Epic Fail. For those who don’t have teenagers in the home, or else are like I am and just aren’t cool enough to be in-the-know on current lingo, here’s a tip: we no longer have a serious failure – it’s now known as an “epic fail” (and probably has been for awhile … but like I said, how would I know?). While the term is typically associated with labeled photos or funny videos of real-life mishaps and efforts gone awry, it sometimes gets associated with serious matters as well. Here’s one that involved the disciple Peter:
And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” (Mark 14:27-31)
Peter has company with me and countless others. We Christians can certainly talk big and think big, but there are far too many times when the theological rubber meets the world's road and I just fall way short. Peter was notorious as the disciple seemingly with his foot permanently in his mouth. And this was perhaps the pinnacle of such a moment, emphatically pledging his lifeblood only hours later to deny Jesus (just as emphatically!). In his denial, he goes so far as to say, essentially, "May God strike me with lighting if I'm lying about not knowing this man!”
Of course, that's our side of things. But Jesus so beautifully foretells God's side of things in Luke's account of the above scene (Luke 22:31-32). Jesus proactively encourages Peter to "strengthen your brothers" after you (all) do fall away for a time and return. Jesus knows our forthcoming failures, but he lays hold of us anyway! He proactively strengthens us not only against failing, but also in advance for the repenting! Incredible! This is powerfully observed in the amazing transformation that Peter undergoes by receiving the Holy Spirit and walking in the Spirit for years thereafter. Consider these two passages contrasting Peter on either side of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection:
And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:37-38)
Compare that to:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:8-10)
That's the same guy in both passages! The first one—the dozing, unwatchful, weak-fleshed, temptation-target big mouth—is later in life transformed to be on the other side of the warning, encouraging us to "watch out! pray! be on your guard!" That's the voice of experience if there ever was one. I think perhaps Peter's whole life story could be summed up in those last words that "the God of all grace who has called you … will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you." May we understand that, even after we blow it big, God is active and able to restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us!
Peter’s “epic fail” was met with the redemptive grace of Christ whose shed blood justified Peter, and justifies you and me who hold our faith in the Lord Jesus. The cross itself seemed as an “epic fail” to those who stood in witness (Matt 27:39-44). But God’s plan of redemption brought victory of an unimaginable and, well, truly epic proportion. No new lingo or catchphrase will or could be invented to adequately express the unfathomable and glorious victory of Jesus over sin and death in the resurrection. Only our hearts singing out in worship and praise can. I’m looking forward to joining together this Sunday to do just that!