Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, “Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together.” “Where do You want us to prepare it?” they asked Him. He replied, “As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with My disciples?’ He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.Luke 22:7-13
Sometimes we struggle over the Lord’s leading in our lives. In my experience knowing His will and following His voice has always been simple. It seems to me that is hard to escape the Lord’s will in our lives if we really want to know what it is. The most frequently asked questions (FAQ) I receive are always focused on how do I hear God’s voice and how do I know His will? That is why at the moment in our cell group we have spent a month looking at this topic and we are not finished yet by any means. But at the core of it all God makes His will clear to us if we really want to know it. He will always lead us with clarity if we will say, “Not my will but Your will be done Lord.” Interestingly, since I have been leading the cell group in this study I have been asked three times outside of the cell group whether is permissible to ask for signs or not. That is the question we are in the middle of at the moment in the cell group study. I have set the group to find out what the answer is. How can we tell? How do we rightly interpret the Word of God and not just attach our assumptions to a verse because that is what we have been taught? What does the Bible have to say about it and how should we interpret it? There are those who say, “No, asking for signs is evil because Jesus told us so.” There are others who interpret those verses differently and conclude it is alright to ask for signs. It is all so confusing isn’t it?
Well it wasn’t for the disciples in this story. It was very clear. In fact it couldn’t have been easier. Peter and John were told to go and prepare the Passover meal. They didn’t need to know how to prepare it or what to prepare. Every Jew knows how to do that. But they had one problem: where do we prepare this meal? They did not have a house or a meeting room they had been using in which to prepare it. They were itinerant preachers and on the road constantly. I know the feeling. “So where do we prepare this meal Lord?”
- Step One: As soon as you enter Jerusalem you meet a man carrying a pitcher of water.
- Step Two: Follow him.
- Step Three: When you get to the house he goes into, ask the owner, “The Teacher says: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover with my disciples?”
- Step Four: He will take you upstairs to a large room already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.
It couldn’t be simpler, could it? If in doubt just follow the instructions. How well do you follow instructions? Jesus has laid out the directions step by step. And when you get there, there is a room already set up for you. All you need to do is prepare the meal. It couldn’t be easier. But if we are honest, we all suffer from our own doubts and insecurities. Especially when stepping into the unknown.
- Places we have never been before.
- Tasks that we have never attempted before.
- Fear of the unknown is what trips most of us up.
- But what if . . . ?
- How will I know . . . ?
- Will I recognize the signs . . . ?
- What if it doesn’t work out like You said Jesus
Well just look at the final verse in this section. “They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus said.”
Just pause and think about your life and the way He has led you. Isn’t it always like that. When God tells you what is going to happen, that is what will happen. Our problem is that we don’t take it to heart and believe it is God telling us. I have already told you a number of our stories where our doubts got in the way. That is our human problem isn’t it? How do I know this is God telling me and not just my own thoughts? How can I be sure I am hearing correctly? What if I get it wrong or fail to recognize what it is I am looking for? In my experience God makes it clear for us.
Let me tell you yet another of our stories.
In 1981 I was scheduled to go a Geography Conference in Wellington but began to question the wisdom of it if as I suspected I would not be teaching Geography for much longer. But as Head of Dept I was expected to go. A week prior to the time I would leave I got sick and became progressively worse with each passing day. Until a day before departure I wondered whether this sickness was from the LORD to prevent me from going to the conference. I rang Weston Finlay (an elder in our church) and asked them to pray for guidance me at the men’s praying and for healing if I was supposed to go to Wellington. That night at 8.15pm I was healed in an instant of time as I lay on the sofa. Later Weston rang to ask how I was. I found the group had just been praying for me. Weston added that he felt the LORD had a ‘Word’ for me to the effect that I was to go to Wellington and there “the LORD would show me the next step really clearly and help me to see all things in perspective”. My response was to laugh ‘the laugh of unbelief’ and tell Weston not to be too spiritual, I was only going to a Geography Conference. Weston’s response was to repeat the prophetic word!
In Wellington, it was like the LORD was leading me by the hand. I arrived at the venue for the Geography Conference late Saturday afternoon and checked in. Sunday morning I prepared to head off to church. On the way I came across a women who had a flat tyre; she was obviously heading to church too. So I stopped to fix the tyre for her. We were both late for church, so she invited me to have a cup of coffee and talk during which she invited me to church with her in the evening. She told me that David Metcalfe was her Pastor. Well that’s a coincidence, he was my old pastor. I went to church with her and met David again and told him how I came to be there after meeting the woman on Sunday morning and how God had been leading us into mission work with Wycliffe. David Metcalfe was amazed and told me how timely it all was. He was involved a Missions Conference due to start in Wellington on the Tuesday. He suggested I went to the Missions Conference. So I went to the Geography Conference on the Monday but on Tuesday morning I set off for the Missions Conference. As I walked in the door the main speaker was saying, “Have you felt a call of God on your life? “
I thought, “That’s me he’s speaking to.” The speaker added, “Be sure that you are fully prepared before you go”. After he finished speaking I met with David Metcalfe again and he introduced me to the Pacific Area Director for Wycliffe and the NZ Director for WBT. I then talked with them for an hour or more after which it was clear that to follow the possibility of joining WBT would mean Bible College Training. They also spelt out very carefully all that would be involved in joining WBT after going to Bible College. After talking with these men I went around the information booths representing all the Bible Colleges in NZ gathering information. As I was going out of the door a brochure caught my eye called “Before you move out you must prepare to move out”. It was the prospectus for Bible College Of NZ. (That was indeed where Tania and I ended up doing a course which was tailor-made to cover 3 years of Hebrew & Greek as well as Old & New Testament exegesis in 2 years).
Walking back to the Geography Conference I remembered again Weston’s words to me. That the LORD “would show me the next step really clearly and help me to see all things in perspective”. Indeed they had been fulfilled completely. Rather than “Weston’s words” they had proved to be the LORD’s words to him. It al happened so easily and so simply in a way that I could not deny that God had been guiding me step by step and showing me what it was that I had to do.
It was like that for the disciples. It was all so easy despite their concerns. I am sure there were lots of questions in their minds. They had not been staying in Jerusalem. They didn’t know where to go. They had no contacts. They were up-country fishermen from the north. It was approaching Passover when Jerusalem gets crowded out. No-room-at-the-inn time and no bookings either. No internet bookings back then. Somehow they had to find a space in the midst of the hustle n bustle of Passover when they were looking at the last minute. They were Galileans and had no idea of where to start looking. Furthermore what a strange thing for Jesus to say, even less likely to lessen their fears and worries. “You will meet a man carrying a clay water pitcher.” Yeah, right Jesus. We know that is not going to happen. Men didn’t carry water pitchers, women did. You can imagine all the questions and doubts in their minds. But Jesus actually made it easy for the disciples. When you see the man carrying the pitcher of water! The rarity of such an event is what makes it easy for them. “Oh look there is a man carrying a pitcher of water. He must be the one Jesus meant because in all my life I have never seen a man carrying a water pitcher. That has to be him.” The rest just falls into place as needed. It could not have been easier. The room was already fully furnished and ready. The disciples did not have to do anything. Everything was taken care of. The text seems to infer they had to take care of the Passover lamb but it is possible that even that was included. When God works on your behalf, everything is taken care IN HIS TIME.
Once Jesus has spoken, rest in the fact that EVERYTHING is under control. Just simply walk through the steps ahead and trust Him to guide. He has done that in the past. He does now and He will do it again in the future. In quietness and trust is your strength.
The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to ask the Lord to guide you step by step. When you do that it amazing how the pieces of your day are ordered serendipitously.Ian Vail
Essentially your success in searching for guidance and happiness is dependent upon your search for Him. Seek God first then everything else works out.Ian Vail
Successes of the past sometimes blind us to future success because it tends to camouflage the need for future change.Ian Vail
More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them.Eveline Sandhi Lim
The reason most goals are not achieved is that we spend our time doing second things first.Robert McKain
If you only walk on sunny days, you will never reach your destination.Anon