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Not Adieu, Au Revoir

January 25th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. (Mk. 14:26-31 ESV)

Think about this dramatic scene from the point of view of the apostles. There was a depressive air over the celebration of the Passover meal they just finished. Jesus warned them that one of them would betray him. This shocked them enough that they questioned their own dedication. Now they’ve had time to process that warning and have decided that whoever Jesus was talking about, it wasn’t them. Now he says something even more ominous. He assures them that they will all fall away.

The situation is devastating. But in this little section of scripture Jesus says two things that, if the apostles could process it, would shed a very different light on what they are experiencing. In verse 27 Jesus quotes the prophet Zechariah. The prophecy itself might not seem very uplifting: it predicts the failure of the disciples. But, it stands as a reassurance that nothing has gone wrong. Nothing has gone wrong. Jesus informs his followers that as bleak as things look, it’s part of the plan. Jesus has been predicting his death for a while. As tragic as the prospect is, it is necessary. It is integral to God’s plan of salvation. It was foreseen, in sometimes excruciating detail, by prophets hundreds of years before. Its outcome is certain: victory; redemption and glory.

The second thing Jesus says to them, in verse 28, is that he will see them again. He is not saying adieu, he is saying au revoir. They are all about to undergo a terrible ordeal. But as bad as it all seems now, there will be a happy ending. Jesus will overcome. It’s his promise.

In three different places in Chapter 6 of Matthew Jesus tells us his followers not to be anxious. But how can we not be anxious in the world we live in? Contemporary life is anxiety producing. Even driving to the grocery store can be terrifying. Even the most secure of us are beset by financial and physical insecurity. Nothing is certain. Danger lurks at every turn. For some of us, things may indeed look bleak. But if we are in Christ, things are not different for us than they were for Jesus’ apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Peter, as the spokesman for the eleven remaining apostles, bravely declares that he will not fall away, and the others agree. But they all fall away. They all fail. In the end Jesus faces his fate seemingly alone. We should be grateful that Peter reveals himself to be so weak. Because we are all Peter. But in the end, Peter was the rock. In the end, Peter trusted Jesus and stood firm for the gospel. He learned from his experience at Gethsemane. And so can we.

 

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