Facing Failure

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“Truly, I tell you,” Jesus answered,” this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.

But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Matthew 26: 34&35, 74&75

Judas betrayed Jesus. Peter denied Jesus. The disciples fled when the mob showed up. The only one who was even around at Jesus’ crucifixion was John, the most junior member of the group.

And Jesus loved them all. Tax collectors, prostitutes, drunks, every variety of sinner found welcome in His presence. And what’s more, let’s not forget the hypocrites. Yes, the Pharisees, but also His disciples.

The truth is anyone who claims to follow Jesus is going to fail to uphold their ideals eventually. I have some sympathy for celebrity pastors, in that their moral lapses cannot fail to hit the nightly news, while most of the rest of us enjoy a comfortable anonymity. “Christians are all hypocrites” is frequently said with derision about this movement, and it isn’t too far off.

What strikes me about Peter’s situation is that Jesus will renew Peter’s call to discipleship and ministry. The denials do not exclude him from Jesus. Jesus practices the forgiveness He so eloquently preaches, even when preachers do not. Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t lower His standards, He doesn’t excuse Peter. His hypocrisy does not make Jesus aim any lower.

And neither should we. Yes, the Sermon on the Mount commands us to be perfect. Yes, that is hard. Yes, you should give it a go anyway. Even in the face of failure.

Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.

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