Thursday Morning: 28 Feb 2019 – John 18:1-18 ~ the anatomy of failure

Thursday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (Collect for Purity)

Almighty God: to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid; cleanse the thoughts of my heart through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that I may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name, through Christ my Lord. Amen.

Morning Reading – John 18:1-18 (NLT)

Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested

After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.

Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.

“Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) As Jesus said “I am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”

And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”

“I told you that I am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”

Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”

Jesus at the High Priest’s House

So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up. First they took him to Annas, since he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time. Caiaphas was the one who had told the other Jewish leaders, “It’s better that one man should die for the people.”

Peter’s First Denial

Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in. The woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?”

“No,” he said, “I am not.”

Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself.

Morning Reflection:

The Anatomy of Failure

Peter’s denial of Jesus is legendary – and provides us a window into our own feckless souls – our failures under fire. What set Peter up for failure? Here are four things to consider –

+ Failure to understand that God’s ways were NOT his ways – Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah sent from God, but he couldn’t accept Jesus’ death – he didn’t understand the full implications of his confession. And neither do we, for that matter. No matter how long we live as believers there will always be the element of surprise – when God acts in ways counter to our understanding or expectations. Be prepared.

+ Failure to recognize his own weakness – Jesus warned Peter of his impending denial, but Peter still didn’t see it coming. He was confident in his faith and commitment to Jesus, and so it is with us. We get blindsided, even though we’ve been warned and should have seen it coming. Our strength is drawn from remaining in (abiding in, living in) Jesus, not from ourselves. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.

+ Failure to recognize that he was engaged in a spiritual battle – The betrayal and arrest of Jesus was the beginning of his fight to the death with “the rulers and authorities of the unseen world, the mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12), not simply with the flesh and blood religious and civil leaders of the time. They were simply following the leading of their Father, the devil. The Apostle Paul explains how to defend ourselves – pray (Ephesians 6:18) – put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17).

+ Failure to fear God more than he feared people – When Peter was confronted as a follower of Jesus, his instinctive response was denial and self-preservation – “Not me!” He panicked because he was afraid for his own life, after he seeing what was happening to Jesus. But in so doing, he lost sight of the big picture – his standing in eternity was sacrificed for self-preservation in the moment.

For your consideration:

  • We all fail spiritually at one time or another. What personal, spiritual failures stand out in your memory? What set them up? Please explain.
  • How have you resolved your failures before God? Confession, reconciliation, restitution? Is there anything else that needs to be done? Please explain.
  • Which of the failure items listed above speak directly to the challenges you are currently facing? What do you need to do now? Please explain.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
– 1 John 1:8-9


Morning Prayer:

Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbors as myself. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and forgive me; that I may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

“Forgiven” – Crowder



May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen