Summary: Failure is not fatal if we remember that (1) everybody fails, (2) God’s love is not dependent upon your success, and (3) the lessons learnt from it.
Have you ever made a mistake? Welcome to the human race. It just means you’re alive.
Everyone wants to succeed. The society wants us to succeed. It puts undue pressure on us. People will do anything – lie, cheat, steal – in order to succeed.
Striving for success is good. There is nothing wrong with it, but the stress for success can often put failure in a very bad light – failure is unacceptable. Failure is fatal. We end up with an over-exaggerated view of failure.
We have to remind ourselves again, from Peter’s experience, that failure isn’t the end of the world. You fail, you pick yourself up, and you go on. We need to redefine failure today.
Peter failed. The one who was chosen to be one of those in the inner circle with Jesus failed Him. He was chosen to be the privilege one among three, to be close to Jesus. He was taught personally by the Master, and probably endowed with leadership skills, since Jesus asked him to head the church. He was the first to openly declare that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt 16:16). And this man failed Him!
People fail, no matter who they are. There will be winners at every game, but remember, over 90% of them WILL NOT win any medals. Like them, many of us tried our best, but never win. Things do not always turn out the way we expect them. Nobody is immune from failures.
The Bible records failures because it records life as it is. The Bible is about real people.
Take a look, and we’ll probably appreciate Peter as a great disciple.
Jesus has been betrayed by Judas and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was taken to the high priest, and in v.54 “Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest.”
Don’t be too hard on Peter. Notice something. What happens at the Garden of Gethsemane shows that Peter is a man of courage. John tells us in John 18:10 that Peter, “who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear.” Peter was the only one who reacted and defended Jesus.
And then we were told that he followed Jesus at a distance. Even that must have taken courage. He could just as well have fled like the other disciples but he did not. He went after Jesus. At a distance maybe, but he is still there. And he followed all the way into the courtyard of the high priest.
And the Bible says in v.54 “There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.”
It’s really hard to say that Peter is a coward. There was no more dangerous place that he could have been at that moment than the courtyard, among the soldiers and where Peter could have easily been identified as a disciple of Jesus. It’s like sending himself into the lion’s den.
A servant girl spotted him, and he denied knowing Jesus. Sometime later, he was noticed and again he denied it. And then v.70 tells us “after a little while” he was again identified, and he denied it for the third time. They recognised him to be a Galilean. Matthew’s account (Matt 26:73) adds the detail that it was Peter’s accent that gave him away.
Luke tells us this final denial happened about an hour later (Luke 22:59). In order words, he was there at the courtyard for a long time. It is amazing that Peter stayed on even after being spotted and identified two times.
Can you see his love for Jesus? No wonder he broke down and wept. For a man as impulsive and bold as Peter, this wasn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, the willingness to admit failure is the mark of a great man.
How you respond to failure in life is critical. John Maxwell points out that the difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of failure and their response to it.
1. Failure is not fatal if we remember that everyone fails
Nobody is perfect and everyone fails. You may be among those in the inner circle specially taught by Jesus. You may be the one with courage and leadership. You can still fail.
Just a couple of hours before this, Peter boasted of his loyalty to Jesus - Mark 14:29-30
29 Peter declared, "Even if all fall away, I will not." 30"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "today - yes, tonight - before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times." 31But Peter insisted emphatically, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the others said the same.