in a position to encourage others who may struggle with affirming their association with Jesus.
Thank God that Jesus prayed.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden