Loving Father, may I have the power to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).
His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure
of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to
have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed
it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you
will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.”
Nineteenth century preacher Alexander Whyte invited a very bright and gifted theology student to preach in his church in Edinburgh, Scotland. Feeling quite sure of himself, the young theology student strutted to the pulpit of St. George’s with great anticipation for himself and for the whole congregation. But what happened next was a preacher’s worst nightmare.
The young man’s brilliant mind went blank. He couldn’t think what to say. It was a disaster; he came down from the pulpit feeling very humiliated. After the service he asked Whyte: “What went wrong, sir?” Whyte gently said: “Well, laddie, if only you had gone into the pulpit like you came down, you would have come down like you went up.”
Watching Jesus’ disciples in today’s scripture makes me think if they had gone into this night like they came out of it, they would have come out of it like they went into it. They remind us that we are never more spiritually vulnerable than when we forget how vulnerable we are. Knowing our weakness is a must for discipleship and effective service. Ask Peter!
As the time in the Upper Room draws to a close, the disciples seem sure they have things figured out. They say to Jesus: “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things.” Their expression of knowledge reveals their ignorance. They are so sincere and confident, but had they really understood what Jesus said they would have acted very differently that night. In a few hours where are they?
But Jesus gently asks them: “Do you now believe?” Then He calls them on their bravado: “The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone.” Jesus sees through the shallowness of their faith and profession. Alexander Maclaren comments on their presumption:
“But yet the calm, clear eye of Christ sees something not wholly satisfactory in this outpouring of the disciples’ confidence. He does not reject their imperfect faith, but He warns them, as if seeing the impending hour of denial which was so terribly to contradict the rapture of the moment. And then with most pathetic suddenness.” (Alexander Maclaren, John)
“Do you now believe?” Really! They have overestimated themselves like Peter did earlier when he boasted he would lay down his life for Jesus. The disciples really do not know themselves. Do we know ourselves?
Amazingly, graciously, Jesus bears with their half-heartedness and declarations to be faithful, which He knows will soon turn into denial. He puts up with what you and I would not put up with in friends. Jesus’ love suffers long and is kind! If His love did not did not, what would become of us!
Oh, if that young theology student had only gone up to the pulpit like he came down. We are never more vulnerable than when we forget our vulnerability. We dare not trust our faithfulness or spiritual experiences, but only Him who loves us to the end!
- Am I perhaps overestimating my spiritual knowledge and my faithfulness to Jesus? I ask the Lord to show me.
- How might I be spiritually vulnerable?
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day.
Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)