Last week I watched a children’s spelling bee.
The children had practiced for weeks. Several broke down when they were eliminated. Mothers comforted them, dried their tears, and assured them they were not failures.
Jobs! Marriages! Children! Friends! Failure can feel never-ending. It can make you want never to show your face again. We fear failure and refuse to try. And the worst is when we know we did wrong, failing Jesus.
What can we do? God’s Word tells us.
The Bible records many failures because it contains life as it really is: accounts of real people. Bible heroes are remembered for their successes, yes, but before success, sometimes there was failure, as we saw last week.
This week we will look closely at a couple more, and learn how to turn life’s failures into life-giving experience.
One of our stories is about Peter:
“Then seizing him [Jesus], they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, ‘This man was with him.’
“But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don’t know him,’ he said.
“A little later someone else saw him and said, ‘You also are one of them.’
“‘Man, I am not!’ Peter replied.
“About an hour later another asserted, ‘Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.’
“Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’
“Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Luke 22:54-62
We need not be too hard on Peter. The story of the arrest of Jesus shows he was a man of courage.
- In Luke 22:50, when the authorities came to arrest Jesus, only Peter grabbed a sword to defend Jesus. In this attempt, he not only displayed courage but also chopped off the ear of the High Priest’s servant. I believe that Peter would have died at that moment to defend Jesus, had Jesus not intervened.
- During the arrest, Peter “followed at a distance.” That must have taken courage. The other disciples fled, but he did not do that. He followed Jesus—at a distance perhaps—but still, he was there.
- Peter also managed to ease his way into the courtyard of the building where Jesus was being questioned. Then, “[. . .] when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.” What a dangerous place to be, then, in the courtyard amongst the soldiers who had just arrested his Teacher!
Finally, things got too “hot” and his courage weakened. Peter failed in a way he had sworn he would never fail. (Matthew 26:35)
As the intensity of his denials escalates, we want to say, “You were with Jesus three years! You saw the miracles! You heard His teaching! You had revelation knowledge! How could you fail so miserably?”
But what Luke wants us to see is that we have something in common with Peter: It is easy to fail.
- Whenever we fail to share our faith because we’re afraid of what people might say about us, we deny Jesus.
- Whenever we choose to do what we know is wrong instead of right, we deny Jesus.
- Whenever we trust our own understanding instead of trusting His Word, we deny Jesus.
And, like Peter, something about us tells others we have been with Him . . .
At church, we say, “Praise you, Jesus! I love you so much! I’ll always be faithful to You!”
Peter was sure. But when the test came, he faltered.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12
Peter’s story encourages in that we can learn from his failure. That is what we will look at for the next few days.
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