Opening Activity:

Pause for a moment and recall a time when you resisted the end of a season because you thought others wouldn’t be able to continue on without you. Now, recall a time when you resisted the end of a season because you didn’t think that you would be able to continue on without the people, the job, or the things that comprised that season.

Read Matthew 16:21-23. Once the disciples knew who Jesus really was (i.e. Christ, the Savior), then they were ready to know what He was really sent to do (i.e. suffer and die for our sins). However, Peter resisted the end of this season. At this point in the timeline of Jesus’s ministry He had preached His famous Sermon on the Mount, healed the sick, walked on water (for a brief moment Peter walked with Him on the waves), cast out demons, and the disciples were present to witness all of this. Then, in Matthew 16:21, Jesus tells the disciples that this miraculous, awe-inspiring season will come to an end, but Peter refused to hear it. He resisted. In fact, he rebuked Jesus!

In the Greek the word for “rebuke” literally means to tax with fault and to admonish. When we resist the endings that God has ordained, then we are essentially rebuking the Lord, accusing Him of fault and criticizing His plans. As we see in verse 23, that is Satan’s message; it’s misinformation straight from the enemy himself. When the Lord brings seasons to an end, even the end of His incarnate ministry on earth, it is always for the best. Jesus later reassured His disciples in John 16:7, “ But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” You see, Jesus never trades down. If something good is coming to an end, even if that “something” is His incarnate ministry on earth, then that must mean that something great is coming down the pike.

Today we’ll be reminded that Jesus’s instruction to Peter in Matthew 16:23 is the same as His instruction to each and every one of us: get behind Me. We are followers of Christ, and you follow from behind, not from in front. This means that when Jesus is bringing a particular season to an end, we faithfully follow Him out the door. 


1.     What was your initial reaction to today’s podcast discussion with Mark Labberton about endings?

2.     What kind of ending are you currently experiencing? What effect(s) is this having you?

3.     How do you generally respond to endings? Are you resistant to endings, or perhaps conversely are you often too quick to initiate an ending?

Today’s Goals:

After listening to this week’s podcast and working through today’s session, we will:

●      Identify the endings from the past that we handled well and those we didn’t, and we will draw out life-lessons from those experiences.

●      Determine what kind of endings might be on the horizon, whether personal, professional, or institutional.

●      Develop a plan for properly responding to the endings that God ordains. 

Closing Thoughts:

During my interview with Mark he briefly opened up about his most painful personal endings, which included the deaths of his parents and the death of his best friend. As we’ve already discussed, he also shared the professional and institutional ending of relocating Fuller University. What is one primary distinction between these endings? The answer is control. Mark didn’t have any say or control over those personal endings. However, as the President of Fuller Theological Seminary, he did have a say over the professional and institutional ending of relocating the campus.

I want to direct your attention again to Jesus in Gethsemane. Jesus was hours away from the excruciating suffering of the cross, and with it God’s wrath poured out on Him for all our sin, and He prayed in Matthew 26:39, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” You see in this verse Jesus’s desire to avoid the devastatingly painful ending that’s about to take place. But then in verse 42 He prays, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” You see in this verse that, despite the human desires for safety and comfort, Jesus was resolved to submit Himself to the Father’s will. We may not always have control of life’s endings, but as we learn from Jesus in Gethsemane we always have a choice.

As Mark said, the whole exercise of leadership is endings and beginnings. Own that you have agency in these moments. You may not always have control, but you have a choice. Step into the disruption of these God-ordained endings and towards the possibility of pain. Remember Lot’s wife and don’t look back. Follow the example set by Jesus and choose obedience.

Prayer Prompt: Take a minute or two alone with the Lord to thank Christ for His perfect submission to will of the Father, even all the way to Calvary. Ask God to teach you the same kind of trust we witness in Christ as you face a future of unknown endings.


Albert Tate