Matthew 26:47-56 (Part 3) – Are We Fair Weather Jesus Fans?

Posted: April 12, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 26:47-56 (Part 3)

Jesus is Betrayed and Arrested

 

Have you ever been left holding the bag, as the old expression goes? All your friends disappear into the night and you are the teenager that gets caught by the police having to explain the party in the open field that got out of hand. Or, your friends promise you that they will help you clean up after a big party at your parent’s house but they all bail on you and you have to clean the place up by yourself before they get home and the place is trashed. Or, do your friends promise you that they will help do some major project but each one has an excuse and none show up to help. Have you ever took a controversial position on something and had what you thought were your friends keep silent at best or others downright turn on you for the position you took. Have you heard all those stories about lottery winners who go broke and end up worse off than they were before they won? Often it is because they have all these so called friends who suck cash out of them and act as though they are your best friends – until the cash runs out and then they jump ship like a rat off a sinking one. Those are the images that I think of when I read the last half of the last verse of this passage. Let’s read the whole passage once final time but with a special eye to the last phrase of the passage:

 

 

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

 

50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”[a]

 

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

 

52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

 

55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

 

See that last phrase, it is almost like it is stuck on at the end. Jesus is speaking in all of v. 55 and half of v. 56. And whoop, there it is. The add-on. The activity in the background being noticed. “Then, all the disciples deserted Him and fled.” Like the one kid that got caught doing something while his friends bale on Him, Jesus is deserted, left alone. The disciples fled. In just a few short hours before, they were making high and mighty promises of how they would die for Jesus. However, here you see that they bailed on Jesus at the first sign of trouble. When the pressure was on, they disappeared. They disappeared like a football who crumbles at crunch time. They said they would be football players who come up with their best plays when the game is on the line when it was summer camp but when the season gets here and a big game is on the line they fold and can’t handle the pressure of the big game. They said they could make the winning shot in the basketball game but when crunch time comes they pass the ball away because they crumbled under pressure. That is how the disciples acted here. When times were good and easy, they were with Jesus, but at the first sign of things becoming difficult, they bailed. They crumbled under pressure. They didn’t have the right stuff. They folded. They were not willing to risk it all for Jesus. They wanted to be a part of this Jesus movement that seemed so popular and was sweeping the nation. Imagine their thoughts when the came triumphantly into Jerusalem and thought they were on top of the world. They were on the inside of the new thing. They were insiders in what they perceived to be a political revolution that was taking place. Jesus was going to be the top guy in Jerusalem, maybe even king, and would start this new world order that would change everything. To them, I bet that was the coolest thing to think about. And they were the insiders. They would be important people. They would be part of the administration of Jesus’ new kingdom. They would be like these guys that are part of a presidential candidate’s leadership team seeing him when an election and they are going whooooaaaaa, we’re going to Washington and I’m gonna be working at the White House. That’s how I bet the disciples felt. When things are good like that, sure, you say that you will be with the one you are following in good times and bad, but let things turn bad. Jesus’ disciples were what appear to be fair weather fans of Jesus.

 

You hear it in football circles. For example, for years it was easy to be a Clemson Tiger fan over being a Gamecock fan when between 1976 and 2008, Clemson won 24 of the 32 football games between the two. It was easy to be a Tiger over being a Gamecock. However, between the 2009 and the 2013 season, Clemson lost five straight games in the series. Five straight. Do you realize how long that is in football fan terms? The fair weather Clemson fans bailed. Only the true Tiger fans suffered through the drought and are now enjoying their own two game streak in the series. And I see the same thing now over the past two seasons as the Gamecocks have fallen on harsh times. Only the true Gamecock fans stay. The fair weather Gamecock fans bail.

 

What if you and I had been with Jesus that night? Would we be stand up guys and gals or would we have been fair weather disciples and bailed? Much less being there in the first century but what about now? Do we bail on Jesus today in our daily lives? Are we fair weather Jesus fans today in our world in the 21st century? The thing I think about are the times when you and I stand in church and praise Jesus like it’s nobody’s business but yet do our co-workers even now that we are Christ followers? Do you stand up for Jesus when it’s just you? Do you and I have what it takes to stand up for Jesus when there are moral choices to make at work or in our personal life? Do you and I stand up for Jesus when to do so would open us up for ridicule? In our world today, when it is unpopular with the trendy to say that allowing transgender males to use the same bathroom as your teenage daughter, will you and I have what it takes to speak out against the tide and say that it is wrong on the basest of levels. Will you say transgender males or females for that matter need our compassion and love but not our celebration of something that is simply unnatural? Do you have what it takes? Do I? Do you have the guts to stand up for Jesus and do more than put a red X on your hand or t-shirt to show your support for ending sex trafficking in Asia and here at home? Will you go to India to fight it? Will you do something real to fight it? Will you donate to a group that fights hunger in our town or will you actually go into poor neighborhoods and work with them to help them break the cycle of poverty? How far are you willing to take this Christ follower thing? How far am I willing to take it? Until it costs me something? Until it requires standing against the tide? Until it requires that I go beyond praising Jesus on Sunday? How committed am I to my Jesus? Am I or are you a fair weather Jesus fan?

 

My God I pray that I will stand beside Jesus when it is not popular. My God I pray that I will stand beside Jesus when it might cost me my job. My God I pray that I will stand with Jesus when it requires more than a donation. My God I pray that I will stand with Jesus when it requires me to stand against public opinion. My God I pray that I stand with Jesus when it may cost me friends. My God I pray that I will stand with Jesus when it requires that I do extraordinary things in His name that may cost me my freedom. My God I pray that I will stand with Jesus when I may have to suffer for years without reward. My God I pray that I will stand with Jesus when it costs me everything I have and everything I own. My God I pray  that will stand with Jesus even if it costs me my life. My God, these are the things that I pray. Amen and Amen.

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