Can you imagine? Fear. Frustration. Confusion. For years I had followed this Rabbi, this miracle worker, the one we thought was the anointed one. We thought he was the one to usher in the very Kingdom of God.
But within 48 hours … everything changed.
He had been betrayed by one of our own. He had been arrested in the middle of the night. The religious leaders held a mock of a trial and turned him over to the Romans – the Romans! – to beat him beyond recognition. And when there seemed to be hope … where Pilate wanted to release him, the crowd cried for Barabbas … then they cried “Crucify him!”
Don’t get me wrong, I knew death was possible. Not too long ago when we traveled close to Jerusalem at the time of Lazarus’ death, I knew we were cutting it close. They had just tried to stone him there. But I told my rabbi that I would go with him, and that we would probably die too. Why not? I believed. (John 11). I will follow Jesus anywhere. I will even die with you Jesus!
And then in that room, during that last meal with Jesus, where he washed my feet. There he foretold of his leaving us, and that he would come again for us. He said we knew the way. But I didn’t get it. I asked how could we know they way. I really wanted to know. I was brave enough to follow; but come on Jesus, be a little clearer. (John 14)
He gave on of those powerful, yet confusing answers he often spoke … I am the am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me. I know it. He was leading the fullness of the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father into reality. Jesus, He was the man.
But then … this. He’s dead. Brutally. Betrayed. Beaten. I never imagined this. Cursed on a tree. I thought I was brave. But … he’s dead.
My friends have scattered. Judas killed himself. I hear the others are hiding in that upper room where we last met. I just couldn’t bring myself to go there. The place I asked where we would go. The place I heard him declare he was the way.
Thomas … the brave. No. More like Thomas the rational one who knows it’s over when it’s over.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will figure out what to do next. Today I hide.
What about you, dear reader? Has there times you felt you would do anything, go anywhere, and do bold things for Jesus. But then things changed and it seems that boldness melted away like ice in the Sahara? Maybe you don’t want to rock the boat, you don’t want to offend, nor do you want to draw attention to yourself. Maybe someone at church, even the pastor, has disappointed you so you have given up on attending or even caring. Or, it’s just too confusing so you just stop trying.
Your dreams have died. Your bravery has become cold. And your boldness has busted. It’s over.
But it’s not over. Tomorrow changes it all again.
Daniel Darling has written an intriguing book, ‘The Characters of Easter’ where he looks at the villains, heroes, cowards, and crooks who witnessed history’s biggest miracle. For the next few weeks (pre-Easter) we will look at some of these fascinating characters and maybe get a refreshed look at this weekend that leaves eternal impact.