Isaiah’s Suffering Servant passage closes with this Messianic prophecy: “He willingly submitted to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet he bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels” (Isaiah 53:12). Hundreds of years after Isaiah, his prophecy was perfectly fulfilled as Jesus hung between two criminals. From his cruel cross, He prayed, He interceded, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:32–34).
Allow me to personalize that! I’m the “rebel.” It’s my sin that nailed Jesus to the cross. Jesus prayed for me when He said, “Father, forgive them!”
Jesus is our faithful Intercessor. The Epistles assure us that “He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God... (Jesus) is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us”(Romans 8:26-27, 34). In fact, “he always lives to intercede” (Hebrews 7:25).
One of my favorite moments recorded in the Holy Scriptures occurred prior to Jesus’ foretelling of Peter’s denials. Giving Peter some insight into the spiritual battle that rages around us, Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, look out. Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31–32).
Our “adversary the devil,” like a “roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8), was seeking to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). The “dragon, that ancient serpent” (Revelation 20:1), wanted to grind Peter into dust, like a wheat seed is sifted into flour.
Jesus knew that Peter was going to fall and fail. The Omniscient One knew that the young disciple was weak, so He prayed for protection from the enemy. Jesus knew what was about to happen. “ ‘I tell you, Peter,’ he said, ‘the rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know me’ ” (Luke 22:34). Jesus knew that the big, strong, able fisherman was going to be reduced to a first-class wimp! Later, it happened just as Jesus predicted. “Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl approached him and said, ‘You were with Jesus the Galilean too.’ But he denied it in front of everyone: ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’ ” (Matthew 26:69–70). “Simon, Simon, look out... I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31-32). A few days after Peter’s three-fold failure, the Resurrected Redeemer restored the defeated and dejected disciple “Feed my lambs... Shepherd my sheep... Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). As you know, Peter was called upon to preach at Pentecost, where three thousand souls were miraculously transformed.
Jesus prays for us, for me and for you. He knows everything about us, and He still loves us, cares about us, and endlessly prays for us! “Protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
While we remain on earth, we have a mission to accomplish. It’s a difficult and dangerous mission. He called us to go as far as the ends of the earth by starting as near as our own homes. Though the enemy may assail, the Almighty intercedes.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.