The Disciples Didn’t Get It, Until…

English: The Last Supper, showing Jesus, at th...

Jesus said: “One of you shall betray me”.

And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And, as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” Mark 14:17-19 ESV

We read in the Gospels that the disciples often just didn’t get it. They were with Jesus and He was teaching them and showing His power through miracles on a daily basis. But, because they didn’t get it, Jesus’ words to them often began with “Oh, ye of little faith”.

The disciples were there when Jesus fed five thousand men (plus women and children) from a few loaves and fishes. Yet, not long after that, Jesus asked them about feeding four thousand and they said it couldn’t be done.

Jesus kept repeating the fact that He was going to Jerusalem to die. Yet, they took it to mean He was going to start His earthly reign, and spent time arguing over which of them would get the highest office in that kingdom. They just didn’t get it.

However, in the Scripture above, during what we call The Last Supper, they did get it. When Jesus said one of them would betray Him, they didn’t accuse each other and point fingers of guilt. No, each of them sorrowfully recognized his own weakness and asked the troubling question “Is it I?”

Before we start condemning them, we need to ensure we get it. We need to recognize we have no real strength without Jesus. We may not betray Him in the same manner He described, but we can betray our faith in many different ways.

The assurance comes, though, in that we don’t have to act on our own strength. 1 John 4:4 tells us Whose strength we can rely on:

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 ESV

Lover’s Leap for Joy?

Lover's Leap

Lovers' Leap Image by aeu04117 via Flickr

In this country’s mountainous regions there are many locations dubbed “Lovers’ Leap”. They all have associated legends, many involving Native Americans, and with variations on the “Romeo and Juliet” theme. (Perhaps there is a Lovers’ Leap legend in Great Britain and that’s where Shakespeare got the idea.) One legend in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia has a white settler and the Chief’s daughter falling in love. After much scorn and exclusion from both families, the couple embraced and plummeted to their death to be together forever. Another location has a closer sequence to “Romeo and Juliet” – the two lovers were from different tribes, and members of the maiden’s tribe attacked the brave and left him for dead at the top of a cliff. The maiden found him, and thinking he was dead, she jumped off. When he awoke and discovered what had happened, he threw himself over to be with her.

Jesus’ refers to a different type of Lover’s Leap in the sixth chapter of the Book of Luke:

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” Luke 6:22-23 ESV.

The reactions Jesus describes are also those associated with the Lovers’ Leap legends: scorn, exclusion, and hatred. The legends end in tragedy, yet Jesus tells us instead of jumping off a cliff, we should respond with a leap for joy.

That is humanly hard to grasp. We can understand the leap for joy made by those who had been physically crippled their whole life and were miraculously healed by Jesus (and Peter and Paul). However, in this passage, Jesus says we are blessed if we’re treated like the ill-fated lovers of the legends. That doesn’t sound like a miracle – or does it?

The critical phrase in Jesus’ statement is the requirement that our suffering be “on account of the Son of Man”. As the Apostle Peter wrote, “what glory is it” if we’re hated and scorned because we’re hateful and scornful ourselves? No, our enduring this type of suffering is “acceptable to God” and we can leap for joy only because of whom we love: Jesus Christ.

And what’s the miracle behind this lover’s leap for joy?

We love Him, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

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This post is part of the Christian Writers blog chain. Our theme for this month is “Leap”. Please see the list to the right and visit my friends’ blogs to see what they have to say about this topic.

Christmas is Past, New Years is here – What now?

           We just celebrated Christmas. We sang “Joy to the World!” as we should – joyfully! Hopefully, that joy remains, but with Christmas past, and a new year before us, what comes next? As always, we can look to Scripture to give us an example.

            In the second chapter of Luke, we read the Christmas Story – the census that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem; Jesus’ birth and His being laid in the manger because there was no room at the inn; the angel revealing the good news to the shepherds; the shepherds running to see, and then glorifying and praising God.

            Then, we read of Jesus being taken to the temple when he was 8 days old. Simeon and Anna were there and both recognized, by the Holy Spirit, that this baby was the Messiah.

            The next specific thing we read about is a trip Jesus’ family took to Jerusalem for the Passover. After the feast, Joseph and Mary started home and unknowingly left Jesus behind. When they discovered He wasn’t with their relatives, they hurried back to Jerusalem. They found Him in the temple, talking with the teachers.

            Mary confronted Jesus and asked why He had worried them so. Jesus replied: “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”Luke 2:49 NKJV

            As we leave Christmas, 2011, behind and look forward into 2012, we can consider Jesus’ example recorded after the Christmas Story. We can “be about our Father’s business.”                

            I’m going to try something different this week. I’m not going to tell you what I think that means, but I’ll ask what you think. Please take a few seconds and leave a comment on how you think we should “be about our Father’s business” in 2012. As we get some comments (hopefully!), that should give us all more to think about.

Are We Walking Worthy?

 

When we see politicians on television news shows, their name is shown at the bottom of the screen so we will know who they are and where they’re from (“Representative so and so of this state” or “Senator whoever of that state”).  There is usually a (D) or an (R) beside their name – meaning Democrat or Republican – to note their political party.  Sometimes, we don’t need to see the D or R to know which party they’re in because they’ll be stating opinions and taking positions that are identified with a particular one.  At times, they’ll be saying or doing things that will make the other people in their party wish that the D or R was not there so they wouldn’t be identified with them.

What if television stations started using a (C) after a person’s name to show they are a Christian?  If the people in our life – our family, friends, co-workers, and the strangers we deal with along the way, were to see us on the television news giving a sound-bite, would there need to be a (C) after our name for them to know that we are a Christian?  Or thinking the other way, if our actions and words were put on theTV screen and beside our name we did have a (C), would they be surprised to discover we are a Christian?  Would other Christians wish we didn’t have the (C) there?

Whether we realize it or not, and whether we like it or not, our words and actions are clear signs to those around us.  They show where our heart is, and what we base our life upon.  As Christians, our words and actions should make it evident to others that we are basing our life on Jesus Christ.  If we were to be seen on the news with a (C) beside our name, it shouldn’t be a surprise or regret to anyone.  It would be even better if our faith is so clear that the (C) isn’t even necessary.           

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” Ephesians 4:1 ESV

Bill Jones (C) - By the Grace of God - and thankful for it!