Thursday, February 8, 2007

Tarnished Tools in the Hands of the Master Craftsman

Acts 1:6

"Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?" These were times of great confusion for the apostles. While it is true that they had just tasted the sweet fruit of victory, had witnessed the resurrected Lord, this also came on the heels of the most bitter defeat they had ever experienced. My guess is that the more time they spent with Jesus before the crucifixion, the more they became convinced in their own minds that they were going to be a part of the re-establishment of the nation of Israel. That they would soon battle along side Jesus, or more importantly in their eyes, that they would lead the nation of Israel. Serve as Generals, so to speak, commanding over an army of Israelites leading them in victory against the mighty Roman Empire. As they followed Jesus in His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, as they laid their cloaks and palm branches before Him, as the people shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David", the inner confidence of the disciples grew. I believe there was no doubt in their minds that Jesus was here to re-establish the nation of Israel, to finally free them from the grip of the Roman Empire. Then in one week's time, those hopes were dashed. Not just dashed they were crushed. Jesus, their once loved leader, tasted the ultimate in hatred and rejection as the shouts from the crowd came "Crucify Him! Give us Barabas, and Crucify Him!" No matter how hard they tried, those shouts still echoed in their minds.

But it wasn't just hateful words that they couldn't get out of their minds. Far worse than the shouts of a crowd were the actions of friends, greater still their own actions. For three years they had followed Him. When He spoke they moved to the edge of their seats, hung on every word. For three years they watched Him love the unlovely, reach the unreachable, touch the untouchable. They saw one woman healed simply by touching the hem of His garment. Who could forget seeing lepers cleansed by the touch of His hand, or see Lazarus come forth from the mouth of the tomb. Or how about the time He simply spoke and the winds and waves instantly obeyed. All these things they had seen with their own eyes, not because they chose to follow Him, but because He chose them. Out of all the great people in the nation of Israel, Jesus hand-picked each of them. They witnessed perfection personified, yet when the person of perfection needed them most, they turned tail and ran. These were the thoughts and pictures that consumed their minds. So when Jesus spoke of the days to come, their minds were mired in the days gone by. When Jesus spoke of the promised gift, they could only see themselves as unworthy recipients. It wasn't that they didn't want this great gift but they had this great fear that once again they would let Him down. In their minds eyes they felt that the more time that passed, the greater the chance that they would fail. "Lord, are you at this time going to restore Israel?" It was a confused pleading sort of question. Almost as if there were saying "Oh please, Jesus, please do it now, before we fail you again, please establish your kingdom!"

But something had happened to these men. While traveling through the torrid waters of defeat, these once proud men had been broken. There had been a day when these men saw themselves as worthy. Now they saw themselves in the reality of who they truly were, unworthy. All their pride had been stripped away, now the Hand of God was ready to work, ready to accomplish the unexplainable through a pack of unworthy humble servants. His greatest works are accomplished through blemished, tarnished simple tools touched by the Master's Hands, may we joyously watch as He works His masterpiece in and through us!

From one tarnished tool to another,

Jim Canady

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