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Matthew 26:56b (NIV) – Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Holy Week is such a conundrum. It drags us through the entire gamut of human emotions: from the great celebration of Palm Sunday, through conflicts in the city and temple, to a cherished feast with disciples, an agonizing night in a garden of olive trees, a contrived trial, a grisly and gruesome death – to the greatest celebration of all time as death was defeated by the Risen Christ! All of that in just a matter of seven days! Yet many resist this week. Why? Maybe it is because we don’t need that much emotional angst in our lives. After all, what would be so wrong with just jumping from one parade to the next and skipping all the bloody whipping, crucifixion and death stuff? Why not just get on to the good part – the joy of Easter, with its white bonnets, Easter eggs, family, friends, big ham dinner, oh, and of course – the empty tomb!
Jeffery London suggests the following: “Well, I think we know the answer to that. For starters, an empty tomb, at face value, is a lot easier to deal with than a dying, bleeding Savior on a cross. Add to that all the pain and suffering that comes with Holy Week, is it any wonder that the human tendency is to try and ignore the events of the week and simply move on to the Easter celebration? But as much as we’d like to skip Holy Week we know that the only way to Easter is through the cross. We know where the parade of Palm Sunday leads and we also know that we’re part of that parade. That is to say, we know this intellectually. Our hearts are another story. Our hearts may be more in sync with the disciples and the fear and disbelief that led them to run away. It would seem that 2000 years later Jesus’ disciples are still running away.”
You know, it was nearly 2000 years ago last night that Jesus’ disciples made their fear-filled sprint through the darkness of the olive grove in Gethsemane and went into hiding. When I try to put myself in their sandals, I am ashamed to admit that I would probably have been among those running. Why should I think that my faith would be stronger than that of Peter, James or John? They’d spend three years watching him heal the sick, give sight to the blind, make the lame walk and dumb to speak. They’d watched him raise not just one, but several people from the dead, for Pete’s sake! And yet they ran. They ran like scared rabbits. I, God knows, I would have, too.
Maundy Thursday is a reminder to me of how I would have run and left Jesus standing alone amid the throng of soldiers and others. And I suspect I would have ran all the way to Tarshish (like Jonah). I suspect you would have, too.
Right now the Lord is calling for disciples who won’t run, who won’t shrink back in fear into the shadows, who won’t compromise, but for those who will stand, even if it means they lose their life for His sake. Will I be that kind of disciple? Will you? If you think you would have held firm, be careful, for those who think they stand will fall. Just ask Peter and the rest of the disciples.
Ephesians 6:13 (NIV) – Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
The day of evil has come.
PRAYER: For your loneliness in the garden, I am ashamed. For my running, I am ashamed. For the times I still run, I am ashamed. Have mercy, O Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.
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