Heathdale flower 17th April 2020

From Failure to Faithful

Beauty came from the ashes of Peter’s failure. Are there ash-like failures in your life? Imagine the beauty that God is preparing.

Heathdale flower

There are so many facets from the characters in the Bible that I would love to personify. The faith of Abraham, the meekness of Moses, the strength of Samson, the courage of Esther, the conviction of Daniel, and the wisdom of Solomon, and the list goes on. But if I’m honest, the one that I have related to most is Simon Peter.

In Luke 22:31-32 we read these soul-piercing words: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

We know that every reality of this became painfully true, for we read in Matthew 26:75, ‘And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.’

This is Peter, the one who made that massive mountainous rock-solid declaration that Christ was the Messiah! And it was upon this testimony Christ promised He would build His Church. How could such failure, give birth to such awesome blessing? Simple. God has a Ph.D. in bringing beauty from ashes.

Let’s briefly retrace Peter’s steps in Matthew 26. In verses 33-35, Peter puts it out there for Jesus to know, that he’s all in, he will never fall away. Jesus tells him that three denials will pass from his lips before the rooster crows. But not persuaded, Peter commits himself to dying rather than denying. He is clearly full of himself, for the smallest package in the world is a man wrapped up in himself.
Peter boasted too much.

Then in verses 40-41 the request of Jesus to watch and pray for an hour became too much. Peter fell asleep and because he seems to do things in multiples of three, he takes three consecutive naps.
Peter prayed too little.

But finally, Peter has a more action-based opportunity in verses 47-51, to defend Jesus, the One who created all things. Impulsively, he cuts off an ear of the High Priest’s servant.
Peter acted too fast.

Do you see a pattern? Through a series of eroding choices, this bold, confident and capable man was utterly undone.

Peter’s failure was humiliating as well as horrible, for he had proclaimed his loyalty to Jesus publicly at the Passover. “I will lay down my life for you.” He truly thought he would. He had no idea how weak and vulnerable he was in the face of temptation. The memory of the servant girl was probably the most painful. “You also are not one of this man’s disciples are you?” He completely imploded. Some rock Peter turned out to be. Have you ever felt like that? I have.

That night Peter discovered how much he depended on Jesus for strength. He was not strong. He was not above denying the One he loved most. Peter also discovered how powerful Satan was. Jesus had warned him that Satan had demanded to sift the disciples like wheat. But Peter had cast out demons, how could he possibly yield to Satan? But that night Peter realised what we all need to learn, that apart from Jesus we can do nothing.

Peter failed. Peter blew it big time. But Jesus knew that would happen and he had prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. “When you have turned again.” Those words were pregnant with hope, ready to give birth to Jesus’ power that would turn him from failure to faithful. God was not finished with Peter and He’s not finished with you. Peter’s failure did not define him. Just as our failures don’t define us. It’s horrible and humbling when we fail in our best attempts to live for Christ.

But when Jesus died on the cross He paid in full the debt of all our sin and failures. We may be surprised by our failures and depravity, but I can assure you that Jesus isn’t. We may try to hide behind bravado and boasting, but when we admit our failures that’s when Jesus teaches us what the gospel really is. Only then we can say in the words of C.H. Spurgeon, “I have a great need for Christ. I have a great Christ for my need.”

The beauty that came from the ashes of Peter’s failure, was a sermon in which three thousand souls received Christ. Are there ash-like failures in your life? Imagine the beauty that God is preparing.