Jump directly to the content

The Epic Jesus Follower Fail


Apr 16 2014
The cringe-worthy subplot of Holy Week underscores the truth of the gospel.

On the Internet and in our culture, there's a lot of bluster, often warranted, about the failures of the church. We wince as another pastor is involved in scandal; another popular Christian leader says something unhelpful, insensitive, or heretical; another Christian blogger gang war erupts over the controversy du jour.

Every so often, someone pens a post breathlessly announcing the imminent doom of the church because of what a mess we Christians are. And then people like me talk about it. And tweet about it. And blog about it. And bicker about it. Again and again and again.

It's true. We are a mess and need to be quick to repent--doctrinal and moral failure among believers is serious and grievous. But from its earliest days, God has pursued and propelled the church in spite of our bumbling and failure.

And this week, Holy Week, we notice that in the midst of Christ's passion, death, and resurrection, we also find an embarrassingly painful display of the weakness, confusion, even imbecility of his earliest followers.

In each unfolding event of the week, the apostles disappoint. During the Last Supper, Jesus tells his friends that one of them will betray him and that they'll all abandon him. They respond by telling Jesus that he's underestimated them and arguing about who is the greatest, the most loyal disciple.

Then, they fall asleep, more than once, in Gethsemene, too weak to be a friend to Jesus when he is most desperate for one. Then, they panic and draw swords against those who arrested Jesus. Next, in a scene recounted with cringe-worthy detail, Peter swears up and down that he doesn't know Jesus even though it's pretty obvious to everyone around him that he does.

A damning refrain haunts the story of Holy Week: "Everyone deserted him and fled."

They bumbled through the week, first arrogant, then afraid, then hiding. They were cowardly, disloyal, and unfaithful. These holy martyrs and saints, these dearest friends of Jesus, failed, miserably and utterly, at the time of greatest crisis when courage was most needed.

It's heartbreaking. We watch Peter come undone, weeping after the third rooster crow, and Judas back-pedaling as he tries to return the blood money he sought. From the majority of Jesus' followers, we encounter nothing but silence. They simply walked away.

It's almost too much to take. How must they have felt? Were they ashamed? Did they feel foolish? Guilty? Did they make excuses?

Related Topics:Apostles; Easter; Holy Week; Lent
Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
Q+A: Why Letting the Dishes Go Can Save Your Soul

Q+A: Why Letting the Dishes Go Can Save Your Soul

In her latest book, Shauna Niequist trades “competition, comparison, and exhaustion for meaning, connection, and unconditional love."
After Childhood Abuse, How Can I Trust Others with My Kids?

After Childhood Abuse, How Can I Trust Others with My Kids?

I equip my daughters to protect themselves and their bodies in ways I didn’t learn to.
Too Many Transitions Can Traumatize Our Kids

Too Many Transitions Can Traumatize Our Kids

I know from experience what happens when children face moving, divorce, or other stressful life change—and how we can help them.
The 5 Truths Stay-at-Home and Working Moms Can Agree On

The 5 Truths Stay-at-Home and Working Moms Can Agree On

After interviewing 120 women, I saw glimmers of a truce in the Mommy Wars.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

The Truth About Living with an Invisible Illness

God sees me and my pain even when others cannot.

Follow Us

Twitter

  • The lovely @sniequist is chatting with us today! (Interview by @AndreaPalpant) https://t.co/sXsy7n5Sjb
  • RT @lorewilbert: I LOVE this short piece from @gloriafurman on discipling younger women. Sharing life and speaking the word: https://t.co/c2026
  • RT @RealPeopleAct: The more we learn about porn, the more we discover how bad it is for our brains, our bodies, and our relationships. http2026
  • RT @mfarrellgarcia: After Childhood Abuse, How Can I Trust Others with My Kids? https://t.co/yVTZOmLKNc via @CT_Women
  • Researcher @hgscott talks about the widespread effects of Internet porn https://t.co/OkRrIc78rG


What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
The Epic Jesus Follower Fail