And Still Remained in Relation

And Still Remained in Relation
Rev. Dr. David J. Fekete
Good Friday, 2016

The sad Good Friday story is also another example of Jesus’ unbounded love and forgiveness. In the Good Friday story we have humanity at its worst. And yet Jesus remains with humanity, forgiving and staying with humanity even in our worst behavior.
Tonight I don’t want to talk about the angry mob that turned on Jesus. The mob that welcomed Him with songs of praise just one week before calling for His execution. Tonight I’d like to talk about the Twelve Apostles.
The Twelve Apostles were the small group that Jesus chose to remain close to Him. These were the Apostles who followed Jesus wherever He went. They dined with Him, slept in His company, and they were privy to all the teachings of Jesus. Indeed there was a vast mob that followed Jesus. They heard some of what Jesus taught. They observed some of Jesus’ miracles and healings. But the multitudes by and large stayed in their villages when Jesus left to preach elsewhere.
But the Twelve Apostles left everything and followed Jesus wherever Jesus went. They saw all the miracles. They witnessed all the healings. They heard all the teachings. In fact, in John’s Gospel Jesus calls them friends. They may even have been as close to Jesus as was Mary, His mother. Maybe even closer. For the Twelve Apostles followed Jesus in His professional work, His ministry. And sometimes our colleagues and adult friends mean as much to us as our families when we are grown. Sometimes more. In any event, the Twelve Apostles were Jesus’ closest comrades, Jesus’ closest friends.
And these close friends of Jesus let Him down on a number of levels. I say that they let Jesus down because that is how it appears to me, not how it appeared to Jesus. One of the intimate Twelve, Judas, actually turned against his teacher and friend and gave Him up to the authorities. And he did it with a kiss, not by knocking Jesus out and dragging Him to the Jewish authorities. Jesus’ steadfast follower Peter, the Rock on whom Jesus would build the church, denied knowing Jesus when questioned by the mob. The Twelve Apostles couldn’t even stay awake and wait with Jesus as He prepared for His death. While Jesus was praying, they fell asleep.
These betrayals were all the worse because they were betrayals by Jesus’ closest friends, His most intimate relations. The mob that first loved Jesus and then turned against Him was bad enough. But the mod is rather impersonal. We wouldn’t say that the mob knew Jesus very well. But this was not the case with the Twelve Apostles. So it was especially painful and disappointing that Jesus’ most intimate followers would care so little as to fall asleep while Jesus is sweating blood, or deny knowing Him after His arrest, or to betray Him with a kiss.
Jesus knew all this. He knew Peter would deny Him and confronted Peter about it. He knew Judas would betray Him. But how does Jesus react to this disappointing knowledge? Does Jesus turn His back on the Twelve and shake the dust off His feet? No. Jesus says, “I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). Knowing the weakness of humanity, knowing the shortcomings of His intimate followers, Jesus wants still to dine with them. Jesus wants one last supper with His Apostles. Maybe as much for Himself as to share His presence with them for one last time.
Despite human frailty, Jesus remains in relation with us. We all fall short of the glory of God at one time or another in one way or another. And yet God remains in relation with us. God stays with us. God loves us as He did His weak Apostles. God holds out His holy hand to us and offers to lift us out of the mire of worldly passions. And to hold out His loving hand, God stays with humanity in a love relationship. In the book of Revelation Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat supper with him, and he with me” (3:20).
The Last Supper of Jesus with His Twelve Apostles is the supper Jesus eats with all of us when we open the door to Him. In our fallenness and in our weakness, Jesus stays with us, loves us. Jesus knows our hearts and never turns from humanity. Let us pray not to enter into temptation, let us pray to hear Jesus’ knock on the door, open the door, and let Him in.

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