“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
There are times when the news doesn’t impact you, and you sort of just ignore it. There are times when the news is OK, and you just sort of move on. And then there are times when the news is crushing, destroying your dreams and plans.
This is that time. That kind of news. News that just pulls the rug from underneath your feet. From underneath your life.
Jesus tells his closest followers that they all will fall away. Not some, not a few, but all of them will be tossed up in the air and a strong wind will blow them all over the place. They will not be able to stand up to the pressure of the oncoming tornado. While they will try to resist it, their feet will trip, causing them to lose their balance and stumble. They will try to get back up, but they will find themselves stuck, caught in a trap with no way out.
Now it’s one thing to stumble and fall. It’s another thing to be trapped. But it’s something way worse to be told that you will stumble, that you will be trapped. The reason this is so much worse is that you’d think that you could do something to stop it. Like the old saying,
Forewarned is forearmed
But Jesus is saying that even though they know what’s coming, they won’t be able to stand. Even though they know a storm is coming, they’ll be blown over like so many leaves on the ground. They know that a trap is in front of them, but they are going to step in it anyway.
And why will they fall? Why will they stumble? Why will they be scattered? Because their shepherd, their leader, their protector will first be hit. The shepherd will be beaten up and arrested. And since the person who protects them is gone, they have no one to hold onto. Their rock has been removed. Their anchor line was cut. They’ll just drift off, being pushed by the wind, waves, and tide.
Without Jesus, they will be chucked into the air so that the wind pushes them all over the place. Remember throwing a big handful of leaves up in the air? The leaves flew all over the place. There was no way to go around and pick up all the scattered leaves again.
When the disciples are scattered, it’s not going to be easy to get them back together.
It’s easy to point our finger at the disciples. To look down our nose at them. Our arrogant and smug superiority thinks that they were so dumb. After all, none of them had any real education. They hadn’t been through any formal disciple training. Heck, they didn’t even have the internet to ask for advice.
But for all our advantages, all our technology, all our education, we would have scattered just like they did. We would trip over the same stones in the road. We’d get caught in the same traps as they did.
And why? Because the shepherd had been hit. When our leader gets taken, we get pushed all over the place. We get tossed into the wind and run all over the place without any direction. We lose control of the sails, rudder, and anchor of our lives. There is nothing to do but hold on for dear life.
But Jesus doesn’t abandon us. Yes, the shepherd is going to be beaten up and killed. Yes, the sheep are going to run all over the place. Yes, there will be confusion and rough times. But the story doesn’t end there. Not for this shepherd. And not for his sheep.
Our great shepherd, Jesus, isn’t going to be blown away, never to return. No, he’s stronger that the storms that took him away. He’s greater than our getting blown off course. He’s leaving, but just for a short time. And when he returns, he’s coming back stronger and mightier than ever before.
This is the great comfort in this tough announcement. Yes, it’s going to get really rough for a while. But Jesus will never abandon us. He’ll always, always, always come back for his children.
The question is not whether He’s coming back. The real question is whether we’re his to start with? Are we his sheep? Are we his child? Are we looking to him for our stability in this unhinged world?
That’s a question well worth considering. But we need to do more than just consider it, we need to settle it. It’s something so important that God wants us to know it deep down in the center of ourselves.
So, where are you?