John 18: 1 – 14 Jesus arrested

John 18: 1 – 14 Jesus arrested

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side was a garden, 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 garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

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.

Again he asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’

‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they said.

Jesus answered, ‘I told you I am he. 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.’

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?’

Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

*       *       *

St John’s gospel and the synoptics agree on the substance of Jesus’ arrest, and on the theological significance of it.

Jesus and his disciples are in a garden (John doesn’t identify it by name). Knowing that Jesus and the disciples often met there, Judas leads a body of men to arrest him. Note who St John says was in this group. “So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees.” This was an official group that included Roman soldiers and Jewish officials. It was the establishment cracking down hard on a malcontent.

“They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.” They came equipped for trouble; they probably expected resistance.

Before they had chance to say what they wanted, Jesus calmly took the initiative. “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’”

They answered ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, but when Jesus replied they were thrown into confusion. “When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.”

They were terrified.

What a contrast with Jesus! Jesus knew what was going to happen to him, and as he was fully human, he must have known fear at the thought. However, he had prayed earnestly and been assured that the Father’s will was that he should submit, and the prayer had brought peace.

Before the arrest party can recover their composure, Jesus takes the initiative once again. “Again he asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’” and once again they reply “‘Jesus of Nazareth.’”

Jesus then calmly steers matters in the direction the Father has told him they must go.

Jesus answered, ‘I told you I am he. 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.’

Peter, passionate, impetuous – and wrong – draws his sword and slashes at the head of one of the arresting party, severing his ear. “Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’”

And here we see who is really in charge. It is Jesus. He is determined to ‘drink the cup the Father has given him.’ The Father has told him that he will be arrested, interrogated and crucified, and that this is necessary. Jesus has accepted this and is determined that it will happen. He has ensured that his supporters don’t protect him.

The combined secular and religious powers have gone to arrest Jesus, to have him killed. It looks in human terms as though they are in control. Instead, the radical self-giving of Jesus places him in control. He could have escaped – but he chose instead the path of submission to God’s will.

St Matthew puts it very dramatically.

‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’

*       *       *

St John doesn’t mention Jesus’ agony in the garden, when he suffers the human fear of pain and death, but the account is in all three of the synoptic gospels and there’s no reason to think they’re wrong. Jesus was fully human as well as divine, and any human would feel terror at the thought of being crucified. Jesus knows our fear through personal experience.

There’s a lot of fear in society at present, as the coronavirus rampages through nations, killing indiscriminately. How can we deal with our own fear?

Jesus dealt with his fear by prayer and by faith. He prayed earnestly to the Father and then placed his trust completely in God. He understood what his Father’s plan entailed for him, and he accepted it without reserve.

If God’s plan for me is that I should die of Covid 19, then I embrace that future. Jesus loves me. That is all I need to know.

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you that you love me, and that Jesus loves me. Please help me to live so that those around me may also feel your love.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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