September 20

Text: Matthew 26:31, 32

Then Jesus *said to them, "You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, 'I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.'  But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee."   (NASB)

Today, please focus your attention on the word “them.”  We commonly associate the pledge to never desert Jesus with Peter.  Yet, Jesus said to the eleven (Judas had left) that they all would desert him.  They all pledged to stay with Jesus “not matter what” (see Matthew 26:35).  It is easy—even convenient—to make promises when all seems well and no stress can be seen on the horizon.

The loyalty of the disciples is not questioned.  However, to die “fighting” trained, overwhelming forces was one matter, but to die while offering no resistance was a quite a different matter altogether. Courage while resisting does not automatically become courage while passively facing harm.  Passive resistance can be powerful, but it can be personally expensive and unpopular.  Death with a gun in our hands is one thing, but death with nothing in our hands is quite another.

Jesus used a familiar illustration and made a promise.  In the familiar illustration he compared himself to a shepherd and the 11 to a flock of sheep.  Kill the shepherd (the leadership who defends), and the sheep will scatter.  Jesus knew them better than they knew themselves.  He correctly understood what they would do.  Because he could say that he was the person sought (see John 18:4-9) did not mean the 11 had that type of courage.  With Jesus knowing what he knew, what kind of courage did he have?

The promise: he would meet them in Galilee after his resurrection.  That promise must have sounded strange to the 11 at that moment.  Jesus declared that soon it would look like the end, but it was not.  The 11 would run, but they were still his disciples.

Be careful what you promise!

Suggestion for reflection: How well do you know you?  (Read Esther 4:1-17.)

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