I don’t always do very well with victory.
It sometimes seems easier spiritually to deal with the humbling that comes with failure than the temptations that come with being proven right, and certainly, there are temptations that come with triumph!
For one, it is tempting to be hard on those who opposed you or failed you or doubted you before you were vindicated. For another, it is easy to become so self-absorbed and excited about all that will come as a result of that victory that you forget the people who were with you during the struggle.
This morning however, reading Thomas Goodwin’s works, I have been encouraged by thinking about the way Jesus treated his followers after He rose from the dead. What love! What compassion! What perfection!
Jesus was not only shamed and humiliated and mocked and scorned by his enemies before dying, He was also abandoned by His closest friends. If you have been abandoned by people when you need them most, you know how much pain that brings. And Jesus, at the very moment He was performing the greatest act of love towards his followers, his followers were denying and forsaking Him and running for their lives.
You remember how in the garden of Gethsemane as He was crying out to God, they were sleeping.
You can think of how as He was being taken away to be tried, Peter was cursing and promising that he didn’t even know Him.
In spite of the fact that He had told them exactly what would happen and how it would happen, not long after He was taken into the grave, His followers had basically given up faith in Him.
“We thought He was the one who would have redeemed Israel.”
Yet, when Christ comes out of the grave on that victorious day, having defeated death once and for all and looking forward to His triumphal ascension into heaven, what is the very first thing He says about them?
John 20:17, “Go tell my brothers…”
Though they were embarrassed to be associated with Him as he suffered, Jesus was not embarrassed to still call them brothers as He conquered.
And what does He want His brothers to know?
This is especially telling.
Think of what He could have said.
He could have reminded them of their failures. “Tell my brothers they shouldn’t have doubted me.”
Or He could have said, “Tell them that I have been dying for them.”
Instead He says, “Tell them I am ascending to my Father and their Father, to my God and their God.”
What remarkable love! He wants His disciples to be assured that He is for them and God the Father is as well. And He assures them of His loving concern by making it clear that He is not going to stop working for their good. Having already done such a great work for them on earth, what does Jesus want them to to know, that He now wants to get to heaven as quickly as He can do to more!