Dread and fear must have filled their hearts as they fled into the darkness. One had his clothes torn away from him as those who had arrested Jesus tried to seize him as well. Jesus had warned, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Luke 22:40). Temptation surrounded them now. Hide in the darkness while the teacher who brought light into their lives suffered. Lie about whether they were his disciples, or even knew him. Abandon the dream that he was the One who would liberate God’s people. Their desperation and depression engulf us when we forget the ending of their story. We forget when we too fail to pray. We forget when we too allow fear to dictate our response to the world around us, when we strike out in anger or fail to do the right thing because we are afraid. They had dined with Jesus that evening, and even as he tried to alert them to the dangers and remind them of his priorities, they had argued about which of them was most important. Now each of them wanted to be least, to be the one forgotten by the authorities. While they forgot, and hoped to be forgotten, they needed to remember that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer, and to pray that they would not enter into temptation.
We too experience dread. We fear. Enemies of truth and love rejoice when their acts of terror cause their targets to surrender their freedom, to renounce their faith (“How could a good God allow such to happen?”), to silence their confession. May we remember the warning and pray that we may not enter into temptation. May we, when confronted with fear and dread, respond with wisdom and courage. May we remember to love when to hate seems the logical choice. May we remember that we are disciples of Jesus.
O God our Father, Darkness engulfs. Headlines of horror describe episodes of terror that have found their target – our hearts. Revive our courage; help us to remember what and who we believe. Strengthen our resolve to do your will. Protect us from temptation. Open our eyes to how we may heal others who are crippled by their fear and hate. Thank you for your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.