Tony Evans - The Intercession of Jesus
All of us have seen either live or on TV, an implosion. We've witnessed, mostly a downtown building being brought to the ground in a mere matter of seconds by explosives. That which took many months or years to construct, become dismantled instantaneously and we've seen the rubble of the collapse. But implosions just don't take place in buildings, implosion takes place in lives. Many of us know what it is to have imploded dreams. You know what it is perhaps to have an imploded relationship. To have an imploded hope. Where something you longed for, looked for, anticipated, wanted, collapsed.
In Luke chapter 22, we learn about an implosion. We learn about somebody going down in shambles where their life basically and their purpose is being ripped from them. The disciples have been arguing about who's going to be greatest in the kingdom. Jesus enters into the discussion, into the debate in verse 31 and says, "Simon, Simon". Watch out when Jesus calls your name twice. "Behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat". He says, Satan has desired to make you useless. Simon is already on his way to heaven, but I wanna make sure God can't use you on earth. Why does he call Simon? 'Cause whenever you see the list of the disciples in the gospel, Simon's name is always first.
So I'm gonna get you so that we can get y'all, to sift you as wheat. Because if I get to sift you like wheat, there'll be no New Testament, there'll be no church, there'll be no program of God 'cause God has built his program on the disciples who are gonna become the apostles, and so if I can sift y'all like wheat, God's plan will be thwarted. So just in case you didn't know it, Satan is after sifting each and every Christian in this building, starting from the pulpit down to the pew like wheat. In other words, he wants to make you useless to the kingdom of God. He said, "Satan wants to get you". And Satan has demanded. Oh, that's some strong language. Satan has demanded permission. Oh, wait a minute. In order for Satan to get to you, he gotta ask permission to do it.
So let's get something straight. The devil is not just the devil, he's God's devil, 'cause he can only do what God says he can do. He's been working on Peter for a long time 'cause back in Matthew chapter 16, he was working on Peter and Jesus is telling him he's gotta die and rise from the dead. In Matthew chapter 16, Peter takes Jesus aside verse 22 and rebukes him saying, "God forbid it Lord, that that should happen to you". "Jesus, you don't know what you're talking about". Jesus says to him, "Get behind me, Satan. You are a stumbling block to me for you are not set in your mind on God's interest but on man's". Peter had the audacity to tell Jesus he was wrong. And Jesus tells Peter, the devil is controlling you.
So let me get something straight. Whenever you are right and Jesus is wrong, the devil is controlling you. Whenever God says one thing and you say something else, the devil is controlling you. Now, Satan has to have a basis for the request to demand to sift you. He is not coming outta nowhere, he's coming because you have created a door of opportunity. You have done something that gives him an in. As I said last week, our sin creates an open door for Satan to enter to do the shaking, in order to rip us away from God's purpose and usefulness and plan. What was the open door? Verse 33. "But he said to him, 'Lord, with you I am ready to both go to prison and to death". And the Lord said to him in verse 34, "Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you even know me".
Peter suffered from a problem of independence, self-confidence, and unbrokeness. Peter's problem, as talented as he was, was he was all that in a bag of chips. Peter's problem was that he felt about himself he was better than he really was. So Peter needs to be broken. To be broken means to be stripped of self-sufficiency, that's what brokenness means. It means to learn the lesson, "Without me, you can do nothing". It means to understand that he's God and you and me aren't. And that as much as we are determined to be all that we think we can be under the right set of circumstances, if Satan can get you right at the right time, at the right place, in the right situation, he got you as long as you're self-sufficient, so you need to be broken.
And God will allow the devil to ride you until he breaks you. Oh, but wait a minute, verse 32. "But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and you when once you have turned again". Some verses say, "Been converted strengthen your brothers". But there is a phrase here, "I have prayed for you".
Now, we gotta go a little bit deep sea diving because now we are introduced to the intercessory work of Jesus Christ. What is he doing when we are going through hell? What is he doing when we are doing stuff we said we would never do? What is he doing when our world collapses? What in the world is he doing so that I can get converted, turned again so that I can be useful? 'Cause he just blew it big. I mean, this is called apostasy. Apostasy is the public denial of Jesus Christ. He didn't just deny him in secret, he denied him before saints and sinners. So he was an embarrassment to the cause of Christ in public.
So let's talk a little theology. Now we call this biblical theology. Biblical theology is different than systematic theology. Systematic theology gathers together all the truth about a certain subject found throughout the whole of scripture, organizes it so that you can learn about that truth and all the places that discuss that truth throughout the Bible. That's different than biblical theology. Biblical theology is concerned about what a certain author says in a certain book to a certain audience about a certain subject. So biblical theology limits itself to a particular location so that you can get the oomph of that particular subject as that particular author discusses that subject in his particular book to his particular audience. So let's go to biblical theology and learn about the intercession of Jesus Christ when it says, "I'm gonna pray for you".
Let's start with Hebrews chapter 7. Hebrews chapter 7. This is the biblical theology of Jesus Christ in the book of Hebrews and his intercessory work. He says in verse 24. "But Jesus on the other hand, because he continues forever, holds his priesthood permanently. Therefore he is also able to say or deliver forever those who draw near to God through him since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens". He ever lives to deliver, to save means to deliver. He's writing to Christians in the book of Hebrews, he's not talking about deliver in eternity, he's talking about God interceding and praying for you so that he can help you in history.
"And he ever lives to make intercession". This brings in the ascension of Jesus Christ. Jesus died 40 days later, he stood on a cloud, he ascended up to heaven on the right hand side of the Father where he ever lives 24/7, 365 days, to intervene in the situations that call for deliverance by believers who need divine intervention 'cause Satan is messing them up. He ever lives to come to your help. And he calls that his priestly duty. Okay, watch this now. The job of the priest in the Old Testament was to serve as a mediator between a sinful people and a holy God. The way he'd served as a mediator between sinful people and a holy God, was through the sacrificial system.
So he would offer up an animal like on the day of atonement so that God's judgment against sin would be diverted because of the sacrifice. When God saw the layaway plan, that's the Old Testament, the layaway plan. When God saw the layaway plan for one year, God's wrath would be held back so that he could show favor to his people because an acceptable sacrifice had been made, but it was temporary, it was the layaway plan until Jesus comes. Because when Jesus dies on the cross, he says to tell us that paid in full, it is finished, no more payments needed, so he can ever live to be the intercessor for sinful Christians and for a holy God.
Go back to chapter 2 of Hebrews. He says in verse 17. "Therefore he had to be made like his brethren". He had to become human, "In all things so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest". We've got the priest again, "In things pertaining to God," 'cause he's representing God. "To make propitiation for the sins of the people". Okay, so he got God on one hand, he got the people on the other. The people are sinful, God is holy, he's in between the two. Verse 18. "For since he himself was tempted in that which he has suffered, he is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted".
Who tempts you? The devil. He says, Jesus Christ is ready to come to the aid when the devil shows up and he knows what it feels like 'cause the devil showed up in his life to get him thwarted from the purposes of God. Chapter 3 verse 1. "Therefore holy brethren partakers of the heavenly calling". Christians, he says, "Consider Jesus the apostle and high priest of our confession". Now turn over to chapter 4 verse 14. "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens".
Let me stop there. Our high priest who sits between sinful men and a holy God he says has passed through the heavens. You need to know when Jesus ascended and he left earth, he passed through heaven number one, atmospheric heaven. Heaven number two, the stellar heaven, into heaven number three, where he sits on the right hand side of God. Jesus Christ passed through heaven number one, he's above people, but he also passed through heaven number two, he's above angels. He is now in heaven number three, sitting on the right hand side of the Father.
So why do you need to know that Jesus Christ passed through the heavens? That means people don't have the last word, demons don't have the last word, angels don't have the last word, Jesus has the last word. He is the supreme court of your situation, he is the supreme court. So the devil does not have the last word over you, the people that you work with don't have the last word over you 'cause Jesus has already passed them by. And he sits above them on the right hand side of the Father.
Look at Hebrews chapter 4, he continues. He says, "Jesus the Son of God. Let us hold fast our confession for we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are yet without sin". Our perfect high priest. "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace," watch this, "To help in time of need". Chapter 5 verse 9. "Having been made perfect, he became to all those who obey him, the source of eternal salvation". Watch this, "Being designated by God as a priest according to the order of Melchizedek".
He is not just a high priest, he is a high priest after a specific priestly order. Not the ironic order, not the order of Aaron which faded away, but he is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. So I'll just tell you a little bit about Melchizedek. Melchizedek is in the book of Genesis and Abraham has been in a fight, he's been fighting for his life. When he comes after this fight, he's been tired, he's wounded, he's been dealing with an enemy and he runs into the King of Salem and his name is Melchizedek, the king of righteousness. And it says that Melchizedek gave him bread and wine 'cause he's coming from a fight. He's been bruised from a fight and he's given bread and wine from Melchizedek.
So what is Melchizedek saying? "I know you've been beat up last week, so I'm gonna give you some strength 'cause you're getting ready to get beat up on next week. So between last week and this week, I'm gonna meet with you, you gonna meet with me, and we gonna give you just what you need to recover from there and handle what's ahead". And he gave him bread and wine 'cause Jesus is after the order of Melchizedek. He provides help when hell has come after you.
So, getting back to the sermon. John chapter 21, I want you to read John 21 on your own this week because this is where Peter has now denied the Lord three times. Jesus has died, has risen from the dead. Verse 3 of chapter 21, Simon Peter said to them, the other disciples, "I am going fishing". They said to him, "We will also come with you". They went out and got into the boat and that night they caught nothing. Okay, you remember when Jesus first met them? They had been fishing all night and caught nothing. Guess what Peter just did, his failure made him go back to his old lifestyle. Jesus has risen from the dead now in chapter 21, he is risen from the dead.
So having risen from the dead, they're out there fishing and when they're out there fishing, Jesus says to them children, verse 5, "Do you have any fish"? "Hey, how y'all doing out there in your old life, in your old career, in what you thought you knew how to do well, is it working for you? You went back to the world, is it working out there? You went back to the drugs, is it working out there? You went back to your old homies, is it working out there? How many fish have you caught"? He said, "Guys, let me tell y'all what I told you when I first met you. Cast the net on the right side of the boat. They cast the net and they got," in verse 6, "A great multitude of fish". They find out it's the Lord, Peter throws himself in the water and starts freestyling and stroking into where Jesus is in verse 9, key verse.
So, "When they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and a fish on it and bread". And Jesus is out there by himself, ain't cooking fish, okay? So you got know who you're dealing with here. Not only is he cooking fish, he says, "Come eat". So wait a minute, guess what? Jesus is not only praying for you, he looking for you. He comes to where they're in their old occupation. He's fixing breakfast for 'em. And so when they had finished breakfast, verse 15, "Simon, son of John". Okay, Simon is his old name, remember God changed his name from Simon to Peter? Well, he calls him by his old name 'cause he's acting in his old way. "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these"?
Let's look at Peter's response. Peter says in verse 15, he says, "Yes Lord, you know I love you". Different Greek word. They both are translated love. There are three Greek words for love. "Eros," where we get erotic from, that's the sensual love, okay? Then there is "Agape," God's sacrificial love where we pursue his glory. But this is "Phileo" from where we get our English word, Philadelphia. This has to do with affection and friendship. Jesus ask him, "Do you love me with God's kind of sacrificial, bringing glory to me, kinda love"? Peter says, "If you think I'm going out there on that limb like that again, you are totally mistaken. I don't agape you, I Phileo you".
Watch what Jesus says, "Tend my lambs". Because now you are authentic. Jesus comes in the second time. Same word, agape. He says to him, "You know I love you". Phileo, I like you. Let me pause here. God is after our love. Over, and over, and over God in scripture, God wants us to love him. He comes a third time. He says in verse 17, "Simon, son of John, do you love me"? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me"? Remember when he denied the Lord three times he cried?
The Bible says, "He wept bitterly". Well he's about to cry again 'cause when he heard it the third time, it reminded him of his threefold denial. But something else grieved him. Something else grieved him, something else broke his heart when Jesus said, "Peter, do you love me"? He hung his head hurt 'cause he remembered the three denial, but Jesus said something else, "Peter do you Phileo me"? The first two times he said, "Do you agape me? Do you agape me"? But not the third time. Jesus dumbed down his word. He knew Peter wasn't ready for no agape love.
He says, "I want you so bad Peter I'll come meet you where you are. I will meet you there. If you'll be for real with me there, I will meet you there and I'll use you there. I will use you there because at least you're being honest with me. You're not playing religious games with me, you're not talking at Christian stuff with me. Tell me the truth because if you tell me the truth, I can work with you. But don't give me this jive Christian talk, 'You love me' when I know you don't hardly like me. Tell me how you really feel 'cause we can go there together". I got good news for you. God will meet you where you are, he'll meet you where you are as long as you are honest with him. And once he does that he puts a block on Satan because now you've gotten right with God. Come home to Jesus, because he's ready to draw near to you.