They didn’t understand. They had known the prophecies. They had waited all their lives. When He showed up and called them from their normal lives into His nomadic world of miracles and profound teachings, they were ready.
Surely, He was the Messiah. No man could do the things He did. It was only a matter of time before He took over. He talked of His kingdom constantly, while they waited in ever growing expectation. Any day now, He would give them the signal and they would rise up, overthrow the evil Roman empire and rule by His side.
He began to speak with increasing frequency of His death, but that couldn’t be right. They must not understand. It must be a metaphor. Another parable. He was the ONE. They’d waited for centuries. And now, He was here. Soon, it would all come to pass, just as the prophets foretold.
The mother of James and John believed. She approached Him to ensure her sons would receive positions of prominence in the new regime.
The others believed as well. They argued for their own advancement. They’d given up all to follow as well.
Peter believed, maybe more than them all. When the soldiers arrived that night in the Garden, he was the one to draw his sword. This was it! The moment had come! Now, surely, He would show His power and might, and all Jerusalem would bow before Him!
Jesus knew they didn’t understand. He’d tried to tell them, but they couldn’t hear it. They were so consumed with what they expected, the reality of those prophecies, the truth of His warnings, could not penetrate.
As He cried out to God with every ounce of His strength, they slept.
But He was not angry. He loved them so much.
As each agonizing minute of that horrible night and day ticked past, as Jesus remained silent in the face of every accusation, as they saw Him beaten, humiliated, crucified… at every moment they expected Him to call down angels and show Himself to be King.
And as He drew His final breath, the last vestiges of their hope died as well.
How could they have been so wrong? Who was this Man after all? Just another false prophet? Had they given up their lives for a blasphemer and demon, as the pharisees claimed? Were they now to die too, in shame and disgrace?
The longest, most desolate Sabbath of their lives. Hiding in fear. Devoid of all hope.
And then it was Sunday, and the women were there. Claiming He was risen. Mary, deluded, believing she had seen and spoken to Him. But could it be true?
Peter and John had to see for themselves. Running. Gasping. Desperate.
An empty tomb. What could it mean?
Two of His disciples, walking to Emmaus. Perplexed, afraid to believe. And a stranger, seemingly uninformed about the drama of the recent days, but with such wisdom and understanding of the Scriptures! Indeed, it DID say the Messiah must suffer. How had they missed it? A spark of hope kindled.
He sat at their table, broke the bread, and suddenly, understanding and recognition dawned! It was Him! He was alive!
But He disappeared from their sight. They rushed to tell the others.
All at once, there He was again! Speaking to them. Eating with them. The same, and yet different.
The spark of hope began to burn brighter.
And here He was, a third time, especially for Thomas.
Hope exploded into belief. He was alive!
But the truth remained: they had been wrong about what He’d come to do. It was clear now. His kingdom was more than they’d realized. His plan, much bigger than an earthly government coup. Rather than glory and honor before man, He was offering suffering and humiliation.
Peter, the denier, went back to his boat. The place Jesus had called him from that first day. It hadn’t gone the way he’d expected, and Jesus was probably finished with him in any case. A man had to make a living.
But there, from the shore, He beckoned. And over breakfast, He forgave. Once, twice, three times. For every denial, the chance to recant. Grace for his confusion. Mercy for his fear. Love in spite of himself.
And then, another call. This time, more clarity.
“You’ll be carried where you do not wish to go.”
Not a position of earthly authority.
Infamy instead of fame.
A call to die.
“What about John?”
But it’s not about John. Or James. Or Andrew. Or any of them.
It’s only about Him.
Now that you know it won’t look like you thought…
Even though it won’t be what you expected…
Peter, will you still follow?