Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me." And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping... ---Matthew 26:38-40a
He picked his own team, and every one of them failed Him.
They jockeyed for position, questioned His objective, misunderstood His priorities, and failed to comprehend the central purpose of His work. In the end, one of them sold Him out for reasons we still don't fully comprehend, and every one of the others deserted Him when given the chance to be faithful.
Still, remember, it was He who picked them.
So he waded patiently through their questions, even when those questions showed how little they knew of the labor they shared with Him. He protected them from the storms that beset them, even when they should have trusted He would do so without their pleas. He trained them carefully, always focused not on the failures of the moment among His tiny band of workers, but rather on that moment in the future when the mission finally made its way from the paper of Scripture to their heads and hearts. He watched them fail on training runs, and trained them some more.
Maybe He should have picked better people. Or maybe He should have replaced them when it was clear they failed to grasp the mission of the work.
It would seem especially true given their inability to pick up signs of the crisis building at Jerusalem. Tired from the work, and the emotions constantly swirling around being alongside Him, they even failed to keep Him company in the darkest hours before His most important work.
And then they were gone. Like mist at mid-day, they disappeared when He was threatened, and watched from a distance while He carried on without them.
Dejected, disconsolate, and reeling, they gathered after His death without any idea of what to do next.
And then He did it. He picked them--again.
Jesus could have returned triumphant before Caesar; could have taunted the Roman soldiers who crucified Him and the high priests who belittled Him. Instead, He went back to the people who failed, and picked them again.
This time they understood. Armed not only with all the information He gave them before His triumph, but now also with the wisdom to put it in perspective, they did what they could not have done before: They built His church. And history records that we who know Him today stand as fruit of their labors, heirs to their strength. More than that, though, they were armed with the fact that He picked them---again.
Now, in the places where we work, a new generation of laborers have been called. For reasons we can't quite comprehend, He has plucked us out of the morass of sinful selfishness, and chosen us to join His labors.
With the same quiet patience He exhibited toward His first twelve, He trains us for the effort. And when we falter, when we let the irritations of life or the crises before us distract us from the tasks He assigns us, He does something few managers are likely to do:
He picks us again. How can we not serve a leader like that!