Apologies to all those who now have a song earworming but as I wrote and searched for a title this popped up. We do live too often in regret over things we said or didn’t say, things we did or didn’t do. We ought to regret and repent but then comes moving on…
Reading in Luke’s gospel today the disciples get some short shrift. In Luke 9: 28-36 we read about the Transfiguration. Jesus picks out Peter, James and John for a special experience and they fall asleep! When they wake and see Jesus with Moses and Elijah they are – not surprisingly – overcome; as the glory starts to fade Peter blurts out an offer to build something. Luke says:
Peter had no idea what he was saying.
When they meet up with the rest of the Disciples a man with a possessed son shouts out:
40 While You were up on the mountain, I begged Your disciples to liberate him from this spirit, but they were incapable of helping us.
Then, after Jesus heals the boy and warns the disciples of His coming arrest they are afraid to ask Him what He means and instead start arguing over who is the greatest disciple.
If these were my friends and they constantly fell asleep, failed to listen to me and embarrassed me with their stupid arguments I am pretty sure I’d be looking for new friends, wouldn’t you? But the wonderful thing we read here is Jesus’ response.
47 Jesus saw what was going on—not just the argument, but the deeper heart issues—so He found a child and had the child stand beside Him.
It’s wonderful for many reasons. Firstly because He doesn’t wash His hands of them and move on. Secondly because even when He understands the root cause of their behaviour He STILL doesn’t wash His hands and move on. I can’t read people’s hearts. I put my own interpretation on what they do or say. I see through my own experience and judge people by that standard.
But Jesus sees their hearts His response is different. He sees the pride, the fear, the insecurity, the worry; He sees all the things that make them sinful humans and He loves them enough to explain again. He explains what He has been demonstrating day after day that being great in God’s eyes means being childlike, means serving, means seeing value in everyone big or small, young or old, rich or poor.
I wonder if the disciples looked back in later life and winced at their words and actions. I know I do. But then I think of the child Jesus brought to stand beside Him. Children don’t have regrets about the past. They shake off tumbles and falls and run forward into whatever is coming next. We look at the disciples, the founders of the church and admire them as examples of how we should live.
They weren’t perfect but they kept going because they knew the forgiveness and mercy of God. So do we! They were empowered by the Holy Spirit. So are we! The patience and love that Jesus showed to them He also shows to us.
That’s grace to live by not in the hope of being ‘great’ and remembered by the world but in the hope of being great in His eyes.