Failure! What a haunting word. No one deliberately sets out to experience it. As Bulwer-Lytton has said, “In the lexicon of youth, which Fate reserves for a bright manhood, There is no such word As—fail!”

But somewhere between youth and old age we discover not only the word, but its full meaning. “How are the mighty fallen!”

Once there were twelve men. Men picked by Jesus. Men who heard Him speak. Men who saw His miracles. Men who knew He was the Christ. Men who had a mission. And with that mission came duty. To fail in duty is unthinkable. But it happened. Even in the inner-circle of the disciples of Jesus. There in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus told Peter, James, and John, “Remain here, and watch with me. ” Later he would say, “Watch and Pray.” The words are clear. The duty is plain. “Watch and pray.” But it’s one thing to know what one’s duty is, and another thing to do it.

On this night so long ago, the disciples failed. They went to sleep. Sleeping sentries! One cannot watch or warn when at his post of duty he sleeps. It is always a very grave offense if a sentry be found sleeping at his post. Often the penalty for that is death. What will Jesus do with these failures? Will he put them to death? Will he cast them off forever? Do they not deserve whatever their sentence may be? But Jesus always astonishes us. He says, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).

Never was there a more kindly allowance. Deserving death, the disciples receive understanding. What a Savior!

Larry Culbreath
Hope church of Christ
Hope, AR
Bulletin Digest (Nov. 2005)

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