When You FailSeries: The Gospel of Mark
Failure Isn’t Fatal
Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
This morning, we look at a story that might have been seen as a failure. Peter’s denial of Jesus three times on the night Jesus was betrayed, mere hours after swearing his allegiance to Jesus, is a low point in the gospel story. You have probably wondered how someone could go from such brave statements such as, “If I must die you, I will not deny you” (Mark 14:31) and brave actions such as defending Jesus against his captors (Mark 14:47) to refusing to even know who Jesus is.
However, I believe the point of the story isn’t to examine Peter’s motives or to say “how could he.” Rather, it is to read this story considering the rest of Peter’s life. This isn’t the end of Peter’s service to the kingdom. In many ways, it is the beginning. From here, Peter learns to deal with failure. He learns what it means to need forgiveness and not to let the past define his future. In just a few weeks, he will have a difficult conversation with Jesus on the beach where Jesus clears Peter of his failure. Peter moves forward a different person. He doesn’t let the failure define him.
How about you? Have you let failure define you? Is there something in your life, maybe years ago, that you did and you can’t get over it? Ever since then, things changed and you haven’t been the same. Can you imagine if Peter did that—let his failure define the rest of his life? No Pentecost sermon, no Cornelius conversion, no imprisonments that encouraged the church, no healings that demonstrated the power of God. So much would have been lost. Failure doesn’t have to be fatal. Don’t let your failure define you.