Mark 14: 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.
The word “unprecedented” will quite certainly become one of 2020’s “words of the year”. It’s difficult to turn on a news broadcast or an interview with a health specialist or politician and not hear that word. If someone would have suggested a year earlier that every sports league in the world would be shut down in one year’s time, we would have laughed. But it happened and many are sitting in their homes saying, “this is the worst thing possible”. On an individual basis, there are athletes and coaches experiencing a myriad of emotions from sadness, to fear, to confusion, to perhaps even despair. What do I do now? COVID-19 obviously goes far beyond athletics as there are massive economical ramifications, both individually and communally, and of even greater concern, the significant loss of life. This is a nightmare. Where are you God?
Over 2,000 years ago, a group of men and women had their lives absolutely rocked. These Jewish people had met the Messiah. The one, who had been prophesied for thousands of years, was born in their lifetime and he had befriended them. Wow. They were on an exciting journey with him, watching him heal the sick and the lame, and cheering him on as he took on the religious elite. Jesus was going to take his rightful place of rule and finally they would have the righteous leadership God’s people needed.
But everything changed quite suddenly. Palm Sunday, where Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem to throngs of excited people (Matthew 21:1-11), is exactly what the disciples would have expected. Surely this is Jesus’ time to take his rightful place. But only five days later this same city turned on him screaming “Crucify Him” (Mark 15:13). He was falsely accused, condemned, mocked, beaten, nailed to a cross where he died. We are told that his friends deserted him and fled (Mark 14:50). We do read the story of Peter who followed Jesus at a distance, but he disowns Jesus and Peter is left distraught (Matthew 26: 69-75).
After the crucifixion the disciples were cooped up in a room in Jerusalem (John 20:19). Can you imagine what they were saying? “This is surely the worst day in the history of the world”. This isn’t how they saw it unfolding. Unlike us today, they did not have a full understanding of the story that would unfold. Jesus had been telling them about what was to come, but they did not understand that Jesus had to die (Luke 9: 22-24), in order that we may live (John 11:25). They did not understand that Jesus’ death on the cross did not mark the worst day in history but the beginning of the best day in history, Easter Sunday when Jesus was resurrected from the dead. But in time they did understand, and they were forever changed, now even willing to offer up their own lives to share the good news of what happened at Easter. The same Peter who had denied Jesus now stood boldly in front of all the people in Jerusalem saying: “36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (Acts 2:36)
In these times of uncertainty, where you question where God is and perhaps why God would allow such things to happen, remember that you do not understand the full story. God can turn what appears to be the worst possible thing into something powerful. Remember the truths of scripture and shout them out. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)