But I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. – Luke 22:32 (NRSV)
If there was one thing that Jesus demonstrated to us, it’s that He is a cheerleader of people. He was an advocate; a defender for those that society deemed unsuitable and unworthy. He was a defender of the weak and the social outcasts, for the sinners and the unrighteous. While He walked the earth all those years ago, Jesus showed time and again that He was for people. More than 2000 years later, He is still an advocate and a defender of people. He is still a cheerleader, only not just for the outcasts, but for you and me.
When Peter passionately declared that he would die for Jesus, Jesus tells Peter that he would, in fact, deny Jesus before the night was out. Jesus knew what Peter didn’t; that within a few hours the fear of persecution would overcome him and he would deny Jesus not once but three times. Jesus knew that Peter would not loyally and boldly stand up and defend Jesus, but instead cower in the shadows. He knew the fear would overtake Peter before the night was out but instead of rebuking him, Jesus encourages Him. Jesus urges Peter to be strong, to get back up and strengthen those around him. At a time when Jesus would have been well within His rights to tell rebuke Peter harshly or walk away from Him, He prays for him. Why? Because He loved him.
And He loves us.
One thing that can be said about Jesus is that when it comes to loving people, He is all in. He gives it all. For the love of the Father, He left His rightful place in heaven and came down to earth to fulfill the greatest rescue mission ever known to man. And for the love of us, He willingly went to the Cross and endured the pain and sin and shame. He endured it all because He loved us. He loved us before we even knew who He was and He loves us now, even when we don’t deserve it. especially when we don’t deserve it. Why? Because that’s who He is; love and grace and mercy. If you struggle to grasp that sometimes, you are not alone. I am regularly asking God why He still loves me despite my failings and inadequacies. Despite occasionally turning my back on Him and raising my fists to heaven because my prayer is going unanswered. Yet, He still loves me. Jesus still went to the Cross for me knowing full well the amount of times I would be ungrateful and unworthy of His love. But He is all in. For me. For you. And instead of being disappointed in us when we stumble and fall, He prays for us. He stands in the gap and advocates for us. He cheers us on from Heaven because He loves us.
Wherever you may be right now, I pray that you can take a moment and just rest in His love. Rest, knowing that He is all in on this journey with you and won’t let you go. Ever.