The Core Facts: Despairing Disciples
Here is another friendly reminder to go read the wise words written by the men at Proverbial Thought!
Also, the youth pastor with whom I work speaks on all of this. Find Jesse Bollinger at Fervent Youth.
Last week I began the study of the Core Facts, starting with Jesus’ death on the cross. And I remind you that these posts are not meant to be exhaustive arguments on these topics. I currently do not have the time for that! Rather, these are a brief synopsis of the main points.
This week I continue with the second of The Four Core Facts:
The Despair of the Disciples
There are two main reasons why the Disciples being desperate is true:
- the Jews (of which all of the initial Disciples were) were expecting a Messiah to overthrow the pagan government; and
- it was shameful to record faults of heroes of the story.
On point number one, as was discussed last week, the Jews were expecting Israel to be freed from oppressive rule by a great King.
One example of the Disciples’ fervor for a conquering King is demonstrated while travelling through Samaria on the way to Jerusalem for the last time:
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”
One example that they did not expect their Messiah to die comes immediately after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah:
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Imagine being in their shoes … er … sandals. They are expecting the heir of King David to come to the rescue, restore Israel, and lead them as King …
… not die.
If you saw your unstoppable leader killed, would you not be emotionally destroyed?
If you saw your Lord being taken away by soldiers, put on trial, flogged (beaten, whipped, and tortured), and crucified, do you think you would run in and try to save the day or run and hide?
This leads to point number two: The Gospels recorded the Disciples running away!
Throughout history, those who have written history have generally put themselves in the best possible light. The epics written of old showed individuals and armies alike running into danger to rescue a friend, a leader, or an army. Individuals confronted hundreds or thousands of soldiers to save the day. Mere mortals braved the pain and torment of the Underworld to save a loved one.
The first leaders of the Church fled and hid. Then they told everyone about it!
At the time of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, they forgot He ever said that He must be killed and raised back to life. Peter even denied his best friend of the previous three years!
Some might argue that this kind of thing happens all the time, but I urge you to look into the current world of politics. Rarely do we see a politician taking the rap for a mistake, let alone deserting friends. If they do own up to it, usually it is to cast it in a good light.
The Disciples knew what they did was sad and wrong. They owned up to it.
Even today that shows someone who is honest and therefore trustworthy.
These were heartbroken men, literally scared for their lives, who believed their Lord and Messiah died. They had enough reason to suspect that they could also be arrested and even crucified for inciting a rebellion.
Perhaps they even thought they were wrong all along about who Jesus is.
Talk about an existential crisis.
Fortunately for them, within three days they were redeemed (on so many levels).
It changed their lives.
But that is for next week when I cover Core Fact #3: The Change in the Disciples’ Willingness to Die
Are there any thoughts on this?