In this chapter Jesus is rejected by just about everyone around him. First, he is betrayed by Judas, who brings the Jewish police to arrest Jesus. Then, Jesus is rejected by the Jewish religious leaders, who strike him in the face and look for an excuse to execute him. Then, worst of all, Peter denies that he even knows Jesus. Finally, when Pilate asks the crowd which prisoner they want released to them they request that a murderer named Barabbas be set free and Jesus crucified. Jesus is abandoned by everyone around him, the priests, his apostles, and the crowd of Jews he came to die for. Ironically enough, the only one who seems the least bit sensitive to Jesus is a non-Jew, a pagan named Pilate. The most unlikely person to get it at all was the only one who seemed to get it, at least to some extent.
I have found that sometimes those closest to religion, can “miss the boat” the easiest. My sermon this coming weekend is all about how religion can become an obstacle in our relationship with God. It really was the religious expectations of the Jewish people, including the apostles, which caused them to abandon and reject Jesus on his dying day. And, if we’re honest, we have to admit that we often do the same thing. When Jesus does not meet our religious expectations, we tend to abandon and reject him and his will. We do this by allowing what we want to become more important than his will. This is a slippery slope that leads further and further from God.
When Jesus disappoints my religious expectations, I will still submit to him. I will faithfully wait things out and see what happens. If the apostles would have simply trusted Jesus and maintained their faith, they would have seen that Jesus was intending to go well beyond their expectations. They were expecting a political-warrior Messiah who would conquer Rome. Instead, God went one better and gave the world a Messiah who would defeat the greatest enemy of all- death and sin! Thank God for not always meeting, but exceeding our expectations.