I’ve been spending time in the Gospel of Mark lately, keeping pace with Jesus’ march to the cross as our days press on toward Easter. One of the things that has stood out to me on this reading is the disciples’ failure. We see it throughout the gospels, but Mark accentuates the disciples’ shortcomings.
In Mark, the disciples consistently fail to grasp Jesus’ mission as the one who will suffer for our sins. They have moments of insight, but the recurrent theme is of their failure.
- The disciples see the hungry people and overlook the Bread of Life—twice (Mark 6:37; 8:4).
- They don’t understand Jesus’ teachings, and their hearts are hardened (Mark 6:52).
- Jesus bluntly tells them about his death and resurrection, and the disciples rebuke him (Mark 5:32).
- They fight among themselves and compete for position (Mark 9:33-34; 10:35-37).
- Judas betrays him (Mark 14:10).
- The disciples abandon him (Mark 14:50).
- Peter denies him (Mark 14:66-72).
- They flee in fear instead of sharing the good news of the resurrection (Mark 16:8).
The disciples failed. But God remained faithful.
The good news is that my failure does not annul God’s faithfulness. The gospel is the story of God’s faithfulness triumphing over our human failure. We denied Christ, but he did not deny us. We rebelled against him, but he called us friends. We abandoned him, but he died for us and rose triumphant over the grave.
We failed. But God remains faithful.
As we approach Easter, I am mindful of my own failures. My willingness to sing “Yes Lord!” on Sunday and squirm at the thought of sacrifice on Monday. My own selfishness, greed, and impatience. The times when I choose silence over boldness and accept cool politeness instead of true reconciliation.
Yes, I have failed him. But God remains faithful.
This Easter season, it is his faithfulness that we celebrate. It was God’s faithfulness that sent his son to show him the way. His faithfulness held Jesus to the cross, and God’s faithfulness raised him from the grave. The tide of his faithful love overwhelms my failure and washes me clean.
My God is faithful, and his faithfulness triumphs.