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FACING FAILURE

By Daniel Bucher

Who of us has never made a mistake? Even though we do our best in raising a family, at our jobs, and in our Christian walk, we are doomed to make mistakes and fail. I would like to show you some people in the Bible who carried on even after they stumbled.

Recently I sold the shop I had run for over ten years. For the first time in a long time I faced the pressure of going on job interviews. I soon realized that no matter my resume and work experience, what really counted was how I handled pressure.

In the three years Jesus was with his disciples, they faced some very challenging situations. Still, the Lord was always there with them. But in Mark 14, the disciples faced the greatest pressure since their time with Christ began. The Lord would be soon be leaving them. Their "work experience" with Jesus would be simply a part of their past. Soon they would face the pressure of walking in faith without him there bodily to guide them.

As the feast of the Passover drew near, Jesus spent time in Bethany. When a woman anointed his head with precious oil, some of the people became indignant and accused her of waste (see Mark 14:1-9). They failed to appreciate the meaning of the ritual. Jesus had told them that he was about to die. Even today in Switzerland, when someone is about to die, a priest is called in to perform the "last rites" which include an anointing with oil. This woman offered her finest oil. How much is the gospel worth to me? Am I ready to give up something so precious for Christ? Judas sold his loyalty for much less!

Before and during the Passover meal, Jesus showed he was very much in control of the situation. He told his disciples exactly where to go and what to say to secure the location for the meal.

Mark 14:16:
And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.

He indicated that he knew who would betray him:

v. 20:
And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish.

But think about this: in the Orient everyone dips their hand in the same bowl. Was Jesus letting them know it could have been any of them? He could have easily identified Judas and set the others against him. Twelve to one are bad odds! But Jesus gave Judas one last chance to repent.

Later that evening Jesus told the eleven who remained, "All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered" (v. 27). You will all fall away. You will all fail.

This was something Peter did not like to hear. He knew he was not perfect. He knew he had messed up before. Sorry, Jesus (we can imagine him saying). You are wrong. I forsook everything I had to follow you. I will not fall away. Of course we all know how things turned out.

It’s easy to make big vows when you are in Church. But once you are back in the world, it’s not so easy to keep your vows. Now you have a million other problems to look after. Out in the world is where the real pressure comes.

Verses 66 to 72 record Peter’s three denials. It is so easy to sit back and say "What a loser!" But what Mark’s gospel really shows us is we have much more in common with Peter that we realize. Whenever we fail to share our faith because we are afraid of what people might say about us, we are denying the Lordship of Christ. Whenever we choose to do what we know is wrong instead of what we know is right, we are denying the Lordship of Christ. Whenever we trust in our understanding instead of trusting in his understanding, we are denying the Lordship of Christ.

And once we realize that we have denied Christ, it is our turn to weep before the Lord! We need the heart of Peter to seek forgiveness for our sins. You can’t just go saying, "God loves failures, so I’m just going to keep messing up and let God clean up after me." You have to give your failures to God. You have to say, "Lord, I have messed up! I really blew it! And I want to apologize from the bottom of my heart." Proverbs 28:13 says that "Whoever conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them finds mercy."

When we are truly sorry for our sins God is faithful to forgive. Peter repented and God forgave. The Lord still wanted him on his team.

Throughout the Bible great men have failed! Abraham lied about Sarah, David sinned with Bath-sheba, Jonah tried to refuse God’s will. These men all failed but after they repented they were back on board, back on the team. God sent Jesus to die for us so that we can be on his team. He died once and for all.

1 Peter 3:18:
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Sometimes we think "I have failed so many times, and so often for the same cause! How could God bless me anymore?" But the wonderful truth is that God uses imperfect people to accomplish his perfect will. He uses flawed people to accomplish his flawless will. And if you’re willing to let Jesus have his way in your life, God will use you to be a blessing to others, just like he used Peter and the other apostles.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are human beings, just like Peter. We are all capable of failure, just like Peter. But God knows this. And even though we make mistakes, he still wants us on his team. He still has a place for us in this world. He wants to help you to be the best parent you can be, the best church worker you can be, the best person you can be. Even when you feel like giving up on yourself, God will never give up on you.

 

 


From the January 2011 issue of The Vine & Branches