Daily Devotions are published Tuesday-Saturday during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Exodus 4:9-10 (RSV)
“If they will not believe you even these two signs of heed your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it upon the dry ground; and the water which you shall take from the Nile will become blood upon the dry ground.” But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either heretofore or since thou hast spoken to thy servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”
Even with the Lord’s assurance, Moses demurred: “Talk to my brother. He’s slick. He’s a lawyer, good with words. And he doesn’t stutter.”
Matthew 28: 1-10 (RSV)
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Afraid? The disciples were petrified and bumbling. When the Palm Sunday parade rode into the maw of the Roman empire, joy and seeming triumph transmuted into implacable fear. This rabble following their leader not on a steed, but a donkey, did not overawe the political leadership, the military leadership, or the religious leadership. As the week progressed, ticker tape faded, ground into the Jerusalem’s dusty streets. When the inflated balloons disappeared into the sky, the triumphal cries transmuted to “try him,” from praise to “prosecute him,” from delight to “death.” The disciples were scared. Wouldn’t we be?
A very average lot with no advanced degrees or even community college night classes under their belts, no military training or political acumen, they, in a crunch, retreated. Hadn’t they worried that Jesus couldn’t feed the thousands, that Jesus slept in a storm-tossed boat? And now this. Were they going to make it through this holy week alive? They fell asleep at critical moments, denied even knowing him, and for a few bucks, one betrayed him – probably just like each one of us.
Three days later these disciples began to turn the world upside down. Frightened? Powerless? No, the reverse: unafraid, bold, and empowered enough to take the astounding message of the risen Christ, the Christ who is “always with us,” from Judea to Africa, to Macedonia, and to Rome, the heart of the empire.
In the din of Jerusalem, the disciples thought their man would become king. He wouldn’t. He was killed, and the reverse happened: They, transformed and inspired, they the untutored and unlettered, became kings. Facing abuse, torture, imprisonment, and even death, they taught, preached, leaving in their wake transformed people, transformed communities, a slowly transforming world, and a Gospel that said, “Fear not. I am with you. I will not leave you.”
Lord, although I may stutter, recoil in timidity, feel that I am powerless, too small to carry the power and weight of your message, equip me as you did Moses. Empower and inspire me as you did the disciples, calm my fears and send me out wrapped in joy and courage knowing “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” (Ps 23:6).