The Psalmist prophesied it. Jesus predicted it would happen. Within hours. Peter emphatically denied it could ever occur. And so nodded all the disciples in agreement. They would never do that! Do what?
When Jesus was accosted by the Roman soldiers, betrayed by Judas, and finally seized and arrested, both Matthew and Mark record the sad words: “ Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.”
Deserted! Forsaken! Abandoned! Yes, that’s what happened in the darkness of the early morning hours on the blackest Friday in human history. Jesus was jilted by His closest companions. His faithful followers. His favorite friends. They ran! All of them!
He had said hours earlier in the garden, “You will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.” Indeed. They scattered. They ran. They hid. Oh, yes, Peter did follow afar off. But he soon denied Jesus. Three times. We do see John later at the foot of the cross. But what about the rest of the disciples.
Where’s Matthew? He once threw a party and invited all his friends to meet Jesus. What happened to Andrew? Early on He enthusiastically brought his brother, Simon Peter, to meet the Messiah. And Phillip? What happened to him? Remember the time he confidently witnessed to Nathaniel? And when Nathaniel questioned that this was the Christ? Phillip boldly invited, “Come and see!”
Where did they all go? What did they do all week-end? How did they feel? We’re not told. We just know they ran! Like a scalded dog that scampers off and cowers in fear. Did they feel remorse? Guilt? Shame? Again we’re not told. We can only guess. Human experience says they did.
But John does tell us they came together again. It was the first day of the week. Meeting in secret. Behind closed doors. Fearful of the Jewish authorities. Then it happened! Suddenly. Surprisingly. Unexpectedly. There He was! Jesus! The rumors were true. The reports were accurate. The women were right. Peter and John really had seen Him.
What a Sunday that was! Their sadness was transformed to gladness. Their fear became faith. The cowardice soon turned to commitment. And the disgrace of their desertion? Forgiven by their Friend. Redeemed by the risen Redeemer. Cleansed in His sinless blood.
As I read these accounts again, I’m reminded of the times when I ran. When I was fearful instead of faithful. When I was cowardly instead of courageous. When I was weak instead of brave. When I should have stood strong. But didn’t. Yet haven’t we all had those Fridays? Of regret and remorse?
But thank God for Sunday. When Jesus shows up. When He says, “Peace be with you.” When He extends His pierced hand. When He offers help. Hope. And healing. When the shame of my sins are washed in His blood. When my conscience is cleared. And my heart cleansed . Then I can say with Thomas, who once ran but returned, “My Lord, and my God!
It may be Friday. But, thank God, Sunday’s coming!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman