(Today's post by Adam Cooper)
This portion of the book of John always gives me pause. Jesus is placing Himself where He knows the beginning of His horrendous next step begins. He is resolved with what is about to happen and He is facing it head on. When the soldiers and officials come with the traitor Judas Jesus does not hide, He does not try to run, He confronts them boldly and with purpose, yet still maintains His dignity.
What amazes me is when He openly identifies Himself the soldiers and officials “drew back and fell to the ground (John 18:6 NIV).” We are not told if any of these men are believers in Jesus at this point but their actions would lead one to believe that they clearly understood Jesus’ power and fell to the ground in awe and respect of Him.
As the story continues we follow Jesus to the house of Annas where he is questioned and boldly offers no active defense of Himself other than telling those around Him to ask those who had heard Him speak. Running in the background of this story we are also provided the denial of Jesus by Peter.
As I look at Jesus during this time I admire Him more. I see His grace and mercy more. He was innocent yet He willingly gave Himself up to His captors. For us. For you and me. It is clear that God orchestrated this entire process. I say this because the men that came to get Jesus were clearly in awe and reverence of Him at some level. The hate that Annas and Caiaphas seemed to have for Jesus does not seem to be present in these men. Even after Simon Peter attempted to decapitate one of them they remained peaceful and did not retaliate. It was clear that God was protecting the disciples at this point. Even Peter’s denial of Jesus, something he professed would never happen, seems to be an almost forced protection upon him.
Let me put this into perspective using some modern day imagery: When I was a police officer if we had to go serve a warrant to arrest someone we always took extra people. We always expected the worse-case scenario even if the person was supposed to be peaceful. If someone around the person we were trying to arrest decided to pull a weapon they were handled accordingly and arrested also. Clearly Simon Peter would have been swiftly and most assertively dealt with and then taken into custody as well. If that person does not want to go or if others around them want to “show out” what may have started as a “peaceful” process can quickly degrade into an all-out altercation. It is evident that God’s hand is on this situation so that prophecy would be fulfilled.
In other accounts in the Gospels we see Jesus healing Malchus’ ear (Luke 22:51) and we are told that many of the disciples fled the scene (Matthew 26:56).
How many of us are willing to step into persecution for something we did not do? Our flesh immediately begins to go into protection mode trying to defend ourselves from what we perceive as an injustice. Even if the accusations are against someone we love dearly our flesh will still try to protect them and in many cases we would never give ourselves over insteadbecause the flesh always places the doubt that what the person is being accused of they possibly could have done. However, Jesus steps up and surrenders Himself to His accusers willingly and with full knowledge of what mankind had done and will do. If the police were trying to arrest one of your loved ones for a crime you KNEW they committed would you willingly go for them? Jesus did!
The willingness with which Jesus’ goes should be noted above all else in this reading. The sacrifice that Jesus makes IS the ultimate in grace and mercy. Jesus gave Himself up for those that would believe in Him and turn away from their sin; it doesn’t matter if they were murderers, drunks, thieves, druggies, idolaters, etc. Jesus paved the way for ANYONE to come to God.
My actions steps for us all today are:
•Realize how blessed you are for the sacrifice that was made for you
•Be so grateful in this blessing that you are willing to tell others about it
•Plant seeds daily by telling your story of faith because nothing can grow if it is not first planted