PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART L
Why was Jesus so disturbed and so burdened in His Soul while He prayed in Gethsemane? Consider this: Jesus had spent three years pouring out and sacrificing “His Life!” And on the day, Jesus was crucified, only one man, a criminal, declared Jesus innocent! And while Jesus died at nine o’clock in the morning, a Roman officer, alone, saw God in Jesus. Then, when Jesus returned from the dead, only a nameless disciple believed that Jesus was alive (John 20:8).
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43).
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “E’lo-i, E’lo-i, la’ma sa-bach-tha’ni?” which means, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And one ran and filling a sponge full of vinegar put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was a son of God” (Mark 15:33-39).
PETER, ALONG WITH ALL THE DISCIPLES, PROMISED TO DIE WITH JESUS — WHAT HAPPENED? (MARK 14:31)
Where were Jesus’ disciples during Jesus’ last ordeal and Jesus’ crucifixion? On His way to Gethsemane, Jesus told his disciples what they would do. They would let Him suffer, and let Him die, all alone. The disciples very definitely misunderstood Jesus! They expected that Jesus would call on an army of angels and rescue the disciples and the nation, Israel, from the Romans. Then, they remembered Jesus saying:
For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his his kingdom (Matthew 26:27-28).
That belief, that Jesus would call on an army of angels and rescue the disciples and the nation Israel from the Romans, prevailed even after Jesus had died. Both, the Emmaus men and the eleven disciples, shared that view. However, Jesus was concerned with his disciple’s “endurance of grace” during a very trying time for them. Jesus had asked Peter to come back from his disappointment and from his denial; and then, help his brethren also to reignite their faith in Jesus.
Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:18-21a).
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times and seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:6-8)
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death” (Luke 22:31-32).
And when they (disciples) sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter declared to him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples (Matthew 26:30-35).
Matthew tells the reader that “all the disciples deserted” their Teacher (Matthew 26:56b). John Zebedee, himself, tells us that they were behind closed doors at John Mark’s place (John 20:19; Acts 12:12-17). All four Evangelists agree that Peter did deny the Lord (Luke 22:54-62). Then, it is presumed that the disciple, whom Jesus loved, was John Zebedee, and it was to him Jesus entrusted his mother, before He died on the cross:
But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
And when Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home (John 19:25-27).
WHO WAS THE UNIDENTIFIED DISCIPLE — WHO GATHERED THE DESERTERS?
There is a bit of a problem, with John Zebedee being in two places at the same time, and being in a financial position to provide a home for Mary and her family, along with her relatives and friends, who no longer were welcomed in Nazareth. John was not the head of his family nor was he the head of his business in Bethsaida. John’s brother Peter married the daughter of a man, who had a fishing business in Capernaum. Neither of the brothers, or anyone of the disciple, were substantial enough to take care of Jesus’ family. However, there was someone else in Jerusalem who could support 120 people and who could hide the disciples for months or even years; namely, the mother of John Mark.
Back to John Zebedee, who was a Galileean, his people spoke Aramaic and if they could write it was in Aramaic. If John wrote anything, it was in Aramaic and several people assisted him when one of them translated John’s testimony into Greek. Even this disciple, or the writer, who is not identified (John 21:24-25). The same unidentified disciple had befriended Peter. And the undentified disciple went with Peter to the empty tomb of Jesus. And earlier on, the unidentified disciple also followed Peter from Gethsemane and helped him into the court of the High Priest, where Peter could watch the proceedings against Jesus, and that is also where Peter denied his Lord. When Jesus was arrested and was led away, Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.
Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. As this disciple was known to the high priest, along with Jesus, while Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciples, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the maiden who kept the door, and brought Peter in. The maid who kept the door said to Peter, “Are not you also one of this man’s disciples?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves; Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself (John 18:15-18).
THE NAMELESS EYEWITNESS WHO COULD MINGLE WITH THE JEWS AND WITH THE ROMANS
God did sent His Son into the world to disclose His Love for man (John 3:16). The the Son revealed God as the Father (John 14:10-11). Unfortunately, the men Jesus chose were not able to be present during Jesus trial and crucifixion. They slept in Gethsemane and then they all fled when Jesus was taken into custody. God had someone keeping watch (Mark 14:51). That same someone followed and helped Peter to witness the abuse Jesus received from the high priest and his members. But who witnessed what the Roman soldiers did to Jesus inside their palace and barracks, where no Jew would have been allowed? Also, we are told that John Mark knew the sons of Simon of Cyrene who was compelled to carry Jesus’ cross. Who, but John Mark, could be a go-between the Jews and the Romans? He had a very busy weekend when he greeted the women at the empty tomb of Jesus. The witnesses at the crucifixion and the burial of Jesus were non other than the women (Mark 15:40-47)
And the soldiers led him (Jesus) away inside the palace (that is the praetorium); and they gathered together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and plaiting a crown of horns they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck his head with a reed, and spat upon him, and they knelt down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.
And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the lace called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they crucified him, and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour, when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests mocked him to one another with the scribes, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him (Mark 15:16-32).
WHO WAS THE FIRST WITNESS OF THE RESURRECTION?
The guards fled and a mighty angel rolled away the stone from the grave and told the women to tell the disciples and they met Jesus while they were leaving the empty tomb (Matthew 28:1-10). Luke believed there were two angels and Jesus, Himself, appeared to the two men from Emmaus (Luke 24). This study follows the accounts in the Gospels of Mark and John.
And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid (Mark 16:1-8).
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and he went into the tomb; he saw the linen clothes lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes (John 20:1-10).