They All Left Him and Fled – by Coty Pinckney

This post originally appeared on Desiring God Community Church’s website.

Coty Pinckney is the senior pastor of Desiring God Community Church in Charlotte, NC.


And they all left him and fled (Mark 14:50).

Jesus fed thousands. So many gathered to hear Him, He had to leave the lakeshore and get in a boat to teach. A multitude welcomed Him to Jerusalem, shouting “Hosanna,” proclaiming Him as the fulfillment of the promise of a coming Son of David.

But now, after a show of force by the authorities, Jesus is alone. “They all left Him and fled.” All abandon Him. Not just the crowds. Not just those who saw miracles. But even those who have spent years at his side. Even those who have shared His bread. Even those He loved to the end. Even Peter, who only hours before proclaimed his faithfulness to Jesus until death. That faithfulness lasts only until a servant girl says she saw him with Jesus.

Only Jesus is faithful until death.

Something in us desires to be the hero. We all are tempted to say with Peter and the other disciples, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you” (Mark 14:31).

And whenever we try to be the hero, we fall flat on our faces – months or years later, if not (like Peter) that very day.

Only Jesus is the hero.

The Gospel is not the story of great men who do great deeds for God. The Gospel is not the story of heroes of the Christian religion who, through tenacity, boldness, and strength conquer kingdoms and overcome evil. The Gospel is not the story of women of great insight and cleverness who outsmart evil oppressors.

The Gospel is the story of a holy and loving and faithful Trinitarian God; the Gospel is the story of God the Father planning and orchestrating all affairs of this world to display His character, His glory. The Gospel is the story of God the Son leaving His throne to become incarnate as Man, living the life God always intended for mankind, and then suffering and dying on the cross so that He might rise to be the first among many brothers. The Gospel is the story of God the Holy Spirit making alive hell-deserving sinners, opening their eyes to treasure God the Son, and empowering them to accomplish good works by faith for God’s glory.

By faith. That is, by looking away from their own abilities and limitations, by looking away from their strengths and their weaknesses, by looking away from themselves and their organizations, and leaning on God and His power to accomplish His purposes.

The Gospel is the story of man’s dependence and God’s independence, of man’s failures and God’s successes, of man’s moral bankruptcy and God’s moral integrity. The Gospel is about Jesus, not us; He must increase, and we must decrease.

Yet as we decrease in our egotistical self-confidence, something marvelous happens. His increase does not result in our fading into obscurity. As we walk by faith and not by sight, He increases, while we revel in our dependence. As we become poor in spirit and meek, we become heirs of the Kingdom; as we delight in His greatness and our weakness, we become the light of the world and the salt of the earth.

So as we read about Jesus’ triumphal entry, His arrest, trial, beatings, and crucifixion in Scripture, and as we rejoice in His resurrection, remember: the Gospel is all about Him. He is the center. Faith is a looking away from ourselves and what we have to offer. He paid the penalty. He rose from the dead. He is at the right hand of the Father. He always lives to make intercession for us. He sent the Holy Spirit to empower us. The Gospel is all about Him.

We must decrease. Praise God! We are dependent. Praise Jesus! We are children. Praise the Spirit! We are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. Amazing grace! Amazing love!

By: Coty Pinckney