Best of Daily Reflections: Can a Great Failure Become a Great Leader?
They inquired, "By what power or by what name did you do this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them.
In the 2015 Super Bowl game, Seattle coach, Pete Carroll called a pass play that has been judged "the worst call in the history of the National Football League." The pass was intercepted preserving the win for the New England Patriots. With that play the season ended heartbreakingly for Seattle. Coach Carroll, quarterback Russell Wilson, and receiver Richardo Lockette are probably wondering if they’ll ever have a chance to redeem themselves. If not, then they’ll be forever known for their part in the worst play in NFL history.
It brings Peter to mind. A few hours before Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, Peter three times made a similarly bad call, denying that he knew Jesus and was one of his disciples. No doubt he wondered if he would ever have a chance to redeem himself or if he would be forever known as the disciple who made the epically bad call.
A few months later, Peter and John found themselves in a jail cell awaiting their own trial. Peter had healed a lame man, and the Jewish leaders demanded to know who authorized him to do such a thing. This was Peter’s second chance.
The next morning Peter appeared before Israel’s Supreme Court, the most powerful leaders in the land. The court could not deny that the miracle had taken place because the formerly-lame man was leaping and dancing in the temple. But they did demand to know who was behind this healing. Peter knew that the high priest, Annas, and his son, Caiaphas, had ordered Jesus’ crucifixion, and he knew that they could order the same for him. Despite the threat, he faced his fears and declared to the Supreme Court,
- Jesus healed this man not me.
- Jesus is the cornerstone promised in Scripture.
- You killed Jesus, just like the Scriptures said you would.
- God raised Jesus from the dead.
- And the resurrected Jesus is your only hope for salvation!
If Peter hadn't failed in his informal courtyard trial, he wouldn't have succeeded in the formal Supreme Court trial. In God's kingdom, every failure is the entry ramp to growth. In our daily walk with Jesus, failures are not the exception; they're the rule. Plan on them. Peter was the church's first great failure—and he became the church’s first great leader because of the grace of God.
The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is
“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In thinking back over your life, are their events where you wish God would give you a chance to redeem yourself? How would you describe the difference between being politely associated with Jesus and being under reconstruction by Jesus? Into which category would you put yourself right now?
PRAYER: Gracious God, it seems that there’s a difference between knowing about you and actually knowing you. Into which category do I fall today? Make the answer clear to me. And then make it clear to me what I should do next as your faithful follower. Amen.