Becoming a True Disciple
I have prayed at the Church of All Nations in Jerusalem, which is built over the large exposed stone in the Garden of Gethsemane, thought to be the place where Jesus prayed in agony before he was arrested. It is always a touching moment – a highlight of the trip – not because of the amazing church, beautiful ceiling and beautiful acoustics – but because it is one of those sites that ties into authenticity. Praying at that stone, most probably where Jesus himself prayed to the Father, is a place where I get a glimpse of the desolation and despair our Savior felt, abandoned at his most desperate hour.
He wasn’t abandoned by God, but by his friends. Many of Jesus’ friends are unable to take it. Some turn away. Another one betrays him. The twelve disciples have rifts in allegiance.
Have you ever felt alone? Disappointed by a friend? Let down? Left in the dark?
Later in the story, ironically, it is lowly Peter who is able to help soothe the troubled waters. Peter, the master of abandon, becomes a leader and someone who represents the brokenness of the human condition, but also the fortitude of the common person.
In Acts, we see Peter grow into these words that were spoken to him, “You have the words of eternal life.” The miraculous healings the disciples are able to do begin to shine forth in Peter. The paralytic Aeneas is healed. And the disciple Tabitha is raised from the dead.
What I love about this story is that it is multi-layered. First, is that it takes place in Lydda and Joppa, towns west of Jerusalem, a clear signal that God’s good news is spilling out, not just to the north, but in all directions. The secret is out!
Second, I love that gender roles are fading away. These stories parallel the raising of Lazarus and the healing of the paralytic. But now it isn’t Jesus’ best friend Lazarus, it is a woman, and she is referred to as a disciple. It is the same Greek word that is used for the twelve disciples. The writer is making it clear that Tabitha and Peter were on equal footing. The gospel is spilling over into all sorts of places, and God’s wondrous signs are being shown through a woman. But, it doesn’t end there.
Third, I love this story because it is crazy Peter who is doing it. This is the same Peter who just a few chapters before was denying Jesus three times. Now he is commanding the power of God. And how? Because he has taken to heart the words of Jesus, those words that were spoken that are “spirit and life.”
Now he has the words of eternal life. And he is a part of the body of Christ that has the power to give life, in Jesus’ name. And that journey has continued to today. So guess what, friends? Now we have the words of eternal life. Let’s go use ‘em today!
P.S. If you would like to experience the Church of All Nations and Journey to Israel with me, check out the upcoming trip: mattmeinke.com/trips . We leave January 2017.