Apollo 13

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Told You So

All this time, Peter was sitting out in the courtyard. One servant girl came up to him and said, “You were with Jesus the Galilean.”

In front of everybody there, he denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

As he moved over toward the gate, someone else said to the people there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene.”

Again he denied it, salting his denial with an oath: “I swear, I never laid eyes on the man.”

Shortly after that, some bystanders approached Peter. “You’ve got to be one of them. Your accent gives you away.”

Then he got really nervous and swore. “I don’t know the man!”

Just then a rooster crowed. Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” He went out and cried and cried and cried. (Matthew 26:69–75)

Jesus warned Peter ahead of time what was going to happen. But the warning didn’t stop Peter or alter his behavior in any way.

With Jesus’ arrest, with the disciples scattered, Peter suffered the loss of everything he had believed in, everything that he had hoped would happen. During the whole night as he skirted about, his mind would likely have been filled with the disappointment over how things had turned out and over his own failure to act. Perhaps he wondered if there might not be something he could do to change the circumstances, to fix the problem. But with each choice he made, he merely solidified the outcome and fulfilled the very words that Jesus had told him, words that he didn’t want to believe, that he couldn’t believe were true—until the moment the rooster crowed and all his hopes came to nothing.

Over the course of our lives, we have doubtless received good advice that we ignored. And likewise, we have given good advice that we saw ignored. We have heard people tell us, “told you so” and probably have said it ourselves, or perhaps on some occasions, resisted that temptation. . Peter learned and came out fine on the other side of his mistakes. His misery, his suffering, did not have to be what it was. The night could have gone a different way for him had he understood what Jesus had been trying to tell him. God won’t abandon us just because we don’t always understand or follow his good advice, though he might tell us, “told you so.”

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God’s Will, Human Choice

While He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.”

Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?”

At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me. But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.” Then all the disciples left Him and fled. (Matthew 26:47–56)

Jesus’ knew that his death on the cross was inevitable. And he knew that Judas would sell him out for a bag of silver.

But until the moment Judas made his decision to betray Jesus, Judas had no clue. He had been a follower, convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. But one day, maybe all at once, maybe gradually, something changed for him and so he had changed, too. Even though Judas was foreordained to be Jesus’ betrayer, he made his choices freely. God did not force him, twist his arm, or talk him into something that he didn’t want to do.

Although God has absolute power and authority, he has chosen to give people their freedom. Somehow, God accomplishes his will through the choices we make, whether they’re good or bad. Judas made an appalling choice, but by it he accomplished God’s will.

Judas demonstrates that we have the freedom to make whatever choices we decide we want to make. We might want to be careful, therefore, how we exercise the freedom God has granted us.

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Human Weakness

He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”

And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.

Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.

“Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!” (Matthew 26:37–46)

Jesus told his Father just how unhappy he was about his circumstances. He also told his disciples about how he was feeling. Even so, we sometimes wonder how we are supposed to feel about our problems. We become concerned that there’s a right way to feel and we’re afraid that how we really feel isn’t it.

A pastor once went to comfort parents who had just lost their only daughter in a car accident. Rather grieving, they were pretending to smile. They told him that as Christians, they believed they shouldn’t “mourn as the heathen do.” He gently suggested that the passage did not teach against mourning, but rather, that when we mourn, we should feel neither hopeless and nor helpless about it, because we know God is with us and we know the resurrection is coming.

Jesus knew who he was the Son of God. He knew he would rise from the dead. But he still mourned his circumstances. He still wished for some other way. But he was also willing to face God’s will.
What gives us strength in disaster is not pretending that we’re not in pain. Our strength comes from understand that God is with us and that he will stay with us until the end.

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A Prayer of Jesus

Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.

“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.

“My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory.” (John 17:1–10)

One of the best ways to learn how to pray is to listen to how Jesus prayed. He used no particular formula or special words. Rather, when we overhear Jesus’ prayers to his Father, what we discover is that he simply talked to him about whatever was on his mind. He told his Father the things that mattered most to him. He simply discussed his deepest concerns with his Father, expressing whatever emotions and thoughts that came from deep inside of him. He was not concerned with what anyone might think of his words. He was only concerned that his Father knew what really was weighing on his mind.

When we pray, we needn’t worry about the shape or form of our prayer, whether our words are pretty or whether our hands are folded right. Instead, we should simply tell God whatever is in our heads, without pretense, without pretending, without thinking about what we think we should be talking about to God. God already knows our needs. He already knows what is troubling us, what is important to us, and how we really feel about our situation. He only wants us to share it all with him. Think about how much better we feel after we unburden ourselves to a close friend. He wants us to let him lighten our load just like that.

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When the hour had come, Jesus sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:14–20)

Passover was a memorial service, a way for the Israelites to remember what God had done for them when he had rescued them from Egyptian slavery. The sacrificial system with all its rituals and its slaughter of animals served a similar purpose: it was a picture, a parable of what God would do through the final sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The sacrifice of bulls and goats in the old covenant of ancient Israel never took away sins (Hebrews 10:3-4). It was simply a regular reminder of their sins and the fact that God was forgiving them.

The breaking of bread and the drinking of the wine of the Lord’s Supper now serves a similar purpose: it is a memorial service, a way of remembering what Jesus did on the cross. It is a picture for us. Likewise, the Lord’s Supper does not take away sins: instead, it reminds us that our sins have already been taken away thanks the great price that was paid by Jesus on Calvary. It was and is only Jesus’ death on a Roman cross that takes away our sins. We remember that wonderful reality every time we share the bread and the fruit of the vine. As often as we do it, we proclaim to all those with us the amazing love of Jesus.

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Am I the One?

He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’”

So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.

When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”

And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?”

He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?”

He said to him, “You have said it.” (Matthew 26:18–25)

During the last supper, a Passover Seder, Jesus revealed that one of the Twelve was going to betray him. Each of them asked Jesus if he was the one. Only Judas got an affirmative answer.

All the disciples were going to run away from Jesus. Peter would wind up denying that he even knew Jesus. But only Judas worked to destroy Jesus. What motivated Judas in his actions is unknown. The New Testament authors only tell us that “Satan” had entered him. His action was unexpected and startling to the other disciples. None of them suspected him.

Of the twelve disciples who asked, “is it I?” only Judas knew the answer. If we wonder if we will betray Jesus, if we wonder if we might go astray in some way and like the other eleven, we really don’t know the answer to it, then our answer is what it was for all the disciples except for Judas. Those who are abandoning Jesus don’t really wonder whether they are doing it. They already know.

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Comet Living?

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Destroying the Temple

It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”

Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”

But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”

“All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

“What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.

Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like. (John 2:13–23)

All the gospel writers describe how Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple. Only John puts the incident at the beginning of his Gospel, rather than just before Jesus’ crucifixion. John chose to arrange the story of Jesus’ life in a thematic rather than a chronological order, a common choice among ancient Jewish authors.

Jesus told his critics that the only sign they would get would be his death, burial and resurrection. Whether his critics purposely misunderstood his words about the “temple” of his body or simply chose to misinterpret them is difficult to say. But after his crucifixion, the religious leaders were concerned about getting guards for his tomb to prevent mischief. Oddly enough, his disciples didn’t understand that’s what Jesus meant until after his resurrection.

Jesus’ words serve as a warning about how easy it can be to misunderstand Jesus. Such misunderstanding can come from being distracted by other issues in our lives that we miss the blessing that he has for us. Jesus may have already given us the answer to what is so troubling us now, if only we chose to hear him.

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Silencing Critics

They watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor.

Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth: Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test Me? Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?”

They answered and said, “Caesar’s.”

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent. (Luke 20:20–26)

Like Matthew and Mark, Luke tells how the Pharisees once asked Jesus whether it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. They believed they at last had a question that would be impossible for Jesus to answer right. They hoped Jesus’ response would prove to the masses once and for all that Jesus was not really the Messiah.

The question that the Pharisees asked was one they had already pondered. They believed they knew all the possible answers and they were convinced that none of them were satisfactory. No matter how Jesus answered, they would be able to criticize him. They were, therefore, not prepared for Jesus to actually solve what they thought was an unsolvable dilemma. Jesus’ answer was something new, something unexpected, something that they didn’t know what to do with. So all they could do was gape at Jesus in silence.

Toward the end of the book of Job, after Job has complained long and hard about his situation, when God finally shows up to confront him, all Job can do is respond with silence:

“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more.” (Job 40:4-5)

Like the Pharisees, our only reasonable response to God’s answers is silence. There is nothing more to add once God has spoken. God’s answer will always silence us because it will resolve all our issues.

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