Passion Week Devotional: Thursday

By Darrell Cook

While we were still sinners (and scatterers)…

It was Thursday night and all those closest to Jesus had scattered. Running from the scene and leaving the One who loved them most. Unable to stay awake when called to pray. Denial, followed by denial, followed by denial. Bound up by the fear of man. Followers who took an abrupt break from following. Displaying the ultimate abandonment of the One who would never abandon them.

I could pause to wish I had been there. To seize the moment. To stand up boldly and show those first disciples how it should have been done.

But I can’t sit in judgement. Their story is my story. I also have turned and ran because of the fear of man. Ultimate Abandonment 2.0.

Recently I have been enjoying Michael Reeves 2021 work, Rejoice and Tremble. Reeves systematically unpacks what “the fear of the Lord” means and it has given me a lot to chew on. Like this quote about fear of man from page 141, “We don’t talk much about ‘the fear of man’ today: we call it people-pleasing, peer pressure, or codependency. Some classic signs of it are the overcommitment that comes from an inability to say no, self-esteem issues, and an excessive sensitivity to the comments, views, and behavior of others. And need I even mention our fear of evangelism?”

Ouch – maybe not for you, but for me the gravity and conviction of that quote hits home. There is a weight that comes with the Thursday before Resurrection Sunday and it is a good practice to wait there and reflect. The greatest weight of the night was that as Jesus agonized in Gethsemane he was getting a taste of all that would be placed upon him at the cross. And in that weight, all his followers were no longer following.

How do we come back from the shame of being counted among those who in fear have abandoned Jesus? How did the first disciples come back? As we must do, they saw the cross and they empty tomb and began to understand and communicate the gospel that was proclaimed in the Son’s loving obedience to the Father. As we must do, they heard his voice calling them back and they responded and turned around. As we must do, they clung to the grace of God that was coming alive to them as their only moment by moment hope. As we must do, especially when faced with the darkness of Maundy Thursday, they gazed on the beauty of the truth that Paul would unpack in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

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