But I have prayed for you
Matthew 26:69-27:14 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” 71 When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” 73 A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.” 74 Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
27 Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; 2 and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor.
3 Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” 5 And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6 The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” 7 And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. 8 For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one whose price had been set by the sons of Israel; 10 and they gave them for the Potter’s Field, as the Lord directed me.”
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer. 13 Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so the governor was quite amazed.
Jesus predicted or warned Peter that he would deny Him three times. The text says: Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. Peter wept because in spite of his good intentions, it happened just as Jesus said it would. The rooster crowing made it all too easy to hear the words of Jesus echoing in his mind and for Peter to know that he had failed. How often though do we also deny Jesus? How many times in the span of a single day do we deny Him? For us it is easy for it to go unnoticed. There is after all no warning about what we will do or say, what we will left undone or unsaid. To deny Jesus does not require that we be asked if we know Him or are one of His followers. We deny Jesus when we willfully participate in sin. At the beginning of His ministry Jesus read from Isaiah 61, in Luke 4:18, He says: "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED” For us to surrender willfully to the bondage and oppression of sin is to deny what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Jesus didn’t say that as disciples we should wait until we are questioned about Him. He says: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Our faith in Christ does not call us to a passive life, rather it call us to action, to actively confess Him. To do otherwise is to deny Him. In Matthew 10:32, Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26 Jesus says: "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." It is not only saying, as Peter did: “I do not know the man!” but also living in a way that does not glorify God; failing to be a witness of Christ which denies Him.
In today’s text we also see the remorse of Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus. The text says: Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. There was a difference between the remorse of Peter and of Judas. Peter wept bitterly. Peter’s remorse was that he had done something to break the relationship between himself and Jesus. With all of Peter’s faults, his shortcomings, his humanness, Peter truly loved Jesus. Judas on the other hand saw that he had made a bad decision. Judas tried to fix his mistake by going to men rather than to God. It is possible that we can do the right thing to correct a mistake on a natural, human level and still not repent of our sin. Romans 6:23 says: The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. In the text today, even after doing what he could to undo what he had done, Judas still paid the full wage for his sin. There is no escaping that sin causes death and will have its payment in full. We either, like Judas, will pay the price ourselves or like Peter, who loved the Lord with all his heart soul and mind, we repent, accepting the payment Jesus made on our behalf.
In Luke 22:31-34, we read Luke’s version of Jesus speaking to Peter. There Jesus says: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.” Jesus prayed for Peter, that his faith would not fail. As He did for Peter, Jesus prayed for us. Read Jesus prayer in the garden, where you can see that He prayed so intently on our behalf that His sweat become as drops of blood. Jesus continues to pray for us. Romans 8:34 says: Christ Jesus, who died, and more than that was raised to life, is at the right hand of God--and He is interceding for us. Jesus greatest intercession though is not His prayers on our behalf. His greatest intercession was not a prayer at all. Jesus greatest intercession was when He took all of our sins upon Himself and paid the wage with His death.
Today’s text tells the story of two who failed. One rejected Christ paying the price himself, while the other repented, was redeemed, reconciled and restored. Peter did as Jesus said and prayed. He returned to strengthen his brothers. His life and his testimony lives on today, still strengthening and encouraging those who come to Christ. That too is Jesus prayer for us. John 17:20-26 says: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” May we be the answer to the prayer of Jesus. May we be the fruit of His intercession. Amen.