When armed opposition shows up it’s only natural to want to defend ourselves. Whether the attack is verbal or physical matters not to our self-preservation instincts. It seems like we are innately wired to assume a defensive posture, which can rapidly switch to an offensive stance when there is clear and present danger to ourselves and/or to the ones we love.
I was reminded of this very thing many times over this week as I watched events unfold on TV where people were backed into corners, surrounded by boisterous protesters and bombarded with verbal and sometimes physical abuse if they did not acquiesce to wishes of the masses. Honestly, most of them showed remarkable self-restraint under the circumstances. Candidly, I’m not sure I would have held up as well, had I been in their shoes.
No one likes to see an angry mob coming at them with weapons in their hands, especially at night with flames and torches and a scary look of determination in their eyes that says, “We will not be denied justice.” These days, scenes like that are rapidly unfolding all across America. Can you imagine what it must feel like to be the most hated person in the world who is the intended objective of wrath for those angry mobs. The one that the crowd would rip to shreds, in seconds, if given the chance to do so without fear of recrimination or reprisal.
And no, I’m not talking about any modern-day political figure, but I’ll bet that’s what you thought of when I described the scene, because that’s what we’re seeing nightly on the news.
Well, think back to any one of those recent news stories you have seen about the angry mob’s intent upon mayhem and destruction and then put yourself right in the middle of the scene. All eyes are focused on you. All anger, malice and hatred are aimed at you. The demands for justice and the desire to exact retribution, is focused on you. And then imagine that eleven of your closest friends and family members are with you. Right there by your side, ready to defend you at all cost.
Okay, if you can visualize that scene then you are squarely in the center of Luke 22:47-53 because that’s exactly what Jesus and his disciples were facing that night in the Garden of Gethsemane. The mob coming at Him seethed with anger and foamed at the mouth with rabid desire to exact justice on their sworn enemy. That crowd was angry and their intentions were hostile, just like man of the mobs you have seen on TV the past few months. In fact, the Jerusalem mob may have been even more fearless and vicious because they had the army behind them and the government supporting them. They would not be denied, they were going to get their revenge and there would be no stopping them.
But it’s not the actions of the crowd or even the reaction of the opposition party’s equally loyal supporters that make this story shocking. It is the response of the person in the center of that situation that makes it a story for the ages. A story so unforgettable that more than two thousand years later people are still talking about it. The object of that vile hatred and venomous rage responded in a way so unexpected and so unorthodox that it literally changed history, forever. If this story had not been written down and attested to by numerous eyewitnesses, then no one would believe it. But thankfully it was, for our benefit and that of the entire world.
I hope you can join us in the Garden tomorrow to see this amazing scene unfold right before your very eyes. But, en garde, it may not turn out like you’re expecting. Make your way up the mount, find a comfortable place on the hillside to sit and settle in, we have much to see and learn from the Master tomorrow.
For those unable to join us in person, please feel free to download the Bible study materials for your personal use by following one of these links: PowerPoint Slides, PDF File. Also, you can download files for previous weekly studies by visiting the following page on my blog: Doubtless Living: The Gospel of Luke.