Victory in Failure
A few months ago I was reading the account of The Last Supper, Gethsemane, Judas’ betrayal, and Jesus’ trial, death, burial, and resurrection. I must admit it had been a while since I read through what I would consider the climax of the Bible. I am always amazed how the Spirit speaks through different verses depending on what I need to hear at that moment. This particular morning Peter’s denial struck me afresh.
When I think of the apostle Peter the word “bold” immediately comes to mind. Let me list just a few examples as to why Peter is remembered for his audacious nature.
- After fishing all night and catching nothing, Peter lowered his net in one final attempt because Jesus said so. (Luke 5:1-6)
- When first called by Jesus, Peter at once left his nets and followed him because Jesus said so. (Matthew 4:18-20)
- During a storm Peter climbed out of the boat to walk. On water. Because Jesus said so. (Matthew 14: 28-32)
- As Jesus predicted his own death, Peter pulled him aside to rebuke him. (Mark 8:31-33)
- Side note: can you imagine rebuking Jesus? That is a discussion in and of itself!
- Peter cut off the high priest’s right ear in an effort to defend Jesus. (John 18:10)
While Peter is known for many daring acts, one circumstance surrounding Jesus’ death was quite the opposite. Following The Last Supper, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him 3 times before the rooster crowed. Peter, in his passionate nature, declared that even if he had to die he would never disown Jesus. We know that Jesus was indeed correct, and Peter did disown him.
Luke 22 is possibly the most heart wrenching account of this event. When questioned for a third time if Peter was in Jesus’ inner circle, “Peter replied, ‘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.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.”
Can you imagine what Peter must have felt in that moment, locking eyes with Jesus as the third denial had hardly passed from his lips? I cannot help but think of my own sin, my own shortcomings, and my own denial of Jesus. When we knowingly sin we are in a sense experiencing a similar heartbreak.
Yet this is not where Peter’s story ends. And its not where ours ends either.
As I said, this particular verse struck me in a new way. Yes, I have always known that Peter denied Jesus. But I cannot say I have ever contemplated that this event may have been what spurred Peter to be the evangelist he grew to be. This just 1 of countless examples of how God works all things for the good of those who love him, of his power being made perfect in weakness. I am often bogged down by what my weaknesses are and how I fail time and time again. Yet that is not where we are called to dwell. These trials and even our failures in these trials are refining us. How we respond makes all the difference.
Peter could have easily lived in regret for the rest of his life. He could have been ashamed, embarrassed and allowed this situation to destroy him. While we do not have an account of how Peter actually handled himself after the denial (other than weeping bitterly), we do have the evidence to prove that he was still a warrior for Christ.
- When the apostles received word that the tomb was empty, Peter got up and ran to the tomb. (Luke 24:12)
- Jesus indicated that Peter would die in a way to glorify God, then commanded Peter to follow him. And he did. (John 21:18-19)
- Peter preached boldly on the Day of Pentecost, which led to over 3000 souls being saved on that day. (Acts 2)
God gave Peter victory despite his weakness. He does the same for us. We always have a choice in how we respond to our sins. Is your response to trials and temptations allowing you to experience victory in failure? Think about it…