The Daily Offices

The Daily Offices from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, (Canada 1962), including daily Bible readings and occasional sermons from the Cathedral of the Annunication of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa

Wednesday, November 02, 2005



Today we read from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, verses 15- . There is a concept in those verses which I want to take a look at this morning. Then I would like to turn to the Gospel passage we read on Friday, the feast day of St. Simon Zealotes and St. Jude, two of our Lord’s 12 Apostles. There is another concept in that passage, verses 21- of the Gospel according to St. John, Chapter 14, which contrasts dramatically with the first concept.

So, let us first delve into St. Matthew.

Then went the Pharisees and took counsel how they might entangle Him in His talk. Obviously these men were out to get Jesus and St. Matthew is telling us, in fact, about the first of a series of attacks made on Our Lord in the last days of His earthly ministry. These attacks were, for the most part, subtle and would probably have worked with a mere mortal, entrapping him in the carefully set snares.

That is so characteristic of our enemy, the devil. When he wants to he can attack us with great stealth and we are unwise to dismiss him as anything but a highly intelligent entity, a malevolent intelligence operating with the sole purpose of separating us from God. Every temptation to which we yield is a victory for that dark force and victory of satan is a dart shot at the loving heart of Jesus Christ.

In verse 16, Matthew shows us the devil’s subtlety, And they sent out unto Him their disciples, with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that Thou art true and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest Thou for any man; for Thou regardest not the person of men.

You can scrape the flattery of those words with a spade. Yet it was so subtle an approach, so smooth in delivery and the language so covered with honey. The first part of this incident is actually best described in the words of Psalm 55, v21, The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.

It is so easy to be beguiled by flattery and so very important for the Christian to treat it with great suspicion. Why, because there is often a feeling of peace brought about by flattery and it is a truth that by peace satan destroys many. For that peace is transient and false and full of danger. Scripture teaches us that on many occasions.

Call to mind what happened to Samson. Was he destroyed by the armies of the Philistines? No! Samson was brought to ruin by the pretended love of a seductive Philistine woman.

Look also at the story of King Hezekiah in 2 Kings, chapters 18,19 and 20. He faced so much and survived, but his greatest mistake was caused not by the sword of Sennecharib or by the threats of Rab-shekah. It was caused by the flattering gifts and apparent kindness of the Babylonian envoys.

Hezekiah showed them, very unwisely, all the treasures of his kingdom. And Isaiah the Prophet told Hezekiah exactly what his mistake would cost.

Hear the word of the Lord, Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. 2 Kings 20:16-18.

Satan is never so dangerous as when he appears as an angel of light, so let us be on guard against the flatterer. The sweetest approach can hide the deadliest dangers and mask the face of the devil. Look at what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus, Our Lord was betrayed by a kiss from the traitor Judas.

There are, of course such things as genuine compliments and it behooves the practicing Christian to pass such compliments. They encourage and when sincerely meant are truly a form of blessing. But flattery springs from a different well and can bring nothing but poison and grief to the Christian soul which is open to it or which imparts it in misguided moments.

So that is the first concept, the peace of the devil, which is easily come by, but transient and destructive in the longer run and by which the devil destroys many.

Now let us turn to the second and diametrically opposite concept, expressly stated in St. John 14:27. Jesus says, to Judas the true Apostle, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you.

The peace of Jesus Christ. Even the words bring a glow of warmth to the believing heart.

Surely all human beings seek a state in which they are untroubled. In our terms this would mean the things which we so often work so hard to attain and to bequeath to our children – houses, land, artwork, money.

But Jesus had none of these things and he was only too aware of their transient nature and false seduction. Indeed He promises His disciples that their lives may be devoid of these things. When He first sent out the twelve, His words were, Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, nether shoes, nor yet staves. Mt. 10:9-10. They are to go out with nothing but the clothes they stand up in and trust in God to provide for their needs.

To the rich young man who asked Him how He could enter into the kingdom of heaven, He said, Go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. Mt.19:21. When we get right down to it, our actual needs, as opposed to our wants, are very basic indeed. And Jesus promises that God, in whom we put our trust will look after those needs. Our hearts must be set on heaven, for which we are to follow the example of Our Lord.

Jesus goes further than telling us to reject worldly wealth. His promise is that we will face persecution. But bewareof men, he tells His Apostles in Mt.10:17, for they will deliver you up to the councils and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

And in verse 21 He continues, And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.

What, you may be asking, do all these dire warning have to do with peace? The answer is provided in the very next sentence of Mt.10:22, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Redemption! The glory of Our Lord. His peace is not transient, but eternal. It must be earnestly sought and gladly worked for along the road to sanctification.

There may be few accompanying creature comforts, but with respect to the soul, Jesus can and does give us peace. The glory of this is shown in John 14:27 by His own description of that peace, in one single word, my!

My peace! It is His peace, the peace of spirit which Jesus has enjoyed by living a perfectly sinless life in unison with the will of The Father. And that tells us something about this peace which we need to understand or we may drive ourselves crazy with despair.

Unlike Our Lord, we are not sinless, so we have work to do. In John 14:21 we received the clue to that little detail. He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of My Father and I will love him and will manifest Myself unto him.

Our Lord’s peace, at least for most of us, is a journey. But it is a journey which we make hand in hand with the Son of God. It is a journey yearned for by the Father and made possible by His Grace. It is a journey for which He sends His Holy Spirit to guide and sustain us to the end. And it is a journey for which Jesus Christ intercedes with the Father on our behalf.

It starts with the freely offered gift of redemption, our past guilt removed by Jesus Christ, who at the same time opens to us access to God’s favour. That great victory cry on the Cross, It is finished! is our beginning.

God, through the Cross acknowledges our misery and gives us hope. Jesus reconciles us to God and that is the very foundation of His peace.

But just as a loving parent can offer a child a good education and the end result must involve the hard work of the child, so must we work for our peace. We must build on the sure foundation. Jesus, in and through His earthly life shows us what that work involves. He is our example, He is our light, He is our Truth. He is our way and our destination.

His peace is both our goal and our reward.

Brethren, Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you.

Peter Jardine+
Trinity 23, 2005