Failure Isn’t Fatal

Lou Lotz

Read: John 18:15-27

“You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” (v. 17)

Carl Heinrich Bloch was a ninth-century Danish painter. He painted biblical scenes, at least the way he imagined them. One of his most powerful paintings is Peter’s Denial. It depicts Peter in the courtyard of the high priest, standing by a fire, his head bowed and turned away. People are crowded around a smoldering fire, staring suspiciously at him. One woman is pointing at him, and we imagine her saying, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”

But the most stunning part of the painting is in the background, where we see a walkway outside the home of the high priest. There is an angry crowd moving down the walkway, and there, framed between two pillars, is Jesus. His hands are bound; he is being pushed along by the armed men behind him. Jesus’ head is turned, looking sorrowfully out into the courtyard, at Peter, as if to say, “Are you sure you don’t know me?”

Who could have imagined, at that moment, that Peter would go on to be a champion of faith, a great leader in the early church? Peter fails Jesus, to be sure, but failures are often rungs on the ladder of growth, if only we are humble enough to learn from our mistakes. Failure isn’t fatal. No matter how spectacularly we may have failed, no matter how shameful our denial of discipleship, in Christ there is forgiveness, a clean slate, a new beginning. —Lou Lotz

As you pray, thank God for the gift of forgiveness.