Back to the ministry I had worked at for a few years. I had the privilege of having an incredible husband/wife team to work with. In particular I worked under D’s authority. The rule was that as long as I received permission from him to do something or go somewhere, he would cover me. Yeah, right. My previous concept of someone ‘covering for me’ typically went that when the fire got hot the finger started pointing, at me. But lo and behold several times the fire got hot and I didn’t feel it because he took the heat for me. I had respected him by discussing things with him, so he returned that respect by “covering” me. I couldn’t believe it. I kept waiting for the heat to reach me and it didn’t. Wow! So this was what it was like to be “covered.”
This is what I see with Jesus in Luke 5. Jesus’ ministry was starting to take-off and the fires of criticism were heating up. The Pharisees were still in the early development of the stages of criticism having moved from Stage 1: Think bad thoughts to yourself (Lk 5:21), to Stage 2: Say bad things not to the person but to those around the person. So the Pharisees went after the disciples.
“But the Pharisees and teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
This was painful for the disciples. The Pharisees were the disciples previous heroes of the faith. Perhaps the words “their sect” meant the sects of the disciples, making it even more personal. But before the disciples could answer, Jesus stepped in and ‘covered’ them, making the response on their behalf:
“Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
At this stage the Pharisees upped their game and moved from Stage 2 into the Spirit of the Critic Stage 3: Talk to the person you are angry with but don’t talk to him directly, take cheap shots at the person’s friends. So here they go:
“John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”
Jesus answered. That’s all we need to know. He came to their defense. He covered them. It wouldn’t be long before the Pharisees would move into Stage 4: Challenge the one you don’t like verbally (see Lk 6:1-2).
The bottom line is that Jesus didn’t leave them defenseless. He stood up for them. He defended them. He covered them. I think people who feel defenseless often carry loaded guns and/or loaded words. Anything to defend themselves. At the end of the day, and the beginning of it, we have Jesus. We just only need to respect him by giving him our trust, then resting. This is the kind of leader I want to follow.
Jesus, my covering.