Summary: When life takes an unexpected turn, trust in God's plan and don't be faithless and desert, denounce, or disown Jesus; but if you already have, trust in God's grace.
Ivan Misner, in his book The World's Best Known Marketing Secrets, tells the story of a San Diego bank, which hired a private investigator to track down a bank robber and retrieve stolen funds. The search led to Mexico. The investigator crossed the border and then, realizing he would need a Spanish interpreter, opened up the telephone book and hired the first interpreter listed in the Yellow Pages.
After many days, he finally captured the bandit and, through the interpreter, asked him, “Where did you hide the money?” In Spanish, the thief replied, “What money? I have no idea what you're talking about.”
With that, the investigator drew his pistol, pointed it at the suspect, and said to the interpreter, “Tell him that if he doesn't tell me where the money is, I will shoot him where he stands.”
Upon receiving this message, the bank robber said to the interpreter, “Señor, I have hidden the money in a coffee can, under the fourth floorboard, in the second-floor men's room of the Palacio Hotel on Via Del Rio in La Paz.”
“What did he say?” the investigator asked the interpreter.
“Señor,” said the interpreter as he thought for a moment, “he says he is prepared to die like a man!” (Ivan R. Misner, The World's Best Known Marketing Secrets, Bard Press, 1994, p.41; www.PreachingToday.com)
Life is like that sometimes. People, who are supposed to help us, betray us. Or our circumstances take an unexpected turn, and we find ourselves in a lot of trouble. It happens even to those of us who are following Christ. We are not exempt from trouble. If anything, we open ourselves up to more trouble because of our commitment to Christ.
This is exactly what the 1st Century Christians in Rome discovered. After they put their faith in Christ, their friends and even some of their family members betrayed them to the Roman authorities. Many of them lost their jobs. Several were arrested, and not a few died horrible deaths as a result.
So how do you respond when you feel betrayed and deserted? How do you respond when life takes a terrible turn? How do you respond when the suffering is more than you can bear?
Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Mark 14, Mark 14, where the Gospel writer, in addressing those 1st Century Christians in Rome, describes for them and us how Jesus’ original followers responded.
Mark 14:43-45 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. (ESV)
Judas kissed him like a long-lost, close friend. The same word is used of Mary who anointed Jesus’ feet and “kissed” them continually (Luke 7:38,45). It’s also used of the father who saw his prodigal son returning home from a far off. Luke 15 says, he ran to him and “kissed” him (Luke 15:20). This was an expression of extreme devotion and love, which became the sign of treachery and betrayal.