When Following Feels Like Failure - Radical

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When Following Feels Like Failure

Even when following Jesus feels like failure, there is one victory believers hold fast to- the cross. The victory over death is reason enough to follow Christ, yet oftentimes we need a reminder when the following gets difficult. In this message on Mark Chapter 14, Pastor Eric Saunders reminds Christians of the value in following Jesus, even when it might feel like failure in the moment. When we begin to focus on the perceived failures, we lose sight of all of who Christ is to us. Christ is the Victor, and death has been defeated. As Pastor Eric Saunders unpacks this message, we are reminded to hold fast to our confidence in Christ with the ultimate victory in mind.

  1. Two New Words
  2. Following Jesus When Following Feels Like Failure
  3. Do You Lose Confidence in Jesus?
  4. The Story is Not Over
  5. There is Victory
  6. The Cross is Good News For Us

When Following Feels Like Failure

McLean Bible Church. How we doing this morning? Good? All righty. I look forward to opening God’s word with you this morning. If you don’t know me, my name is Eric. I hail from Arlington, Virginia, the pastor at the Arlington location.

Shout out to NBC Arlington. But I’m looking forward to opening God’s word with you all here, the people at all of our locations and everyone who is watching online. If you got a Bible, go ahead and meet me at Mark 14. Mark 14, we’re going to jump off from verse 53. We’re going to head on to verse 72. Mark 14 53 through 72. So this is what we’re going to do this morning. I’m simply going to read the text, we’re going to pray together and then we’re going to sit beneath God’s word and we are going to hear what he has for us this morning.

Reading Mark

And so with that said, I want to go ahead and read Mark 14, 53 through 72. Here it is. And they led Jesus to the high priest and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. And Peter had followed him in a distance right into the courtyard of the high priest and he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire.

And now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many boy false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him saying, “We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands and in three days I will build another not made with hands.” And yet even about this, their testimony did not agree.

And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make, what is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again, the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the son of man seated at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him saying, “Prophesy.” And the guards received him with blows. And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priests came and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.”

But he denied it saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed and the servant girls saw him and began again to say to bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again, he denied it. And after a little while, the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to evoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus has said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you’ll deny me three times. And he broke down and wept.” And this is the word of God. Now, let’s take a moment to pray together.

Father, we come together as your people today desperately needing your help to hear your word this morning and to apply it. I am freshly aware this morning of how capable I am to change the hearts of men. Only your Holy Spirit does that. God I have nothing in myself to offer people that can give them what we need. Only you have the words of eternal life. And so Father, I pray for the people under the sound of my voice that they will hear you today, that they will sit beneath your word and that they’ll respond in faith and obedience. God, we need you. We need your help. Help us to focus. I pray these things in the name of Jesus. If you agree, say it.

Amen.

Two New Words

Amen. McLean Bible church, I want to introduce you to two new words. I’m going to put two new words in your vocabulary today. Some of you may know it, but I’m guessing that many of you guys don’t know these words. These two words are BIRG and CORF. Say BIRG.

BIRG.

Say CORF.

CORF.

Let me tell you what these words mean. BIRG means, basking in reflected glory. And CORF means, cutting off reflected failure. And no, I did not make up these words. These words are used by sports psychologists to describe fan behavior. You see, our sports fandom is just one small example of how in order to feel good about ourselves, we attached ourselves to winners and we cut ourselves off from people and teams that we perceive to be losers. So let me give you an example. We are basking in reflected glory when we ever watch our favorite team win a game and we say we won as if we got a first down or scored a touchdown or hit a home run or hit a jump shot.

And then we cut off reflective failure when we say instead of we lost, what did we say? We say they lost. You see, we are quick to identify with perceived successes and we refuse to identify with perceived failure. And listen, I found this out when I moved to DC because when I moved to DC, I met Washington Commanders fan. And let me tell you guys, you all are something else because every single off season, I always hear Commander’s fan bragging about their team, about how well they’re going to do. And listen, don’t let a Commander’s team win the first game of the season. Man, all the Commander’s fans I know, when they win that first game, they’re basking in reflected glory. All of the Commander’s gear, the burgundy and gold comes out in full force. But inevitably what is soon to happen is that the losses soon pile up, and very soon the burgundy and gold jerseys go with it.

The jerseys return back to the closet because we are tempted, because we all bask in reflected glory. But we cut off reflected failure. And this leads to the passage today. Now, Mark writes this gospel to a people who have experienced some losses. They’re on team Jesus and they’re living in a time when following Jesus didn’t feel good.

Many commentators say that Mark is writing when Christians were under the thumb of the oppression of the emperor Nero. And during his reign, Christians were mocked, blamed, chained, and even killed. And many were tempted in that moment to take off the team Jesus jersey and to put it back in the closet. And Mark is writing this account of Jesus’ life to encourage these Christians to remain faithful. You see, I love the way that Mark writes this gospel because in this gospel it almost feels like Mark is rushing to the end of Jesus’ life.

For the first 13 chapters of the book of Mark, it almost feels like when you’re reading the book of Mark, that you’re listening to a podcast on double speed, right? So Jesus is a main character. The action is moving. Jesus is busy healing people, teaching people, raising people from the dead, following the father’s will.

And then the moment that we hit chapter 14, the pace slows down considerably. It slows down to a crawl. And it’s almost as if Mark does this because he wants his readers to linger here. You see at Mark 14, we’re in the last days of Jesus’ life before the cross. And in that moment it felt like everything is out of control. And chapter 14, we see Jesus betrayed and deserted and arrested. And in the passage that we’re going to cover today, we see Jesus, the judge of all the earth, standing on trial being judged by sinful men.

Matter of fact, what we see in Mark 14, 53 through 72 is a story within a story. In verses 55 through 65, we see Jesus on trial being cross examined and he’s standing tall. And then that story is sandwiched in between a story about Peter and we see Peter himself undergoing a certain cross-examination. And I love it because Mark puts a story within a story. And whenever Mark does this, he is trying to make a point about what it means to follow Jesus. So the question we should have this morning is this, what point is he trying to make? And here’s where we’re going this morning. A disciple follows Jesus, even when following feels like failure.

Following Jesus Even When Following Feels Like Failure

A disciple follows Jesus, even when following even feels like failure. We’re going to talk about this today, but I want you to look at verse 53. Verse 53 says this, and they led Jesus to the high priest and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. That alone shall help us understand one fact, that people’s consensus isn’t always true. And Peter had followed Jesus at a distance and right into the courtyard of the high priest and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. Let’s pause here. You see up to this point, Peter is basking in the glory of Jesus. He’s been basking in this glory for a while. He’s been wearing the team jersey, he’s been rocking team Jesus with pride. You see, he was a disciple that confessed Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the living God.

You see, he had a front row seat to all of Jesus’s healings. Jesus raising people from the dead, Jesus feeding the thousands. And Peter is confident that Jesus is the longer awaited Messiah for the Jewish people. He’s clearly team Jesus. But very soon his confidence begins to wane and all of this, because of the events of the past few days, you see, Peter thought he knew what the Messiah would come to say and to do.

Peter thought that the Messiah would come and immediately rescue Israel from the oppression of the Romans. And he thought that a Messiah would do this through force. And then all of a sudden he sees Jesus who he thought was a Messiah, he sees him get arrested, and then he sees Jesus get arrested and not even fight back. He sees Jesus led away. And by the time that Peter sees Jesus on trial, Peter, I mean, Peter begins to lose confidence in Jesus to be the Messiah he thought he was.

Even though Jesus kept predicting that all this stuff would happen. All throughout the book of Mark, Jesus kept saying, listen, I’m going to suffer. I’m going to sit beneath the chief priest, the scribes and the Pharisees. I’m going to be killed. I’m going to rise again. And Peter could not believe it. He couldn’t even hear Jesus because he refused to believe that suffering and death could be the path to victory.

So in verse 53, we see Peter following Jesus at a distance. And you get the sense in this moment that Peter is losing confidence in Jesus. He’s falling back. He’s not with Jesus. He’s following from a place of distance. And he’s doing this because Jesus is not doing what Peter expects him to do. And let me tell you this one, that’s not just Peter, that’s us too.

Preach.

Do You Lose Confidence In Jesus?

We do the same thing. It is easy for us to lose confidence in our savior of Jesus when he’s not doing what we think he should do with our lives. How easy it is it for us to distance ourselves from our savior Jesus when we’re frustrated, when he has it come through like we want him to. When Jesus has a fulfilled our hopes and our wishes, NBC let me tell you this, let me remind you, when you are yearning for Jesus to do something and he hasn’t done it yet, let me remind you of something. There is no one in the universe who wants your joy more than Jesus.

Amen.

There’s no one. And there are going to be moments in your life where that sentence that I just said is going to be hard to believe. And in those moments, hear me this morning, you got to trust in faith that Jesus’ motivation to withhold from you is not in order to harm you. It’s because he loves you. So Peter here, we see him in verse 53 and 54, but the scene soon shifts right back to Jesus in verse 55.

See, this whole passage describes how Jesus is led away. He’s led to the high priest’s house through darkness. And what we see here is a mockery of justice. He’s led to the highest priest’s house. And in the court of law, we all know that defendants usually should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in this case, Jesus is already determined to be guilty. He’s presumed guilty, and everybody who was present is simply trying to throw something at the wall and hope it sticks.

And the people in the room can’t even keep their story straight. They hurl mockery, they hurl slander, they hurl lies at Jesus. And Jesus stands there alone and nobody in the room has his back. And the high priest in this story grows frustrated by the lack of progress in the conversation, he stands up, he gets exasperated, and he simply turns to Jesus. And in verse 60 he says this, he says, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” In other words, are you going to defend yourself against all these accusations that are being hurled at you? And what’s incredible here, is that Jesus doesn’t utter a word.

You know how much confidence that takes? You know how much fortitude and strength it takes when people are mocking you, lying about you, for you to stand there and to refuse to defend yourself. But he didn’t say a word. It says here, he was silent and he gave no answer. And so in the face of that silence, the high priest moves on to question number two. This is what he asked. He says, “Are you the Christ the son of the blessed?” In other words, are you the Messiah, the Son of God?

And I love it because in that moment, Jesus stands tall, stands with his chest out, and he declares who he is, he says, “I am. And you’ll see the son of man seated at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Let me tell you why this is significant. Let me break this down for you. You see in this short statement, Jesus combines two Old Testament passages and he declares that these two passages describes the kind of Messiah, the kind of savior I am.

Jesus says, you know the son of man who comes on the clouds in Daniel seven, guess what? That’s me. Do you see in Psalm one 10, the Messiah, the picture of the Messiah seated at the right hand of God? That’s me too, right? The person standing in your midst. That’s me. Let me break it all down to what Jesus is saying.

Let me tell you what he’s saying. Put all this together. Jesus is pretty much saying this, you cannot judge the judge of all the earth unless I let you. He’s said, here, listen, you think your verdict of guilty is going to end me? All your verdict is going to serve to do for me, is exalt me. That’s it. What you’re doing against me is not doing what you think is doing. And in response to that statement, by Jesus, chaos erupts.

They accuse him of blasphemy. He’s mocked, he’s beat up, he’s spit on. And yet listen to this. Every bit of that chaos happens under the sovereign hand of God.

Check this out. These people are throwing everything at Jesus. They’re using all their force, all of their physical force, all of their political force, all of their judicial force, at Jesus trying to stop him. And they’re thinking, we got them. He’s lost. And little do they know that Jesus has them right where he wants them because Jesus will use all of their force to accomplish his will. It’s like jujitsu. I don’t fight, but I got friends who do.

And they say jujitsu is a fighting style that is unique because jujitsu is not about showing your force, it’s about using your opponent’s force. So if using force against you in jujitsu, you just go with it. You don’t try to absorb it, you go with it. You take them down with their momentum. In other words, you use their force to accomplish your will. And I love it because Jesus is doing exactly that here.

Jesus Uses the Force of Men to Accomplish His Will

And this is the beautiful thing about Jesus. Jesus takes all the force that sinful men throw at him and he uses their force to accomplish his will. Listen, their force leads Jesus to the cross and he allows it to happen. But here’s the beautiful thing about Jesus. All of the force that they use against him in anger, he uses it to accomplish his will.

And yet he doesn’t treat them with the anger that they deserve. Jesus goes to the cross giving every single person in that room that mocked him, spit on him, punched him, and lied about him, an opportunity to be saved by him. And this is good news. What a great savior that we have. Jesus in this moment is very much in control, allowing all of this to happen. But if you were there in that moment, it did not look like it.

You see, and to Peter, it feels like Jesus is failing. The narrative switches back to Peter in verse 66, it says, and as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” He denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.”

So catch this, Peter’s in the courtyard, he is right below where they are trying Jesus. It’s likely that Peter could hear the commotion. It’s likely that Peter could hear the punches landing on Jesus’ skin. He hears it all and he begins to be questioned about his affiliation with Jesus. And when he does, he denies Jesus repeatedly. He denies that he even knows the man. In that moment, Peter cuts off reflected failure.

He CORFs three times, and listen, we’ll come back to this, but I want to take a moment to pause here, because in this story we see a couple of things. We see Jesus at the end of his narrative in this story. He is beat up and bloodied. And we see Peter denying that he even knows Jesus. And your question might be today, what are we supposed to gain from this passage? What encouragement is this passage supposed to give us?

Their Story Is Not Over

Let me give you this encouragement today. Here’s the encouragement. The story is not over. The story is not over. In this story, Peter thinks it’s over. You see, in this moment when he sees Jesus being beat up and being scorned and on trial, he quietly removes the Jesus jersey because from his perspective, Jesus is losing. He’s lost all hope.

And here’s the thing, it wasn’t even the worst part of the story yet because Jesus later that day would hang on a Roman cross and die. And guess what? The story still is not over because three days later, Jesus got up out the grave. All of this declaring, listen to this, all of this declaring that the story ain’t over when you think it’s over. It’s not, keep going. Keep following Jesus even when following him feels like failure. Can I give you some encouragement today to keep going?

Yes.

Even when it feels like it’s over?

Yes.

Hear me. Keep following Jesus. Let me give you two reasons today. Number one, because there’s forgiveness on the other side of your failure. There is forgiveness on the other side of your failure. Let’s go back to Peter. Peter completely fails Jesus, even though he said with his chest that he would not. Let me jog back in your memory. At the last supper, Jesus looks all around the table and he says, hey, listen, every single one of you all are going to dessert me. And Peter looks around and he is like, nah, Jesus, you must got me messed up because listen, you must not know me because all these people around here, they’ll leave you.

But I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here 10 toes down. And Jesus just retorts back to Peter and says, Peter, listen. The rooster won’t even crow twice before you deny me three times.

And here we see the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy. Peter completely blows it. He repeatedly denies Jesus and even checkout verses 71 and 72 and says here, but he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him before the rooster crows twice, you’ll deny me three times.

And he broke down and wept. Check this out. Peter is so serious about his denial of Jesus that he swears pretty much he’s saying, God is my witness that I don’t know God in the flesh. This is crazy. And what’s interesting about Mark’s narrative is this, in between the time that the rooster crows and Peter weeps, Luke includes a small bit of information that Mark doesn’t put in here. In the gospel account of Luke, of Jesus’s denial, it tells us that when the rooster crowed, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. You all, can you imagine how Peter felt?

He denied the only one who had ever truly loved him. And when Peter broke down and wept and left, I’m sure he thought that that was the last time he was ever going to see Jesus. But guess what? It wasn’t because Jesus got up. And what I love about this gospel account, in Mark hang with me.

In Mark 16 when Jesus got up from the dead, the ladies, they’re the real ones. They showed up at the empty tomb. All the disciples were hiding. The ladies showed up. And when the ladies showed up, Jesus wasn’t there. There was an angel there. But Jesus left a message to the angel to give to the ladies in order to give to the disciples. And this is what the angel said. Look at Mark 16, 67.

The angel said, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He has risen. He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go,” check this out, Tell the disciples and Peter,” tell the disciples and Peter, “That he’s going before you to Galilee.” I want to pause here because something important is happening here. Here’s the question we should have. Why is Peter’s singled out here?

Why did they use his name? Isn’t that redundant? Isn’t Peter one of the disciples? Why does it say the disciples and Peter? Let me tell you why they likely called out Peter. Because Peter likely didn’t feel like he was a disciple in this moment. Peter felt like he had blown his chance to be a disciple. You see, remember this. Peter disassociated himself for Jesus. He disassociated himself so strongly for Jesus. He cut off Jesus so strongly that in all of his denying of Jesus, he never used Jesus’ name.

He says, I don’t know that man, but I love it because Jesus leaves a message to the angel to give to the woman, to give to Peter and uses Peter’s name specifically. Peter understands that no, listen, I done blew it. I can’t BIRG, I can’t bask in the reflected glory of Jesus’ resurrection because I completely blew it. There’s no coming back from what I’ve done.

Failure Does Not Block God’s Forgiveness

But what I love about this text, and Jesus simply using Peter’s name is him declaring, hey, Peter, you might have failed me, but I’m forgiving you. You might have refused to utter my name, but guess what? I’m going to call out yours. You may have refused to associate yourself with me, but guess what? You can’t stop me from associating with you. And hear me, NBC, this should give you hope this morning because here’s the thing, your failure doesn’t block God’s forgiveness.

It does not. Your failure is not the end of the story. Here’s the thing. Peter had no conception of a savior who suffered and died. But after Jesus’ resurrection, he’s sure glad that Jesus did because that death that Jesus died was for him. And listen, that death was for you as well. Because every single one of us failed God. We denied the God who made us. And as a result of our sin, we stared God in the face and we said, God, we want nothing to do with you. We’d rather live life our own way.

The Bible calls us sin, and if we die in that state, we stand condemned before a holy God. But this is what I love about the gospel. The gospel declares that God did not leave us like that. God, the Father sent God the Son to earth for us.

Jesus came. He lived a perfect life and full of obedience to his father and deserving none of this, he was beaten, mocked, scorned and crucified for what? For us. He died and he didn’t stay dead. He rose again. So that failures like you and me can be forgiven and to be friends with God. Listen, even though we cut off Jesus, he still gives us an opportunity to bask in his glory. You might feel like you can never come back from what you did.

There Is Victory

I don’t know what you’ve done, but you may feel like, man, there’s no hope for me on the other side of my failure. But Jesus in this text declares this. If Peter can come back from what he did, so can you. Your story is not over. Here’s another piece, we can keep on following Jesus, because not only is there forgiveness on the other side of failure, there’s also victory on the other side of apparent defeat. There is victory on the other side of apparent defeat.

Band, you guys can go to come on out. Well, remember Mark is writing a gospel to a people who feel defeated. They’re under the thumb of the emperor Nero. They’re being dragged in front of authorities. They are being beaten, mocked and scorned because of their association with Jesus Christ. And I’m sure many of them, because of the pain that they’re going through, they’re thinking, I have no clue how to go on from this. I know many of them because of the pain that they’re going through, they’re wondering, has Jesus failed me?

And one of the reasons why Mark slows down on this passage in Mark 14 is for these people who are experiencing incredible pain, for them to remember the narrative arc of the life of Jesus Christ. Remember that, Jesus, they’re not alone in this because Jesus too was beaten, blamed, mocked and scorned. He was crucified on the Roman cross. Jesus looked defeated. But guess what? He got up in victory. He did. And this text tells us that those who are following Jesus might be tempted to take off the team Jesus jersey a little bit too early.

I don’t know if you’ve been there before. Life has gotten hard and you are wondering, Jesus, what are you doing? The relationship has failed. The child has wandered, the depression is still there. The pain won’t stop. And you were tempted to say, I don’t know how long I can keep going. Has Jesus failed me? And I love this text because his text is here to tell you that it might get dark and you might feel like the story’s over, but hold on. It is not over yet. Victory is coming.

Amen.

Victory is coming. I was thinking about an analogy for this and I thought about the most unfortunate day, one of the most unfortunate days of my life. It was a day that Super Bowl 51 happened. I grew up a long-suffering Atlanta Falcons fan, and it was the moment in my life when we finally made the Super Bowl. And so there I am that day, I’m excited. I’m wearing my Falcon jersey. I got my one-year-old son at the time. He’s rocking this Falcons onesie. And the game starts out amazing.

Remember at halftime, man, it is looking great. I put my kid down at halftime. It’s time for him to go to bed. And right before he goes to sleep, I look at him and I say, “Hey, tomorrow we are going to be Super Bowl champions.” Even though I never caught a pass, scored a touchdown, called a play. But if you know anything about that Super Bowl, you know this. In the third quarter, it felt like the game was all but over and the Falcons were going to win. The score with 21 minutes left in the game was 28 to three. And in that moment, the Patriots had a 0.3 chance to win the game. The score was 28 to 3. 28 to three.

And listen, in the third quarter, that score 28 to three was an object of shame for Patriots fans. I heard many stories of Patriots fans seeing that score on the scoreboard and they got up and left the game thinking that the game was over.

But what’s crazy about it is after the comeback 28 to three ceased to be an object of failure, it became a symbol of glory. I remember seeing after the game Patriots fans coming out with 28 to three T-shirts. There was one fan who actually got 28 to three tattooed on her arm. How did the phrase 28 to three change from being a object of failure to a symbol of glory? Let me tell you why. Because of victory. In the third quarter, 28 to three was a symbol of defeat. And 20 minutes later, they realized when they won the game, that 28 to three wasn’t a symbol of defeat. It was actually the moment where the victory began. McLean Bible church, let me bring it home today. Why is the cross good news for us?

The Cross Is Good News For Us

Why? Because when Jesus was being crucified on the cross, everybody who was standing under Jesus while he was crucified on the cross, it felt like defeat. It felt like failure. It felt like the story was over. And guess what? Three days later when Jesus got up, they realized that the cross didn’t mean to defeat. That was the moment that the victory began. And listen, and when you are attempting to believe that Jesus somehow failed you, he let you down.

He’s allowed pain to come into your life, I want you to simply do this, from the other side of the resurrection, look at the cross. Because the cross declares that Jesus can’t fail you. And the only reason you think that Jesus has failed you is because you’re looking at your circumstances and you think that your story is over. But guess what? It’s only the third quarter.

You see if Jesus can take the cross and on the other side of it, turn into victory, he could take whatever you’re struggling with right now and he could do the same as that thing. He can. You may feel down on that right now. You may be in pain right now. You may be suffering right now because you have chosen to obey Jesus even when everything in life tells you to give in. But the cross declares, hear me today, the story is not over. Hold on. If there’s victory on the other side of the cross, there is victory over anything that you’re walking through right now for the Christian. You are not alone either because the same one that endured the cross, going to get shame, is sitting right beside you.

The same power that fueled his comeback, the same power that roses him from the dead dwells in you today. And he’s giving you the energy to keep going even when it feels like failure. Because guess what? It just feels like it. It just feels like it, it is not failure. In Christ, victory is coming. You won’t be disappointed. All right. Here in our locations, I want to give you an opportunity to meditate on a set of questions.

A Prayer Thanking God

And what’s going to happen is after this set of questions at each of our locations, we’ll take the Lord’s supper together. But with that said, I’m going to take a moment to pray and then we’ll do it. Let’s pray together. Father, we love you and we are grateful for your word. We are grateful for the fact that the story is not over when we think it’s over. Thank you so much for the fact that you give us forgiveness on the other side of our failures, and thank you so much that there is victory on the other side of apparent defeats.

Thank you so much that the trial of Jesus wasn’t the final story. The crucifixion wasn’t the end of the story. Thank you so much that Jesus got up. And I pray, God, that we’ll reflect on that and that our lives will be transformed by that fact. That we will follow you even when it feels like failure because that’s just our eyes lying to us. Victory is coming. Father, we love you. We thank you for the cross. I pray these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Eric Saunders is the Campus Pastor at the McLean Bible Church Arlington campus, having previously served in pastoral roles in Raleigh, North Carolina and in Hampton Roads, Virginia. He is married to Jenique and they have two children, Harry (Eli) and Roman.

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