John 21:15-19 New American Standard Bible
The Love Question
15 Now when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you [a]love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I [b]love You.” He *said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16 He *said to him again, a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you [c]love Me?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I [d]love You.” He *said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He *said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you [e]love Me?” Peter was [f]hurt because He said to him the third time, “Do you [g]love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I [h]love You.” Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep.
Our Times Are in His Hand
18 Truly, truly I tell you, when you were younger, you used to put on your belt and walk wherever you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will put your belt on you, and bring you where you do not want to go.” 19 Now He said this, indicating by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had said this, He *said to him, “Follow Me!”
The Word of God for the Children of God.
Adeste Fideles! Laeti Triumphantes! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
The Gift of Failure
“You’ve got to crack a few eggs to make an omelet. Sometimes you’re the eggs; a baker’s dozen, But dang it, I’ll be the finest of all omelets one day.
Failure is a fact.
Repeated Failure is a fact.
Recovery from repeated failures – not so much a fact but a condition for living.
We could sugar coat it and dress it up as something out of my control but that won’t tell the whole story.
We fail and we repeatedly fail.
Sometimes privately, but most times our failures are cannon fodder for the public eye, a place for others to publicly point their fingers and opinions in our general directions – at every opportunity I remember I am embarrassed about it and the thought of repeatedly coming back empty handed makes me nauseous.
Failure is an inevitable part of life that everyone experiences at some point.
It is a natural occurrence that shapes our character develops our resilience, and teaches us valuable lessons that can eventually, by God’s Grace, lead to success.
Many people see failure as the end of their journey, but in reality, it is just the beginning of a new one.
Failure is an opportunity to learn, grow, and become better.
By embracing failure, we open ourselves to new experiences, perspectives, and opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable.
Failure is not a measure of our worth as a person.
We are not defined by our failures but by how we respond to them.
The fear of failure can prevent people from pursuing their dreams, trying new things, and taking risks, risking humiliation and public defeat and reputations.
But it’s important to remember that failure is necessary for success.
Even When We Do Everything Right, We Can Still And Do Fail
Despite our very best efforts and intentions, we may still experience repeated failures of various and diverse degrees and measures and resultant setbacks.
This can be a brutal reality, the more times we fail, the harder we fail, and the harder we fall but we must understand success is not always within our control.
Many believe success results only from remembering what our parents taught us, their discipline, hard work, determination, and making the right decisions.
While these qualities are essential, they do not guarantee success.
No matter how well-prepared or competent we are, sometimes things don’t work out as planned.
Whether due to internal or external factors, wrong timing, or bad luck, bad calls by the umpires, failure can occur even when we have done everything “right.”
By learning that failure does not define us, by embracing this perspective and focusing on the process rather than the outcome, we can develop a healthier relationship with failure and be more “God” resilient in the face of setbacks.
Doing so can increase our chances of success, success being not letting failure win, and experience greater fulfillment in our personal and professional lives.
Peter’s Very Public “Catastrophic” Failure in the Courtyard
Luke 22:61-62 New American Standard Bible
61 And then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
These verses are right after Peter has denied that he knew him the third time, and thus fulfilled the prophesy earlier in the evening.
The Peter that we see here is a very different Peter than we see Peter become later in the scriptures.
This Luke 22:61-62 Peter’s world is shattered, and what he has trusted in for so long seems to be lost.
He did so many things, he said so many strong, brave, bold and courageous things because he trusted in Jesus as the Christ, but now that seems to be gone, he’s in a severe state of spiritual crisis–not sure what to do, or how to stop it.
God’s Gift of Grace For Every Failure
Luke 24:28-35 English Standard Version
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
The New Testament mentions twice that the risen Christ appeared to Peter: once in this passage from Luke 24 :34 and again in 1 Corinthians 15:5.
Why would the poster boy for failure Peter, of all people, receive such special treatment from the writers of the New Testament Canon?
After all, not long before this event on the Road to Emmaus, Peter had quite severely failed himself, his friends, his family, his Master in His darkest hour.
Just before Jesus was arrested, He told Peter that a trial lay ahead:
“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.” Peter responded, rather audaciously, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”
But Jesus knew Peter’s heart: “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me” (Luke 22:31-34).
As it turned out, Peter heart and soul were not as ready to face prison and death as he had boasted, blustered and falsely allowed himself, everyone else around him within ear shot, to have imagined – quite a public display of false bravado.
We all know now, as did Jesus that very day, that Peter would, did indeed go on to very publicly and very loudly deny his Lord three times in the courtyard.
And afterward, when Peter recalled what Jesus had predicted and realized what he had done, he was suddenly reduced to tears (Matthew 26:75; Luke 22:62).
So why does the New Testament emphasize that the risen Lord Jesus appeared specifically to the afore named Peter – why are our eyes, ears and souls here?
Certainly not because Peter deserved it more than anybody else.
But it’s fair to wonder if Jesus appeared to Peter because in these make or break moments, the resurrected Jesus knew Peter needed it more than anybody else.
Peter knew that he had blown it completely—and yet while Peter had denied Jesus, Jesus didn’t deny Peter.
What mercy, what goodness, what kindness, what grace, what compassion, what forgiveness, what Grace that Jesus still chose to go to the cross for His flawed disciple and then specially chose to make a special appearance to him!
We have stumbled. We have been deniers, deserters, swaggerer’s.
We know that we do not deserve for God to specifically, especially, come to us.
And yet as we go to God’s word and as we open our lives to its truth, it’s almost as though Jesus comes, sits right down beside us, and says, “I’m here. I LOVE you, I want to speak to you. I want to assure and reassure you. I want to forgive you. I want you to be able to forgive yourself and I want to send you out in My power.”
John 21:15-19 English Standard Version
Jesus and Peter
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Peter knew he had failed Jesus.
No one had to tell him twice.
But the resurrected Jesus used that catastrophic failure to help Peter grow.
How can Jesus use failure for our spiritual growth?
Failure in whatever measure or degree is never fatal in the eyes of Jesus.
God’s Gift of Failure teaches us that we have an answer – we need a Savior.
God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are the only answer!
From the inconceivable depths of his failure, Peter suddenly, repeatedly and quietly heard the word “love” from the lips of the resurrected Jesus again.
Jesus was not testing him but reaffirming His unconventional, everlasting love for Peter by gently and repeatedly asking him to reaffirm his own love for Jesus.
Peter also learned the answer to the most important question on his mind – that Jesus had cast him aside, not forsaken him, and had not given up on him.
Jesus came directly to him and called him to lead again.
Jesus offered Peter an opportunity to lead by dying to himself.
Jesus even predicted that in his death Peter would glorify God.
Peter had wandered, so Jesus had to get him back on track.
As Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, He calls all of the shots in our lives.
Failure of whatever degree and measure mankind can generate, can bring us back to the Lord, who finds us and gives us another opportunity to follow him.
From behind our own eyes, behind our own thoughts and application of justice, from behind our own reluctance to forgive as Jesus did, Peter didn’t deserve one ounce of the compassion he received from Jesus—and honestly, neither do we.
Our failures show us time and time again that we are immeasurably far from being .0000000000000000000000000000000001% worthy of God’s grace.
But in His mercy, He is pleased to give it anyway—and then give some more.
He is just that kind of Best Forever Friend. (Proverbs 17:17, 18:24, 27:17)
He is just that kind of God. (Isaiah 53:5)
He is just that kind of Savior. (Romans 5:7-10)
And you and me, like Peter, get to be His beloved disciple.
Acts 10:34-43 English Standard Version
Gentiles Hear the Good News
34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Later though, after Christ has been resurrected and returned, Peter transforms, and instead of just being an advocate, believer in, and supporter of Christ’s teachings, he starts becoming more like him… taking on his characteristics.
To be clear, I’m not trying to knock Peter at all.
He was an amazing man, and stronger than I will likely ever be.
I think his story is highly instructive and valuable because it shows us so much growth, and it is a transition that I think maybe we all have to make in our lives.
We have to move beyond just praising God and believing that God can do anything, to believing that WE
“can do all things through Christ which strengthens” us (Philippians 4:13).
That’s a tough transition.
Although we have a lot of pride to believe we know which way things should go, having confidence and a steadfast and immovable faith in ourselves is different than, and mostly opposite to, our pride–especially when we have to be humble enough to kick failure to the curb, to listen to God’s plan instead of our own plan.
Peter learned God was always going to be there for him even when he wasn’t always going to be physically present.
He learned that he could be powerful and lead and help and work to feed God’s sheep, even without his Lord and mentor beside him.
He still worshipped and praised God, but now he worked and loved and spread the gospel further, not just as a follower, but as a leader of others.
Today, let’s try working on that same transition.
Let’s realize how powerful we can be, echelons beyond our failures, as we work to forgive ourselves, love and have mercy upon ourselves, to do the Lord’s will.
Let’s stop ourselves every now and then from knocking ourselves to the ground, talk to God, discern what He wants to do for us, by us, to help us feed his sheep.
Let’s not deny our beliefs out of fear of failure or shame.
Let’s not deny ourselves access to the Gift of God’s Grace and His Favor.
Let’s stand up for God, and share our hope and blessings with others.
Let’s walk for awhile, sit for a while longer with the resurrected Jesus.
Listen to His Words. (Hebrews 4:12)
Digest His Words. (Psalm 34:8)
Receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit that we may recall the works of the Lord!
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Psalm 34 The Message
34 I bless God every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise.
2 I live and breathe God;
if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:
3 Join me in spreading the news;
together let’s get the word out.
4 God met me more than halfway,
he freed me from my anxious fears.
5 Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from him.
6 When I was desperate, I called out,
and God got me out of a tight spot.
7 God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.
8 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.
9 Worship God if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.
10 Young lions on the prowl get hungry,
but God-seekers are full of God.
11 Come, children, listen closely;
I’ll give you a lesson in God worship.
12 Who out there has a lust for life?
Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?
13 Guard your tongue from profanity,
and no more lying through your teeth.
14 Turn your back on sin; do something good.
Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!
15 God keeps an eye on his friends,
his ears pick up every moan and groan.
16 God won’t put up with rebels;
he’ll cull them from the pack.
17 Is anyone crying for help? God is listening,
ready to rescue you.
18 If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.
19 Disciples so often get into trouble;
still, God is there every time.
20 He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone;
not even a finger gets broken.
21 The wicked commit slow suicide;
they waste their lives hating the good.
22 God pays for each slave’s freedom;
no one who runs to him loses out.
Lord, forgive me when I fail, and help me to learn that even my failure can be used for your glory. Keep me focused on you, and help me to serve you faithfully. In Jesus,
Adeste Fideles! Laeti Triumphantes! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.