People who followed Jesus in the first century were surprisingly ordinary. They came from all walks of life. They had ordinary emotions. Doubt, fear, anxiety and hesitancy didn’t immediately disappear when they decided to follow Christ. Most Christians today can relate. While we would like to be “all in” and totally confident in our faith, there are times when negative thoughts creep into our lives. As we consider how Jesus stuck with His early disciples, we can be confident He will stick with us.
His (Our) Critics
Some critics are enemies of your personality, message, background or family. Some are the focus of your message, background or family. Jesus found this to be the case and established some boundaries when he told those who challenged Him, “And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:31-32 NIV)
The demands we face at work often zap us of physical and mental energy leaving us unable to deal with other things in our life. Matthew 14 details that type of day. It began with Jesus grieving over His cousin who had been executed, then proceeded to His feeding more than 5,000 with two fish and five loaves of bread and ended with Jesus walking on water to return to His disciples. Jesus had the power to thrive in such a day by twice getting away to spend time with God alone. God provides the strength we all need.
We can read Matthew 26-27 and see all Jesus went through in His final days. It’s hard for us to fathom that Jesus knew what He would go through╤torture and pain╤and still went through it! Why? He passionately loves us. He was willing to take all the humiliation, extraordinary pain and most of all, the past, present and future sin of the entire human race upon Himself. He was also willing to be separated from His Father when He bore our sins. He did it because He loves us, and desperately wants us to spend eternity with Him!
From Gory to Glory
Peter had a BIG personality. We see time and time again where he was impulsive, bold, headstrong, and yet totally in love with Jesus. Peter was the first apostle to confess Jesus as the Messiah. He jumped out of the boat and walked on the water! Yes, he lived big, but he also sinned big. It was Peter who denied knowing Jesus three times just after Jesus was crucified. He came up short of all he claimed to be, but Jesus forgave Peter and used him to spread the word and build the early church over all the world.
After the death of Jesus on the cross, the chief priests and the Pharisees reminded Pilate that Jesus said he would rise after three days. Pilate was so concerned, even afraid, someone would steal Jesus’ body, he ordered the tomb to be secured (sealed) and a guard to be posted. This was done so no one would be deceived into believing Jesus had risen. We don’t share their fear because of the joy we find in the truth and promise of 1 Corinthians 6:14, “God raised the Lord from the dead and He will raise us also.”