34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
In Matthew 26, on the night of Jesus’ betrayal, the Savior told his disciples that all of them would fall away, running and hiding when he would be arrested. And, of course, all of them said they would never do such a thing. Peter, perhaps the most brash, simply told Jesus he was wrong. But Jesus was able to look at Peter and tell him that, before the night was over, Peter would deny knowing Jesus three times.
In the parallel passage in Luke 22, Jesus unveils for us the spiritual warfare taking place. Satan, the devil, has demanded to sift Peter like wheat. And, for a short season, Peter will be allowed to go through the painful process. But Jesus also tells Peter that, when Peter comes back, when he comes to his senses, when he repents of running and hiding and denying Jesus, he should also be kind enough to strengthen and encourage the other disciples.
What grabs my attention here which I think will encourage our souls is the knowledge of Jesus. Jesus looked at Peter, knew exactly how Peter would fail him in the next hours, and offered him a word of encouragement. Jesus knew how Peter would lie and deny, and yet the Savior tells Peter about what will happen after he turns again to Jesus. Jesus knew Peter’s future failing and his future restoration, so he could speak to Peter with loving kindness in the face of what is to come.
Think about your own life. There are failures. There were failures in your past. There will be failures in your future. Jesus knows them all. Jesus sees them as clearly as he saw what Peter would do. And Jesus knows God’s plan for you. Christians, Jesus knows God’s forgiveness for you. He knows God’s knowing you, predestining you, calling you, justifying you, and eventually glorifying you (cf. Rom 8:29-30). And because Jesus knows all your failures before they happen, and because Jesus still died to cover that sin years ago, you and I can have confidence to know that, if we are in Christ, our sins are covered. Jesus has taken care of our guilt—past, present, and future. We do not surprise him. We do not disappoint him. He already knows it all. And he still chose to love us, save us, and promise us eternity with him.
Jesus knows our future failures. This is no excuse to continue in sin. But it is an encouragement for us when we are weak and doubting. He knows us, and he loves us. He knows us, and he has forgiven us. He knows us, and he will make something of us that we could never make of ourselves. What a glorious grace is the grace of Jesus!