Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Maybe He Was Right

Jesus told the disciples again and again and again that He would be betrayed and tortured and killed, and on the third day He would rise. Did the disciples get it? Nope. Sometimes they heard Him and objected. Sometimes it just went in one ear and out the other.

But Mary heard. She had been rescued from the demons and from her whoring. She sat at His feet and soaked up every word. She clung to Him. During Holy Week, she anointed Him -- Jesus says it was for His burial.

Do the men get it? Still they don't.

In our story for today, a short little story, Mark 14:12-31, we hear THREE times that Jesus showed the disciples that He knew what was coming.

1. He told them where to find John Mark's house for the celebration of the Passover: "A man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him." Now, I don't know about you, but I know I'd be pretty freaked out if somebody told me to walk into the city, and I'd meet a guy with a pitcher of water, and I was to follow him, and ask to use his house, and he'd agree to it, and then it all happened just like that. I'd be thinking, "How did Jesus know that I'd see somebody, and it would be the right somebody, and that he'd lead me to the house where they believe in Him, and are willing to give us their house for the evening?" (Which, by the way, turned out not to be just that evening, but, really, at least a couple of months, until Pentecost or beyond.)

2. He told them that one of the Twelve would betray Him. "Who? Us? Me? Nah." But sure enough, it only took a few hours before they found out that one of them had betrayed Jesus. Oh my goodness! Jesus was right about that too!

3. He told them that they would abandon Him. And He even gave the specifics about Peter denying Him three times before morning. And that happened too, just as Jesus had said. And we know that this "clicked" in Peter's brain, because it was the second cock-a-doodle-doo that jarred Peter's memory about what Jesus had said about his denial.

And not only those things in today's story, but there was also
4. the whole business about where to find the donkeys on Palm Sunday, and even how the conversation would go between the disciples and the guy who had the donkeys.

And in every one of these bits of the story, Jesus "predicted the future." He knew what would happen. He told the disciples what would happen. And it did. Just like He said it would. Seems to me like it would be pretty freaky if somebody I knew was telling me things like that, all of which came to pass. And not just coming true in a year or in a decade, but in a few minutes or a few hours.

And yet, what did Jesus say right smack-dab in the middle of "you will abandon Me" and "Peter will deny Me"?

After I have been raised, I will go before you into Galilee.

After He was raised?

Didn't they hear that part?

Well, no. They hadn't heard it earlier either.

All this musing is intended in no way to pick on Peter, James, John, Andrew, and Co. It's because I do the same thing. Probably you do too. Jesus tells us that we will have tribulation in the world. Do we still believe in the theology of glory? Yup. Jesus tells us that "this is the victory that overcomes the world -- even our faith." In the midst of the despair of tribulation, do we believe that? Welllll, there's that pesky sinful nature. Jesus tells us that He will hang onto us and save us, even though we see in ourselves sin and rebellion and unbelief. But we insist on believing that He will love us because we're oh-so-good, or despise us because we're oh-so-bad.

In spite of overwhelming evidence that Jesus knew what was coming in the next hours and days, still His disciples didn't get it that He would be killed and rise again the third day as He said. Good grief, even the Pharisees who killed Him knew the rumor about His rising on the third day, and they expected the disciples to steal His body, so that's why they convinced Pilate to seal the tomb and set a guard there. But the disciples? Nope.

And yet, when it comes to food and clothing, when it comes to preservation of my faith, when it comes to Jesus' triumphing in the end, putting to death Death itself, do I think He's right? He sure does have a good track record.

Unbelief is amazingly persistent.

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