Psalms 122; 145, Isaiah 8:16-9:1, 2 Peter 1:1-11, Luke 22:39-53
Shortly before Jesus was handed over to the authorities by Judas, he went to his customary place of prayer on the Mount of Olives. The disciples joined him, but he prayed “about a stone’s throw” away from them. Luke says Jesus prayed so earnestly “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down.” When he returned to the disciples, they were exhausted from grief and therefore sleeping. He woke them and mildly chastised them.
As he was speaking, a crowd led by Judas appeared. When the disciples realized this was the moment of betrayal, one of them attacked a slave of the high priest and severed his ear. Jesus cried “No more of this!” and healed the man.
After three years of commitment to Jesus’s message, mission, and ministry, the disciples were still something of a disappointment: they couldn’t stay awake to provide moral support and didn’t understand Jesus intended to surrender himself. The entire length of their tour with Jesus had been punctuated by misunderstanding and error.
Would we have done better? We may like to believe so, but if Jesus could have drafted better disciples, don’t we think he would have? Yet these people – who had plenty of disappointment yet to deliver – spread the gospel and founded the church. Like the disciples, let’s take heart in knowing our limitations are not God’s limitations. Grief, fear, and other factors may lead us to misstep, but we are still part of the body of Christ.
Just as importantly – maybe more so – let’s remember the shortcomings of the disciples and ourselves when we’re tempted to judge the mistakes of others. If we think we’d do better in their shoes, let’s remember Peter denied Christ three times but was suitable to be the Rock of the Church. Our biggest mistake may be operating as if we ourselves have no mistakes left to make!
When one of our sisters or brothers in Christ stumbles through sin or error, it’s not our place to write them off, for Jesus has already redeemed them. Rather, we can offer encouragement, support, and – when necessary – gentle correction. As the author of 2 Peter writes, let us bear one another’s burdens with endurance, self-control, and mutual affection.
Comfort: You’re going to make mistakes, and God is going to love and work through you anyway.
Challenge: Do an internet search on techniques for learning to withhold judgment.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your patience with me, and bless me with patience for your beloved people. Amen.
Discussion: Have you ever disappointed someone who gave you another chance? Or is there someone who has disappointed you that could use a second chance?
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