Passage: John 18:15-27
Speaker: Steve Hands
Series: Core Values – Discipleship
Transformed By Failing To Follow
Love doesn’t always fix things for people. Sometimes love means letting people fail. Because some lessons can only be learned after falling flat on our face. In John 18:15–27, Jesus allows Peter to fall flat on his face at his denial not to destroy him but to redeem him. Peter falls on his face in denying Jesus that he might trust in Jesus’ promises and not his own. Peter falls on his face fighting people so that he might learn to shepherd people. Similarly, we also are transformed as we move from denying Jesus to trusting his promises, from fighting to shepherding.
First Peter falls on his face in denying Jesus that he might trust in Jesus’ promises and not his own(John 18:15–24). Peter’s pathetic denial of Jesus contrasts with Jesus’ bold witness here. Why? While Peter trusted in the power of his own promises, Jesus trusted in the power of the promises of God. Peter has promised to follow Jesus to death (13:37), and he follows Jesus after the arrest (18:15). But his power to fulfill that promise runs dry when confronted by a servant girl, so he denies Jesus at a charcoal fire. In contrast Jesus witnesses boldly before the greatest powers of his day, the high priest, standing confident. His confidence comes because of the power of God’s promises, the word that he had taught openly in the synagogues already. And sometimes we must fall on our face trying to fulfill our promises for God before we realize the power of God’s promises for us. It is only by faith in those promises that God’s purposes will be fulfilled.
Also, Peter falls on his face fighting people so that he might learn to shepherd people(John 18:25–27). When Jesus was arrested, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest (18:10). In the courtyard a relative of that servant recognizes Peter and confronts him (18:26). Yet Peter denies Jesus a third time. Three denials around a charcoal fire (18:18). Yet the story does not end here. After Jesus dies and rises again, he reinstates Peter three times around a charcoal fire (21:9, 15–19). And the call to Peter is to shepherd (21:15–17). Peter develops and extends this call in 1 Peter 5:1–11.
So what? We are transformed when we fall on our face in following Jesus. Peter intended to follow Jesus (18:15) then denied Jesus three times. And sometimes we fail to follow — but those failures are transforming opportunities to encounter his grace. When we deny Jesus because we trust in our power to fulfill our promises for him, we can begin trusting in the power of his promises to do his work. When we fail Jesus by fighting people that we are to embrace, we can learn through those failures to shepherd and care for the people that Jesus loves so tenderly. May we as a church not be afraid to fail, but we may be transformed even when encounter his grace when we fail to follow Him.