So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” John 18:11
This chapter in John reveals to us just how dark Jesus’ arrest and trial was. To start off, it all begins in the middle of the night. At this point, Jesus had been teaching openly and they had plenty of opportunities to arrest Him (if there was a just cause), but these Pharisees had not done so, yet. (Shady business part 1)
They also brought with them troops, which the word in Greek refers to a cohort of men. In those days, a cohort could be about 650 men or even into the 1000 range. Why they felt it necessary to bring an entire army to arrest one Man and His 12 disciples is beyond me. Maybe they were scared deep down of the power Jesus has displayed throughout His ministry? Or maybe they knew that it was wrong what they were doing, but there is safety in numbers? Who knows. (Shady business part 2)
Even with all of that, Jesus still is in control. 650 plus men? No problem. He still will reveal His power within this interaction.
First, knowing all that was about to happen, Jesus walked right out to meet them. They didn’t have to go searching for Him in the garden like a high speed chase. Then, He asks them whom they are seeking, even though He already knew the answer. In verse 5 in our Bibles, we will see Jesus’ response as “I am He”. The italics indicate that the translators added “He”. So, what we should read is, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am.'”
Once this authoritative statement was made, over 600 powerful dudes with weapons and armor fell on the ground. Oh, I would have loved to see that in person! God’s power is no match for men’s strength, especially when declaring who He is.
When Jesus was taken to the High Priest, more lawlessness was coming around the corner. He was tried in violation of the Jewish law by them asking Him to bear witness of Himself. (This is similar to our 5th amendment right). Not to mention, the politically appointed High Priest was the son-in-law of the well-known High Priest, Annas, who wasn’t a fan of Jesus ever since He overturned the temple and ruined Annas’ marketplace. (Shady business part 3)
And the darkness continues on and on. If we stripped this situation down to it’s core, without knowing the end result, we would believe that Satan is winning at this point. We would look at each shady business part and think, “Where is God?”. But, here’s the thing: the only way that God’s ultimate purpose could be fulfilled, is through the unauthorized arrest and trial of Jesus, the perfect Man. Since Jesus had never sinned, there was no fault. But these men were blinded by their hatred that they could only accomplish their plan of killing Jesus in the darkness of the night and through unlawful ways. It was through the sins of these Pharisees that God paved that path for the sins of this world to be forgiven.
As we unpack these last few chapters, we will see just how gruesome and illegitimate Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion was. I know I have experienced “unfairness” in this world. I’ve seen many of my brothers and sisters suffer through many unfair trials, as I’m sure you have as well. Whether it’s that someone got the promotion you deserved, or someone was healed but you are still suffering, or you just endured your 3rd miscarriage and your “non-Christian” neighbor is on baby number 4. It’s not fair.
But, in the end, God is still in control. Through this chapter, we still see God’s sovereignty over every nefarious act.
- Jesus declaring “I AM” and telling the soldiers to not arrest the disciples
- Jesus saying to Peter, “Shall I not drink the cup which my Father has given to Me?”
- Jesus challenging the illegality of His trial to the High Priests
- Jesus speaking truth to Pilate confirming that His Kingdom is not of this world.
All of these actions point straight to God being in control the whole time. From this, we can see that by walking with Him faithfully, our God can use anything, even evil things, to fulfill His plan no matter what the circumstances may look like. And just like Jesus, our submission to God’s perfect plan will give us the strength to take one day at a time, one step at a time.
“As your days, so shall be your strength.” (Deuteronomy 33:25)