Focal Passages: Mark 14:27-34, 37-38, 43, 48-50
Possibly one of the saddest moments in my missionary career came in late 1993 during the coup d’etat that devastated the nation of Burundi (where we lived). About two weeks after the assassination of President Ndadaye we were able to leave our home in the interior by U.N. convoy.
Having already experienced the tragedy of Rwanda earlier, we were somewhat prepared for what awaited us during the long trek to Bujumbura. What we were not prepared for was an event that occurred at an area called Matongo. This place was the site of a restaurant we frequently visited when in the area and a new church we had helped start.
We had spent many days there sharing and encouraging the new work and watched it grow in strength and witness.
On Oct. 21, 1993, the world was turned upside down as military troops assassinated Burundi’s newly elected president and much of his cabinet. When word got out to the hills bloody reprisals paralyzed the country. At Matongo many of those we had worked with banded together and rounded up members of another denomination and tribe into the courtyard of that restaurant and massacred them, leaving them exposed to the elements.
Only a few weeks before they had testified of their love for Christ and all people; that day in the name of tribal security they betrayed that name.
The disciples had spent three years with Jesus.
They had heard the teachings and witnessed incredible miracles. They themselves had personally experienced the joy of performing miracles and announcing the coming kingdom of God. Thus, it was only natural that they would protest passionately their pending betrayal of the One they held so dear. But he warned them — they were going to be scattered (like sheep without a shepherd), yet they would also be regathered (14:27-28); their defection would not be the end of the story! Though “the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak (14:37),” there is still the open invitation for courage and steadfastness — Stay awake and pray! I have learned that none of us are immune to the temptation of betrayal and abandonment.
We can strenuously protest and assert the contrary, but if we are not fully focused and centered in Christ regardless of the consequences, we can and will slip and flee from our boasted affirmations. But, the good news is that He remains faithful even when we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13).