Print this Page

“I have in my hand a piece of paper”

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. Mark 14: 26-31

Election Day is over. The people of Jersey now know who will lead them and who will make their Laws for the next three years. Do you still have in your hand a piece of paper headed “Candidate Manifestos”?  Do you trust that piece of paper – or, rather, do you trust the men and women who signed that paper to deliver on their promises - whatever happens?

It was on 30 September 1938 – 76 years ago – that Britain’s then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, spoke those words which have gone down in history: “I have in my hand a piece of paper.” He said: The settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine." Later that day, he said: "I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."

All of us now know that the Second World War was near, with all its global devastation, suffering and killing.  Surprisingly, even this very day, we’re relying on human promises and on killing to bring peace in our time.
‘You cannot starve a person who is feeding on God’s promises.' (Anon.).
Take another look at the words in bold above. They concern, as it were, “religious” leaders, namely Peter and ten other close followers of Jesus Christ. Peter signs on the dotted line – he will not fall away when Jesus the shepherd is struck down - even if all the others don’t live up to their (similar) manifestos.
But Jesus is quite sure. He confirms to Peter that he, Peter, will deny Jesus three times before the cock crows a few hours later to signify that morning has arrived.
But Peter, adds another emphatic undertaking to his manifesto. “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.”
What about the other “religious” leaders? "And they all said the same." What do you think? Do you think that, receiving these eleven manifestos, Jesus will place his trust in his followers – trust that they will die with him rather than surrender their principles?
No. One of the four first-century biographers of Jesus Christ – John – wrote this. It explains everything. "Now when Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man."
Maybe you have some sympathy with Neville Chamberlain. You may believe that it is only hindsight that has shown that his trust of the German Chancellor was misplaced. The problem with that is what Chamberlain called, euphemistically, “the settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem." 

Chamberlain had, with Hitler, stitched up Czechoslovakia – signed away its territory and people into German ownership and control. Is no one trustworthy?
A good question. Can anyone be trusted? Is any manifesto worth anything? In the light of Jesus’ disciples, Neville Chamberlain, and countless others what are we to do?
‘God’s promise is better than any bond or note on any bank, financial institution, or most stable government, for all these may have to repudiate their bond: God never does so." (R C H Lenski, German Bible commentator, 1864-1936)

Here is one manifesto, given on several occasions by Jesus during his three years of teaching and compassionate healing. "Taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”"

And, yes, he did carry that out. And he did rise from the dead.

Richard Syvret

Email this newsletter to a friend
*All mandatory fields must be filled in

Friend`s name
Friend`s email address *
Your name
Your email address *

Send comment
*All mandatory fields must be filled in

Your name *
Your email address *
Your comment *