March 3
Run away!
Pastor Mark Jeske

Okay, I’ll admit it. One of my guilty pleasures is watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It’s a mad funny send up of the legend of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. Arthur is bedeviled by the multitude of fools around him who won’t cooperate in his quest for the Grail, and what’s worse, his knights are idiots and cowards. Every time they encounter an enemy they wail, “Run away!” and they all flee.

Which is exactly what Jesus’ disciples did when he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Though earlier that evening they had all protested loudly that they would never leave Jesus, at the first sign of trouble they bolted: “Then everyone deserted him and fled” (Mark 14:50). Peter came partway back, as far as the high priest’s courtyard, and only John actually witnessed the crucifixion.

Lest we too smugly scorn the 11, however, we might ponder how often we have concealed or evaded our Christian identity, ashamed or embarrassed at being thought stodgy or prudish or out of it. Through the transporting magic of the gospels, we can witness the crucifixion for ourselves, trembling at our sins, trembling at the horror, but trembling also with relief that the sacrifice was made for us once for all. Long ago some Christian slaves made up this lament:

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?


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