but I have prayed for you that your faith might not fail; so when you have turned around strengthen your brothers. (v.32)
In verse 31, the you is plural because Jesus addressed all the apostles. Here in verse 32, Jesus singled out Peter. At the Lord’s Supper, Jesus had praised all the apostles for their faithfulness (Luke 22:28).
In one sense Jesus’ prayer mentioned in verses 31-32 was an interesting one because the apostles had God the Giver of faith and His gift of saving faith. The Giver and the gift are key. The Giver and the gift are not the problem. It is the receiver of the gift that is. The disciples would fail that night but they would prove faithful followers of Christ and would ultimately win the prize of Christ Himself. They came to know Christ and desired to be like Him in thought, desire, and action. Their faith was to be informed, intelligent, growing, and aggressive. But at this juncture, it was not! The disciples did not get it. That was their pattern. They thought in terms of an earthly kingdom, an earthly messiah, and earthly peace, refuge, and comfort. In reality, they desired heaven on earth but they had a wrong view of earth.
Jesus exerted authority when He said: I have prayed for you. Notice that Jesus does not ask the Father for Peter (and the apostles) to be freed from situations (some call these trials) in which allegiance and devotion to God or self is at the center. He did not pray for Peter to be removed from his God-appointed circumstances including the present one. Paul builds on this truth in several places including Romans 8:35-39 and 1 Corinthians 10:13. There Paul wrote that believers are more than conquerors – in trials, not out of them.
Jesus prayed for all of the apostles (John 17:9,19-20). He prayed for them to be faithful disciples – and they were in time. In Luke 22, Jesus prayed for Peter that his and the apostles’ faith would not fail. Ultimately, it did not. The word used by Luke is a root for our word eclipse. Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not be hidden or concealed. For a time it was.
Peter did turn around. The word that Luke used means to turn and to go in another direction. In the New Testament, it is used as another term for repentance. It is something that is done to you and in response it is something the person does (see Luke 1:16-17; James 5:19-20). Correctly, Peter did weep (22:56-62) as did David in Psalm 51. Both of these men grieved God’s way, were restored, and functioned as God’s men as soul- winners (John 21:15-27; Ps. 51:13; see Acts 1-12 and 1 and 2 Peter).
Jesus also prayed that Peter would demonstrate the fruit of repentance. Jesus told Peter to strengthen his brothers. The word Luke used for strengthen is powerful. It means to render steadfast, to resolutely hold fast, and to stay focused on the task at hand. Luke used this same word to describe Jesus’ determination to reach Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). Christ intended Peter to be an anchor, a blessing, an encouragement, and a model for his brothers. And he was! In his first epistle, Peter, probably remembering this experience, wrote about trials and their purpose (1 Peter 1:6-7; 4:13). He was an encouragement to his congregation and he continues to be one to believers today.
Jesus gave to Peter, and all the apostles, hope, comfort, confidence, and a preview of His priestly intercession (Romans 8:32-34; Hebrews 7:25). As Messiah, Jesus interceded for His people. He gave to them an insight into what it means to be justified before God. In Christ, Peter’s record and standing before God was clean and pure – like Jesus Christ Himself. Earlier in Jesus’ ministry, Peter, and probably all the apostles, were moved and acknowledged their sinfulness and nothing-ness before Christ (see Luke 5:8). On the other end of the confession spectrum, Peter, with the apostles looking on, declared Jesus to be the Messiah (Luke 9:18-22). However, when faced with remaining trust-worthy, the disciples chose the path of least resistance and pleased self. Yet, not even Peter’s denial could prevent or even circumvent what God did through Christ at the cross.
1. Christ is High Priest and as such is the Sacrificer, the Sacrifice, and the Intercessor. He is seated at the right had of the throne of God (Heb. 8:1)
2. Christ as Intercessor means that He pleads on behalf of His people.
3. Jesus is the perfect High Priest forever:
a. According to Hebrews 7:25 that means what? Jesus always lives.
b. According to Romans 8:32-34 that means what? Jesus is in the right and perfect position to intervene for His people and He does.
c. According to Hebrews 4:15-16 that means what? Jesus is the perfect High Priest who has experienced the fullness of the human condition but without sin or sinning.
d. According to 1 John 2:1-2 that means what? Believers died to sin but not sinning. Jesus is the believer’s lawyer in God’s court of law who has never lost a case because He points the Triune God to His finished work on the cross and in the grave.