This morning I was gripped by an old story… a story of failure and grace.
St. Mark recounts a story (likely told to him by St. Peter) that shows us what grace is all about.
After the “Last Supper”, Jesus and Peter are having this discussion (Mark 14:27-31):
27“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:
” ‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
29Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
30“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
31But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
You know the story… Jesus was right. St. Mark says that after a small skirmish with the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus, “everyone deserted him and fled” (v. 50)… even Peter.
But going back a few hours BEFORE the “he fled” incident…
Jesus had just told Peter, “You’re gonna bolt when the pressure’s on.” Peter had said, “like heck I’m gonna run, I’m staying with you even if I have to put blood on the ground.”
Jesus knew Peter would run. He knew Peter would distance himself three times from his friend before that terrible night was over (v.30).
STOP. If you knew a friend was going to fail you, would you keep investing in that friend? Would you keep giving opportunity? Would you walk away knowing full well that further investment would only hurt you worse? If you knew your friend was going to fail you, disappoint you, let you down when you needed him/her the most, what would you do?
Look at what Jesus did. Right after his conversation with Peter this is what happened:
32They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” (Mark 14:32-34)
Even though Jesus knew a BIG FAILURE was coming down the trail, He continued to invest in and keep Peter close to Him. Out of the twelve disciples that were friends with and available to Jesus, He chose the one He had poured so much into, and the one He KNEW was going to blow it in a very short time. This blows my mind, humbles me, and makes me confident for the future!
A few thoughts:
- That’s grace. Thank you Jesus for grace. You’ve done the same thing for me… knowing I would fail and disappoint you, you continued to love and use me. Thank you.
- After loving Peter through this miserable failure and betrayal, Jesus ultimately restored Him (John 21:15-19) and used him in a key leadership position as the Church was launched (see the first twelve chapters of the book of Acts)!
- If you’ve failed, don’t believe for a second that “it’s over.” It’s not. Jesus loves you. He will forgive the most horrific failures, and position you for usability again as you trust His hands and heart that are working in the circumstances of your life.
- Consider how you can show this same kind of love and grace to a friend who has disappointed you.