“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
Against the Man who is My Companion,”
Says the LORD of hosts.
“Strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered;
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.
And it shall come to pass in all the land,”
Says the LORD,
“That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one-third shall be left in it:
I will bring the one-third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, ‘This is My people’;
And each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’ ” (Zechariah 13:7-9)

It will only hurt for a moment. When Jesus was arrested and taken away, convicted of rebellion and executed by the Romans on a cross, his disciples fled for their lives. Their hopes had been shattered. They had thought that Jesus was the Messiah: the one to lead a revolution against the Roman oppressors, who would defeat them and replace them with a revived Davidic monarchy, who would sit on a throne in Jerusalem and reign over all the nations of the world, establishing an empire that would dwarf what the Romans had created. Instead, it all came crashing down and the disciples went into hiding, fearing for their lives.

Matthew quoted God’s words that the people would scatter when the shepherd was struck to describe what happened when Jesus died. But the fear, the scattering, the loss of hope lasted such a short time. The passage through the fire for Jesus’ disciples, their refining like silver, all took barely a weekend—the time from the crucifixion to the resurrection on Sunday morning. Their tears dried up, their perspectives shifted. They came to realize that Jesus was not just the Messiah, but something far more: as Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” The kingdom Jesus established was far greater than Rome could ever be, far greater than the disciples had imagined: it was not a kingdom of the world, but rather, the kingdom of heaven. Disappointment and pain are only temporary conditions. In the end, all will be well.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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