When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”[a]
10 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.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
Remember back when we started our study of John? We looked at the first chapter and realized that John had a very important purpose in writing his gospel. He wanted to make sure that we understood Who Jesus was, and why He came. John wanted to be certain that we "get it," and that we receive Him:
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not
of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but
born of God. (John 1:12-13)
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah,
the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
So now we have come all the way to the story of Jesus' arrest. And as we look at this passage, we are going to see something stunning. We will see Jesus, full of majesty and authority, being arrested as a common criminal. It is He Who will be in control of the situation. And so, John is writing this so that we will not get the wrong idea about this arrest....it's like no other arrest you have ever read about in the paper, or seen on television.
In this situation, the Person Who is being arrested is actually in charge.
Let that sink in.
The mob that comes to arrest Jesus fully believes that they are in charge -- but John tells us in no uncertain terms that Jesus is voluntarily laying down His life for us. Christ was not a victim here; not the victim of the angry mob -- even though every person in that mob is morally accountable for his or her choices. They were exercising their own free wills, and against the Lord of Glory. But all of this was already known, and in God's plan:
Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited
by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among
you through him, as you yourselves know. 23This man was handed over
to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help
of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. (Acts 2:22-23)
This week we will study this passage and see John's clues to showing us Jesus' lordship. He is going to assure us so that we will have no doubts that Jesus gave His life voluntarily so that we might have life.
First, He decided to go to Gethsemane.
Moments after His prayer (the one we studied last week) He leads His disciples across the Kidron Valley, into the Garden of Gethsemane. This is truly important because this is where Judas would expect to find Him. Jesus knows that the time has come, and He is positioning Himself to be arrested. Check back up there in verse 2 . . . Judas knew the place.
We know that Jesus prayed in the Garden in great agony. THe emotional and spiritual pressure was so great that His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground, or some translators have said that the capillaries in His skin burst from the stress and that actual blood fell as He prayed. No matter what we believe about that, we can all agree that He was in a great struggle, dealing with the ordeal that lay ahead of Him.
He had asked Peter, James, and John to pray with Him; they had tried valiantly, but they had failed. They would begin to pray, but then they would fall asleep. I sure can identify with that . . . can you? Three times when Jesus would come back to them, they would be asleep. It's interesting that Luke says in his gospel they were "sleeping from sorrow." The emotional strain from all that has been happening has taken its toll, and caused them to seek escape through sleep. We may never have experienced what they did, but I'm betting that many of us have been in situations where we found ourselves sleeping for sorrow -- trying to escape it all by sleeping. It's not so much that we think it will be "all better" when we wake; it's more that we hope it will be a little better. And we just need to escape for a short time.
But prayer is the answer, not sleep.
The third time that Jesus returns to them, the crowd is arriving in the Garden. The mob's lights from torches could be seen, and maybe the clanging of swords could be heard. John doesn't tell us where Judas' betrayal kiss occurs; I think he wants us to focus instead on the fact that Jesus is not surprised, not caught off guard by the deceiver. He is fully aware of what is happening -- and He is submitting Himself to the Father's will. So when the crowd arrives, He goes to meet them.
And He is not a nervous, scared criminal, finally caught. He is not a helpless victim being dragged off by a lynch mob. He is the Lord of Glory and the King of Kings, and His face is full of majesty. Look again at verses 3 and 4. Remember how the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein cowered in a hole before he was captured? Jesus goes boldly to meet His captors. And they are expecting Him to be afraid.
Even though the mob is assisted by Roman soldiers, they are energized by demonic activity -- Judas himself is being controlled by Satan. What a horrible thing to have to face. But here is the important thing: Jesus has already won the spiritual victory in prayer! Even Jesus, the Son of God, prepared Himself through prayer --- what a lesson for us!
So, contrary to the crowd's expectations, Jesus walks up to them with majestic composure, completely calm, and asks them, "Who is it you want?" Their reply was, "Jesus of Nazareth." They didn't recognize Him as the Christ, but as a peasant from the tiny town of Nazareth. They walk up to Him just as they would any other man. But they are about to discover that He is more than a man. That He is Lord. And He will demonstrate it powerfully by what happens next.
Join us next time, won't you?