Monday, March 12, 2007

Wanted: Failures

Toward the end of Mark's gospel, we see that just about everyone close to Jesus failed in some way or another. Judas betrayed him. Peter denied knowing him. The other ten fled.

The Romans crucified Jesus, and Joseph of Arimathea put the body into a tomb before the Sabbath started.
1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. 2Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"
Mark 16.1-3
This is a bit of a quibble, and I can't really blame them, as they were surely distraught about the death of their teacher and friend, but they went off to the tomb without a clue how they were going to get in. This was a huge stone, not a sliding door. F.F. Bruce even wrote a book about it.

You may recall that the stone had already been moved. An angel was there; he told them that Jesus had risen, and he gave them some instructions:
7But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' " 8Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Mark 16:7-8
So, they don't follow the instructions either.

Why does Mark tell us this, and what does it, or should it, mean to us? Here's what I think. It's not just that some people fail, but everyone fails at one time or another. Everyone who wants to be close to Jesus and to be useful to him has to goof up. That's a strange-sounding sort of requirement but it reminds me of two things:
  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom...
    (Jesus said that.) The kingdom is only for those who know that they're truly bankrupt.
    It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners...
    Jesus said that, too.
  • I don't remember which management book I read this in -- Drucker's Effective Executive maybe? -- but there are some places that won't take a senior executive who hasn't had a significant failure. Maybe it was Senge's Fifth Discipline?
In other words, there are some places where you can't be used unless you've failed, or you know your failure. The Kingdom of Heaven is one such place. Which is good news for those of us who aren't perfect.

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