read | Mark 14:26–27
“When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’”
Everybody knows the story. Jesus is smitten, His sufferings on the cross so intense that His followers scatter. In a few short hours, they transition from singing Passover hymns to cowering in a dark and hopeless place. They’re without their Master, One whom they deeply love, and they face the prospect of being next in line. Who will save them?
Jesus’ friends ran when He was taken. None of us would ever turn our backs on Jesus, right?
There are a couple of things that jumped out at me when I read these verses, and then cross-referenced them to the Zechariah prophesy that Jesus cites.
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
against the man who is my associate,”
says the Lord of hosts.
Strike the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered;
I will turn my hand against the little ones. (Zechariah 13:7)
The Father’s sword of justice is raised to smite the Messiah, His “associate.” Christ, the God-man, and the Father are one. From the dawn of time, the Father knows He must inflict His justice on the Son, for without shedding of the life-blood, there would be no remission. The ruling Jews and the Romans are bit players in this master plan. While Jesus came to usher in His Kingdom on earth, He was also born to die, and the Father’s sword was destined to awaken against Him. Oh, how He loves us!
Mark 14:27 says, “…and the sheep will be scattered.” The scattering of Christ’s disciples when He was apprehended was a partial fulfillment.
In a macro-sense, this was also a pledge to disperse the Jewish nation after they crucified Him. The Jews, although “scattered,” are still the Lord’s “sheep,” waiting to be gathered.
This reminded me about how sometimes I feel like God isn’t listening. But in those times, it’s me who is scattered, not Him. I was talking with a close brother who raised many questions to ponder as we become a praying church. Like, how can I re-engage with God after a long time of asking for something, only to have the opposite occur? What do I do with the growing doubt that prayer actually makes any difference in how God plots the course of human affairs? Of course, there are no easy answers. But as I ponder, I will rest on this promise: Now I know only in part; then I will know fully… (1 Corinthians 13:12)
In the meantime, let’s remember: The Good Shepherd was stricken but rose again, so we can find solace and peace in His sheepfold. Do you feel isolated this Lenten season? He may be silent, but He is there.
- Mike Mizrahi