Jackson dreamed of becoming a US Navy Seal from early childhood—an ambition that led to years of physical discipline and self-sacrifice. He eventually faced grueling tests of strength and endurance including what’s referred to by trainees as “hell week.”
Jackson was physically unable to complete the exhaustive training, and reluctantly rang a bell to inform the commander and other trainees of his choice to leave the program. For most, this would feel like failure. But in spite of the extreme disappointment, Jackson was later able to see his military failure as preparation for his life’s work.
The apostle Peter experienced his own form of failure. He boldly proclaimed that he would remain loyal to Jesus even to prison or death (Luke 22:33). Yet later he wept bitterly after he denied that he knew Jesus (vv. 60–62). But God had plans beyond his failure. Prior to Peter’s denial, Jesus informed him, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18; see also Luke 22:31–32).
Are you struggling with a failure causing you to feel unworthy or unqualified to move on? Don’t let the ringing bell of failure cause you to miss God’s greater purposes for you.
The place where Jesus questioned His disciples about His deity (Matthew 16:13)—Caesarea Philippi—is significant. It’s located at the base of Mt. Hermon, some twenty-five miles north of Capernaum. It was a center of idolatry, dedicated to the worship of various gods including Baal, the Canaanite fertility god of storm and rain; Pan, the Greek god of the forest; and the emperor Augustus Caesar. Jesus first asked His disciples what others were saying about Him (vv. 13–14). Then He made it personal by directing His question to His own disciples: “Who do you say I am?” (v. 15). To the world, Jesus was merely a great man—like John the Baptist, Elijah, or Jeremiah (vv. 14–16)—but He wasn’t God. Yet Jesus spoke of Himself as “the Son of Man” (v. 13), an exalted Messianic title used exclusively to refer to Himself (Matthew 9:6; 12:8; 13:41; 19:28; 24:30; 26:64; Luke 21:27).