God’s in control: 16 March 2015


The Tribute Money is by the  Masaccio, and was painted in the 1420s. It is widely considered among Masaccio’s best work, and a vital part of the development of renaissance art. It owes its importance in particular to its revolutionary use of perspective and the use of light and dark.

John 14 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 28 ‘You heard me say, “I am going away and I am coming back to you.” If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.

Micah 5 Marshal your troops now, city of troops,
for a siege is laid against us.
They will strike Israel’s ruler
on the cheek with a rod.

2 ‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.’

3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labour bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.

4 He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.

5 And he will be our peace
when the Assyrians invade our land
and march through our fortresses.

Peace is not the result of being able to shunt our ugly circumstances into a throw-away container. Peace is the ability to accept God’s finished work on the cross even as we live through our current circumstances.

The martyrs often had more peace than those emperors who sentenced them to death. They had peace because they knew that Caesar was in control of nothing – certainly not their destinies. Caesar could not take their lives from them because they had already given them away.

This is the classic meaning of Paul’s advice to the Romans: "Consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:11). All he really meant by this is that dead men do not have a long profit-and-loss ledger. They can lose nothing of value, since nothing that can be held in the hand of a corpse has any value at all. Even their lives have little value, since their earthly lives can only be reckoned in fragile years. You simply cannot threaten dead men.

Would you like to learn how to quieten the riot of your hassled existence? Then ask the faithful martyrs of old. Peace for them was not the absence of war. It was not even the absence of threats. Peace was a lifestyle they manufactured from a worldview Jesus gave to them. The world could not take it away from them, since the world had not given it to them.

Lord, I know that I cannot have peace by merely demanding it. Peace is the by-product of wanting you. To want you is to have both you and peace without asking for either. Lord Jesus, I know that you possessed this peace, even as you prepared for death. May I too possess this gift of yours, even as I prepare for the next day of my life.