Failure does not mean God is done with us
What is the biggest failure you have ever experienced in your life? We don’t like to think about our failure and our sin. Our failures cause us to shake our heads, recoil with regret and cringe with guilt and shame. Thank God for His amazing grace!
The Apostle Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends and disciples experienced an epic failure in his life. He was the last guy that many might have thought would turn his back on Jesus. In fact, He adamantly claimed he would never fall away from Him. But when the heat was on, when his life was on the line, he failed miserably. He let Jesus down and he let himself down. He was broken and ashamed. But the great news for Peter was that Jesus was not done with him! He still had great plans for him. Peter would get a glimpse of God’s audacious, amazing grace… and we can too!
Just a few days after Jesus and His disciples arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration, Jesus gathered with them in an upper room to share the Passover meal. After that meal, Jesus told Peter and the other disciples some of what was about to happen… (Luke 22:31-34). In these events in Peter’s life, we get a glimpse of God’s amazing grace….
1. Failure does not mean God is done with us. (Luke 22:31-32)
Jesus told Peter he was praying that his faith would not fail… Why do think Jesus said that? Maybe because he knew that Peter was about to fail… Peter’s faith would be stifled by fear, fear for his life! Jesus would need Peter to respond later, not with fear, but with faith! And the truth is that we can’t respond with faith when we are filled with fear. Faith and fear can’t coexist. Peter would not be able to strengthen his fellow disciples if he was filled with fear.
Peter had already experienced an important lesson in faith and fear when he was given a chance to walk on water. (Matthew 14:22-33). In that story, we learned that faith fails where fear prevails… Peter had taken his focus off Jesus and was overcome by fear of the storms around him; though when his eyes were firmly fixed on Christ, he could walk on water! Fear disappears when faith draws near! Peter would need enormous faith in the days and weeks and years to come. You will too!
Will you push your fears aside and put your faith in Christ? Will you remain faithful to what God has called you to and to what He will call you to, despite your failures? God is not done with you!
2. Everyone is at risk of failing when temptation is great and pressure is intense! (Luke 22:33-34)
Peter believed, of all the disciples, He would not fail Jesus. (Matthew 26:33-35). Peter was remarkably confident, maybe even cocky. Confidence isn’t enough to keep us from failure… we need Christ and His Holy Spirit. To overcome temptation, We need His power, we need His strength, we need His might.
To withstand temptation, we must prepare to face the pressures temptation brings. How can we do that? We prepare for temptation by praying without ceasing, by immersing ourselves in Scripture, and by surrounding ourselves with fellow believers to encourage and challenge us! (Refer to previous series Best Practices for more.)
Sadly, when the pressure was on, Peter failed; he denied ever even knowing Christ,
3. Sin and failure always leads to shame and brokenness. (Luke 22:54-62)
I wonder how often believers deny knowing Jesus when we find ourselves in a situation where it would be uncomfortable to admit it? Peter could have spoken up, admitted he was “one of them”, but he didn’t. Have you ever denied Jesus? Maybe not with your words, but with your actions, your choices?
Can you imagine the heartbreak Peter must have felt when Jesus looked straight at him after he denied knowing him a third time? Jesus’ gaze convicted him. He was broken.
Have you ever thought that Jesus is looking straight at us too when we deny Him, when we make a choice that dishonors Him, or make a decision that corrupts our character or damages our testimony? When we realize how we have failed Him, we can’t help but weep.
There is no indication that Peter was at Jesus’ crucifixion the next day. It is likely that Peter left to go back to be with his fellow disciples, ashamed and afraid at this point… But Peter’s story was not over. The truth is, that his failure would open the door for him to experience the amazing grace of God.
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples on a beach of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus shared a meal with them and then had life changing conversation with Peter where we learn this wonderful truth…
4. Jesus graciously forgives and restores us when we repent and turn from our sins. (John 21:15-17)
Three times Peter denied ever even knowing Jesus. Now, three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. Three times Peter is given the chance to affirm his love and commitment to Jesus. Three times Jesus affirms Peter and the calling that Jesus placed on his life.
Every time we sin, our relationship with God is broken, but God is not done with us! He has a plan for us. He redeems us. Jesus died on the cross of Calvary for Peter’s sin, for your sin and for my sin. Jesus paid sin’s penalty of death for us and in Him we are forgiven and given a second chance. Will you turn from your sin and seek His grace? What will you do with your second chance? Peter became a pillar in the New Testament Church. God has great plans for you too!
For much more, click here to listen to Easter Eyewitness - Part 1: Simon Peter.