Why The Disciples Abandoned Jesus, And How You May Follow Their Footsteps

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Photo by K. Mitch Rodge

Going over the Account of Jesus’ last moments with His disciples, including the Gethsemane prayer and arrest, I couldn’t help but marvel at how often we make promises we don’t fulfil, or take stands, we don’t sustain simply because those affiliations were made after careful planning rather than sole dependence on the Lord. We start out our God-assigned projects having done the mathematical and economic calculations, but having failed to employ the Almighty formular– divine strategy. The Lord gives us an instruction or an idea, and rather than ask Him who knows the end from the beginning to show us how to navigate through or what to do, we assume we have it all figured out. The end point is usually not pretty or productive.

Shortly before Jesus was captured, He announced to His disciples over and again, that He was going to be captured and put to death. At the night of His capture, He informed them that they would all abscond and abandon Him, They all insisted that that it was not a possibility. They were going to stand by Him, come what may. Well, they actually did flee when rubber hit the road, and the question is, why? Was it fear? Maybe, Maybe not. But we can find out if we trace the story a little bit back in time.

In Luke 22:35-38, Jesus figuratively instructed the disciples to get their weapons ready. They scouted and said, “Lord, behold here are two swords.” They had heard Jesus announce His death countless times. But now, Jesus was asking them to get their weapons ready! Yes, they were ready to fight a worthy cause, and die at it if need be. Apparently, their confession was, “Lord, we’ll fight by you. Nobody will take you without a good fight!” It is little wonder then, that when Jesus rebuked the use of the swords, they fled. They knew that action was as good as walking into their death. They had hoped to fight to the death, not to go in as a sheep before its shearers, and a lamb to the slaughter.

It is safe to assume that Peter and the other disciples believed that they would not abandon and forsake Jesus because they had weapons and that they would fight a worthy cause, and die while at it. In other words, they had a plan and they had it all figured out. The moment that plan was intercepted and foiled, they couldn’t stay the course again. This is a mistake I call “The Error of The Exodus Israel“.

When Israel just left Egypt and began their 40-year voyage through the wilderness, they were to realign with their God. 430 years in the Egypt must have watered down a lot of their beliefs because as at the time, there was no law. Remember that prior to Moses, all they knew was the God of their fathers, Abraham, Issac and Jacob. And these Patriarchs served the Lord without a written guide, and simply passed down blessings and instructions by exemplary living and teaching. The Israel in Egypt after 430 years definitely must have intermingled with the atrocities of Egypt in more than a few ways. In other words, they didn’t exactly know God, who He was, or what He expected of them.

The reason their cries could ascend to God when the new Pharaoh came was because the seed of covenant (Abraham) was crying. It was exactly the way it was for Ishmael and Hagar. Although both were crying, it was the voice of Ishmael that God heard (Genesis 21:16-17). This was not because he was a teenager. It was because a seed of the covenant was crying. In the same manner, the Lord heard Israel and occasioned to birth and train a saviour named Moses.

At the fullness of 430 years Israel left Egypt to the promised land. They were grateful to a God they didn’t exactly know, except through genealogy. As they journeyed through the wilderness, the Lord, through Moses began to reveal Himself– His dos and donts, His likes and dislikes. Many of the instructions were foreign to the exodus Israel, but time and again, Israel put themselves in a precarious position by continually saying, “All that the Lord has spoken, we will do” (Exodus 19:8, 24:3,7; Deuteronomy 5:27). They probably really wanted to please God. However, the error was that they felt they could do it simply by the Lord making mention of it. It was a typical “Say it and it is done! Your wish is my command“, without considering that it is only by Faith that one can please God, and not by the calculations, outlines or predictions.

This same error caught up with the disciples. Armed with swords, they were ready to fight. Jesus told them to get their weapons ready, and He tried to prepare them when He asked them to tarry and pray with Him. That was the weapon they needed. But they missed out on that. When it was then time to face the battle, they were truly unarmed.

When you have a walk with the Lord, He is committed to guiding you every step of the way, and leading you in the path of His divine will. One truth that must never leave us is that divine assignments demand divine aid. They may be as simple as attending a meeting or as intense as taking a lengthy retreat period. They may be to endure an unjust act or to report an unjust activity. They may be to do some missions work or some social work. It’s not enough to check what certifications you need to qualify for that assignment; or what skills you need to brush up. It’s not the time to find out your social capital or how much influence you can exert. It is the time to lean on grace because, it is not by power nor by might, but by the Spirit of the Living God.

Ezekiel was smart when God asked him if the dry bones could live again, as recorded in Ezekiel 37. The Prophet told the Lord, “Thou knowest”. This should become our response to the assignment and instructions and dealings. Thou knowest. Only God knows how things will turn out. He alone know what graphs He has plotted. It’s alright to prepare your physical arsenals. Jesus didn’t rebuke them when they brought the swords, even though He knew that the battle was not one to fight with physical swords. The emphasis nonetheless is, that you make up your artillery with divinely given weapons. Gideon won a battle with 300 men. And those 300 men never swong a sword. They broke calabashes (Judges 7:16-22)! The ways of the Lord are strange, foolish sometimes, but full of results. The best way to live, is to live by His methods, not your musings.

There is a place for bold declaration but only after careful reminder that the ways of the Lord is not the ways of mortal processes. Sometimes we may not know the true cost. However if we can recognize that the first step is total submission of our will to His superior patterns, we’ll encounter less casualties. It’s safer to always fall back on Jesus and ask help of the Lord to enable you carry out that task. He would always give you the easier yoke to bear, while He does the heavy lifting.

Do you hear God speaking to you today through this lesson? Please, leave a comment or question; your comment/question might be a blessing to someone. You could also contact us through our contact page.

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