Why One and Not the Other
It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also (Acts 12:1).
After a disaster, probably the only question asked more often than “Why me?” is the question, “Why not me?”
Some veterans of combat are tormented with the feeling that they should have died with their fallen comrades—or died instead of them.
Superstition is common among people who realize that there is a good chance they may not survive a military operation. The old-school rabbit’s foot approach is still used by some. But the variety of good luck charms is vast. Sometimes Bibles are carried around just for luck. Then there are all those luck-bringing bracelets on the store shelves.
But survival is not a matter of luck. And no charm can ensure safety. Our lives rest in the hands of the Creator of heaven and earth. His hands are not tied, and they never fumble.
Peter, James, and John were the special disciples of Jesus. He took them along to places that were off limits to others. They were among the first disciples called up for duty. All three had been fishermen. James and John were brothers. They had worked together on their father’s boats. They were inseparable.
Until Herod broke them up with the slash of a sword.
Peter was arrested soon afterwards. But angels quickly rescued him. Later he would be arrested again, and finally put to death because of his testimony about Jesus.
And John, the brother of James? He lived on. He continued the work of the apostles; wrote a number of the books of the Bible; and peacefully passed away in his old age.
We wonder if John sometimes thought of his brother and his good friend and asked, “Why not me?” One suspects that he gladly would have died in place of these brothers in the faith.
But that was not God’s plan. That’s not the way the life-story of John would be written. To the question, “Why not me?” God’s answer is, “Because I said so.” It is as simple as that.
To whom did the crucified Savior show the greatest kindness? To the one who lived on to face the troubles and trials of life for many years, or those he sent angels to earlier in their lives with the message: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)
“Why me?” “Why not me?” God knows. And that is enough.
Jesus, Savior, who died that we might live, we know that our lives are in your hands. But sometimes we forget, and sometimes we doubt. Strengthen our faith so that we never second-guess your will or your ways. Open our eyes to see how good your plans are for us. Infuse our hearts with confidence and peace. May our fallen ones rest in your peace everlasting. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military