I have often wondered what the disciples were thinking and feeling from the time when Jesus was arrested to the time in which He ascended into heaven. Jesus' role during this time is of course way more important as it is what sets our faith apart from all of the others but how the disciples acted has always interested me. I think we can learn a lot from what they did during that time and put it into practice in our own lives.
We pick up the story in the upper room where the disciples are eating the Passover dinner with their friend and teacher. This would not be a normal traditional dinner, no not at all, this would be the last dinner that they would share with Jesus. This dinner would be filled with teachable moments and traditions that would be kept for years to come. At this point, Jesus knew what was to come for Him, He knew that Judas betray Him and Peter would deny Him. The disciples listened and heard what Jesus was telling them, they took the broken bread and drank the wine but I have always wondered if they truly understood the importance of that last meal with the Lord. After dinner, they made the journey to the Mount of Olives where Jesus asked the disciples to pray for Him that He might not give in to temptation but the disciples could not stay awake to pray and fell asleep. Jesus knew that His time was up and that He must suffer and die to cleanse us of our sins. All Jesus had asked of the disciples in that time was to pray for Him, He knew that nothing could be done to change the outcome so He simply asked for prayer. The time had come and Judas sealed the deal with a kiss indicating that Jesus was the one who should be arrested. We don’t know much about what happened to all of the disciples the moment Jesus was arrested. We know that many of them ran and that Peter tried to fight back and even cut off someone’s ear but other than that very little was known about the whereabouts of the disciples. Mark 14:50 says, “Then all His disciples deserted Him and ran away.” Did they run to warn others? To save themselves from being arrested? We are just not sure where they went at this time.
Throughout the story of Jesus' trial, conviction and crucifixion we don’t hear much about the whereabouts of the disciples. We know that Peter was in the courtyard watching the trial when he denied knowing Jesus three times and that James, Jesus’ mother Mary, and Mary Magdalene were all present at the crucifixion and later at the tomb. Other than the few disciples written about in the gospels we don’t know where the disciples were. After Jesus rose from the dead He begins to appear to His followers to explain what has happened. First, He appears to the women at the tomb and tells them to tell His brothers to meet Him in Galilee. It is in Galilee that Jesus comes to the disciples minus Thomas and gives them the great commission. Matthew 28:18-20 says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The message Jesus gave the disciple on that day is still the message we are given today. We are instructed to spread the love of God and to spread the news of His sacrifice. We should not and cannot just accept this gift and not share it with others.
I can only imagine how the disciple felt during this time. Although Jesus had told them of all that was to come for Him it did not fully prepare them when the time arrived. I am sure that there were feeling of confusion, anger, and fear. Those feelings are still felt by the followers of Christ today. There are many times when we are confused and torn between what we know God wanted and what the world is telling us. We are angry with the world or even God that things are not turning out the way we thought they would. Sometimes we are scared that we are not on the right path, and we are not doing or saying the right things. Just like the disciples, we are left standing there asking well what’s next. What do I do now that my teacher has gone?
I think at some point in all of our lives we have felt this way. We felt the passion for Christ so deeply when we first believed but over time it has faded and now we just feel lost without a guide. We felt the presence of God so close to us when we are on that church trip and were able to keep the camp high for a little while but now we are back in the real world it is getting harder to feel His presence. We learn from the disciples this isn’t just a twenty-first-century problem but a problem that was relevant to them during their time on earth as well. I think the best plan of action is what Jesus Himself told the disciples before He ascended to His rightful place in heaven. He told them to go and share the good news, accept the presence and help from the Holy Spirit and never stop meeting together as believers to love and support one another.
So for me, I will take that advice and try to live by it better today than I did yesterday. I will also continue to study the acts of the apostles to see where their journey led them and see where I need to be going. God Bless!