God’s power made perfect in weakness (even in this small way)

It is Easter Monday. The last day of the Easter period (mainly noted here because Easter Sunday is a bank holiday and so it stands in lieu of a proper day off for most people). And me and my family have been sick the whole way through!

I preached on Maundy Thursday evening (on Jesus’ comments about washing from John 13) and Good Friday (on the three crosses and respective responses of two criminals either side of Jesus). If you are interested, you can listen back to those here and here

I had planned to speak on Easter Sunday about Matthew’s account of three very different responses to the resurrection event. Sadly, having croaked my way through Good Friday (I edited out the coughing fits for the online upload) it all proved too much and a contingency speaker was drafted in last minute on Sunday morning (who I am told did a stellar job). Instead of sitting under some uplifting ministry on the resurrection of Christ, I had the joy of sitting in a medical walk-in centre – wife and son in tow – to find out whether we had an infection that required antibiotics or just a horrible virus that we had to wait out (for those that care, it was the latter – which really stinks because not only is it hanging around but there is nothing we can adequately medicate with either!)

But here is what encouraged me. I felt totally sick and ill, had to help look after my family who felt much the same, and had no hope of preaching Sunday morning (that’s not the encouraging bit). I also know the gentleman who stepped into the breach to cover the preaching was not looking forward to delivering an off-the-cuff word or having to deliver my poorly planned, inadequate notes that he wouldn’t get sight of until about 10 minutes before the service started (his servant heart and willingness to do so is more encouraging but that’s not quite it either). What was so encouraging is that despite every reason for everything to fall apart, the church was full, the service went ahead and the word was well received.

Often what we plan to be great isn’t as great as we might hope. Other times, what doesn’t go to plan at all and ought to be a disaster is no such thing. I am reminded time and again of Christ’s words to the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” You don’t get much weaker than a preacher that physically can’t deliver the sermon and a stand-in working from notes he has neither seen nor prepared!

And what more appropriate day than Easter Sunday for such things to happen. What looked like a disaster to the disciples on Good Friday, the death of their Lord on a shameful Roman cross, proved at Easter Sunday to be the plan of salvation God had ordained before the foundation of the world. What would have never been the plan of you and me was the appointed means by which God brought salvation to the world. What, by rights, should have been a total disaster and the end of the Jesus cult was God’s greatest glory and the beginning of his 2000 year old church.

All that is to say, what may appear disastrous and seem destined to failure may be the very means by which God brings glory to himself. Whether that is in the small (or slightly bigger) parts of a church service or in the huge, grand sweep of salvation-history, God chooses the weak things by which to glorify himself. He chooses not to conform to human convention and wisdom. He chooses a virus to knock-out a church pastor and stop him preaching the word in order to glorify himself through another man taking his place and doing a far better job because he is almost certainly relying on the Lord in a way this pastor probably wasn’t going to because his “power is made perfect in weakness”.