John's Gospel, a New Look-Number 20:chapter 18, Jesus Is Arrested
His time had come!
John's Gospel -A New Look. Number 20: Chapter 18. The Arresting of Jesus.
After the amazing prayers that Jesus prayed for himself, for his disciples and for us, as recorded in chapter 17; John now continues to document that Jesus and his disciples go to the Garden of Gethsemane. There were no gardens in Jerusalem and so rich people had their private gardens in this area outside the City. Jesus must have had access to one of these places because this is where he often went and now returns. Judas knows well that Jesus will be there and so he leads the powerful group of officials to go and arrest Jesus. It is an imposing group of Roman soldiers and Temple Police who arrive with torches and weapons. Some had attempted to arrest Jesus before, but had returned empty handed. (John 7:46;10:39;Luke 4:29;) Now they returned, heavily armed, but in some trepidation and fear.
For the disciples it must have been a terrifying situation, but not for Jesus. He steps forward to meet the mob and it is obvious that he does not fear them. It is Matthew who tells us that Jesus feared the cup of suffering that he had to face with all its human and spiritual agony. (Matthew 26:39) Now however, he is resigned to what must happen and Jesus asks the mob, after they had regrouped, not to harm his followers. Always concerned and willing to give of himself, his concern is not for himself but for others.
Jesus is first taken to Annas and then Caiaphas, but there is no real trial. Rather the fear of these leaders is that he would destroy their influence and power over the people. This led them in their desire to see him dead. Annas, the former high priest who continued to rule through his family members, had already been hurt financially by Jesus when the money changers were removed from the temple. Now the Jewish leaders wanted to get rid of Jesus but they had to get permission from the Roman authorities to put him to death. Their method of execution was by stoning, but the Romans had taken that power away from the Jews, and under Roman law they introduced death on the cross.
It is particularly interesting to see the interaction between the Jews and Pilate who had no love for each other. Pilate tried everything to get Jesus released but eventually the fear of Rome caused him to wash his hands and hand Jesus over to the Jews for death on the cross. It is also very interesting to follow the actions of the disciples of Jesus, from the attempt of Peter to solve the problem with his sword, to Peter's denial in the Palace courtyard. The crowing of the cock ('alektorophonia' - cockcrow in Greek) was a trumpet signal in Roman controlled areas indicating that the early morning watch was ended (3 a.m.)and so Jesus' prophecy came to pass. It is easy to cast Peter in the role of a coward but he perhaps must be seen in the light of how he tried to defend Jesus at the arrest and followed him when the other disciples had run away. It is also worthwhile reading the Synoptic accounts of what happened on that eventful night in Jerusalem.
The real coward in this picture is Pilate. He did what he knew was obviously wrong because of the political position and power that was so precariously balanced in his life. The use of mob rule by the Jewish leaders is a tactic that is still used today. Peter proved that in spite of fear and disappointment, God always seems to give a second chance - if one's heart is right. God sees potential even when we don't, so be careful who gets written off in human ignorance.
Standing out as one reads the account by John and the others of the arrest and mock trial of Jesus, is the fact that an innocent man died because it was necessary for the salvation of sinners in every age. Jesus bore the pain, humiliation and the mock trial so that God's purpose could be fulfilled. Yes, his time had come, and even if the Jewish leaders thought they had won the battle and were in control, the resurrection and ascension was to prove them wrong.
When measured in the light of God's eternal plan, man's evil deeds will always fail no matter how well they are executed, or how they seem at times to win.