Compline – Sermon 28
Prayer to start
May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ
What’s the most difficult test we’ve had to face?
academic examinations – driving test – a job interview?
or maybe a difficult family problem – or a bereavement – or illness –
is it something we can prepare ourselves for? – or are we just expected to cope –
In our reading we see many people being tested – the Disciples – Peter – Judas – the temple police – and Jesus Himself – as Jesus said – “Satan has been given leave to sift them like wheat” – how prepared were they for what was to come? – how prepared was Jesus?
The disciples got off to a bad start – Even before they’d left the meal table – they were arguing amongst themselves – about greatness – Jesus had to remind them that true greatness comes to those who help and serve others –
they didn’t fair much better in the garden – when He asked them to keep watch while He prayed – they fell asleep – and when the hour of Jesus’ arrest came – they forgot all that He had taught them – and lunged out at the nearest person – with a sword
– and Jesus had to act quickly to rescue the situation –
yet even though that night – and in the coming days – they had lost their way with God – Jesus knew that eventually they would return and stand by Him – in verses 28 -30 – He promises them that because they had shared in the bearing of the cross – they will share in the wearing of His crown –
and what about Peter – who had recognised Him as the Son of God – and seen Him transfigured on the mountain – He was one of the two Disciples who had the courage to follow Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest – yet despite His pledge to “follow Jesus to prison and to death” – Peter would deny he knew Jesus that night –
But again – Jesus knew Peter would eventually keep that pledge – when He had seen Him risen from the dead – though he would deny knowing Him in front of a crowd – the resurrection faith would bring Peter back to Him – and He would strengthen the other disciples.
But the biggest test was taken by Jesus Himself –
In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus wrestles deep within Himself knowing that everything depends on His actions – He is on the rack – hanging between love and fear – love for God – and fear of what was to come – the entire plan of God is in the balance – He prays for strength – He must not lose – sweat pours off His face and body like drops of blood –
“Father if it be your will, take this cup from me”
then – He prays the prayer He taught others – “not my will – but yours be done” –
Jesus knows that the testing time is a matter for the Spirit – of total dependence and trust that God is in control – even if things around appear to be going in the wrong direction –
every victory in Jesus’ life has been won through prayer – the battle to reject Satan – to understand His calling – to free sick bodies and dark minds – to train His disciples – and this is the most important “test” of all – one that will lead to final victory –
Judas and the rest of the crowd – had lost even before they’d arrived – The victory of the cross was won – through prayer – God was right there with Him – and Jesus had complete trust in His will –
there can be no greater preparation than to give ourselves wholly over to the will of God – and to pray the prayer that Jesus said –
“Father – not my will – but yours be done” –