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by Phil Ware

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The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:6-9 NRSV)

Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” (Matthew 27:20-23 NRSV)

    One week the crowds called him their hero. They welcomed him as David’s Son. They spread their coats and palm branches in his path and cheered him as their Messiah. Such joy! Such jubilation! Such anticipation of glory.

    A mere week later, they asked for a murderer to be released and for him to be crucified. They yelled, “Crucify him!” in anger and hatred. They rejected him and wanted him dead.

    How fast the crowd turns. How fickle are those who once consider themselves to be friends can be. But then, they were just the crowds! Easily swayed. Not at all loyal. Not really friends. Surely “real friends” would be faithful.

Jesus knows the heartbreak of friends who fail us and break our hearts...
    But look closely at his “real friends”! The disciples, the twelve, the inner three disciples fare worse. In a matter of hours after being warned about their turning away, betraying, and denying him, they all fail. Judas betrays him for 30 pieces of silver. Peter denies him three times beside a charcoal fire despite Jesus’ explicit warning. Peter, James, and John can’t stay awake long enough to pray for him in his hour of self-confessed turmoil and anguish. When they arrest the Lord, all the “real friends” abandon him and flee for their lives.

    What can we learn from this night of horror, betrayal, and failure? Is there a message for us in all of this?

    Yes, I believe there are two crucial messages for you and me.

    First, Jesus knows the heartbreak of friends who fail us and break our hearts through their betrayal. He doesn’t just know this pain as a theory or as an intellectual understanding or because he is the all-knowing God; he knows through the intense pain of personal experience. Because he knows, we can turn to him and know he hears our cries of anguish, identifies with our gut-wrenching pain, and will stand by us even though all others fail! (Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:14-16; 2 Timothy 2:11-13)

    Second, Jesus can take us and redeem us and restore us even when we have failed him in the worst of ways. This same group of apostles that failed him so miserably would become the greatest group of world-changers in human history. He not only forgave them, he empowered them. He used their experience as a crucible to forge them into something better than they were. He can do the same with you and me.

    So never doubt the fickleness of friends; but never give up on them! Never be surprised at the difference a week can make in the support of the crowd; but don’t be disillusioned by it. Most of all, never doubt that the Lord knows your deepest hurts and can mend your worst failures.

This is a true saying:
If we die with him,
we will also live with him.

If we endure hardship,
we will reign with him.
If we deny him,
he will deny us.

If we are unfaithful,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.

    (2 Timothy 2:11-13)

 
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      Title: ""
      Author: Phil Ware
      Publication Date: April 14, 2003


 
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