From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Mark 14:43-52

And immediately, while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.  Now His betrayer had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him and lead Him away safely.”  As soon as he had come, immediately he went up to Him and said to Him, “Rabbi, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.  Then they laid their hands on Him and took Him.  And one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.  Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me?  I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”  Then they all forsook Him and fled.  Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body.  And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.               NKJV

You may remember from high school biology class that most animals, including humans, have a sympathetic nervous system.  It comes into play during a threatening situation, and it helps us determine whether we will respond aggressively by fighting, or whether we will flee.  Most people refer to this as the “fight-or-flight response.” Whether it was a real or artificially induced threat, we have all experienced it. Sometimes we stand our ground, and sometimes we cannot seem to muster the courage to keep from fleeing, at least at first.

For the Apostles there was a brief moment of bravery, when Peter drew a sword and cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest.  But courage gave way to cowardice and the human instinct for survival.  The Apostles all fled, as well as a young man named Mark, who ran away naked, leaving his clothes in the hands of his would-be captors.

In the end, everyone deserted Jesus.  His was left alone with his captors and lead away into the night; a night that would be filled with abuse, punishment and mockery.  Just a few hours earlier, Peter had promised Jesus that he would face death before he would deny him.  Reality turned out to be quite different.  Yet how can we criticize the Apostles’ response to that threatening situation?  Do we believe that we would have performed any better in those circumstances?  Like Peter, we all talk the big fight, but when it comes what happens to our resolve?

Have you ever wondered why the gospel writers included stories of horrendous failures by people we would consider spiritual giants?   These larger than life heroes of the faith failed miserably in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested; and their failures continued throughout the night.  

These accounts were recorded to give us a historical view of what transpired. However, they were also recorded for the successive generations of Christians like us who would come after them.  Like Peter, James, and John, we will all have our times when we suffer “faith failures.”  Please note that these failures did not define who they were as disciples.  Peter is not remembered as Peter the Denier.  James and John are not remembered for their cowardice in the garden.  They were each forgiven and restored.

You and I are not remembered before God by our failures. When our lives go spinning out of control and we run away from God, we too are forgiven and restored.              David Winkle

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