– Jack Hyles
The Apostle Peter
I could use my own life as an example of being a disgrace, but then disgrace can lead to God’s grace, and that’s what it did for me, but also for the Apostle Peter who denied Jesus three times, even cursing on the last occasion to prove he wasn’t a follower of Christ. Enter the Lord Jesus Christ, appearing to Peter, and by the way, the other disciples who abandoned Him at the cross. Only John stayed, but that was to care for Jesus’ mother, so Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him; three times in fact. Perhaps once for every time He denied Jesus. Peter would go on to boldly preach one of the greatest sermons in the New Testament church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Peter’s denial wasn’t his last chapter. The last chapter, church tradition holds, was where he died for the glory of God, being crucified upside down on a cross, feeling unworthy to die as our Lord died on a cross.
The Prophet Jonah
The Prophet Jonah found out that there’s nowhere to run or hide from God’s presence, so when God sends a great fish to swallow Jonah, Jonah sees it as the end, but think about this; if not for the great fish, Jonah would have drown in the sea. His life would have been over, and for Jonah, he was sure it was the end, however God had other plans. The great fish releases Jonah after three days and nights to go and witness to Nineveh, even though Nineveh was one of Israel’s greatest enemies. God was making a point that He is the God of all nations and He will be their God if they repent and believe. Repentance and belief is the same message Jesus brought (Mark 1:15) when He began His earthly ministry. Nineveh did repent due to Jonah’s preaching, but he pouted about it. Thankfully, for Nineveh, Jonah’s disgrace in the sea was not his final chapter.
King David sat upon the zenith of the nation Israel’s power and territory. Israel had never achieved, and would never again reach the influence that Israel had when David reigned. Shortly after King Solomon’s reign, the kingdom began to erode until it finally split into two kingdoms (Israel and Judah). While David ruled Israel, it was at it’s most powerful state, but when David lusted after another man’s wife and took her for himself, thus committing adultery, the woman became pregnant. Then David conspired to have Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah killed, and so he compounds his sin by committing adultery and then murder as he orders Israel’s commander, Joab, to make sure Uriah is killed (2nd Sam 11:5-17). David and Bathsheba lose their child, but God forgives David and he is later called, “A man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22).
Of course, Jesus never failed, but today we have the luxury of looking back at the cross and seeing why Jesus needed to die for our sins, but the first century Jew was looking for a military Messiah who would overthrow the Roman occupiers and take back their nation. There were a few times where Jesus had to withdraw Himself because they wanted to take Him by force and make Him their king, but Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. It is a heavenly kingdom, so the Jewish crowds who just a week earlier received Him in glory, shouting, “Hosanna in the Highest Heaven” (Matt 21:9), would the very next week, shout, “Crucify him, crucify him” (Mark 15:13). They saw Jesus as a failure as the Messiah they had envisioned. To the world, it looked like He failed miserably as the Messiah, but not knowing the secret counsel of God, much good came from this evil act of men (Gen 50:20; John 3:16). The cross wasn’t the final chapter; it was really just the beginning.
If you are like me and have failed or fallen into disgrace, it’s not the end. We know that God is a God of restoration and redemption, and reconciliation. He is not going to give up on us. Don’t let disgrace be the last chapter of your life, but let that chapter be the one that leads to the next great thing you could do in your life for the glory of God.