Tuesday. 3rd April 1984
ARE WE READY?
The following is a summary of Mr Hunt's talk at devotions on Tuesday 3rd April:
Reading: Matthew 26:36-75
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go yonder and pray."
37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
38 Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me."
39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."
40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done."
43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.
44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words.
45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand."
Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.
48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him."
49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, "Hail, Master!" And he kissed him.
50 Jesus said to him, "Friend, why are you here?" Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.
51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
52 Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?
54 But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?"
55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me.
56 But all this has taken place, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.
Jesus Before Caiaphas and the Council
57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered.
58 But Peter followed him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.
59 Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death,
60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward
61 and said, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.'"
62 And the high priest stood up and said, "Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?"
63 But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God."
64 Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."
65 Then the high priest tore his robes, and said, "He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy.
66 What is your judgment?" They answered, "He deserves death."
67 Then they spat in his face, and struck him; and some slapped him,
68 saying, "Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?"
Peter Denies Jesus
69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a maid came up to him, and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean."
70 But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you mean."
71 And when he went out to the porch, another maid saw him, and she said to the bystanders, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth."
72 And again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man."
73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you."
74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately the cock crowed.
75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, "Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.
At a certain time in Jesus' ministry on earth, he made the decision to go to Jerusalem. By turning his face towards Jerusalem, Jesus was signalling the end of his work on earth. He knew that, in Jerusalem, he would be killed and that the further work of the Kingdom of God would be entrusted to his followers. Jesus may have wondered if those disciples were ready to accept the responsibility for this work. From reading this chapter of Matthew we might come to the conclusion that they were not ready.
Firstly, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks them to keep watch while he prays. The disciples were tired and bored. Instead of keeping watch, they fell asleep. Are such people ready to be given the responsibility for Jesus' ministry?
Secondly, when Jesus is arrested, these future church leaders run for their lives, leaving their Master under arrest. Few managers would want to give responsibility to staff who had shown similar lack of loyalty when the going got tough.
Thirdly, when put to the test, Peter denies even that he knows Jesus.
Were the disciples ready? If ever any person had a good reason to suggest that they stay in a position of authority and power for a longer time, Jesus had good reason. He could have pointed out that the disciples had yet much to learn from him, and that he had much to teach them.
In a much smaller, and much less important way, we are facing the same decisions at World Vision of Hong Kong. As executive director, I asked "Are they ready?" It is easy for me to find many things that I think you still have to learn, about your work, and about World Vision itself. There is much I think I can still teach you.
Some of you also may share this feeling, others may have more self-confidence. Clearly, Jesus' disciples were similar to us. Probably some disciples would have liked Jesus to stay longer - I imagine that John would have been one such person. But others, like Judas, obviously were impatient to make things happen.
In the end, there is no easy time to make the decision to hand over responsibility. I have always believed that World Vision of Hong Kong should be run by Hongkongers as other support offices are run by local people. The appointment of your new general manager, Victor San, was an important step in that process of localization. The more difficult decision has been answering the question "When?"
There are three qualities which will be required from us if we are to prove that we are ready.
Firstly, we will need patience. During this time of change and transition we must be patient with each other. Many things will have to be explained again and again. A lot of things will be said once then must be said again. We will easily become frustrated by being asked questions - "Why do you do that?" "What does this means?" "Why do we spend money on this?" "Is this the best way?" - New managers are naturally curious. The questions they ask us will be challenging and helpful if we have patience to find and communicate the answers.
Secondly, we must have faith. There is plenty of evidence on which to base our faith that God is blessing World Vision of Hong Kong. We have had many amazing successes. And we have even learnt much from our few failures. We can be confident that God who started this good work in us will be faithful to see it through to completion.
Thirdly, we must have determination. With patience and faith we can decide in our hearts that we will succeed. The biggest barrier to success is weak will. The greatest asset for success is determination.
Will we succeed? We should be encouraged by the example of the early church. Like us they had many problems - arguments about belief and policy; internal quarrells among staff; cultural difficulties. But the early church succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams (except perhaps the dreams of Jesus himself ).
Are you ready? Of course you are! You are at least as ready as the disciples of Jesus were. Because when you get bored you do not fall asleep. And when the going gets tough you do not run away. And when you are put to the test for World Vision you are not disloyal.