Sunday, 9 March 2014

Path of Suffering - Luke 9:21 - 62

The disciples had seen amazing things. Jesus had sent them out to do as they had seen him doing, going in his power and authority. And they went! They proclaimed and they prayed for those in need ... and saw God work. It must have been incredible and fantastic, seeing God work in the same way through them - a real high. For them the reality of Jesus and his Kingdom was now surely sinking in.

And it continued - back with Jesus they are instructed to feed the large crowd. What with? Yet the bread Jesus gives them to distribute does not run out. God's provision is incredible. Now the disciples are even more pumped up - so much so that Peter boldly declares 'You are the Messiah': God's anointed one.

Yet Jesus' reply was confusing. He switched gear and talked of rejection, suffering and death. For the disciples it was party time, but for Jesus the mood was now sombre, mentioning weird things like being raised to life.

The disciples new the scriptures promised a God-anointed king, to reign for ever, to turn the tables on the Romans and sort things out. Yet Jesus now talked of crosses - for the disciples that only meant defeat, the end of the road. Why would Jesus now talk of 'losing life', and confuse it with 'gaining life'. He even suggests that some might be ashamed of him.

So far any darkness, any evil, has fled away in the face of Jesus. Yet now he says he will be delivered, given over to the crowd. For the disciples such talk is becoming embarrassing - they don't want to ask him about it any more.

Yet Jesus will not let up. The disciples and others want to follow him, but he drops big hints about cost, priorities and commitment.

The disciples had been close to him, and had gone about his business as instructed. In so doing they had never felt more alive. They had risen to the challenge of praying for those in need, and seen God move. They had experienced the very physical presence of God. Surely Jesus wasn't going to be taken from them, surely he can't die and be lost to them?

Maybe they had another lesson to learn. They had gone out, and learnt that God could work through them in wonderful miracles. Yet perhaps the next lesson is to recognise and embrace the potential cost that will be involved. Discovering as they do so that by being about the King's business, even in the hard times, when it doesn't seem to be working, with the Romans or any/everyone else all against them ... that God will still be with them.

Last week's question was about learning more of God by doing. Is that only in the good times, or can we learn more of God by continuing to be about His business in the bad times as well?

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