The Failure of Jesus Christ (and why we need to fail to be like Him)

We all need to fail.

“Success is a poor teacher.” My dad must have repeated this maxim a hundred times as I grew up. There are some lessons that only failure can teach. If you want to mature, you need to fail. Jesus failed. So should we.

Jesus’ Failure
After bringing Jesus out of the desert, God calls Him to preach in Nazareth where he is unable to do many miracles because of their lack of faith (Matt 13:58). But it gets worse. He then preached in the synagogue and offended the people (Mark 6:3). They were so incensed by His sermon they tried to push him off a cliff (Luke 4:14-30).

So, Jesus was unable to do many miracles, offended the congregation, and angered the people into a murderous riot. If that is not a failure, what is? You could try to twist this passage to find some sort victory. But to do so you would strip the word failure of its meaning. If any of those things happened to you I doubt you would consider it a success.

Why did God have Jesus preach such a provocative message to such an unreceptive audience? Why did an all knowing God orchestrate this?

I think one of the reasons was to test or to prove him. God wanted to prove Jesus through failure. Jesus, the man, needed to know He could take it. Jesus, the Son, needed to know His Father loved him whether people were healed or not (and they weren’t). Jesus, the Most High God, needed to feel what it was like to be human so he could sympathize with us (Hebrews 4:15).

The Cup of Failure
In order to walk in confidence, we need to know that we are loved even when we fail. The only way we can know we are loved in our failure is to fail and be loved. Words are not enough. We must taste the cup. Failure is like hot, bitter coffee. It’s too hot to touch but not too hot to drink.

Children who never fail begin to fear it because they don’t know if they would be loved despite their failure. Parents who love conditionally often have cowardly children who take few risks and try to please everyone. Praise God we have a Heavenly father who loves us unconditionally!

In order to build self esteem, we have raised a generation that rarely tastes failure. We don’t keep score in sports and everyone gets a trophy. The result is a generation that fears failure, avoids risk and lacks ambition. We are raising a generation of cowards. When we yank the cup of failure from the hands of our children we splash them with the hot liquid in the process. By trying to help them we train them to hate failure.

The result? Our Churches are filled with cowards instead of men of God. Our statehouses are filled with cowards instead of statesmen. We have abandoned personal Evangelism because we lack the guts to risk rejection.

Failure is not sin. Disobedience is.

If God allowed Jesus to fail, should we not allow our children to fail? If failure has so much to teach us should we not embrace it? The path to success is paved with the stones of failure. We must be willing to walk that path if we want to reach the destination.

We need to stop giving trophies to the losers and start keeping score. Parents should love their children in their failure instead of protecting their children from it. When you don’t keep score you prevent winning and loosing and your children will flock to activities like video gaming where success and failure are both clear.

If something is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly! ” – G.K. Chesterton
You could call America the land of perfectionists. Many of us strive for perfection in everything we do. We apply this desire to our spiritual lives as well. The result is if we can’t do something well we don’t do it at all. This is just the opposite of walking in faith. Jesus modeled for us what walking in faith looks like. It means going to Nazareth, knowing failure is eminent. Success or failure didn’t matter to Jesus. They shouldn’t matter to us. Only doing the will of our Father. “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38).

If you want to walk in faith, if you want to walk like Jesus, you must be willing to walk in failure.

Success not Guaranteed
Just because God calls you to do something it does not mean you will succeed. Otherwise the prophets would have succeeded and swayed the children of Israel to repent. Joseph would have succeeded is staying out of jail. And Paul would have succeeded in convincing the people of Athens that Jesus was alive.

God sometimes calls us to do something because He wants us to learn the lesson that failure will teach us. We must learn some things the hard way, from the cruel tutor of our own mistakes. Paul learned a lot in Athens about preaching the Gospel. Joseph learned humility in that prison. And the Prophets are our example of faithfulness.

God has a way of taking our failures and using them for good. Yet we still avoid failure. We need faith. We need to trust that God uses us despite our best efforts.

The Challenge
Are you willing to live your life in such a way that it may take hundreds of years for people to realize your life was not an absolute waste? Jeremiah was. So were Isaiah, Ezekiel and Joel. These are our heroes of the faith. They resolved in their hearts that success or failure they would do the will of God. We should do the same.

We need to stop thinking in terms of success or failure and switch to a one of obedience and disobedience. It is only in doing this that will be like Christ

What do you think?
Do you embrace failure and try to learn from it or do you try to avoid it? What is the biggest lesson you have learned from failure? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Thomas Umstattd Jr. is the author of Courtship in Crisis, the former head of PracticalCourtship.com, and co-founder of the Austin Rhetoric Club, a homeschool speech and debate club in Austin, Texas. He is a professional speaker and CEO of Author Media. He sits on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including the Texas Alliance for Life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

7 thoughts on “The Failure of Jesus Christ (and why we need to fail to be like Him)

  1. What have I learned from failure?

    I learned, or am still learning, that you must treat people with respect, whether you agree with them or not. Who is to say that in 5 years, you may start to agree with them, and they no longer agree with themselves? Failure does tend to change our minds, when other methods of persuasion fail.

  2. How do you really think that any of these men failed. Your play on words my have some people think that you really know something when in fact the weaker of the Christian faith you may cause to doubt. Take Paul, if it hadn't been for him you wouldn't even have this blog. So I think Paul reached even farther then Athens. You are a smart guy, I will give you that, but you really need to be careful when it comes to what you call a failure as compared to what God may call a failure. I just can't find in the word of God that says that Jesus ever failed.

    In Christ

    Gary Staggs

  3. I just read your post on failure. You ask the question what have you learned from failure? I've learned that even when I fail at something, there's always another chance to try again, and God loves me no matter what. Failure provides me the opportunity to realize that none of us are the best at anything, because there is always someone with more experience and ability, and failure provides a person the chance to learn from his mistakes from those who are more experienced in his area. Success is crucial to build self-confidence and belief in one's own abilities. But failure, at least in a humble spirit, like that of a little child, can make us realize that we don't always have to win that trophee, or hit a home run, or make strikes every time we're at the bowling alley. To much success leads to arrogance, but failure can either lead to self-loathing or the chance to realize that all is not lost, and there's always a next time in which to succeed.

    Did Jesus encourage us to have confidence in ourselves? Did he encourage us to think positively of ourselves? (Let no one think more highly of himself than he aught), says Paul. What are your thoughts?

  4. Jesus was not a failure. The people failed to believe in his ability to connect them with the father and receive healing. Doubting and lacking faith create failure. At times, God lets us fail for his own reasons, or to give us free will to make the choice to follow him or to rebel. If God made everything perfect failure would not be a choice. If God made us all perfect than loving him would not be our choice.

  5. I have learned that failure is inevitable. I have learned a lot from my many failings in life. One think that I am grateful for to the Lord is that, Jesus on the cross took my failures…and On the cross God gave me Jesus successes, what we call the Divine Exchange. Paul said, “All things (including my failures, wrong decisions, mess ups, etc) work together for good…”
    On the cross, Jesus reaped the bad things I’ve sown in life, and I reap, reaped & continously be reaping the Good things Jesus sown.

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