A Deep Hole ( by Carley Evans )


Giorgio Vasari: An angel strengthens Jesus pra...

In Robert Redford’s film ORDINARY PEOPLE, the main character describes what it is like to be depressed to the point of suicidal. He speaks of falling into a deep, dark hole. Unable to climb out, eventually he becomes the hole. His eyes widen. The girl he speaks to of this darkness suddenly giggles, as she is incapable of understanding this darkness and she is embarrassed.

Jesus understands this darkness — this hole that He becomes on the cross. In the garden of Gethsemane, who witnesses Jesus’ prayer for deliverance from this coming blackness? Jesus prays for this deliverance because, of course, Jesus is not suicidal. But, who hears His prayer? Every one who enters the garden with Him sleeps while He prays alone. A major part of the deep hole is loneliness.

Perhaps Jesus tells His disciples after His resurrection of the mighty struggle He undergoes before He submits to the Father’s will. I can imagine Thomas giggling in embarrassment and disbelief. “Lord, how could You feel so low? How can You be lonely? You are the God of the universe!”

Jesus shows Thomas the wounds on His hands — “Yes, I Am who I say I Am.” But, not only that, Jesus’ wounds show Thomas that God suffers. God falls into a deep hole, becomes the hole, and emerges triumphant.

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Running Naked ( by Carley Evans )


Fear does odd things to human beings.

One of the young men, perhaps John Mark, with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane wears nothing but a linen garment. When the Roman soldiers seize Jesus after seeing Judas’ kiss, this young man runs away in abject fear. He flees “naked, leaving his garment behind.” (Mark 14:51, NIV)

What’s more embarrassing than running naked from a garden without a stitch of clothing to cover you? What’s more humbling than abandoning the Son of God in a moment of terror? John Mark’s only solace is that “everyone deserts [Jesus] and flees.” (Mark 14:50)

Their fear apparently leads the eleven disciples and others to gather together in one location, perhaps in hiding from the Roman soldiers who may be seeking to arrest them, too. For all the disciples know, Jesus is dead. (Luke 24:9) However, fear doesn’t prevent the women from taking spices to the tomb to show love and respect to Jesus. I suspect they are not afraid because they know Rome is not concerned with women followers of the Lord.

The person who is most extraordinary is Joseph of Arimathea who boldly goes to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body! Where is his fear? Why is he able to go before Pontius Pilate to make such a request? He has much to lose — not only his status on the Jewish Council but perhaps his freedom or even his life.

Men who follow Jesus openly while the He is alive on earth run “naked” in fear after His death; while a man who follows Jesus secretly while He is alive on earth follows Him openly after His death. And women, without status, bravely go to the empty tomb.

Fear and courage do odd things to human beings.

Father God, give us courage to follow You openly. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

 

A Rooster Crows


A servant girl is introduced to Peter outside the court of the high priest by another of Jesus’ disciples. This disciple is known to the high priest, Annas. When the servant girl casually states, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” Peter takes advantage of the manner in which this statement is worded, and denies that he is one of Jesus’ disciples, responding, “I am not.” (John 18:17, ESV) In other words, Peter agrees that he is not one of the followers of the man, Jesus. Peter does this even though he has just been introduced to the girl by one of Jesus’ disciples. His denial is rather akin to the professor saying to Dorothy and her friends, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. I am the great and powerful Wizard of Oz.” Except Peter is saying, “No I am not.”

Warming himself by the fire, Simon Peter is noticed by the servants of the high priest — and perhaps by the band of soldiers who arrested Jesus in the garden and who are gathered outside the court where Annas has just questioned the Lord. Simon Peter is probably startled when one of the crowd rhetorically asks, “You also are not one of His disciples, are you?” (John 18:25) Peter responds exactly as he did to the servant girl, denying that he is a follower of Jesus. Yet, he remains close at hand, waiting for his Lord to emerge from the interrogation with the high priest, Annas.

The soldier whose ear Peter cut off in the garden of Gethsemane happens to have a relative also standing near the fire. This relative notices Peter, and asks, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” (John 18:26) This time, Peter responds slightly more emphatically, denying that he was even with Jesus in the garden. Perhaps, at this point, his fear is becoming frustration that he keeps being picked out of the crowd standing nearby.

Whatever the case, immediately after this final denial — and exactly as Jesus has said — a rooster crows. Jesus turns to look at Peter. (Luke 22:61) Perhaps Peter recalls, at this juncture, the Lord’s Word, “Whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33) Obviously, Jesus is not planning to deny Peter before His Father in heaven. Why not? Because, of course, Peter “goes out and weeps bitterly.” (Luke 22:62) In his weeping, Peter seeks forgiveness and obtains grace.

Thank You, Lord for Your loving-kindnesses; thank You that joy comes after weeping, that forgiveness follows after sin and confession. Thank You for Your wondrous mercies. Thank You that You are always faithful. In Jesus’ Name, amen.