Summary: Failure Is Not Fatal if – We Recognize that Everyone Fails! We Remember that God’s Love and Forgiveness Is not Dependent On Our Success! We Learn and Grow From Our Failures! We Put Our Failures Behind Us and Go On!
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 63
“Failure Is Not Fatal If … ”
Do you realize that although there are
winners at the Olympic games every four years, 90% of the best athletes in the world did not win a medal. Like them, many of us try, but never win. Work has not become what we had hoped. Things do not turn out as we were led to believe. Marriages begun in hope have ended in tears. Our children are a constant concern despite our hopes for them. Politicians disappoint us. Friendships are betrayed. Prayers do not seem to be answered. Even those things that we do manage to achieve often disappoint us. The sense of failure is never far from the surface.
The Bible records many failures because it records life as it is. The Bible is about real people. Some of the biblical failures are today only remembered for their successes, but before there was success, there was failure. One such story is before us today in the story of Peter’s fall.
Jesus has been betrayed by Judas and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. In verse fifty-four we read, “Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance.”
Jesus has been arrested and then hauled off
to the home of the high Priest. Peter follows at a distance and ends up in the courtyard of the high Priest where he warms himself around a fire with some strangers.
We need to be careful to not be too hard on Simon Peter. The story of the arrest of Jesus shows that he was a man of great courage. In Luke 22:50, when the authorities came to arrest Jesus it was Peter alone who grabbed a sword to defend Jesus. In his ill conceived attempt he not only displayed courage but in the process chopped off the ear of high priest’s servant. I really believe that Peter would have died at that time to defend Jesus.
But we are told that when Jesus was arrested Peter “followed at a distance.” Even that must have taken courage. To be fair to Peter he is not the only disciple standing as far away as possible. All those who knew Him, including the many women, watched from a distance. He could just as well have fled like the other disciples, but he does not do that. He goes after Jesus. At a distance perhaps, but he is still there.
He also manages to worm his way into the courtyard area of the place were Jesus is being held (the courtyard of the high Priest). Verse fifty-five says, “Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.” That took courage because the High Priest at the time was a man by the name of Caiaphas. In fact there was no more dangerous place that Peter 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 is amazing that he came here and even more amazing that he stayed there even after he had been spotted and identified by a servant girl.
Verse fifty-six tells us the story of his first denial, “And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, "This man was also with Him." (57) But he denied Him, saying, "Woman, I do not know Him." Peter’s answer sounds much like the kids of today when they answer, a question with exclamation,
“Not!” In the original Greek his answer begins with “not,” the emphasis is not on the personal pronoun “I” or on the action verb “know” but literally reads, “Not I know Him, woman.”
Sometime later, someone else (a man this time) repeats the charge in verse fifty-eight, “You are also one of them.” Peter instantly replies, “Man I am not!” or literally “Man, NOT I am!” Peter not only denies being one of his disciples but of even knowing Jesus.
The final denial follows about an; hour later and is revealed in verse fifty-nine, “another (allos – another man) confidently affirmed, saying, "Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean." Matthew’s account (Matt 26:73) adds the detail that it is Peter’s accent that has given him away. Just as you don’t have to spend too much time with any us to tell that we are not from New Jersey, the old southern accent comes through. Huddled around the fire in the high priest courtyard, his accent had become a liability because it had associated him with Jesus of Nazareth. In verse sixty Peter again denies his involvement when he says, "Man, I do not know what you are saying!"