Matthew 26:47-56

“While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed Him. Jesus replied, ‘Friend, do what you came for.’

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested Him.

With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. ‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’

At that time Jesus said to the crowd, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.’

Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled.”

Have you ever poured out your heart and had God answer you with a quiet “no”?
Have you ever been betrayed by someone you thought was your friend?
Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do?
Have you ever felt abandoned when you really needed someone on your side?

That’s where Jesus stands at end of today’s text.
He stands alone in the midst of a hateful mob of bullies. His so-called friend, Judas, has betrayed Him. All His disciples have fled. The angry hands that hold Him fast are rough and strong and coarse. There is no compassion in the eyes of His accusers.

From all outward appearances, everything has gone wrong. Jesus was supposed to be the King. Jesus was supposed to be the Messiah. The bewildered disciples think to themselves, “this just can’t be right! How could everything be going so wrong?”

Ah, but they haven’t been paying attention. This is precisely how Jesus had told them it would go down…

Mark 8:31

“Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”

Mark 9:31

“He was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill Him, and three days after being killed, He will rise again.'”

Mark 10.32b-34

“He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to Him, saying, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death; then they will hand Him over to the Gentiles, they will mock Him, and spit upon Him, and flog Him, and kill Him; and after three days He will rise again.’”

They had been told. They had been warned. It had been laid out before them again and again, and yet still, when it happened, when the words of Jesus became reality, the disciples all fled. Let us not be too quick to condemn them – for what would we have done (indeed, what have we done) under the same circumstances?

Following Jesus had been a long journey…three years in the making. They had left everything to follow Jesus. They had put all their trust and hope in Him. Indeed, they had staked their lives on the promise that He was the Messiah, the chosen and anointed one, the one who would redeem Israel and set them free.  His teachings were often difficult to understand and nearly impossible to reconcile with the world they saw around them, but His miracles! They had witnessed God’s power at work within Him. He was the Christ, of that they had no doubt.  But recently He had been saying things that troubled them. They were tired, they were confused, they were emotionally exhausted.

And then He had determined to go to Jerusalem for Passover.

It had been a long week…from the glorious, festive entry into the city, to waving palms and cheering crowds, to the disruptive confusion of the Temple when Jesus seemed to some of them to go mad, to the things He was saying about the teachers of the Law right to their faces – Jesus seemed to determined to make enemies with everyone! They had been glad to retire with Him to the upper room for the celebration of the sacred Paschal meal – but then, what began as a celebration had become a very long night.

It had been a long night…
Following a long day, there had been a long Passover Meal (the Last Supper).
Then there had been the washing of the feet.
Then there had been a long walk through the vineyard (Vine and the branches)
Then, Jesus had prayed a long, public prayer (John 17),
Followed by a long, private prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Yes, they had fallen asleep, but it had been a long night! And yes, even after Jesus woke them, they had fallen asleep again but this time when they awoke they were surrounded by the sounds of an angry mob. There were torches flickering through the trees. They were startled, disoriented, confused. And yes, they were afraid. What would happen next? Would this be the big show down where Jesus revealed His power and glory? Were they about witness the cosmic battle between God’s good Son and the world’s evil minions? What were they expected to do? Should they draw their swords and defend their friend? Were they about to be arrested too?

Jesus seemed eerily calm.
The crowd took hold of Him and Peter lashed out.
But Jesus ordered peace and brought healing.
He was giving himself into their hands!
The disciples were human…and they fled.

So, where did all the disciples go from Gethsemane when everything went so seemingly wrong?

Some of their stories we know from the testimony of Scripture:

We catch up with Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer in Matthew 27:1-5:

“Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound Him, led Him away and handed Him over to Pilate, the governor. When Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.
“I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.”

From the arrest at Gethsemane, Peter followed (Luke 22.54-62):

“Peter followed at a distance.
When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, ‘This man was with Him.’
But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don’t know Him,’ he said.
A little later someone else saw him and said, ‘You also are one of them.’
‘Man, I am not!’ Peter replied.
About an hour later another asserted, ‘Certainly this fellow was with Him, for he is a Galilean.’
Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.
The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’
And he went outside and wept bitterly.”

We find John standing at the foot of the cross (John 19.25-27):

“Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

So, Judas, Peter and John are accounted for. But what about the other 9? What of Andrew, James the son of Zebedee, Matthew, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, Thaddeus, and Simon the Zealot?

Where did they all go when everything went so seemingly wrong?

Where do you run when you’re in trouble?
Where would you go if your life were in danger? To whom do you run?
They had just seen one of their own betray their leader. Whom could they trust? Were they next on Judas’ list? Where could they go for safety? Last night they would have run to Jesus, but where now?

Maybe they returned to Bethany where they had been staying with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
Maybe to the upper room where the Last Supper had just been celebrated.
Maybe to hide in the midst of the tens of thousands of Galileans who had swarmed into Jerusalem for Passover.
Maybe Simon went to consult with the Zealots.
Maybe Matthew went to make a case to the Romans.
Maybe some of them went to seek out the Jewish leaders who had become believers that they might plead Jesus’ case.
Maybe one of them went to Joseph of Arimathea and another to Nicodemus to see if they might buy Jesus’ release.
From the time of Jesus’ arrest to his death on the cross the disciples are virtually invisible. We don’t know where they ran from the Garden of Gethsemane, but we do know that by Sunday they were all together, hiding in the upper room, behind a locked door. Well, everyone but Thomas.

John 20:19-29

“After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.
So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it.’
A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!'”

Yes, with Jesus again in their presence they were at peace.
Without Him they had been in chaos.
Without Him they had been panicked, scattered, lost.
But with Him they experience great joy and great peace.

Indeed, there is no better place to be when everything goes wrong than at the side of the One who makes all things right.

Things don’t always seem to go right in our lives. There is conflict and loss and disappointment and heartache in every human life. Your particular pain might be physical, spiritual, financial, emotional, relational, psychological or even social. You might be feeling very much alone in the world and you may be wondering if anyone really cares.  You may have received a devastating diagnosis or some disappointing news. You may have extended your love to someone and find yourself feeling foolish, vulnerable, and ashamed – or you may feel unlovable and unloved. Whatever is wrong, there is ultimately only One who can make it right.

Jesus came to make things right. To give us His righteousness.
To make us right with God, right with ourselves and right with one another.
Jesus came to make all things new.
Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly.
Jesus came not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him.
Jesus came to make you right, to make you new, to give you life, that you might be saved through Him.

It looked to the disciples as if everything had gone horribly wrong, when, in fact, all things were going exactly the way God had planned. You might be feeling today as if everything has gone horribly wrong, but from God’s perspective the things of your life are just now shaping up to be made right. Not by you, not by your own efforts, not by pressing the full force of your life into your problems – but by receiving the full weight of the glory poured out upon the cross.

The first disciples didn’t get it. I’m hoping we do.
As the disciples of Jesus Christ in the world today we have a choice to make when everything seems to go wrong. We can abandon the One who has brought us this far or we can trust Him to lead us through. We can run and hide or can take a stand for the truth we know will set us free. We can make alliances with the powers of the world or we can rely on Jesus Christ whose power has overcome the world.

Where will you choose to be the next time everything goes wrong?
I choose to be with Jesus because I know that He alone can make all things right.

Let us be everyday Easter people, living the Resurrection Reality every day.

Where everyone went when everything went wrong

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