Monday, April 13, 2009

Our Fickleness; His Faithfulness

I'm afraid of whom I'd have been. I can't honestly imagine I'd have believed he was really the Christ, especially from a distance. I don't know that I'd have been shouting for his crucifixion, but I don't know that I'd have been waving the palm branches earlier in the week, either.

Which makes me kinda pathetic. "Pick a side, quit riding the fence," my mind screams. Yet, as far as any average Joe or Jane of the day knew, the death of Jesus of Nazareth wouldn't affect them personally. Sure, those who'd walked with him and called him "friend" would grieve over his loss, and those who admired his good works and teachings would experience sadness or disappointment. But what about the guy in the crowd who'd been fed by the loaves and fishes? What about the woman whose child Jesus laid his hands on, blessed and prayed over? They'd been affected by something he did, but was it enough to coerce them toward crying out for Jesus' preservation?

We are a fickle creation. Case in point:

Judas. Following Jesus for three years didn't develop a loyalty strong enough to overcome pride, vanity or greed. Yet at the moment of his betrayal, Jesus calls him, "Friend" (Matthew 26:50). Jesus - ever faithful. Was there even a twinge of guilt in Judas' heart at that moment?

Peter. Jesus warned him of three denials. Peter (and the other disciples) insisted they would not deny him. In a matter of hours the other disciples were scattered in fear and Peter, a virtual ambulance chaser, follows the horror from scene to scene, promptly refusing to acknowledge any association with Jesus. We know they all later sensed remorse over their abandonment. Yet, when Jesus is questioned by the high priest about his disciples, Jesus doesn't call names, or drag them into the mix with him (like I probably would have).

I think the assemblers of the Bible did an admirable job, but I don't like the break they placed between the last verse of John 13 and the first verse of John 14. Jesus is still speaking, and the connection between the chapters is too amazing to miss: While his last words to Peter in chapter 13 are "you will deny me three times," his first words in chapter 14 are "do not let your heart be troubled." How phenomenal. Paraphrased, Jesus is saying, "I know you're going to pretend you don't even know me, but don't let this bother you (because it doesn't bother me)." Forever faithful, Jesus doesn't even condemn human fickleness. Instead, he welcomes us, even prepares a place for us.

And that's what Easter did. Prepared the way for our resurrection, our hope, our life with Him for eternity. In spite of our wishy-washy devotion. In spite of our foolish pride and fear. He still calls us "Friend," and trusts us with the greatest responsibility of all history: to let others know how faithful he will be to them.

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