Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Agony of Defeat

Most folks who were alive during the 70's remember the intro to ABC's Wide World of Sports. "The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat." And that really bad tumble the skier takes, every Saturday afternoon the show aired.

Defeat. Nobody wants it, nobody believes it will happen to them. But it does, and when it does, ow.

[Mark 14:27-31 NKJV] 27 Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.' 28 "But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee." 29 Peter said to Him, "Even if all are made to stumble, yet I [will] not [be]." 30 Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that today, [even] this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times." 31 But he spoke more vehemently, "If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And they all said likewise.

Peter was not going to be defeated. He had the mind of a champion, the eye of the tiger! "These other guys might deny you, Jesus, but I will never deny you!" Packed full of confidence.

Super Bowl 48 is a lesson in defeat. Here are some interesting stats from CBS Sports:

3: The number of consecutive seasons that a safety has been scored in a Super Bowl, viaMichael David Smith.
3: The number of times since the 1975 season, including Sunday, that a Super Bowl team has not scored at least 10 points in the game.
12: The number of seconds it took for the Seahawks to score, the fastest score in Super Bowlhistory. The previous fastest was 14 seconds when Devin Hester scored on the opening kickoff return in Super 41.
13: The number of years it's been since a Super Bowl participant was shut out in the first half. That would be the Giants falling behind 10-0 to the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV.

So yes, it was a painful lesson in defeat. Super Bowl 48 ends with Seattle 43, Denver 8. Truly an epic, humiliating defeat.
Let's take a look at the play-by-play:
[Mark 14:66-72 NKJV] 66 Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. 67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, "You also were with Jesus of Nazareth." 68 But he denied it, saying, "I neither know nor understand what you are saying." And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, "This is [one] of them." 70 But he denied it again. And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, "Surely you are [one] of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows [it]." 71 Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know this Man of whom you speak!" 72 A second time [the] rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, "Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times." And when he thought about it, he wept.
Ooh, an epic, humiliating defeat! Can you imagine if this was covered like the Super Bowl was, with news cameras everywhere to capture it, people analyzing every word, every nervous twitch? Peter. The man who Jesus said was "the rock", the one on which He would build His church.
How did Peter handle this defeat?
[Matthew 26:75 NKJV] 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." So he went out and wept bitterly.

[Luke 22:62 NKJV] 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Well, what can you say? He totally choked when it was game time. Did you think Peter intended to deny Jesus three times, twice, or even once? No. His intent was to be the last man standing, to be the one who would never deny Jesus. But when it came down to the moment, all those good intentions just fell apart. Three times in a night. Fail. Fail. Fail. A completely, utterly, undeniably epic failure. Epic. Fail.
But now what?
Any good team reviews the game tape. Win or lose, you want to analyze what took place. Were there missed opportunities? Things you would do different? Let's take a look at the game tape from that day. 

[Luke 22:34 NKJV] 34 Then He said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me."
[Luke 22:39-46 NKJV] 39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. 40 When He came to the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." 41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. 46 Then He said to them, "Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation."

Looking at the game tape from the day Peter denied Jesus three times, we see that just after Jesus told Peter he would deny him, they went out to a spot where Jesus liked to pray. Not once, but twice, Jesus told them to pray that they would not enter temptation. Jesus was revealing to his team that prayer is a defense against temptation. Not just against the temptation itself, but against even entering it in the first place.

Ask yourself. If you struggle with alcohol, is it easier to fight temptation while you are across the street from the liquor store, or when you are standing inside the liquor store?

Looking at our super-slow-motion game tape reply, we see Jesus saying in Luke 22:40, "Pray that you may not enter temptation." and in Luke 22:46 "...pray, lest you enter into temptation.". The first time is specifically about praying that you do not enter into temptation, and the second time indicates that just praying in and of itself is a defense against entering into temptation.

Let's face it; once you have actually entered into temptation, it's pretty much a lost cause from there. Just like watching a slow-mo reply of a bad throwing decision turning into an interception. The trouble didn't being with the interception; that represents the outcome of the decision, not the decision itself. The real decision was "Should I throw?" or "Should I go across the street to the liquor store?" or "Should I smoke this?" or you know what your temptations are. We all know our own. 

And the game tape shows no mercy. All you can do is watch. A bad snap turns into a safety, resulting in the quickest Super Bowl score in history. A bad throw turns into an interception resulting in a touchdown. A "just this once" surrender to temptation turns into a habit you thought you overcame. And so you reset the "I'll never do that again" clock to zero and start over.

Reality bites, doesn't it? Yeah it does. So there you are, in defeat. Now what?

[Proverbs 24:16 NKJV] For a righteous [man] may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.

[1 John 1:9 NKJV] If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We cannot erase the game tape of our past. What has been done has been done. It is up to us to concentrate on the next battle, not the last battle. And from Peter's game tape, we see a powerful weapon we have at our disposal. Prayer. Pray that we do not enter into temptation. Pray for yourself. Pray for others. Pray for those you love. Pray for your enemies.