For my Easter devotional this year, you can either listen to the podcast or read the script. Join with me as examine how Jesus was quiet through these final days of his life.
It is Good Friday. Today we remember the sacrifice of our king. Today we take the bread and the wine and remember the price he paid for us.
I find it amazing in the accounts of the last hours of Jesus’ life how very quiet he was. He was mocked, accused, and beaten, and he did not react in anger or defiance.
He had an inner strength that came from knowing his purpose. And that meant he was not distracted by other voices, those of the world or even those of his friends.
And where was this strength cultivated. We get a key to that in the account of the garden of Gethsemane. Chapter 22 of Luke tells the story:
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
The beginning of this passage gives us a clue as to the source of Jesus’ inner strength. For it says, “Jesus went out as usual to the mount of Olives”.
This was something Jesus did regularly. In fact, in an earlier chapter of Luke (chapter 21) we are told that Jesus taught in the temple each day and spent each night on the Mount of Olives each night.
The passion translation says:
Jesus left the upper room with his disciples and, as was his habit, went to the Mount of Olives, his place of secret prayer.
Jesus had an established pattern of being grounded first in prayer. Being grounded first in conversation with his father, so that in all things he would hear his father’s voice above everyone else. Above the world and even above his friends.
How about us? When things get crazy, when there is, say a world pandemic, who do we turn to first? The health authorities, the government, Facebook? Who do we listen to above all else? Our family? Our friends? Or do we have such an established pattern of relationship with God that we hear his voice first?
Often Jesus’ way is so counter-cultural, and we see this in the account of his arrest. Judas comes to Jesus’ secret place of prayer, knowing he will find Jesus there. Because Jesus is predictable. He has an established routine of praying to his father. We pick up the story in Luke, Chapter 22:
While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
In the face of blatant betrayal Jesus does not get angry. When confronted by Judas and crowds with clubs, he does not allow his disciples to defend him.
In fact, when one of his disciples seeks to defend him, Jesus first heals and then rebukes Peter who was wielding the sword.
He rebukes Peter.
Peter was his friend, one of his closest circle. If I was about to be betrayed, I think I would want a Peter standing up for me and defending me.
It is an amazing scene and Jesus’ choice in this moment was to ignore both the shouting of those there to arrest him, and the defence of his friends. He instead tuned them both out and tuned into his Father, and in this moment of darkness and betrayal, he chooses to heal.
This is a quieter way. A way of surrender.
A way of laying down your plans and listening to God’s voice. A way of following him even though the path is hard. A way that is not one of confrontation and fighting for your rights but rather one of quiet acceptance.
It is a way that is grounded totally in hearing his father’s voice above all others.
I must admit that in these current circumstances my practice of 15 minutes of silence that I started at the beginning of lent has fallen away. What’s more my habit of praying and reading my bible after school drop off has disappeared, as I no longer have school drop off.
My habit of meeting with my father and listening to him above all else has suffered. And with that I find myself listening to so many other voices; the news, government updates, social media posts from friends, and that’s just the start!
The result of all of this, is I am unsure what to think, I am distracted by all the opinions, the data, the different approaches. I start to question my decisions, my parenting choices, and the schooling structure. In these moments I find myself scattered, confused and fearful.
But when I sit with my father and have a conversation with him, when I focus on his voice, I get clarity and I get peace. And I get enough grace to help me make the best decisions for today.
What would it take for you to be listening to God’s voice above all else?
What voices would you need to quiet? Are they the loud voices of the news or social media? Or are there also some closer voices of friends and family that you need to stop listening to? What would it look like to hear God’s voice above the noise of the world?
What would it look like to live in quiet surrender to God’s ways?
I’d like to lead you in prayer as we close this devotion today.
May you help me to hear your still small voice above all others in the world. May you help me hear it over the cacophony of opinions from the world, and when needed also over the well-meaning advice of friends.
May you give me the strength to walk in your ways of quiet surrender, yielding to your will, and not defending my actions but allowing you to speak through me.
And Father when things get hard, and I need help, or answers to questions, help me to call out in a loud voice to you first and foremost.
May I echo the prayer of Jesus and say, “Not my will but yours be done.”
Thank you for listening to this Good Friday Devotional, I will be back tomorrow, until then peace be with you.