They had to leave.
They had to get as far away as they possibly could.
It felt as though their very lives were at stake.
The things he had said, the things he had done, made all of the wrong people upset at precisely the wrong time.
You have to understand, they had to leave.
As a result an already impossibly dark night was plunged even further
It is easy to wag our finger in accusation and shake our heads in disgust when we think of the actions of those first followers, the men who left the side of Jesus when he was condemned, beaten, mocked, and crucified.
How could they not stay, we wonder, with their friend, their leader, their mentor, their savior in this hour of greatest need?
Where was their dedication to the one whom they had pledged to follow even to their own deaths?
Where was their sense of commitment?
Had all their talk of devotion and solidarity been washed away in a sea of cowardice?
How could they have done taken this course of action?
Are we not tempted to do the same when we hear this man's voice speak of love, even for our enemies?
Do we not turn our heads when we see him touch another person who is outcast, other, "unclean"?
Don't we long to flee when we hear him pray "forgive them for they know not what they do"?
Are not our own lives at stake when he asks us to do the same?
And we flee.
The call to follow into these uncomfortable places is risky for our sanitary faith and our confined belief set.
This kind of love is not easy or comfortable.
A life of grace and gospel is one full of risk and without limits. If the grace offered and the good news proclaimed is not for everyone, then it is for no one.
This Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Dark Saturday, let us consider the manner in which we, like the first disciples, have abandoned the Christ and good news of great joy for all people.