|Countdown to my repentance
|Like many of you, I was not bothered of what strangers
and acquaintances thought of me. But I would be deeply hurt when those
close to me ditched or avoided me. Natural, you might say. But my
pain was unnatural; it was like an eternal dagger in my heart. Like
a live coal burning through my soul. But people and their attitudes
stopped surprising me when I studied what the disciples did when Jesus
was persecuted. What surprised me was Jesus’s response to them.
|Jesus and his disciples were together for three years.
They lived like a family and worked as a team. They were so close
that Jesus saw them as his friends. He frequently reminded them about
the coming persecution. During the Last Supper, he washed their feet
and told them that one among the 12 would betray him. To Peter, he
said, “I tell you that before the cock crows tonight, you will
deny me three times.” Peter denied it would happen. To the rest,
Jesus said, “This very night all of you will run away and leave
me.” They replied they would die for him (Mathew 26:31-35).
|But when soldiers arrested Jesus, the disciples fled.
From that time onwards Jesus was alone. No disciple or relative spoke
for him in front of the authorities. Even when he was wounded and
tired, and was struggling to carry his cross, the Romans enlisted
a stranger to help him. There was no disciple to help him.
|In the Gospels, I read that on the very day of his
resurrection, Jesus visited his disciples. The visit was not to curse,
punish or destroy them. He reassured them and used the same team to
preach the Gospel to the world. He never tried to start a new team.
|He even cared for the doubting Thomas, who was not
present when the resurrected Jesus first appeared. Thomas told the
other disciples, “Unless I see the scars of the nails in his
hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I
will not believe.”
|A week later, Jesus reappeared when Thomas and the
others were together. Jesus told Thomas, “Put your finger here
and look at my hands; then stretch out your hand and put it in my
side. Stop your doubting and believe!” Thomas answered, “My
Lord and My God.” Thomas had faulted twice. But Jesus had only
love for him.
|Later, Jesus paid a surprise visit to his disciples
at Lake Tiberius (John 21). The disciples were still not confident
and had gone back to their old job, fishing. Even though they worked
hard the whole night they got nothing. Knowing this Jesus said to
them, “Throw your net out on the right side of the boat and
you will catch some fish.” They threw the net out and struggled
to pull it back in, because the net was full. When the disciples came
ashore, they saw their master waiting for them with food. I was shaken
by this picture of a loving God. He was not a punishing or cursing
God as I was taught from my childhood.
|Let us come back to my statement about my loved ones
hurting me. I also felt guilty when I hurt those who loved me. When
Jesus found Peter guilty, he asked thrice, “Simon [Peter] son
of John, do you love me more than these others do?” Peter replied,
“Yes, Lord.” (John 21:15). With these words, Jesus was
removing Peter’s guilt, because he loved his disciple. In Jesus
I found a God who was removing my guilt.
|After his resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples
several times and talked to them about the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:4).
When they came together, he gave them this order: “Do not leave
Jerusalem, but wait for the gift I told you about, the gift my Father
promised. John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be
baptised with the Holy Spirit.”
|What surprised me is their response to this order (Acts1:6.).
They asked him, “Lord, will you at this time give the Kingdom
back to Israel?” Even at that juncture the disciples were only
able to dream about a worldly kingdom and not about the heavenly kingdom.
|Jesus said to them, “But when the Holy Spirit
comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses
for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria and to the ends of
the earth” (Acts 1:8).
|Despite the many betrayals and misunderstandings, Jesus
was patient and loving to his disciples. History vindicates his actions,
because the team he chose carried the faith worldwide. Personally,
I rate people by what they do, and not by what they say. I saw Jesus
forgiving and loving. So I had no reason to believe otherwise. I also
believe that if the Son was forgiving, so is the Father. In John 10:30,
Jesus says, “The father and I are one.”
|There was another change in me. I was grateful to God
for my financial troubles and business failure. I saw God through
Jesus only when I went through trouble. If I had weathered the financial
crisis somehow, I would not have seen the Father. It also enabled
me to tell other suffering believers to look for God through Christ,
and not through their experiences.
|In Jesus, I saw a Loving God looking for me.
|In Jesus, I saw a loving God waiting for me.
|In Jesus, I saw a loving God, who loved to walk