Scared Straight Part 1

Week 28


 Scared Straight

Scripture Matt 26:36-41, 55-56, 69-75; John 18: 15-18


There are times in a person’s life when the raw reality and horror of what man is capable of, rears its ugly head and we are shocked into consciousness.  At those moments, who we really are, and what character we have acquired (or not) will be exposed.


Such was the case of the twelve on leaving the Upper Room, and heading to Gethsemane.  What the twelve now experienced was a stripping away of the superficial ideas of grandeur they had previous held, and revealed their true hearts that lacked courage and loyalty to their King, to say the least.  The twelve were to fail Him not only at Gethsemane, but also at His trial and at the Cross. We, as much as we deny it, would have done the same.


In this chapter, Dr. Bruce asks two questions. The first is how should they have acted, and the second is why did they desert Jesus.


The first thing we understand is that Peter was quick to use his sword as he cut off the ear of Malphus. Jesus, rebuking Peter, quickly healed the ear, as it was not His intention to resist. 


For some reason, it was necessary to accept the full weight of that punishment.  In a way, Jesus was saying, “hit me with your best shot.”  Jesus reminded Peter that He was not helpless, and that He had full access to all the celestial beings to help Him fight if that is what He chose. However, He was allowing the full weight of the system’s rage for the fulfillment of Scripture.


None of the other disciples were as bold as Peter.  They turned tail and fled. Had they understood and trusted what Jesus told them in the Upper Room, they may have understood why they ran. They may have understood that Jesus wanted them to be safe to be able to spread the Gospel after He had gone. Just as Jesus predicted, they ran. They were not the brave and stalwart allies they had previously claimed to be. They were sheep who scattered when their shepherd encountered a wolf.


Dr Bruce tells us here that their desertion was, in fact, an effect of a deeper cause. Their weakness of the flesh, as Jesus called it (Matt 26:31), was not because they did not love Him.  What then, was their problem?  Dr Bruce tells us that there were four character traits missing, forethought, clear perceptions of truth, self-knowledge, and the discipline of experience.


Forethought would have resulted in the twelve being ready for the battle Jesus had just hinted at in the Upper Room. A clear perception of truth would have avoided their deconstruction of Christ’s message of danger and the cross. Their interpretation of what He said was a victorious battle that they would have won by force. The Cross played no part in their interpretation of Christ’s mission on Earth. Their perception, although probably sincere, was sincerely wrong.


Self-knowledge would have deconstructed their over inflated view of their self- importance. They believed that they were braver and more loyal than reality actually revealed.


The discipline of experience, like soldiers after their first encounter with  war, would have tempered these neophyte warriors; training them to be keen observers of reality and toning down their false bravado.


Jesus knew and still knows what He is doing. The twelve were not so aware. Even though they scattered, just as we do sometimes, Jesus still loved them. Besides, in a few days, there would be a greater surprise that would turn their shame into joy…..


See Ya Next Time



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