Wednesday, April 10, 2013
A New Beginning, Wrightsville Beach, NC
The recent focus on the events of this Easter season always gives us pause to ponder philosophical questions. Probably the key question that is asked would be “What would have happened if Jesus had not risen from the tomb and defeated death”? C. S. Lewis has noted if that had happened, Christianity would have drifted into the sands of time and never been heard of again. That event was pivotal in the course of God’s grace being dispensed to humankind.
And then there was the impetuous disciple Peter. When Jesus was betrayed by Judas with that infamous “kiss of death”, Peter’s knee jerk reaction was to draw his sword and cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest. Jesus immediately asked them, “Am I leading a rebellion that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me”? Jesus was leading a revolution, not a rebellion! Later, just before sunrise as Jesus was being tried, Peter fulfilled Jesus’ prediction and denied that he ever knew him, not once but three times. When he realized what he had done, he left weeping bitterly. What if a distraught Peter had hung himself after denying Jesus three times? He would not have been the person that Jesus appointed as the rock that He would build his church upon. This kingdom of God would ultimately be founded on the principles of weakness, poverty, suffering, loving and serving others, and remembering Jesus when breaking bread.
And then there was Judas the turncoat. Judas was the man this little band of brothers relied on to manage the finances and carry the money bag. He understood what sustained the inverted kingdoms of this world—power, money, swords and clubs. He was looking for a warrior king to vanquish the oppressing Roman rule of his people. Jesus was a big disappointment to Judas and so he betrayed him. Then, when he realized what the thirty pieces of silver had accomplished, he went out in anguish and hung himself. The term “kiss of death” now means an intimacy with something that subsequently causes your destruction. BUT, what if Judas had only waited three days? The resurrection showed all of the remaining disciples that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and they all went on to live inspired lives. Perhaps a forgiven Judas would have been the rock and redirected the rest of his life to the new revolution. A converted Paul that had originally persecuted Christians went on to write a significant part of the New Testament.
We absolutely know that God can bring good out of any bad situation that develops as mortal men continue to exercise their free will. And He will use the most unlikely human candidates to accomplish His will to demonstrate that His acceptance is available to anyone. History would then have recorded Judas as one of the most revered disciples instead of the most repulsive after the events of Easter. Both Peter and Judas illustrate the axiom that “It is better to be a follower who fails, than one who fails to follow”. What about us?