Have you ever felt like everyone was against you?
Your spouse was discontented. Distant. And disengaged. Your kids seemed sullen and angry. Your boss was demanding. Impossible to please. A friend betrayed you. Others turned on you. No one listened. Or understood. Or seemed to care. People who lauded and praised you a few days ago now turn on you with a spiteful venom. Those who hailed you as great now want your hide.
Is there any feeling more hurtful? Lonely? Or discouraging?
If you’ve ever experienced those emotions, then you know Jesus’ feelings leading to Friday’s execution.
Judas betrayed him. With a hypocritical kiss placed on his cheek, the man who shared the last supper now sells out the Savior for 30 pieces of silver.
Then when Jesus was accosted and arrested, Mark records 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!
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!”
If that wasn’t insulting enough, Peter soon denied his Lord. Not once. Not twice. But three times. He cursed and swore saying, “I don’t know the man!”
Predictably the religious leaders seized the opportunity to eliminate this “trouble maker.” So, in a kangaroo-court of a trial, Jesus was accused by suborned witnesses. Declared guilty. And sent to the Governor for the death sentence.
When Pilate tried to free this innocent man, the frenzied mob would not have it. Just days earlier the people were shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna!” as Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Now they were crying “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
So what did Jesus do? How did He handle it? Where did He turn?
He stayed focused. He looked Heaven-ward. And he trusted His Father.
On that horrific Friday, Jesus knew something that no one else knew. Or understood. Or believed. Sunday was coming!
His suffering would end. But his ministry would not end in futility. His mission would not end in failure. And His death would not end in finality. Though His world came crashing down and everyone turned against Him, Jesus was triumphant in the end. The mission was accomplished. The Father gloried. And lost humanity now had a Savior.
The Redeemer reminds me to look past my present problems. To take heart when I’m hurting. To believe when hope seems lost. To lift up my eyes and see the cross. To peek inside the empty tomb. To get a glimpse of God’s glory. Greatness. And grace.
When I come to the supper on Sunday, I may be afflicted, but I’m not abandoned. Hurting, but not helpless. Discouraged, but not destroyed. Broken, but not beaten.
Why? I see Jesus! He led the way. He overcame the enemy. Forgave those for forsook Him. Restored those who reviled Him. And received those who had previously rejected Him.
And so, today, He reaches out his nail-scarred hand. He says, “Peace be with you.” He offers help. Hope. And healing. The shame of my sins are washed in His blood. My conscience is cleared. And my heart cleansed. The weariness of this wicked world is replaced by Heaven’s call. Confidently, I can sing, “What a Friend I have in Jesus.!”
It may be Friday. But, thank God, Sunday’s coming!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman