Jesus and His men were used to roughing it.
They probably spent most nights huddled around a couple of fires, the flames dancing in their eyes as they listened to Jesus speak softly, with need to project His voice to a crowd. There was something tender in His voice muffled by the heavy night air speaking visions of another world and truths that must be resident somewhere out there in the darkness beyond the fire’s light. The clear nights with multitudes of stars seeming almost to sing of the glory of the Lord, made thoughts of eternity seem almost within reach.
The day’s events were reviewed. Things they couldn’t laugh at in public were enjoyed with bursts of laughter that would cause others nearby who were likewise bedding down for the night to wonder who this band of twelve, no, thirteen men might be and what they might be up to.
Parables were explained. Deep silences followed the astounding words of Jesus. One simply could not answer; one could only consider. One by one the Disciples would find a place to make a bed as the fires and the conversation grew smaller and smaller. When all the men had found their places and the slow, deep breathing of sleep was all there was to hear, I can imagine that Jesus stood up and stirred the fires a little, perhaps adding some more wood. He would then have another conversation, this one with His father, one that could only be heard in His heart. Soon, even that conversation would end only to be continued before dawn as Jesus, tired from the day as any man would be, found a place to lay His head.
But what about bad weather?
In cold seasons and on stormy nights, Jesus and His men needed more shelter than the stars could provide, hidden as they were by clouds or bright as they were in the frigid winter air. Lodging was the shelter they needed; fires safely contained in stone and vented by chimneys of stone. This was the shelter they needed but the kind they seldom had.
The House at Bethany
This made the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany such a special shelter for them. It must have been a large house to accommodate so many.
- It is easy to see that Martha’s hospitality gifts were vital to the whole enterprise.
- Mary’s love for Jesus was itself like a fire that warmed and refreshed Him.
- Lazarus, perhaps not as strong as his sisters, watched quietly and listened intently.
No Shelter in the Garden
On that last night after their last meal together, deep in the green of the Garden called Gethsemane, a silent storm raged in the heart of Jesus. His time had come. He had set His face like a flint toward the moment that was now upon Him. His sleeping disciples were no solace to Him. The Garden itself was no shelter from the interior storm–the icy winter of His soul.
There was no shelter for Him. He must face
- the winds of wickedness,
- the storms of Satan’s schemes,
- the treachery of the traitor,
- the swords of the soldiers and
- He must face all of this alone.
The shelter of the Father’s wings promised in the Psalms was nowhere to be found. There was no towering rock to give cover; no defense could be made against the madness of men.
No one was ever so alone, so exposed, so vulnerable as Jesus, without shelter on the night when sin ruled the world.
Matthew 8:20 NIV
“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
Mark 14:32-42 NIV
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba,e Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Matthew 7:24-25 NKJV
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
Lord Jesus You are my shelter against the storm. You are my rock and my salvation in this weary land. I have built my house upon you. You promised that the rains would fall down, the waters would rise up and the winds would howl and blow against my house but it would not fall. It would not be swamped by the rising flood or break beneath the weight of the winds. Today I remember all Your nights under the stars with no soft bed to receive You. I call to mind all those cold or stormy nights when You found to place to lay Your head. I remember also Your agony in Gethsemane where no shelter could shield You from the tempest in the hearts of men. I want my heart to be to You a shelter like the home of Martha and her kin. Be welcome in my heart and find shelter there. Amen.
Till the Storm Passes By
Words and Music: Mosie Lister
1. In the dark of the midnight I oft hid my face,
While the storm howls above me and there’s no hiding place.
‘Mid the crash of the thunder, precious Lord, hear my cry,
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.
Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more,
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky;
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand,
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.
2. Many times Satan whispered, “There’s no need to try,
For there’s no end of sorrow, there’s no hope by and by.”
But I know Thou are with me, and tomorrow I’ll rise
Where the storms never darken the skies.
3. When the long night has ended and the storms come no more,
Let me stand in Thy presence on the bright peaceful shore;
In the land where the tempest never comes, Lord may I
Dwell wee with Thee when the storm passes by.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved