October 2, 2011: The Power of Fear

Posted on : Sep 29th, 2011 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

This Sunday we are celebrating World Communion, and we will read from the Scripture passage in Matthew 26 of how it all started. The night before his crucifixion Jesus had one last dinner with his disciples. Every time we celebrate Communion we are remembering that last meal.  Eating dinner together didn’t look anything like what we are used to today. There were no utensils; you read correctly, no knives, no forks, also no individual plates or bowls. Nope, everyone shared one bowl – it was the custom of the time to serve meals in one large common bowl. Everyone sitting around the table would tear off a piece of bread which they would use as a scoop. Then, leaning forward, you would reach into a common bowl, scoop up some food, and then eat it.

While Jesus and his disciples are sharing this meal together, Jesus suddenly leans forward and announces that his betrayal would come from “the one who dipped his hand into the bowl with me.” Since it later turns out that Judas indeed betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, many have jumped to the conclusion that Jesus is hinting solely at Judas with these words. But these words “the one who dipped his hand into the bowl with me” literally specify that EVERYONE at the table that night would betray him, and Jesus did not differentiate between Judas and the other disciples.  You see, everyone at that table has dipped their hand into the bowl with Jesus – every single one of them. That’s why everyone responded so indignantly: “Surely not I?”  Peter was especially vocal:  I will never desert you, Jesus. Never in a million years. Peter’s bravado is understandable, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.” “Before this night is out, you will,” Jesus answered.  None of disciples could imagine any situation in which they would ever desert Jesus. We would never do that, they all replied indignantly. But in the words of Alexandra Shaia, Jesus understood that betrayals of all kinds would occur over and over and over again – that this kind of behavior is part of our journey of spiritual growth – and he wanted to prepare his disciples for this reality.

And so, barely a few hours later, just before dawn the next morning, they have all run away, leaving Jesus to die alone. These were the very same people who loved Jesus and knew him intimately – his inner circle – spending day in and day out with him for three years. They saw him do amazing things, believed in him, and yet when the moment of truth came, they scattered. Fear is a powerful force.  And Peter, when the finger was pointed at him, buckles under the suspicion and denies Jesus three times. Three times he was accused of being in cahoots with Jesus, three times his courage fails him and he denies being a friend of Jesus.   Peter would never believe that he would do such a thing. Fear is a powerful force – the things we do when we are scared will haunt us for the rest of our lives.  Jesus did not make this prediction to humiliate or embarrass his disciples, rather he wanted to bring them forward to the much more important lesson of “what remains to be done after betrayal?” And this is where the paths of Peter and Judas diverted.

And that’s what we will be talking about on Sunday,

Blessings till then,


~ This Sunday’s Scriptures ~

Matthew 26:26-35, 69-75

Jesus’ last meal with his disciples before his arrest.

During the meal Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to the disciples.  “Take this and eat it,” Jesus said. “This is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks and gave it to them. “Drink from it, all of you,” he said. “This is my blood, the blood of the Covenant, which will be poured out on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. The truth is, I will not drink this fruit of the vine again until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Abba’s kingdom.”

Then, after singing a hymn, they walked out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them, “Tonight you will all become deserters because of me, for the scripture says, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go to Galilee ahead of you.”

Peter responded, “Though all may fall away because of you, I will never desert you.”

Jesus replied, “The truth is, before the rooster crows tonight, you will deny me three times.”

Peter said, “Even if I must die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

(Later that night after Jesus was arrested) Peter was sitting in the courtyard. One of the attendants came over and said, “You were with Jesus the Galilean too, weren’t you?”

But Peter denied it in front of everyone. He said, “I don’t know what you are talking about!”

When he went out to the gate, another attendant saw him and said to those nearby, “This one was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

Again he cursed and denied it: “I don’t know him.”

A little while later, some of the bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You certainly are one of them! Even your accent gives you away.”

At that, Peter began cursing and swore, “I don’t know the man!”

Just then the rooster began to crow, and Peter remembered the prediction Jesus had made: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Peter went out and cried bitterly.

John 21:9-19

Jesus appears to the disciples after his death and resurrection. While the disciples are off fishing, Jesus prepares a meal for them ashore.

When they landed, they saw that a charcoal fire had been prepared, with fish and some bread already being grilled. “Bring some of the fish you just caught,” Jesus told them. Simon Peter went aboard and hauled ashore the net, which was loaded with huge fish – one hundred and fifty-three of them. In spite of the great number, the net was not torn.

“Come and eat your meal,” Jesus told them.

None of the disciples dared to ask, “Who are you?” – they knew it was the Savior. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This marked the third time that Jesus had appeared to the disciples after being raised from the dead.

When they had eaten their meal, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon ben-John, do you love me more than these?” Peter said, “Yes, Rabbi; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” A second time Jesus put the question, “Simon ben- John, do you love me?” Peter said, “Yes, Rabbi; you know that I love you.” Jesus replied, “Tend my sheep.” A third time Jesus asked him, “Simon ben-John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked, “Do you love me?” a third time. So he said, “Rabbi, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

The truth of the matter is,

when you were young,

you put on your own belt

and walked where you liked;

but when you get old,

ou will stretch out your hands

and someone else will put a belt around

you and take you where you don’t want to go.”

With these words, Jesus indicated the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then the Savior said, “Follow me.”

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