Reflections by Jeremy Alger

As we approach the last game of the NFL season the thirty teams not in that game are starting preparations for next year. One of the first questions is “Who will be their coach?” More than a handful of teams have replaced their head coach in the last few days. In that discussion and guessing who will be a good coach there is a concept called the coaching tree. It is essentially the different coaches that have worked as assistant coaches under other specific head coaches.
Andy Reid is coaching in the Super Bowl this year. His coaching tree is vast. Teams assume that someone who worked under Andy Reid will have the ability to be a good coach.
We look at this tree concept in realms other than coaching. If you were to make a coaching tree for Jesus you would easily give it twelve branches, one for each of the disciples. These are who Jesus directly taught how to serve and how to lead.
But as you consider those twelve it doesn’t take long to notice the bad branch. Judas betrayed Jesus and literally sold Him out to be crucified! We know that Jesus was without fault, yet his teaching wasn’t enough to steer Judas on the right path.
I understand that Jesus needed to die for our sins according to prophesy, so I am not suggesting that it would be better if Judas hadn’t betrayed Jesus. But I am confident from Judas’ final days that he regretted it himself.
NFL owners are often shocked when a coach from a good coaching tree turns out to be a dud of a coach. We Christians seem to be shocked when people whom we look up to fail. The church is getting rocked repeatedly by people whom we regard as leaders and pillars that are falling away or just walking away from the faith that they have professed. But if we think of the one out of twelve rate of failure for Jesus’ own disciples, perhaps we should not be so surprised.
Some people are living guarded lives instead of being open and intimate with people because they are afraid that someone might disappoint or even worse, actually betray them. I want to say that they are making a mistake that is costing them and the world the blessings of what they could do if they lived by faith rather than by fear.
Jesus knew the prophecies. He knew that He was headed for a painful, terrible fate. In the upper room Jesus made clear that He knew what Judas was going to do before it happened. But before Jesus made that revelation He humbled Himself and washed the disciples’ feet. Then He gave them the gift of communion, an opportunity to unite with Christ in His death and resurrection. Those things were done with/for Judas.
The point is that Jesus didn’t guard Himself from being hurt or abandoned or betrayed. He loved openly (some song writers would say recklessly). If we are going to be our best and do our best for the Kingdom of God that is the example that we need to follow. Open our hearts, our doors, and our lives to people; a fraction of whom will hurt us.
All of those we open up to will be blessed by what God is doing in and through us, and when we are hurt Jesus will be our comforter, who knew every ounce of the pain that we feel.
Jeremy Alger is the pastor of the New Cumberland Church of the Nazarene. For more information please visit