Carson Cowan - Boring, Oregon Convention - 1963

Luke 22:53, "When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against Me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness." In reading this chapter one time, a year or so ago, this verse struck me, and I have thought about it since.

 

These are the words of Jesus. He told them that when He was with them in the temple, they were not able to lay their hands upon Him, they were not able to take Him, but now the time had come, "This is your hour and the power of darkness." He was showing to them that there wasn't anything they could do except by permission from God. The time came when the Lord allowed them to take Him. As a result of that, the power of darkness took over. The devil was seeking for that hour. When Jesus was on the cross, there was darkness from the sixth to the ninth hour. This was an outward type of the hour of darkness. The reason the Lord caused it to be dark was because the Lord was turning His face away when Jesus was bearing the sins of the whole world. The Lord could not look upon sin; therefore, He was showing to the world that this was the hour of darkness. It was a dark hour in one sense because of what was taking place in the world.

 

The thought appealed to me that this was the hour the devil had been looking for from the time that Jesus was born. You will remember when Jesus was born and those wise men came from the east, having seen the star, and they came to Jerusalem looking for Him, how excited Herod became. He asked them about where Christ should be born, and at what time the star appeared, etc. After the wise men left Jerusalem and went to where Jesus was born, they gave Him their gifts, and the Lord appeared to them in a dream and told them to go back a different way. Herod was seeking to take the young child's life, but Herod was frustrated in what he planned to do. He passed a decree that all children under two would be put to death, but the Lord had intervened and appeared to Joseph and told him to take the child into Egypt because of what was going to happen. The devil was frustrated again. He sought for his hour. He would have upset the whole plan of God. The purpose of the devil after being cast out of heaven was to upset God's plan, to do anything he could to hinder the plan of God; but he could not do it except God gave him permission to do it.

 

You will remember all of the different experiences that took place in the life of Jesus and how they sought to take His life. The devil tried in Matthew 4 to destroy Him again, but he tried in another way. The devil has many ways in seeking to hinder us, to put to death the life and nature of Christ born within us. Jesus was 40 days and 40 nights without food, and you can imagine how the natural body was crying out for food. The devil came along with the suggestion to make bread out of the stones. Jesus had power to command the stones to be made bread. The natural body would say, "Go ahead and do that." But Jesus realized that this He was not to do – to give in to the sugges­tions of the devil  The devil tries to kill that nature of Christ today by making suggestions to us. He makes some very nice suggestions. He tells us to go ahead and do this because no harm will come in doing that. Sometimes you are wanting to do some­thing. How many times human nature cries out to do something, and the devil makes the suggestion to go ahead and do it. He knows that if you give in to him an inch, that will be the beginning. I used to wonder why the Lord would bring Jesus into the wilderness and leave Him there to be tempted. Apart from this, He could not have been a faithful high priest. When He sits at God's right hand interceding for us, He knows what we are being tempted with, and He knows the suggestions the devil will make to us, and He will be able to send us help. He is touched with the feelings of our infirmities. It is a great thing to know that we have an intercessor in Heaven. He knows our weak­nesses, He knows our enemy, He knows the devil, He knows human nature, and is therefore able to be a faithful and merciful high priest. He had to be tempted, and He came through on top. There were other suggestions the devil made but they were for the very purpose of putting to death the Christ. If Jesus had given in to him, that would have spoiled the whole plan of God. Jesus could not then have been the lamb without spot and without blemish if sin had ever touched His body. The devil took Jesus up into the holy city, and set Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and told Him to cast Himself down. This would have been more or less a temptation to glorify self. This is a temptation that comes to us. "You can do that and it will lift you up," and sometimes we are so weak that we want to be lifted up. The devil also promised to give Jesus power. That is a sort of lust in man, too. Everybody has a lust to have power, to be powerful. The devil appealed to Jesus from every angle, but there was no giving in. He took Him to the brow of the hill and would have cast Him over, but Jesus escaped. The devil could not have his hour. In this 22nd chapter of Luke, the devil had his hour, but only because the Lord permitted it.

 

The thing that I was impressed with at the beginning of this chapter was how this hour came about. We know a lot of these things were all in the plan of God and they had to be carried out. This happened because one of His disciples allowed something in his heart. If God's Kingdom is overthrown and upset in this world, it is not going to come from some great power on the outside. This isn't how the devil got his hour. It did not come from pressure on the outside, but it came about because one of His disciples did not keep his heart.  "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Our only hope of survival in this struggle for life and liberty and eternal life is that you and I individually keep our hearts – and more than that, that we keep our hearts collectively as a body. The only way that this body can succeed in this world is if every one keeps his heart. It takes the effort of every blade of grass to keep the field green. This is true in connection with the body of Christ. We could be guilty of letting something into our heart that could have a bad effect upon the whole body. Judas did not keep his heart. It is hard to understand how much of this had to be, but we can take a lesson from it. I do not like to be too hard on Judas. Even before this time, there were many things working in his heart.

 

In John 12 when Jesus was in the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus eating supper, Mary broke the alabaster box and anointed the feet of Jesus; Judas said, "Why was not this ointment sold for 300 pence and given to the poor?" He said this because he was a thief and he held the bag. Judas never had his heart right – there was something in his heart like a thief. He was a thief in the real sense of the word because he would have robbed Mary that day of an eternal reward. Jesus said, "Let her alone: against the day of My burying hath she kept this. Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her." She was going to get an eternal reward for what she was doing. The devil would like, if he could, to keep us back from obtaining eternal life, and from eternal reward. I think I am safe in saying I have lost some eternal reward in this way. The Lord may have been trying to bring me through some experiences, and I evaded them. We are not going to get eternal life because we have earned it. It would be an insult to earn eternal life, but we can earn a reward. The Lord brings us through experiences to reward us, and maybe we are going around some of these things. Mary's reward is going to go on and on and be to her credit because of her testimony. Jesus said, "Against the day of My burying hath she kept this." This woman was helping Him to die. After all, the people I appreciate the most in my day are people that have helped me to die. There are people I have met, who have had a little bit to do with my dying. I feel that I do not know very much about it. I would like to be used in helping others to die. This woman meant so much to Jesus because she was helping Him to die.

 

Luke 22:3, "Then entered Satan into Judas..." This is how this hour came about. Verse 4, "And he went his way." This is the evidence today when the wrong thing is working in one's heart – we take our own way. This is one of the signs that something is wrong when we want our own way and we will take it. We get a disobedient spirit. Somebody might try to advise us, but we are going to do it anyway. When Satan enters the heart, the spirit of disobedience enters, also. He went his way, and he hanged himself. I tried to picture Judas coming back and throwing the thirty pieces of silver in the temple, and I suppose he felt that he would like to change this, but there was no way to change it. Notice what those men said when Judas threw the money on the table, "It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood." Maybe a lot of things that we think are going into the treasury are not going in at all. There is a treasury in heaven where we can be adding an eternal reward. The only thing that will go into that treasury is what is clean and pure, nothing with any taint on it. When the widow cast in two mites into the treasury, nothing was said about that – it went to her credit. It cost her something – she gave more than the others. Every little thing we do for the Lord and for His truth will never be forgotten if it is clean and pure and the right motive behind it. Judas hung himself, and he went to his own place. He actually found his own place.

 

Luke 22:8, "And He sent Peter and John, saying, 'Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.'” The passover represents the Sunday morning meeting. The thought in this verse that appealed to me was, "that we may eat." We know that what we eat today, spiritually speaking, is the same as they were eating. They were going to go and kill a lamb and eat of that natural lamb. This was the last time for this to take place. Today we feed upon the spiritual lamb when we come together on the first day of the week. The lamb was provided and prepared, also. We don't have to provide the lamb today, because God provided the Lamb, but there has to be the preparation. If we are going to eat, somebody has to prepare it. I like to see people, when thinking about coming to a Sunday morning meeting to remember the Lord's death, that they realize we have to eat. It is easy to eat what someone else has brought, but God's way is that everybody should bring something. I am glad Exodus 12 is in the Bible. In discussions with religious people, many times they bring up the thought and say, "You can't all meet in a home. What are you going to do if there are more than can get into a home?” We can refer them to Exodus 12 and tell them of God’s plan. Just as many as could eat a lamb abode in one home. It was a very simple way, but we feel it is a perfect way. If there are more than could take part in one home, you could go to some other home.

 

If you go to a Sunday morning meeting and find out that there isn't much there, it is not because the Lamb was not provided; the fault lies in those that were preparing it. The Lamb is a perfect Lamb. Try to prepare this lamb. This thought appealed to me, "that we may eat.” Somebody has to prepare this lamb or we are not going to eat.

 

Jesus told Peter and John to go into the city and they would find a man bearing a pitcher of water. I like this man very much. His name is not mentioned. Many people were used by God but their name isn't mentioned. They were not doing what they did to make a name for themselves. We don't know anything about the man who had the colt that was tied, but he was there. Like this man, he was in the right place at the right time. Jesus said about him, "Follow that man." I don't know if this was the man who had the meeting in his home or not. This man was going into this home, and he was a marked man, bearing a pitcher of water. Usually the women carried the water, and to see a man bearing a pitcher would mark that man. I believe everybody today who goes up the street to have fellowship with God's people is a marked person. They are noticed by the neigh­bors, by the world, because there is a difference about them. The Lord should be able to say about everyone that goes into that home, "You can follow that man; he will never take you any place where you should not go." Can the Lord say of us, "Follow that man?" I like The thought that he was willing to be different. I believe the homes where God's people meet together are marked homes from the general run of worldly homes.

 

"And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, 'The Master saith unto thee, etc.’" This man was a good man. It suggests the thought that everyone who has the meeting in his home should be a good man. I am proud of many people in our part of the country because I consider them to be good men. Jesus was the Master of this home. Jesus should be the Master of every place where the meeting is held. These places where God's people meet together, they are good men and Jesus is the Master: He has the control.

 

I don't know what took place in this home, whether they killed the lamb or not. "And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready." Sometimes people say to us, "If the Lord came back, where would He go to worship?" "What denomination would He go to?" He would go right back to the same thing that He left.. .He would go back to where He is the Master of the home, and good men live there, and where He can say of them, "Follow them." Jesus will come back to the same people He left. What did they do in that home? Did they kill the lamb in the house? I don' t think that the man who owned the house would care, no matter what they did because, Jesus was the Master of the house, and it would not make any difference. There was a little home in the town where I was raised where we used to go for union meeting. I have never forgotten the little woman who lived there because of something she said. She wasn't too strong; her husband was a good man. One Sunday morning after the meeting some of us were standing by a car talking, and before we had gone a neighbor lady came to the house. We were within listening distance, and this woman said, "Oh my, look at all the dust on your nice rugs." Our friend said, "That is gold dust to me." She realized that was the dust off the saints' feet, and that would be going into the treasury. When their house got too small, she said, "We will build more on to it." They were willing to put themselves out and make more room. Maybe sometimes when people come into your home, they leave dust behind, but that will go into the treasury.

 

"And when the hour was come, He sat down and the twelve apostles with Him." They were all there on time, which I think is a good testimony, more so to the outside world. We know there is such a thing as getting into the habit of being late. Sometimes it can not be helped. It is not a very good testimony for people looking on if we would be late. They were all there. I went to a Wednesday night study, and there were not many in that meeting. When we started the meeting, there were some empty chairs. After the meeting, the man who was the elder of the church said, "I didn't really enjoy that meeting because of those empty chairs.” They were usually always there. He said, "I wonder if I have said something, or if they are sick." Just empty chairs can spoil a meeting. You may feel that your part is not very much, but your empty chair can make people restless, and your presence will mean something. This was a workers' meeting: there were twelve apostles. However, that doesn't matter. Jesus was setting the example of how we are to meet. Jesus had desired this. Then we read about them break­ing bread and drinking the wine, and Jesus said, "This do in remembrance of Me."

 

I want to tell you of a little experience that stays in my mind. I happened to be in Virginia for a convention and had to wait in Washington, D.C. for a day to meet some of the workers. The man who met me at the train wanted to show me around the city. He took me up to see many of the monuments – the White House, and several places, and then he took me to his home. After I went into his house, he took me into the front room and told me that this was the room where the Lord’s people meet together every Sunday morning. Of all the monuments I had seen that day, that little room where the Lord’s people met was the greatest. This was the only home in that city at that time where God’s people met together. The thought appealed to me that this is the monument I like to see. The others didn’t mean anything to me. The only monument Jesus wanted to be left was the breaking or bread and drinking of the wine in remembrance of Him. In the holy land, you can’t find anything that Jesus put His name on. He wanted us to remember Him in this way. This was the greatest monument shown to me that day – where the Lord's people met together in remembrance of Him.

 

Things were not so good in this meeting because there was strife there.  It was over this thing of who would be the greatest. They were thinking of Jesus leaving and they were wondering who was going to take over then. The Lord isn't pleased with this matter of strife in any meeting. There is no place for people wanting to be the greatest, and Jesus tried to discourage them. No one is supposed to be lord over the other person. "But he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." He gave them an example of how they could get rid of this thought. He that is greatest should be as the younger. Perhaps He was referring back to the time when Rebecca got a vision regarding two boys that were to be born to her. The Lord said that the elder should serve the younger. The greatest person is any one who fits into the place of the younger. I can tell you of some bishops in the part of the country where I labor, and they try to do and be as the younger, and do not try to lord it over others. Act like the younger: take a small part in the meeting. I used to play meeting. It seemed to be something we had to do, and we would wonder who we were going to be. "I want to be so and so because he speaks the longest and has more say than the others." That was a childish way of doing things. This wasn't the way the Lord intended it. We are to be like the younger. I would like to know the spirit of the younger. “For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as He that serveth." Jesus took the place of a servant which shows the attitude we are to take. There will never be any trouble if we keep as the younger, and take the place of a servant. When Abraham sent forth his servant to seek a bride for his son, Isaac, that servant got down to pray and his camels got down and kneeled down, too. I like the sign he asked for: when a maiden comes out to draw water and when I ask for a drink, let the one who waters the camels, also, be the one. He was looking for a sign of somebody who would be willing to do more than they were asked to do. That would be no small job. This girl who came out did the very thing he asked. People in Heaven are not just doing the little they can to get by, but they are looking for ways to serve; willing to go the extra mile. That is the sign of the bride of the master.

 

There is one thought I want to mention in connection with Peter. Jesus said, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee..." This was going on after the meeting. The Lord knew that the devil wanted Peter, and all of the disciples, to sift as wheat. Jesus was looking forward to the day that Peter would be bread to His people. Later on, He said, "Do you love Me more than these?" Peter said, “Yea, Lord: thou knowest that I love Thee." "Feed My lambs and feed My sheep." Jesus knew at this particular time He would be saying these words to Peter, that some day Peter would be bread to His people (His lambs and sheep); but He knew very well there was something in Peter's life that would make poor bread. Peter had a certain amount of self-confidence – perhaps felt too confident in what he could do in his own strength. Jesus told him that before the cock would crow twice, he would deny Him thrice. Peter said that he would not do that. He was too sure of himself, and Jesus knew that this had to be taken out of him as it would make pretty poor bread. If you listen to somebody giving you bread, and they are self-confident and bold, you don't take that as bread. The bread is spoiled by that. Jesus knew Peter had to go through this experience, but He prayed that his faith would not fail. I think when Peter wept, he had come to an end of himself. Whatever it was in him, it had been sifted out now, and Peter was a better man. The Lord might be letting us go through certain experiences to sift us, to take out whatever it might be – pride or other things. Certain things must come out of our lives to make us good bread for others. When the man laid at the gate asked alms of Peter and John, Peter said, "Sil­ver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee." He had bread; he didn't have this world's goods, but he was bread to that man because of what had happened in his life previous to this. Faith is like poison to the devil. The devil would like to destroy our faith. When you read the epistles, you can see that Peter was bread to those people.

 

Luke 22:28-29, "Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations  And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me..." This is what the Lord wants of us – to continue – keep on going. When temptations come, continue. We may not make a great mark in this world, but if we can continue, He will appoint unto us a kingdom through all eternity. I hope that this will be our desire, and that we may continue even though things might go rough at times.