Because of him
Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Matthew 26:31-32 ESV, Daily Office for Saturday, Proper 10
Because of him, the apostles fell away. He made it too costly to identify with him that night. “Because of him” any who followed would risk Roman flogging and cross or at the least Priestly religious rejection, meaning loss of family and communal bonds in the bargain. He spoke of good things to come but he withheld spiritual assurance and left them to their fears and flaws. Because of him, they fell away.
But because of him, because in all things he would “go before them,” they would be saved. He had to go alone to the cross. Had the apostles slogged up the hill with him, there would be just one more gaggle of executed rebels on the Roman books, not a band of witnesses to preach and write the Good News of the crucified and risen savior of the world. They fell away “because of him,” not only because of their fears and flaws but because he used those weaknesses to accomplish his work, suffering and dying alone for the sins of the world, an act that nobody else could pretend to accomplish. Because of him, they fell away, and there could be no mistake about who did what for whom.
But because of him, because he went ahead of them through the tomb and to the Father in heaven, they would “share in his sufferings to share in his glory.” They would not only endure but take as honor the world’s rejection, joyfully “bearing shame for his name.” Some would share in deaths like his. Though they had “scattered like sheep” when he was arrested, because of him they would gather his flock around the world and across the centuries. And they would do this with the promise of eternal bliss, because he had risen and gone before them.
Because of him, because he’s perfect and sets the bar so high, I fall away, leaving the world no confusion. I am cowardly, hypocritical, selfish, mean, anything but Good News.
But because of him, because he has gone before me to the cross, I am forgiven and “rebooted” for another go at life.
Because of him, because he has risen and “gone before me” to the Father, I receive the Holy Spirit, so that I can reflect the new life I have because of him, and do the good works with which I’m entrusted because of him.
And because of him, I live in the promise of “the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.”
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