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Life can become overwhelming at times. Database frustrations at work. Car needing fixed unexpectedly. A dodgy washer in an overflow pipe. Family illnesses and daily hospital visits. Worries and concerns about children and grand children. Losing something that seems important but probably isn’t.
All too easily we allow life to get way out of proportion.

Judas betrays Jesus

Judas betrays Jesus

Are you reading the Gospel accounts as Easter approaches? I’ve been reading Mark’s account along with many other people following SU WordLive; last Friday it was Jesus’ betrayal and arrest in Mark 14:43-52.

This is not what the disciples were expecting. This is not what contemporary understandings of the Messiah expected. But Jesus, throughout all he was and was still to suffer, knew that events were going exactly as God intended.

 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled. Then everyone deserted him and fled. ” Mark 14:48-50

So the disciples fled. Soon Peter would deny Jesus. In the SU WordLive commentary, Graham Cray writes some encouraging words in the Deeper Bible study section:

They were not a hopeless crowd. Jesus chose them, as he has chosen us. Judas’ duplicity and the arrest at night ‘with swords and clubs’ (v 43) was far more cowardly. Despite their promises and the brief flash of a sword, there was little the disciples could have done. They could not change the physical circumstances, while spiritually the work of the cross was something Jesus must achieve alone. God’s purpose prefigured in Scripture was being fulfilled. God’s plan is not dependent on our successes.

The New Testament is clear that it was their encounter with the risen Jesus and empowerment by the Holy Spirit which later made these disciples such effective witnesses. Fruitful and faithful discipleship is not a matter of inherent strength of character but of dependence on God and encounter with the Holy Spirit. Jesus can turn cowards into martyrs, but more often he takes ordinary, reasonably competent human beings and teaches them that to be of service they need to trust his power, not their competence.

This ordinary, somewhat competent, human being takes comfort from Graham Cray’s words, but much more from the fact that everything was not going wrong – Jesus was fulfilling his Father’s plan of salvation.

I’m looking forward to Easter weekend and to going on the Passion Walk in Belfast on Good Friday morning.

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