Monday, September 17, 2012

John 18:1-11

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. 

Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.  So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. (John 18:1-3)

Jesus was in a peaceful grove when Judas comes in with a large company of Roman soldiers (Jon Courson says there would have been as many as 600 men in a detachment), and some Jewish leaders. They brought torches and weapons, expecting resistance. Instead, Jesus, in complete control, stepped right up:

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” 

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. 

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)  When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. (vs.4-6)

We know from the other gospel accounts that Judas greeted Jesus with a kiss. You have to wonder why Judas would bother to attempt a show of respect and affection when he had a contingent with him to arrest Jesus! When the men ask for Him, Jesus answers with the Hebrew, Ego Eimi, “I AM,” a declaration of deity. The power of that statement knocks all of the men down like bowling pins. Imagine the sounds of the armor and weapons clanking as all of those men hit the dust!

Jesus waited for them to regather themselves and asked once again, “Who is it you want?” Remember, He could have easily split here! Instead, He willingly gave Himself up for us. Jon Courson wonders if the men were a little hesitant to answer the second time!

“I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.”  This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” (vs.8-9)

Jesus’ concern was for His disciples. At this point, all but Peter and John scattered. Peter proved, once again, his impulsive, but misguided zeal for Jesus:

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 

Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (vs.10-11)

How I love Peter! His devotion to Jesus was complete - and yet, he so often misread the heart of Jesus! He picked up the sword to harm - maybe even kill - Malchus and to protect Jesus, who needed NO protection. We do NOT need to defend God! So often we quickly pick up our Bible (our Sword) and flail away at someone to make our point in our effort to “defend” God. And sometimes, what we end up doing is more harm than good. The Sword of the Spirit IS our weapon against spiritual warfare, but we need to use it prayerfully, in the power of the Holy Spirit and at the LORD’ s direction.

In Luke 22:51 we are told that Jesus restored Malchus’ ear with a complete healing. Had He not done that, Jon Courson speculates that there would have been four crosses, as Peter could have been executed for the offense. Jesus did not want to fight what was coming - He walked right into it, for the joy set before Him. That joy was the saving of many, including us. He was resolute in His mission. Think about that kind of love! Amazing!  

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