Summary: When it comes to failure and sin in your life, you have two options. You can try to hide it, or you can admit it.
This is a message about how to overcome failure. If you’ve never failed, then you are free to leave now so you can beat the Methodists to the restaurants. But if you’ve ever failed, God has a word for you today.
Let me tell you the true story of Walter. He grew up in a very dysfunctional family with a dominant, domineering father. He and his three brothers all ran away before the age of 16. Walter lied about his age so he could join the army. After the army, Walter started a business at age 22 in Kansas City, but it failed and he had to declare bankruptcy. With only $40 to his name he moved to California to try to become an actor. But he never made it. He and his brother Roy started an animation service, but never gained rights to their drawings, so they lost ownership of their art.
Walter suffered what he described as a “heck of a breakdown” but he refused to give up. He had the idea to draw a cartoon mouse he would name Mortimer Mouse. Walter’s wife, Lillian, suggested a better name would be Mickey Mouse. So Mickey Mouse was born in 1928, but Walt Disney still faced more failure. After producing several movies and cartoons, his company was $4 million in debt after WWII and business was slow. He had a dream to build a theme park in California called Disneyland, but he had no money. Walt was depressed and having a hard time dealing with stress. He took a chance on a new medium called television, The Mickey Mouse Club, Davy Crockett, and the Wonderful World of Color. Finally things turned around and Disneyland opened in 1955. Walt had a dream of Disney World in a swampy area near a little town called Orlando. Walt died in 1966 at age 65 before Disney World opened. Today the Walt Disney Company is worth $75 billion.
Walt Disney experienced several episodes of failure, but he never gave up. In this message we’re going to look at huge failure in the life of Simon Peter. We’re going to see that he didn’t allow his failure to become final or fatal.
In Mark 14:27-31, Jesus and His disciples are at the Last Supper and Jesus said, “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
Then they left the upper room and walked to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed while Peter slept. When Jesus was arrested, Peter followed the group back to the house of Caiaphas.
Mark 14:66-72. “While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said. But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway. When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it.
After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
Have you ever denied the Lord? I know I have. I have failed to confess Jesus many times. Probably my worst denial was when I was a sophomore in high school and a friend asked me why my family and I went to church. Although I knew the Lord, I wasn’t living for Him at that time, so I was embarrassed. And I said, “Oh, I just go to church because my parents make me.” I didn’t realize at the time that my friend was asking about God. Sadly, he died that year in a car wreck, and I don’t know that he ever trusted Jesus. I can relate to Simon Peter. Can you?
So how does a follower of Jesus get to the place where they deny the Lord? But more importantly, how does a follower of Jesus recover after spiritual failure? That’s what we’re going to talk about in this message.