For Those Of Us Who Fail

Right in the middle of the earthshaking drama of Holy Week, while Jesus is moving toward His amazing work on the Cross, there is Peter’s story. The blustery leader of the disciples is swept up in the emotions at the Last Supper. Who wouldn’t be? He wants to protect the Man he has followed, the One in whom he has found purpose and hope.  All the talk about dying and leaving rattles Peter and he rises in protest.

When Jesus tried to caution him about his weaknesses, he insists he is ready to ‘go to prison or death’ for Jesus. The Lord sadly tells him that he will not be a hero, that he will fail spectacularly. I am encouraged by what Jesus added:  “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32, NIV)

A few hours later, in the courtyard of the high priest’s home, while Jesus is being interrogated, Peter’s courage fails. When he was pressed about his relationship with the Lord, he broke. “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.” (Luke 22:60-61, NIV) Even reading those words make me tear up. “Oh, Peter, you’re going to hate yourself!”

Are there any episodes in your life that you wish you could erase, memories that make you cringe? At a critical moment, did your faith fail; did you make a self-preserving choice that you now regret? Let me shout what I know from Peter’s story and from my own experience of God’s grace- it’s not over, you’re not finished, God has not discarded you as worthless. I am not minimizing failure, but I am extolling the scandalous nature of God’s grace. He does not just love the beautiful people or use those with perfect records. Much as we might try to deny it, the truth is that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’

Peter’s story takes an unexpected turn a few weeks later, the ‘rest of the story’ told in the Gospel of John.  On the shore of the lake in Galilee, Jesus met Peter at a fire where they shared breakfast and renewal. Jesus walked him backed to the night of his failures and pointedly asked, “Do you love Me?” – not once, but three times. With each affirmation of love, Jesus told Peter to go and take care of the ‘sheep.’  Peter found new faith, returned to Jerusalem, and after Pentecost, he was a new man, full of the authority and power of the Holy Spirit.

Peter’s testimony of faith and renewal was compelling then and now.  “I was the one who fell on his face when the Lord needed me. I was the one who missed the point of the lessons – but He loved me still and restored me. Now, He’ll do the same for you!” The broken, the failing, the hopeless heard a word of hope in his testimony and turned to follow the Lord. He embraced the Lord’s command – “Peter, strengthen your brothers!”

Don’t gloss over that failure. Forget making excuses for that fall. Stop trying to justify yourself. Instead, find yourself at the feet of Jesus where there is grace, healing, and renewal. Take Peter’s example for yourself. Get right with God. Confess the sin, find forgiveness, let the Spirit do His restoration work, then strengthen your brothers!

Here’s a word from the Word. Peter was inspired to share this promise with us. It reads so powerfully against the background of his failure and restoration. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. … And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:6,10, NIV)

You’re invited to our remembrance of Jesus’ gift of grace – Good Friday, 7 pm;
And to our celebration of the Resurrection – 10 am, Easter Sunday.



Living Hope
(No more despair, because there is LIVING HOPE)

How great the chasm that lay between us
How high the mountain I could not climb
In desperation I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night
Then through the darkness Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished the end is written
Jesus Christ my living hope

 Who could imagine so great a mercy
What heart could fathom such boundless grace
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame
The cross has spoken I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ my living hope 

Hallelujah praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ my living hope

 Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me (REPEAT)

Jesus Yours is the victory
Jesus Christ my living hope
Oh God You are my living hope

Brian Johnson | Phil Wickham © 2017 Phil Wickham Music (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC]) Simply Global Songs (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC]) Sing My Songs (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC]) CCLI License # 810055

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