Reframing Failure | John 13:21-14:14

June 2, 2019 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: REFRAMING JESUS | Portraits of Glory from John's Gospel

Topic: Gospel Passage: John 13:21–14:14

Introduction | Failure

Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work,Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel. In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.

What is Failure? How have you experienced failure? How have you dealt with it? Is failure just if something hurts or doesn’t feel good? How do we know what failure looks like? Sometimes we can see failure clearly played out in a big sage or scale, a team loses a player fails at his role. Failures can be collective, and failure can be individual. Sometimes our failures are external and other times something is happening is at a heart or relational level. Divorce, broken relationships, etc. Sometimes our failures can become so great they begin to define us in ways that make us think not only have “I failed.” but “I am a failure”. How are we going to process things in those moments? What happens when we’re meet in our failure with kindness or condemnation? In order to have an accurate understanding of failure I think we have to know what success looks like. We find all sorts of ways to define what success looks like or believe we have succeeded. If the ditch of being defined by our failure exists we have to recognize we can too easily place our identity in how we’ve succeeded. So we’ll define success down to what we know we’re capable of accomplishing. We need to reframe success and failure around our original created purpose. If you’ve got a car up on blocks in the front yard it may be succeeding in being a lawn ornament but it was created to drive so it’s failing. Christians believe we were create in the image of God for a purpose. That purpose is to bring God glory and to experience Joy in being in relationship with God and His people as we cultivate culture of flourishing. If that is what we are to be succeeding at how are we doing collectively and individually? Fail!

Why do we fail to be who are created and called to be? Sin. One definition of sin is to “miss the mark” literally failing to accomplish what we are made for. So it’s not simply “did I succeed in not doing anything I’ve defined as wrong” but “have I failed to be and live as God has called me to be and do?” Each of us has failed in this way. None of us have succeeded (not because God made us wrong but we’ve rejected God) 

There are consequences to failure (and sin) including pain and death. Yet God has met us in our failure and given us a path back home and back to who we’re called to be. Today in Jesus we are Reframing Failure.

PART I |Judas Failure | John 13:21-30

John 13:21-30 | 21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

The disciples have gathered for the Passover meal (Celebrating God successfully saving His people from slavery) But now they are disoriented and confused as Jesus has just told them he’s going to die, someone is going to betray him. This doesn’t seem to match up with the Savior God who feeds thousands, calms storms, and raises the dead. Surely if God has come in Jesus to save His people suffering, dying and experiencing betrayal must be failure. Even when Jesus says “one of you is going to do it” they’re confused, it’s not clear who it was referring too. It’s not like everyone was “Oh yeah, totally Andrew”.

Portrait of Judas (Failure to Receive God’s Kindness/Love) - Judas had the outward appearance of being one of the faithful. Judas gave no reason to believe he was the one, everything looked good on the outside. Consider the scene. John is close enough to Jesus he’s leaning on him. Peter has some distance because he’s got to motion over to John to ask Jesus a question for him. But look at how close Judas is. Right next to Jesus. In a seat of honor right next to the host of the meal. So close he could hand him a dipped morsel of bread. This was actually a symbol of not just honor but friendship. On the night Judas is going to betray Jesus, Jesus honors Judas and physically enacts his friendship with Judas. He loved his the very end. Even Judas. I would have responded differently with Judas. Jesus is patient and kind in the face of impending betrayal. Judas totally fails Jesus this same night. Yet is kind Jesus is to the very end! He’s giving Judas an opportunity to receive honor and friendship, this is a final act of love from Jesus to Judas.

Judas response to the kindness of Jesus and honor from him not with repentance but with rejection. Judas is at a decision point, continues with his betrayal or repent and ask forgiveness. Judas fails to follow Jesus and willingly chooses to be a tool of satan to betray Jesus. Satan is present and possessive but make no mistake Judas is willing. He’s received kindness and responded with rejection. He doesn’t have the love of Jesus. Judas had experienced life with, been taught, and even served by Jesus. He has recently cleaned feet. We need to know that not all failure is created equal. His failure to follow was intentional opposition and it was total, leading to his destruction. It’s too easy to say “don’t be a Judas”. We can consider how we’d respond as Jesus, but the reality is we all have some Judas in us. We’ve all received so much goodness and kindness from God. We cannot presume on God’s kindness towards to be equated with being in good standing with God. God’s patience with us is for our repentance. God has been so kind to us, God has been so kind to you. God has been honorable to you. How has God been good to you? How have you responded? When have you had a hard heart toward God willingly choosing yourself instead?

Judas leaves and disciples don’t even get what’s happened. Judas willingly left the warmth and comradery of the table for darkness outside. He’s alone and isolated when he could have been part of the kingdom.

PART II | Redefining Success| John 13:31-35

John 13:31-35 | 31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

With Judas gone, Jesus focuses on His disciples. Jesus knows He’s departing as well and he’s trying prepare them for his physical absence with what their disposition is. Jesus purpose of leaving is not a failure, but a success in glorifying God. THE picture of God being glorified is the Cross. That is what is about to happen, to display God’s love for His people, to deal with sin and death…. God will be glorified in a great act of that looks like failure but is actually the greatest success. But how are they/we to know what/who we are be in response to this? Jesus sets expectation for what things should look like. Gauging success or failure for living as one of His disciples will be measured by a new law, loving one another as Jesus has loved us. We are to love one another as Jesus has loved us. No big deal. I am sure we can nail this right?! Fail again!

We’ll fail miserably at this if we define love wrongly. We need a comprehensive understanding. It’s not simply emotive but its action. It’s not simply positive affirmation, but admonishment. It’s comfort in suffering, but it’s also confronting sin. It’s felt, but it’s also taught. It’s meeting people in there hurt, but also walking with them toward healing. Where do we see this or understand this definition most fully?In Jesus. Who loves His people perfectly. Love is not always nice, sometimes it’s really hard, sometimes it’s painfully difficult. This command of Jesus is given because we won’t do it naturally. We cannot and won’t do this on our own.

The more we recognize the depth of our own sin, the more we recognize the love of the Saviour; the more we appreciate the love of the Saviour, the higher His standard appears; the higher His standard appears, the more we recognize in our own selfishness, our innate self-centeredness, the depth of our own sin. – DA Carson

Good luck living this out! None of us this side of glory can claim we’re perfectly keeping this command. Yet, Jesus doesn’t say “Never mind about that one, or don’t try because it will be hard.” He calls us to the new (revealed) standard of love. You want to know Love, look to Jesus and how He loves us even in our sin and failure, with mercy, grace, discipline and compassion. Our community will be marked by the Gospel of Jesus so it will be one that is characterized by love. How we love one another is the true mark of discipleship to the rest of the world. We can only love on another like Jesus when we’ve been loved by Jesus.

PART III | Failure of the Faithful |John 13:36-14:7

John 13:36-14:7 | 36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Portrait of Peter –(Failure of faithfulness) Jesus has given them instructions about how they’re supposed live and love as disciples and Peter want’s to know where Jesus is going. See Peter wants to follow Jesus (unlike Judas) that is the big difference. He has been loved by Jesus and has a heart that desires faithfulness. Jesus puts the breaks on, you’ll get to the final destination… but not yet. Peter claims loyally follow Jesus to the death for the reason of being with/staying with Jesus now. If life is found with Jesus then why would we want to delay? Besides if we’re commanded to love others like we’ve been loved by Jesus, and that’s hard, why now be in glory now? Peter’s bold, impulsive, and he doesn’t want delayed gratification. But another big issue here is Peter’s failure to be self-aware. Peter thinks he’s noble, faithful, and self-sacrificial. We’re usually not the best assessors of ourselves. Jesus knows Peter better than he knows himself. Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves. We all fail at self-awareness. Why? We think more highly of ourselves and our ability to succeed as disciples than we should. We overestimate our ability to serve and follow Jesus faithfully. Our true willingness to sacrifice. So we’re bold in what we say we’ll do or what our commitment level is. We think we’ll hold on no matter what, we’ll never let go! Peter will fail to remain faithful to Jesus, yet He will be redeemed by Jesus’ work and restored to Jesus’ mission. It’s so easy to have good intentions during a feast with friends. But what about when it’s actually time endure? When there is real pressure to follow Jesus, when there is real adversity? Alone, We fail like a house of cards. 

We fail at being faithful, Jesus knows we’re going to fail in more ways than we can imagine. He knows where we are going to be faithless and in the same breath as letting Peter know his failure He gives him hope. There is a gospel turn in Verse 38-14:1 How has God in Jesus answered our failure? The failure He knows about before we’ve even considered it?LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED!

Jesus is the one with the troubled heart, He’s the one who is about to suffer, Jesus is going to have it worse than any of these guys over the next 24 hours. He could have easily been “I’m going to suffer and die while you all fail me… so whatever anxiety or shame you’re facing isn’t that big of a deal.” But instead, He’s still here caring for His people. He knows our failure(s) is going to give us anxiousness and unsettled hearts. His answer for our troubled heart is to trust God (and Trust Jesus as God) My answer for your faithlessness is my faithfulness. Faithfulness to meet you in your failure and to successfully bring you home.

You’re going to fail, you’re going to fear, but fear not, you cannot follow me now, but know where I am going is a place of great promise. Promise of being home (Father’s house) Heaven where God dwells, and because there is a room (a place of dwelling) for us we’ll be with God. Jesus is going to prepare a place for these disciples and us as disciples. Promise of His Return and our gathering with the people of God. Promise of His Presence. The purpose of being “home” is us dwelling with God again. This is the destination. A place prepared for us with God where we have a specific place of dwelling. How is this happening? How is the place prepared for us? Jesus work on the Cross, death, resurrection, ascension is what prepares this place for us. So when we say all failure is not created equal we see two disciples will clearly fail Jesus, one is condemned for active total betray, the other comforted that Jesus redeems and restores failures who trust in Him. Total failure (Judas) contrasted with Peter’s failure which is redeemed and restored. “You will deny me three times, but take comfort.”

Portrait of Thomas (Failure to see the Finish line) is now asking “How do we get to God?!” How can we succeed in getting to our destination, if we don’t even know what the destination is?” Thomas is failing to see the path laid out before him. Jesus – “you’ll fail every time. God has come to you.” I am the way (path) of truth and life. Jesus is the way to know God because He is the Truth of God and He is where life with God is. Jesus isn’t a trail blazer making a path where there isn’t one, Jesus is the path. No one can successfully come home, everyone will fail to make it home with God without the work of Jesus. Jesus is making a universal call (for everyone) to join an exclusive kingdom. Receive the love of Jesus, let Jesus succeed in your place… Or reject the kindness of Jesus. Both are failures but one in the mercy and grace of God who receives us as failures. Alone we will fail to remain faithful and be without recourse totally separated from God. When we have trusted Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life, that leads us to a forever future with our Heavenly Father, our hearts don’t have to be troubled in our failures of faithfulness because Jesus is preparing life with Him for us. From now on…. Means we are secure… even in our failures.

PART IV | Jesus’ Works Our Works |John 14:8-14

John 14:8-14:14 | Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Portrait of Philip- (Failure to be satisfied in Jesus) is failing to see that God is Jesus. Philip is now asking the question we all want to answered “Just show us God! That’s what we all really want.” To see God, experience God and know He’s present. That His love never fails, etc. Philip is actually getting closer. He’s right God is the only one who will be enough for you. God is the only one who never fails. Only God is what will truly satisfy. Jesus says you’ve seen my works and heard my words. That is what God has revealed to you. Believe=Trust reliance on, etc. Jesus as God IS what will truly satisfy. For us, Jesus is to be enough. Enough to know we are part of the family, that we have been made new, and we are forgiven.

In Jesus, is it enough to merely be forgive failures? or do we want more, to succeed as new creations? In Christ, we are forgiven failures made new to succeed as servants.

When our faith is in Jesus, our trust in Jesus we will be people who are used to work in the way Jesus works to bring glory to God. We can love as Jesus has loved we can follow as Jesus has followed, we can be restored, and restore when there is failure, etc. When Jesus is enough, we are empowered to keep working for Him. Not for our acceptance or for our success, but because Jesus has succeeded for us and we are accepted. Because Jesus has taken our failure for us on the Cross we can be freed to work for Him.

Jesus has promised us fruitfulness in bringing God glory and pointing others to Jesus. If our goals are God’s goals and our pursuit is God’s glory and not our own then we cannot fail because we’re in line with a God who doesn’t fail. Our path to finish with our Father is found in Jesus who has perfectly succeeded in our place where we have failed, so we can keep working for Him when we Trust Jesus.

More in REFRAMING JESUS | Portraits of Glory from John's Gospel

September 1, 2019

Reframing Restoration | John 21

August 18, 2019

Reframing Doubt | John 20:24-31

August 4, 2019

Reframing Security | John 20:19-23