“Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?… Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” – John 19:10-11
Authority is one of the intrusted talents. Men talk very boastfully of their power, forgetting that it is delegated power which they hold, and that they must wield it for God, and must give account to him for their use of it. No man’s power belongs to himself to do with as he pleases; it is given him from God, the source of all power. This is true of the authority of parents and teachers, of the power possessed by civil magistrates, and of all power whatsoever.
Men are eager to obtain offices in the city or nation; and they do not always realize the responsibility which attaches to such positions. Power belongs to God, and must be used for God, or its misuse will bring sore penalty. It is a talent which is given to us to be accounted for, and no treason is worse than malfeasance in the employing of power. This is true all the way from the power of the child on the playground to the power of the president of the nation or the king on his throne. “Thou couldest have no power… except it were given thee from above.”
There is a comforting thought suggested by the words in this sentence, “Thou couldest have no power against me.” Christ in this world was under the protection of his Father, and no one on earth could lift a finger against him but by the Divine permission. What was true of him, the Son of God, is true of each one of the sons of God in all their earthly life. Each believer, the humblest, the weakest, is kept in this world as the apple of God’s eye. No one can touch one of God’s little ones save by Divine permission. This shows how safe we are, amid all the world’s dangers and enmities, while we trust ourselves in our Father’s keeping.
Thou hast shewed thy people hard things (Ps. 60:3).
I have always been glad that the Psalmist said to God that some things were hard. There is no mistake about it; there are hard things in life.
Some beautiful pink flowers were given me this summer, and as I took them I said, “What are they?” And the answer came, “They are rock flowers; they grow and bloom only on rocks where you can see no soil.” Then I thought of God’s flowers growing in hard places; and I feel, somehow, that He may have a peculiar tenderness for His “rock flowers” that He may not have for His lilies and roses. –Margaret Bottome
The tests of life are to make, not break us. Trouble may demolish a man’s business but build up his character. The blow at the outward man may be the greatest blessing to the inner man. If God, then, puts or permits anything hard in our lives, be sure that the real peril, the real trouble, is what we shall lose if we flinch or rebel. –Maltbie D. Babcock
Heroes are forged on anvils hot with pain, And splendid courage comes but with the test. Some natures ripen and some natures bloom Only on blood-wet soil, some souls prove great Only in moments dark with death or doom. God gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.
There seems to be a voice of hope in this call. The disciples had sadly failed in one great duty: they had slept when the Master wanted them to watch with him. He had just told them that they might as well sleep on, so far as that service was concerned, for the time to render it was gone for ever. Yet there were other duties before them, and Jesus calls them to arise to meet these. Because they had failed in one hour’s responsibility they must not sink down in despair. They must arouse themselves to meet the responsibility just before them.
Again the lesson is plain. Because we have failed in one duty we must not give up in despair. Because a young man has wasted his youth he must not therefore lose heart and think all is lost. There are other opportunities waiting for him. The loss of youth is irreparable. The golden years can never be gotten back. The innocence, the beauty, the power, are gone for ever. Yet why should a man squander all because he has squandered the best? Because the morning has been thrown away, why should all the day be lost?
The lesson is for all who have failed in any way. Christ ever calls to hope. He bids us rise again from the worst defeat. In the kingdom of grace there is always margin enough to start again, and to build up a noble life. Even down to life’s latest hour this remains true. The door of opportunity opened to the penitent even on the cross in his dying hour: there was no time to make anything good or beautiful of his life on the earth, save in his dying confession and testimony; but the eternity into which he passed is very long, with time enough for a glorious career. So it is always. In this world, blessed by divine love and grace, there is never any need for despair. The call after any defeat or failure still is, “Rise up, let us go.”
I have chosen him so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then the Lord will give to Abraham what he promised him.” (Gen 18:19)
God wants people that He can depend upon. He could say of Abraham, “I know him, that he will command his children … that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken.” God can be depended upon; He wants us to be just as decided, as reliable, as stable. This is just what faith means.
God is looking for men on whom He can put the weight of all His love and power and faithful promises. God’s engines are strong enough to draw any weight we attach to them. Unfortunately the cable which we fasten to the engine is often too weak to hold the weight of our prayer; therefore God is drilling us, disciplining us to stability and certainty in the life of faith. Let us learn our lessons and stand fast.
—A. B. Simpson
God knows that you can stand that trial; He would not give it to you if you could not. It is His trust in you that explains the trials of life, however bitter they may be. God knows our strength, and He measures it to the last inch; and a trial was never given to any man that was greater than that man’s strength, through God, to bear it.
Can God really heal? I pondered on this question for most of my Christian life. Are the testimonies we see were people “proclaim” they were healed by the Holy Spirit real?Is the same Godwho healed in the biblical days still able to perform miraculous healings? One will never know the answers until they fully surrender healing to the Lord.
I prayed but the person still died, why didn’t God heal them?(Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD). In such situations, we thank the Lord that the individual has received eternal life and no longer has to suffer on earth.
During the early days of my Christian walk, my father (see the blog post: Rejected but not forgotten) was diagnosed with a brain tumour. It was a very difficult time for me as…
“When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” – Luke 22:32
Peter was not to be lost in the terrible experience through which he was to pass. Christ had made intercession for him, and he would come again from the trial humbled, bruised, defeated, but saved, and a better man. Our Lord tells him here that after his restoration he should turn his experience to account in helping other souls. “Do thou, when once thou hast turned again, stablish thy brethren.” He would be able then to warn others of the dangers in which he had suffered so terribly. We can imagine Peter in after days counseling Christians against self-confidence and the other false steps which led to his own fall, and thus strengthening or stablishing them in safe ways. Then there is no doubt that his experience of penitence, and of the grace and love of Christ in that experience, enabled him to be a wise and safe guide to many another disciple who had fallen into sin and was seeking to be restored.
The lesson is important. All the lessons that God teaches us we should teach others. When we are helped it is that we may then help others. When God comforts us in any sorrow, he thereby ordains us to go forth to comfort others with the comfort wherewith we ourselves have been comforted of God. When we fall in temptation, and God lifts us up and restores us, he wants us to use our experience in helping other weak ones in their temptations.
“O lead me, Lord, that I may lead
The wandering and the wavering feet;
O feed me, Lord, that I may feed
Thy hungering ones with manna sweet.
“O strengthen me, that while I stand
Firm on the rock, and strong in thee,
I may stretch out a loving hand
To wrestlers with the troubled sea.”
“And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” – Matthew 26:30
This is the only record of our Lord’s singing when he was on the earth. It is worthy of special notice that it was just as he was starting out to Gethsemane that he sung a hymn with his disciples. It would not have seemed so strange to us if he had sung that night on the Transfiguration Mount, or the day he entered Jerusalem amid the people’s hosannas, or on some other occasion of great gladness and triumph; but that the only time we hear him singing should be in the darkest night of his life is very suggestive.
It tells us of the deep gladness that was in the heart of Christ under all his griefs and sorrows. He knew the agony into whose black shadows he was about to enter. He saw the cross, too, that stood just beyond Gethsemane. Yet he went out toward the darkness with songs of praise on his lips. There is a Scripture word which tells us that “for the joy set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame.” This was the joy that broke forth here in a hymn of praise. It was the joy of doing the Father’s will and of saving lost souls. We get thus here another glimpse of Christ’s great heart of love.
We learn a lesson, too, for ourselves. We should go forward with joy to meet sorrow and sacrifice when we are doing our Father’s will. We should learn to sing as we enter life’s valleys of shadow. It is a great thing to be able to sing as we work, and sing as we suffer. The secret of Christ’s song here was his looking beyond the garden and the cross; he saw the reward, the glory, the redemption accomplished. If we look only at the sorrow before us, we cannot sing; but if we look on to the joy of victory, and the blessedness of the reward, and the ripened fruits that will come from the suffering, we can sing too as we enter the sorest trial.
“It is expedient for you that I go away.” – John 16:7
The disciples thought that Christ’s going away would be an irretrievable loss for them. It was the crushing of all their hopes. They thought they would be left in darkness and loneliness; for they had built up all their Messianic hopes on the idea of his remaining and ruling as a king over his people. Not only were they about to lose the dearest friend they had ever known, but they were to lose also the one in whom they had trusted as the promised Deliverer and Savior. They saw no silver lining whatever in the dark cloud that was gathering.
But now Jesus says to them, “It is expedient for you that I go away.” There was a silver lining, after all, in that black cloud. What seemed an irreparable loss would in the end prove a gain. The disciples did not understand it now, but there were the Master’s words for it.
The same is true now in the case of all the Master’s disciples when he calls away their human friends. We can readily see how it is well for our Christian friends when Christ takes them. They exchange earth for heaven, sin and sorrow for holiness and eternal joy. There is no doubt that death is gain for those who depart; but how about those who remain? How about the friends who are left with bleeding hearts to walk on lonely and sad over earth’s ways? This word of Christ applies: “It is expedient for you that I go away.” We cannot understand this; but neither could the disciples understand at the time how Christ’s departure could be better for them than his staying with them would have been. Afterward they knew; and afterward we shall know how even for us the going away of our friends will become a blessing if we in faith submit ourselves to God. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”