Mark 14:12-16 12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” 16 And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
As two of Jesus’ disciples went into Jerusalem at the command of Jerusalem to prepare for the Passover meal I can imagine they went with trepidation. There must have been a certain sense of fear and uncertainty in their steps by this point. They knew something was going to happen. They just didn’t know what. They had hoped that Jesus would soon be crowned King over Israel and that they would rule with Him. A week earlier, in spite of their fear in going to Jerusalem where there was a very real conflict between Jesus and any and all of the different religious leaders who were united in opposition against Him, it had all started off well. Jesus had entered on a donkey's colt accepting the praise of the people. He had defeated all attacks against Him in a war of words in the Temple. But then, when the disciples had been looking in awe at the Temple buildings, Jesus declared to them that it would all be destroyed and much hardship would face them as disciples. And finally, although Jesus had told them before that He must die and rise again, a woman actually anointed Jesus with perfume for His burial. It was one thing to hear His words and not understand, but this was a visible sign confirming that His death was drawing near. The significance of these events could not be lost on the disciples as it was not lost on Judas Iscariot who had already gone secretly to meet with the chief priests to plan how to betray Jesus by this point.
And yet in spite of all this, Jesus Christ was in complete control. The disciples needed to know this. They needed assurance as they approached the death of their Savior that they were still in the will of God. Jesus was leading them to the cross with Him. Although they would not die they would suffer tremendously. The very foundation of what they believed would be rocked to the core. Jesus could have left His disciples in Galilee and told them, “I need to finish my mission alone.” He could have spared them the internal struggle that each of them would go through. But they needed to be there. They needed to be His witnesses of both His death and His resurrection. Instead of destroying their faith, the events that they were soon to be a part of would prove to solidify the very foundation of everything that they believed. Through the darkness of the cross the light of the Gospel would be known to them personally and then declared to the world.
Also, at this point, the disciples were still very much not the leaders that they should be. They believed that they were ready to lead in Jesus’ Kingdom but through their actions they showed they were not. They were still very self-seeking. They lacked a deep concern for God’s will. Jesus would rebuke them and correct them but the events surrounding the cross would teach them and shape them far above and beyond what Jesus had shown them so far. The anguish they would suffer as Jesus was dying upon the cross would grow them spiritually in a most dramatic and accelerated fashion. They would soon view themselves in a completely different light as the true condition of their hearts were made known and as Jesus would restore their souls. But all this was yet to come. For now, they carried on in uncertainty. For now they would walk with caution not knowing where each step would lead. And yet Jesus was leading each and every step.
How much comfort this can give us as Christians. Every Christian will face a period of refinement like the disciples. All of us will start off in following Jesus with a misguided view of ourselves. All of us will hear the teaching of Jesus and yet still lack understanding. There will be many things that He tells us that we hear but they do not take root. And so He will lead us into darkness. He will lead us into dark places where we would rather not go in order to remove the dross within us. He will, in the only way that He knows best, lead us into the way of purification. He will refine the gold within us. In the midst of this purification we will become confused. We will feel loss. We will feel like we are a failure to Him. We will feel on the verge of hopelessness. And yet, He is guiding us every step of the way. He led us into the darkness and He will lead us out into the light once again. We may not recognize what He is doing in us in the midst of this purification. I’m sure the disciples felt like they had lost complete control in the events surrounding Jesus’ death. But they could be reminded of how Peter and John were led to prepare the Passover meal. Jesus was still in complete control. They could still rest in Him. Do you know the purifying works of Jesus in your own life? Has He led you in this way?
But the unbeliever will never know such peace. The unbeliever will never willingly submit to such acts of purification. Why? Because they love their sin. They do not trust in Jesus. As with Judas Iscariot, they would rather betray Him than be led to the cross. They may start off following Jesus just like the true believer but they will not remain. As Jesus leads them on a path to be purged from sin it is only a matter of time before they reject Him. They will not submit to the leading of Jesus. They will not be ruled by Him. There is no comfort and reassurance that they are being led by Jesus because they in reality are their own guide. They would rather take the advice of the devil and to do his will than to come to the cross of Jesus Christ. The unbeliever will do all that they can to preserve themselves and will not be overcome by Jesus Christ. Many such disciples had turned away from Jesus earlier. The only difference with Judas Iscariot is that He lasted much longer before turning away. Don’t be like these unbelievers.
John 6:64-71 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) ... 66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.
Pastor Murray Hack