Summary: No matter how our circumstances are we must trust in God and know that when the world is uncertain GOD IS CERTAIN!
God Is Certain
Robert F Collins DipTheo, BTh/BMin, MDiv
One of the most dramatic moments in the Bible, perhaps in all of human history, took place in an environment that we have come to refer to as “the upper room.” It occurred toward the end of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus and his disciples were going to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, a Jewish festival that included a specific remembrance meal; a meal that commemorated what happened hundreds of years earlier when the Israelites ate their last meal as slaves in Egypt. The Hebrew people had been in Egypt for four hundred years. They began as a family and grew into a nation. For their entire history, all they had known was slavery. They had prayed unceasingly to their God, but their prayers had gone unanswered for four hundred years. Finally, God sent a deliverer, Moses. He told them that they would be leaving the next day and that an angel of death was going to pass over Egypt that night, killing every firstborn from every family that didn’t have lamb’s blood on their doorposts and above their doors. The Israelites believed Moses, slaughtered a lamb, had a meal, and smeared the lamb’s blood as they had been told. That night, every firstborn in Egypt was killed, except for those sleeping in homes with blood on the doorposts, just as Moses had said. When morning came, Pharaoh angrily told Moses to take his people and leave. The Bible says that the next day they packed up everything they owned, along with the things the Egyptians had given them, and headed for what would be known as the Promised Land.
Fourteen hundred years later, Jesus was preparing to gather with his disciples for the Passover meal, as they had done before. When they had gathered for previous Passover meals, things had been great. Jesus was a celebrity, a cultural icon, and was drawing thousands of people when he spoke. The disciples felt privileged to be so close to him. The crowds were getting bigger and bigger, as were the miracles. But this time was different. Things weren’t going well. The momentum had turned. Uncertainty was in the air. Rumors were circulating that people were trying to isolate Jesus from the crowds, to get him alone, to falsely accuse him, and to arrest him. The disciples knew that if Jesus went down, they’d go down with him. On the afternoon of Passover, Jesus still hadn’t told them where they would celebrate. Instead, as they headed toward Jerusalem, He told them that things were going to get really bad. Like us, they wondered, then why would we go there? It was as if he had a death wish. When they arrived on the outskirts of Jerusalem, they waited for the sun to set. Then Jesus sent two of the disciples into town to meet a mysterious man who took them to a secret place. Somehow, Jesus had arranged the Passover meal, but he hadn’t told his disciples about it. Because they would be isolated from the crowds and vulnerable, he didn’t want anyone to know where they would be. They snucked into Jerusalem under cover of night. They went to a home, slipped quietly upstairs, and gathered in an upper room. It was eerie. Mark 14:17, 18 recounts their arrival: “When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me one who is eating with me.’ ” That must have seemed odd, even a little insulting. It would be like inviting someone into your home and saying, “Thanks for coming. By the way, I know you’re going to betray me.” It messed with their minds, and the disciples tried to get Jesus to be more specific, but he only repeated that his betrayer was in the room, adding, “It would be better for him if he had not been born” (v. 21). Then at this last meal, Jesus began talking about his death, about being taken. The disciples tried to block it out. To their way of thinking much like our own if God were with you, then things would get better. When God shows up, there should be more certainty, not less. Not this time.
A Source of Comfort
Our world is facing uncertainty like many of us have never experienced in our lifetimes, which makes the Bible the perfect place to turn. The Bible is full of stories that took place in the midst of uncertainty. If you have a favorite Bible story, verse, psalm, or proverb, it probably unfolded during a time of incredible uncertainty. The Bible is not a compilation of stories about wrinkle-free lives. Not everyone lived happily ever after. Each narrative, every passage, and the things we draw hope and security from all of those came from troubled times in the lives of people who discovered that, in the midst of uncertainty, God is still certain.