The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Day 62
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters; for it is written,
“I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.”
But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though all become deserters, I will not.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ But he said vehemently, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And all of them said the same. Mark 14:26-31
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures for ever. Psalm 118After they sang, have you ever been struck by words in the Gospels that just stick with you. The twelve and Jesus had just celebrated Passover and as it ended they sang. What did they sing? The text doesn't say. Some sites suggests that they would have been singing the Hallel Psalms 113-118 and psalm 135. One of the themes running through these psalms is "O Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good, for God's steadfast love endures for ever." So as they are heading to the Mount of Olives did they continue to have that phrase running through their heads. But was Jesus thinking of what was to come. In this songs that remember God's redeeming work and that God's love is forever.
But as they arrive, Jesus speaks a tough word to these disciples. You will all desert me. Granted he quotes scripture, saying when the shepherd is struck the sheep will scatter. But he says this will not be the end of the story. I will go before you to Galilee. Galilee the place where ministry began, where we are invited to repent and turn back around to God, where we experience healing and hope, welcome, and feeding, invitation and release. But we are not there yet. We are just learning of the desertion. Peter proclaims loudly that he won't desert. Yet Jesus tells him, even you, you will deny me three time before this day ends. Peter promises that even if he had to die with him he will never deny Jesus, they all promise this.
Yet they do deny and desert him. I wonder about those times when we have done the same. When are those moments when you have denied your faith. Maybe not overtly, but when you are experiencing someone ranting against Christians or the church do you speak about your continuing faith. When faced with an environment where faith is not discussed and is not accepted, do you just go with the flow and leave your faith at the door? When you have doubts and questions, do you all those doubts to push you away from God? Jesus reminds us in this scripture that even when you desert, deny, doubt he will be there ahead of you waiting for you to catch up in those places where we encounter God, those places he showed us in Galilee - church, boats, water, dinner, healing, hurting, welcoming, when we encounter the lost, the last, and the least.
Let those doubts you have surface. But as they surface say: O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever. Psalm 118
Forever by Chris Tomlin