I preached on John 18:12-27 last night at Derwent Free Church (DFC), where I was trying to draw out the contrast between the weakness of Peter’s profession in the face of opposition compared to the strength of Jesus. To the unbelieving heart Jesus’ predicament looked like a that of a fly caught in the spider’s web of Roman-Jewish politics. Peter’s courage failed him. But, of course, Jesus was not a naive victim. All this was necessary that the Son of man be lifted up (Jn 12:32).
It is a strange thing, this preaching business. I find myself, as I have all the way through John’s gospel, wrestling with the text during the week before, so much so that before preaching I feel quite tired and not sure that I have really ‘got it’. Then I preach (it often comes out a bit different from my notes) and people are more generous in their appreciation than I could ever have imagined. There is much to thank God for.
We still have half a dozen kids coming from the local housing estate in the evening. Susan pointed out last night that they have been coming regularly for six months now.
We are also picking up a few (for want of a better term) ‘refugees’ from other churches. I am not sure what to make of this. I am thankful for them in the sense that they boost the numbers. DFC a small church which can do with any encouragement it can get. But there is the pastoral problem of Christians at some level discontented with their situation. I do not like the thought that their being at DFC will encourage their discontent. They should either be reconciled to their own church and return, or make a definite move to somewhere else, leaving their old church on the best possible terms.
Finally, a strange thing that happened over the weekend. I periodically look up the Tron website. Susan and I spent our early Christian years there in the ’80s. I like to see what is going on and sometimes I download some sermons that may be of interest. I noticed that in recent weeks that both Eric Alexander and Sinclair Ferguson had been back, so I downloaded their sermons.
Susan and I listened to some of Mr. A. on Friday night. We noted that his voice was that bit older and slower, but no less clear and powerful than when we lived in Glasgow. There are some preachers who can preach well, but one is left feeling that they have conveyed lots of interesting knowledge gleaned from books. But in this sermon we were hearing a man who had spent a lifetime in the presence of God and therefore commands attention. (Think, therefore, what it must have been like to hear Jesus preach!)
Then, as we were listening, I looked over to Susan I saw she was in tears! She was taken by surprise by the experience. It had evoked for her so many great memories of the Tron, which in many ways were formative for us in our Christian experience.
They were great days, indeed, for which we give thanks. But, of course, the best is yet to come!