First Sunday in Lent, March 5
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
For Jesus’ faithful followers, it was more than “being along for the ride.” What they experienced in Jesus led them to leave home, family and work. Despite being told Jesus would be betrayed, killed and raised, they were committed. Theoretically, they knew what was coming.
Jesus forewarned his disciples: “You will all become deserters…” Other translations read “you will fall away…” or “be offended…” or “be scandalized…”
This will happen, he said, “because of me.”
There is scandal in the cross. To be a faithful follower of Jesus—of God’s unfailing love—leads us into unfamiliar, frightening, threatening situations in which our automatic response is to flee as fast as we can. We follow, because of Jesus. Sometimes, we stumble and run away. Following Jesus seems more than can be handled.
Jesus promised his disciples, “after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” We follow. We stumble. Yet there is grace.
Let us pray…Gracious God, grant us vision, courage, tenacity and grace to be your people. Amen.
The Rev. Carol Jeunnette
Another devotion for this text…
What does it mean to lose your leader? We can’t ask the sheep, but we can see their actions: they become frightened, then panic and then they run in all directions. That’s what happened to the disciples the night Jesus gave them this warning.
It is so easy to focus only on Jesus’ words about the scattering because that is what upsets our security. We don’t hear what Jesus says about the ending: “But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” There is hope, our leader will be reunited with us. By listening entirely we avoid the confusion of panic and bad endings.
A quote attributed to John Lennon and repeated in a favorite movie of mine, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” goes like this: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it must not be the end.” God gives us the answers to find our way to the ending of our predicaments when we listen carefully. By God’s grace, let us ask that our faith and trust will get stronger and stronger so we can listen and find our way.
Let us pray…Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.