Sunday, August 18, 2013

Jesus As Orchestrator

Sometimes Jesus cited scripture to show others what they must do to fulfill it. Such is the case at Mark 14:27 (Matthew 26:31).

The reason Jesus said, “ it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered,” was to orchestrate the behavior of the eleven to achieve the desired result that nothing be lost. (John 18:9)

The fleeing of the disciples from the scene of the arrest was not a failure of the disciples to be loyal to Jesus, as it has been misunderstood to be by Christians and non-Christians alike, but it was a success by them in discerning the will of Jesus and in denying themselves in order to follow him. (Matthew 16:24)

The disciples of Jesus loved him and wanted to prove their loyalty to him. They wanted to stand by him as he faced his adversaries. They all said, “If I should die with you, I will not deny you in any wise.” (Mark 14:31) When they said it, though, they did not realize that if they should die with him willingly, they would be denying him selfishly by that act – they would be savoring neither a thing of God, who scripted the scattering, nor a thing of Jesus, who saw in it the achievement of the result that nothing be lost – they would be savoring a thing of men. This is why they were offended in him: He denied them the opportunity to stand with him and fight, to demonstrate their loyalty in a way that men understand.

When Jesus said, “it is written . . . ,” he established a cue to signal them to scatter. When it became necessary that they scatter, Jesus said, “ . . . but the scriptures must be fulfilled.” (Mark 14:49b) “And they all forsook him and fled.” (Mark 14:50) It is unlikely that they understood that they had to flee in order to follow him until he cued them, until he told them that what was written must be fulfilled. This is obviously true of Simon Peter, who, before Jesus cued them, attacked Malchus, the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. (John 18:10) Nevertheless, when he cued them, they forsook him physically to be with him spiritually. They obeyed his declaration that what was written must be fulfilled.

Today, those who say that the disciples of Jesus were deficient in their duty to him when they fled from the scene of the arrest are guilty of savoring not the thing of God, but that of men. As a consequence, they judge the disciples of Jesus in this matter according not to righteous judgment, but to appearance.

If you have difficulty understanding the case of Mark 14:27 as an example of Jesus orchestrating the behavior of the eleven, it is unlikely you will readily understand the case of John 13:18 as an example of Jesus orchestrating the behavior of the one.

Nevertheless, I make this declaration only in my own name.

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