Courageous Soldiers; Fearful Sheep
Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 20-22; Mark 14:26-50
2 And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people 3 and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, 4 for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’ Deuteronomy 20:2-4
27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Mark 14:27-28
Moses instructed the people of Israel about the proper sense of confidence in the Lord as they prepared to go into the Promised Land and face entrenched enemies. He did not tell them it would be easy. He did not tell them they were the greatest army ever fielded. He did not tell them their enemies were a bunch of wimps. He told them the Lord their God would go with them to fight for them and to give them the victory.
The key to confidence in the face of battle is trust in the Lord, who is greater than any foe.
Jesus’ disciples also faced a daunting foe, those enemies of the Lord who had conspired together to arrest and falsely charge Him so that He would be put to death. Jesus told the disciples, they would fall away. He even showed them how their fleeing would fulfill Scripture. They were quick to contradict Him, Peter leading the chorus, asserting that he would die if necessary with Jesus. The rest of the disciples joined in agreement.
Of course, these were empty promises. But Jesus also pointed them beyond their failure, to His resurrection and His reunion with them in Galilee. This must have given them comfort even when they failed to stand by Him at His arrest and trial.
The key to remaining faithful under extreme pressure is to focus on God, His presence, His power, and His faithfulness. He will be with us in the worst of trials. He will never leave us or forsake us. We may waver. We may fall away, like the disciples. But He will never fail us. He is gracious to His fearful sheep.
What scary trial do you face now? Are you confident of His presence? If you have failed to trust Him do you know that He welcomes back His frightened sheep?
As Paul wrote to Timothy, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus…” 2 Timothy 2:1. Be confident in Him. In Christ, there is grace to face your toughest battles and grace to forgive your greatest failures.