John 18 Powerless Observing

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How did Peter and John feel as they saw this blow given to Jesus? Did they feel it too? Did they wince? Did they startle when it happened? Did it wrench in their gut? Peter had already denied Jesus one time, did his heart sink deeper into fear? Did the blow crush his confidence? Had he expected Jesus to triumph? Was he waiting and hoping for a miraculous turn of events that would put the former High priest Annas into his place and end this disaster? Is this the path to destruction? Has all Jesus spoken in the room at dinner that night fled his mind? Are the visions of earthly greatness and power that skirted his mind twisting to shame and shock as events unfold before him?

What about John? Tears? Shock? Dazed intense observation? Had he had an inkling and is his heart breaking? Had he understood and is he being silent, present, company for His Lord’s suffering? Or is he there as a loyal silent observer maintaining his cover?

As they both observe the unfairness of it all, is their emotion outrage or shock, or something else?

  • What is mine as I observe in the culture around me grave injustice?
  • Do I just stand around?
  • Am I equally powerless?
  • How do I love at times like this?

John 18 Evil Violently Rejects Truth

Picture the scene. A middle of the night arrest, disciples scattered, taken to the house first of Annas, former High Priest and father-in-law of Caiaphas the current high priest, rulers of the Sanhedrin who do not believe in resurrection. High Priests were appointed at this time to their post by the Roman authority. They had conspired to arrest Jesus for some time and must have been greatly pleased that they had Him now (so they thought) in their power. And by all earthly understanding, they did.

In those rooms or courtyards behind the gate-kept walls, now a mockery of justice is taking place. Annas is a powerfully influential person as the Roman cohort officers, 6 of them, have taken the arrested man first to him, and not the son in law. Annas is the power behind the official. Some of these six officers are standing around participating in the questions and others were by the charcoal fire following closely all the proceedings. There stands Peter and John, spies in the midst of the enemy camp, along with the camp slaves. Peter surely could have been recognizable as the one who cut off the ear of  the slave Malchus during the arrest.  Perhaps it was the dark confusion at the arrest, or perhaps Peter has ditched the sword or thrown a cloak over himself…anyway Peter runs a risk at that fire.  Yet for now, nothing is said.  All attention is on Jesus.

The line of questioning to Jesus is all about what Jesus taught and His followers.   Jesus’s answer is basically ‘why ask me what I taught, ask my students’. And there standing at the fire warming himself is the terrified Peter. Will they seek to question him? Was he ready to be questioned about Jesus? Would I be ready to answer questions from those who are seeking to kill and destroy Christ?

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Jesus also spoke a clear truth about even being there. I have spoken only openly to the world…..and I spoke nothing in secret. While these words must have struck Peter to the core, they also spoke volumes to the authorities standing there. This was a secret trial and an affront to proper Jewish authority and Jesus just threw that fact in their face.

Truth sometimes enrages evil and in the process protected Peter. Is this the way you answer the high priest?  Spoken after the officer has struck Jesus. Ah, interesting response to truth. The guilty cannot bear to hear truth spoken. Be prepared for that reaction from enemies. Don’t be afraid to speak truth that will possibly bring a blow to you yet in that blow deflect attention from others.

Am I like Peter?

Thank you Jesus for taking these blows for me.

John 18 Watching

img_3023.jpgLate night, the door is kept shut and only someone who knows someone can get in. Sounds like private clubs. John is the young one who followed Jesus along with Peter. Guess what, John is known at this place and he speaks up for Peter and gets him in past the doorkeeper.

“In” is not the best word. I think it’s more like into the courtyard because they are all standing around the fire trying to keep warm. This is where Peter is still reeling from the fear and confusion of what is happening. What made him follow Jesus? Why did John? Was Peter still determined to somehow try to stop what was happening? Did he want to try to rescue Him? What about John? Was his love for Jesus leading him forward? Or was he just a foolish boy who was in way over his head and determined in his own way to keep tabs on what was unfolding? Was Peter so confused by how to follow Jesus and keep close to Him, that all He had left was to watch because Jesus Himself had nullified all comprehension and options to take action?

  • Who am I?
  • Do I walk blindly in loving determination after my Lord?
  • Am I insecure and prone to lying to save my own skin?
  • Or does love compel me to take risks?
  • As I enter the gates of those who hate Jesus, who am I most like?
  • I know what I want to say, but is it true?

Lord, I hate to admit in my own silly little pride, that I am a weak follower, a foolish one, who is capable of denying you at the sign of trouble or when I feel threatened. Lord, forgive me as you forgave Peter. Make me dependent on you, which I am, slow learner that I am. Help me be so filled with love for you that I am more like John, faithful, loyal and in my following you through gates of trouble, let me remember my dependence on you that others may enter with me. May my confidence be in You alone. Help me follow you in this way. Confident on who You are for all your followers.

John 18 Submission

In verses 13-14, we see Jesus is taken, by the Roman cohort and temple guards, not to the official High Priest Caiaphas nor to the Roman governor, but rather first to Annas,  Caiaphas’ father in law.   Are these two separate groups of Jewish authority?  Surely it is odd, this middle of the night arrest procedure. Was this late night show of force at the start of Passover part of a warning to all the Jews who days before had welcomed Jesus as their king with Palm branches laid at His feet? Is this the political answer to that perceived threat?  Who is directing this show?

When evil is afoot, it does not respect order, going first to a father in law rather than the high priest himself. Or does this action reveal where the power of evil is resting at this moment?  Evil does what it pleases. No law is respected unless it is expedient to manipulate the evil intent. It is useless to argue with such perverted authority. Yet, Jesus allows it all.

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photo credit: Issac Ruiz
  • Am I ready if God takes me down a path like this?

Jesus shows me how to walk under perverted authority. I think of the history of many martyrs for Christ who have walked similar paths. The Holy Spirit will give us the words to speak at the proper time.

 

John 18 Surrender

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Photo Credit: Issac Ruiz

Back to the theatrical mode, this was the climatic build of the play. The story is coming to a fast conclusion, however there is a twist in the plot at the end. We know the story, we know the end was not on a cross but in a resurrection and that the power of death that showed up in the garden to arrest Jesus that night, was fully allowed, by Jesus. He allowed them to bind Him, to  take Him into the process that ultimately destroyed the destroyer. Death is defeated. The showdown has begun.

  • What showdowns are in my life?
  • What do I need to surrender to Jesus, to release into His victory, thus it’s power over me is forever defeated?

Jesus, as I think on each and every issue that I have been struggling with, I give them fully to You now, that you may have full victory in my life. I surrender all!

John 18 Arrest

So the Roman cohort, and the commander, and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him. (verse 12)

There was a small army that showed up that day to take Jesus. A Roman cohort at this time had recently increased in size from 480 to 600 fighting men! Add to that 6 centurion commanders. Then you have the temple guards. This must have seemed more of a statement of presence and authority in comparison to the Roman cohort. Either way, it was an overwhelming force come to collect one man, on the eve of Passover.

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credit: Issac Ruiz

“So…” So what? So…because verse 11, it is Jesus’s cup which the Father has given Me. Jesus agreed to be arrested. How does one arrest The Creator?  Only if He allows it.  There is no power higher. Jesus had showed the soldiers only moments earlier that they could not even stand in His true presence unless He allowed it. All He did was utter His name I AM, and they fell over. Like children believing in the game they are playing, Jesus allows Himself to be arrested. It is a crowd of players making a big show of their self-conceived and merely human power as they imagine they and their cohort are in charge. In contrast to The Lord of the Creation, it is all fluff and puff. Jesus was not playing a game. It was for keeps. It was for OUR keeps.

SO…, if I love Jesus, I shall obey His commands 14:15. Just think what He has done for us. Do I truly comprehend even a portion of what this night was all about?

John 18 Defensiveness

Put your sword away. Shouldn’t I drink the cup of suffering that my Father has given me?

Peter’s actions, unchecked, would have interfered with the salvation plan.

  • Do I sometimes interfere with Gods plans for others?

Now it was time for Jesus to follow up with His mission. Many other attempts on his life had been made, but it was not yet time then. But now, it was the time.

  • Am I sensitive to Gods timing?

Jesus was fully aware of the timing of His Father. So now, Peter, don’t stop Jesus’s work of salvation.

  • Do I in my eagerness and ignorance of God’s salvation timing, try to interfere – believing I am helping Jesus?

Peter thought he was acting in love and loyalty. He thought he was protecting Jesus. (As if Jesus needs protection) Jesus does not need my protection; He needs my obedience and trust in His perfect timing.

  • Where do I need to trust and obey today in my life?
  • Where do I need to confess to Him that I have been foolishly trying to protect Him?

Let God be God. In my actions Lord, may I reflect His love for the lost.

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John 18 Victims, Slaves

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Credit: Issac Ruiz

V9-10. Psalm 41:9 prophesied that not one would be lost. That was part of the reason that Jesus interceded for his followers in the garden. John makes sure we see Peter’s reaction. It was impulsive, determined and well intentioned but no match for the circumstances. The Finns call this sisu. You know you can’t succeed, but you try anyway.

Peter draws his sword and cuts off the ear of a slave named Malchus. Wow. We get to know for all time the name of a victim. A bystander in slavery, forced to go where he may not want to go because his life was under another’s command.  In the control of the enemy army, Malchus becomes a victim of war, a skirmish of uncontrolled reaction. In most wars, he is collateral damage. Yet John is certain to tell us his name. While John does not tell any more than the rebuke Jesus gave to Peter, and both Mark and Matthew tell of the cut off ear, it was only Luke who bothered to tell us that Jesus healed Malchus’s ear.   Imagine how this affected Malchus, slave no less to the High Priest. His name means ‘King’ or ‘kingdom’.   Even within the enemy camp, God can do miracles of healing and take actions of love. Pray for His enemies. God can claim even the slave of the enemy for His kingdom.

Lord, as I look at the evil afoot in the world today, I think of those who have been taken captive under the command of evil and I pray that You shall set theses captives free with your truth. That You would reach into the very camps of the enemy soldiers and claim them for Jesus, for Your kingdom and Your glory!

 

John 18 Showdown!

When Jesus answers the call on His human life, vs 8, He defends His followers. I am He. Basically He is saying ‘If it’s Me you want, let the others go’. This was the showdown of good and evil. The world was only a pawn in this power struggle. Well, struggle is a misnomer because it implies equal weight or near equal and that is giving evil too much credit compared to The Creator. But if God were to use His full power, all would be destroyed in the collateral damage.

Evil uses God’s love for His creation as a pawn in evil’s attempt to keep the only power  allowed it for God’s time and purpose. Evil thinks it is triumphant as it stands in the garden and faces pure good. (That is after it picks itself off the ground and dusts itself off when Jesus declared “I Am!”.)  Evil thinks it’s about to win. When evil uses the world as a pawn, it is not the pawns who are the target. God Himself is the target of evil. Jesus took the heat for us. He redeemed all others from the showdown. Let them go their way. Jesus set us free right there, in the garden. As in the original garden where evil was given a time on earth, and was told he shall strike you on the head and you shall strike him on his heel. (Gen 3:15b) The blows were about to come. Only one of the delivered blows is a death blow.

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The treasure for us is the knowledge that He fought this battle. He sent his followers away. He interceded to protect them from His own persecution. This was His job. Not the disciple’s, not mine. He knew I could not stand, that His followers would crumple. We know they lived in fear after this, locked in a room. Hiding, lest they too were the next target. Yes, Peter and John followed, but Peter denied Him when confronted and John was young and not tested.

When I see evil at war with God in this world, I must remember that God fights these battles, that in fact they are merely skirmishes in disagreement with full truth that He has already triumphed and this is the clean up time we live in now, where all things are being put under His feet. It is only with the Holy Spirit that we can stand against evil; only God in us; we, hidden in Christ, only in that way do we stand. Certainly not on our own two feet, from that we were excused. In Christ we stand!

Praise God that the battle was won already 2000 years ago! Praise God for the time He has given the world since then to fill His kingdom with those who will choose to believe! Praise God that He has given us His Holy Spirit that we can stand and trust Him as He continues to put all things under His feet!

Do I suffer from thinking it is I who takes my stand against evil? That too is a pride and will cause me to suffer harm. Fully surrendered, my identity in Him, then I stand, but not as myself, for my identity is hidden in Christ and it is He who stands for me.

Lord, teach me to trust You this much- at all times. To be sheltered by your powerful love is a safe place, but only by abiding in You can I stay safe within You. Help me not to venture away from obedience in You. Thank You that You protect me from evil and You have already conquered and You fight the battles! I long to stay in this place of obedience for I know I am weak and I fear the battle. I trust in Your love. Perfect love casts out fear. Fill me with Your love that I may walk in Your peace of mind. As the disciples were changed by the truth, change me too.

John 18 Do I Follow a Rebel?

Jesus, the Nazarene. That is the name, the reputation, the concept in the mind of those who the Jews wanted to conquer; “Jesus, the Nazarene.” The Jews later called Jesus’s followers the sect of the Nazarenes. (Acts 24:5)IMG_3751

To be a Nazarene, a Nazarite, the word means “one separated”, shows His Jewish rejection as a “not one of us” viewpoint, or rather not us, but a “Nazarene”. This rejection was prophesied. Hebrew nezir means unto God from the womb and was used of Samson in the book of Judges. He was also from Nazareth, and remember the reaction of one of the first disciples, Nathaniel, before he met Jesus; “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” What a reputation this town has. John 7:52 declares no prophet is to come from Nazareth. Here was ignorance of Jesus birthplace. People did not move around like we do now. It was natural to assume that he had been born where he was raised. The town was out in the sticks and was looked down upon as uneducated and low compared with the big city of Jerusalem. Some believe it was a sin-filled place. Regardless, it had a negative connotation.

This is who I follow, one who was rejected and despised, separated from his temple, rejected by temple authority. Face it: from the world’s point of view, when we follow Jesus, we are rebels against the world!