We always think we’re an exception. We read about people, about patterns of behavior, about inevitable and prophesied failures, about shortcomings and sin of people, and we automatically don’t align ourselves with it. We are the exception. ...But we’re not.
The pattern in Judges is that the people have no king and do what is right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6; 21:25). Things get messy and horrible, then God steps in and sends leadership to recover. But after things get better through God’s grace, the leadership passes on and the next generation deteriorates things even worse. It happens in today’s reading when Gideon dies. “As soon as Gideon died, the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping the images of Baal, making Baal-Berith their god” (Judges 8:33).
And it happens in the New Testament. Even though Jesus tells Peter he’s going to deny him when he’s no longer with him, Peter denies it. He thinks he’s an exception. He’s not, and he denies Jesus three times soon after Jesus‘ arrest.
We’re not an exception to failure. We might need to think we are an exception for our own sanity - or deny the reality of sin at all. After all, how can we stand before our own inevitable failure? We can only stand our own failure because of the immeasurable grace and forgiveness of God. Jesus is already pouring out that grace on Peter pre-emptively before he denies Jesus so that Peter can look back and know that Jesus knew what was coming and still loved him. He still loves all of us, and our failure is the reason he’s come. There’s no point in denying it or thinking that we’re an exception. We’re not, but he loves us anyhow.