Summary: The last couple of weeks we have been looking at the struggles and pressures the disciples faced.
DISCIPLES IN THE MAKING pt 3
The last couple of weeks we have been looking at the struggles and pressures the disciples faced. First there was the pressure of unbelief, then the pressure of assignments, then people-pressure. There is a fourth pressure on the disciples in Mark 6, the pressure of an uncertain political situation.
That can be very unnerving. Several years ago some prophets of doom predicted that a huge earthquake was coming and California would slide into the ocean. I remember some people taking off and buying land in Arizona, just across the border. These were Christians. Their excuse was that they needed to go to Arizona that weekend.
The real reason was they believed that prophecy was going to come to pass. They were afraid of an uncertain situation. It could be political or environmental or whatever. These are really scary times in which to live if you think about it.
As I was thinking about uncertain times, I started counting how many coup’s I’ve lived through. At last count it was nine. Uncertain political times. And then I wonder about our country, how long will this fragile frame work of democracy last and keep the powers of godlessness and anarchy at bay.
The disciples are also coping with an uncertain political situation. As they go out telling the good news, they are going through Herod’s territory, he’s responsible for one of the world’s most brutal murders of a prophet. What if Herod decides to do to them what he did to John?
You certainly don’t want to say anything about Herod’s family, especially his new wife. That cost John his head. Talk about having to be politically correct. And you thought we were crazy today being politically correct.
I think you can better understand why Jesus did not say a word when he stood before Herod at his arraignment, after his arrest and trial before the Sanhedrin and Pilate. Jesus didn’t say a word. Herod had received all the word from God he was going to get, and until he acted on the word of John the Baptist, Jesus wasn’t going to say a thing.
An uncertain political situation. Yet in the midst of whatever uncertainty exists, the disciples still have the responsibility for going out. They are not to dig holes in the ground and hide. They’re not to find caves and disappear. They are to be present in the world no matter what the cost, whatever the danger.
The disciples not only faced an uncertain political situation, but in the death of John the Baptist, they faced the pressure of coming to grips with the fact that God sometimes does not prevent personal disasters.
Many of Jesus’ disciples had been John’s disciples. I can only imagine the sense of loss they felt. And then to think that this righteous man was buried headless, surely that’s not what God wanted! Add to that all the miracles that Jesus was doing in Galilee, and he hadn’t acted to prevent John’s death.
Following Jesus is not for those who think he’ll make life easy. Any disciple who follows Jesus begins to understand that there are things which happen in life for which there are no easy answers. In fact, sometimes there aren’t any answers at all.
But there is a basic truth behind all the problems that come up. God is absolutely trustworthy! Everyday the disciples saw evidence of the Lord’s working. As you and I continually see evidence of the Lord’s working, even when we don’t understand, it reminds us to continue following him. It is because of the disciples willingness to serve the Lord, without having all the answers, that the word of the gospel becomes known in the court of King Herod.
What a ministry trip that must have been, the whole province is aware of what’s going on. Mark doesn’t give us the statistics of this report, how many people were saved, how many were healed, how many miracles were done. The important thing is they obeyed Jesus’ instructions. Now everyone wants to meet Jesus.
The disciples still have lots of questions, they didn’t understand everything, but they obeyed. I still have questions that I don’t have an answer for. Why are some healed and others not? Why do some go through tragedy and others do not? Why do some disciples apparently carry heavier loads of responsibility? And why is it that as you look through the Bible you see that those who draw closest to God carry the greatest struggles?
How do I go on when I don’t understand? I know that God has everything in his hands. Everything I see is temporary, and everything that God does is eternal. His word lasts forever, period. Also, all my questions will be answered one day, until then, I trust him!