You may be familiar with the teaching and writing of John Piper. I last saw him in person 10 years ago at the Gospel Coalition conference in Chicago. Recently I caught him on a live stream from the Gospel Coalition conference in Indianapolis.
Well, after 10 years, Pastor Piper, now 73, has not lost any of his zeal.
He spoke of passion week and what must happen to Jesus at the end. Here’s a scripture that was central in his talk.
And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”( Luke 9:22)
Hearing Piper’s talk I was struck by all the musts, and how all the events that happened to Jesus during passion week were foreordained as part of God’s plan. So even though Jesus’ executioners meant it for evil, God used the crucifixion for the good purpose of saving a people who benefit from Christ’s death and resurrection by getting eternal life.
Piper’s talk inspired me to reflect on our own lives and whether things must happen.
We know that God is totally in control of everything, so that in our lives there is nothing that “just happens” to occur. That really means that God says everything in our lives had to happen. Stunningly, this even applies to the most negative stuff that has ever happened to us, including nasty ways of being mistreated, beaten up, slandered, and unjustly accused.
If we don’t see God’s hand in it, reflecting on the negative things that have happened to us leads to a whining, bitter or fearful attitude. But just think : if we believe that God is really sovereign Lord, then we must accept that he could have stopped any of it — but somehow, for his own good purposes, not always clear to us, he allowed all of it.
The events of passion week, of course, had to happen because they were part of God’s plan for bringing salvation and showing his glory throughout the earth on a grand scale.
But the things that happen in our own lives help execute God’s will on a smaller scale…our “little” lives are meant to show his glory, too …so whatever misfortunes that happen are fully under God’s control. I know this isn’t always easy to see and accept but it’s a wonderful antidote to bitterness.