Summary: Jesus’ secrets for keeping calm in spite of the pressure of the hour.
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 30, 2003
“Reduce Speed: Keeping Calm Under Pressure”
INTRODUCTION: Today’s scripture shows Jesus being ushered into a pressure packed situation almost immediately upon leaving a time of intense prayer. A crowd of angry, hostile people from out of no where appeared led by Judas, one of Jesus’ own disciples.
1. He Knew the Will of the Father: How could Jesus stay so calm under all of this pressure? It was late at night, people were confronting him with angry words, waving clubs, and torches. It was a pressure-filled time for him and his disciples. Should he fight, should he run, should he call on God to send a rescue team? What would we have done under such a pressure-packed moment? How do you usually respond when confronted by angry people, when you feel you are in a tough situation, trapped with no way out, when you feel the top of your head is ready to explode? You could go on and on picturing pressure-filled situations. Jesus here is clearly speaking to the angry mob in a very calm voice. How could he do this?
One of the reasons was that He knew the will of God concerning his whole mission to the cross. Earlier in this chapter he wrestled with this when he prayed, Father, if you are willing take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Matthew’s gospel says, “Father, if it IS POSSIBLE, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” A little different slant is found in Mark’s gospel which says, “IF POSSIBLE that this hour might pass from [me]--everything IS possible for you--take this cup from me. Yet not what I will but what you will.”
Jesus had earlier wrestled with the will of God, and He knew exactly what it was and he was reconciled to what God wanted above what he wanted. He had settled the question of his mission. I think that in itself took a lot of the pressure off of him when the angry mob approached him. He knew in this particular situation that he was not going to resist because his “hour” had come. God’s will in his mission to the cross was unfolding according to plan. It didn’t matter that they came as an unfeeling, hostile group. It didn’t matter that one of his disciples, Judas, was there to betray him with a cruel, hypocritical kiss. It didn’t matter that the make up of the crowd was composed of religious, political and military people. His “hour” had come--the time of opportunity for them to arrest him. Jesus knew God’s will in his situation and could therefore speak calmly without fear and anxiety.
Many times when pressure of many kinds build up in our life we feel pulled in all directions, we feel as if we are going to explode at any moment, we don’t know whether to stand firm, to run, to quit--because we do not have the slightest idea of what God’s will is in our particular situation. We are still wrestling with it. At that point Peter probably did not understand that Jesus was actually going to the cross because Jesus, knowing by now that everything was coming down on him asked, “Do you think for a minute that I’m not going to drink this “cup” that the Father gave me?” (John 18:11 Message Bible).
I don’t think Peter knew what to think because in Luke’s account he says, “Master should we fight? We brought the swords.” (Luke 22:49 New Living Translation)
We know that pressure situations will come to all of us when we least expect it. We’ve got to reduce the 21st century speed of our lives and find out what is God’s will in the various pressure situations of our life. Our keeping calm under pressure requires it. When we don’t wait upon the Lord for answers we mess up just like Peter did.
True, he asked Jesus, “Lord should we fight? We brought the swords.” But Peter didn’t even wait for an answer. Most of the time we don’t either. He was in too much of a hurry to wait for an answer.
STORY: The story is told of a man who decided that “in” and “out” baskets on his desk weren’t sufficient. Instead he labeled them: Urgent, Frantic, Overdue, and Forget it. (source unknown)
Peter just impulsively took a swing at one of the men and cut off his ear. He messed up in this pressure cooker situation. Jesus healed the man’s ear.
2. Running on Empty: Jesus was able to stay calm in a pressure packed situation because he was not running on empty. He had told Peter earlier, “Pray that you enter not into temptation.” Don’t be running on empty. You need inner resources when you are faced with pressure. Peter, you will remember, fell asleep. He was not ready for the pressure of this situation. Maybe he wanted to pray at the time, but he was not able to keep his eyes open. He was running on empty. Scripture tells us to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Why? Because the Holy Spirit gives us the spiritual strength we need to hold up under a pressure packed day. The early church had more power in their lives after the day of Pentecost.