“Imagine a basketball game. It's almost the end of overtime; it's time for one last shot. Who do you want to have the ball? You want the calmest and best player out there. Or imagine the security of the nation is threatened. Threat levels have gone through the roof, and an attack is imminent. Who do you want to have the nuclear codes? Who do you want making the final call on what to do or not to do? You want someone who is calm under pressure. Or here's one more example. Imagine you need a crucial surgery to save your life or the life of a loved one. Who do you want behind that scalpel? Who do you want performing the surgery? Of course you want the best doctor available.
That's how the Gospels present Jesus as he faces the cross. He's under extreme pressure—pressure that we will never even fathom. He's actually sweating drops of blood. And yet at every stage Jesus is calm. He is in control of himself.
But Jesus also leaves every sports star, every politician, every surgeon far behind. It's not just that Jesus is in control of himself; Jesus is in control of the events themselves. It's not just that he's able to handle his own adrenaline; he's able to dictate the result. It's not just he's able to act wisely under pressure; he's able to determine the outcome. Jesus isn't just able to respond skillfully to what he finds; he already knows what he will find, and has already mapped out the solution to the deepest human problem of all. Jesus stands out in this because he is in control of the entire sweep of human history, even as he goes through his death.”
Gary Millar, "Jesus, Betrayed and Crucified," sermon on PreachingToday.com.
Power in a name
We have been working to get a co-op set up, with a mechanic, for Levi for his senior year
He will take a couple of classes and then be released to work with a mechanic on cars
I needed help finding a mechanic that would potentially be willing to help with a co-op
I emailed two different pastor groups that I’m a part of to see if any of them knew of a mechanic that would help
I received three responses with two recommendations
When I contacted the first mechanic, I used the name of the pastor who had recommended him, since they have an 18-year relationship – the pastor’s name carried power and influence that I didn’t have with the mechanic, since I had never met him before
When I contacted the second mechanic, I used the names of the other two pastors, because they have had a long time relationship with him – again those two pastor’s names carried weight with the mechanic, that I didn’t have
In both of those situations, I was given an opportunity that I might not have otherwise had, if I had contacted them by myself
Power in a name
When have you used someone else’s name in order to gain a hearing with an individual that you didn’t have a relationship with?
What was the result of using their name instead of trying to make the contact on your own?
John begins the section where Jesus completes His earthly mission. Today we’ll learn about Jesus’ betrayal and arrest. The arresting party presumes they have power by the sheer number of men they’ve brought to arrest Jesus. Peter also presumes to have some kind of power, but it was misplaced. Through both of these we’ll see that . . .
BIG IDEA – Jesus’ power far exceeds the power of this world.
GOD (John 18:1-11)
Presumptive Power (vv. 1-3)
Introductory content (transitional information)
The NIV provides the word “praying,” but it’s not actually in the original Greek
The Greek word is hoytos and means, “this” or “these”
Most other translations say, “these words” or “these things”
When Jesus had spoken these words . . . (NASB)
After saying these things . . . (NLT)
It seems to be the general consensus that what is being referred to here is all of Jesus’ upper room discourse (chapters 13-16) including His final prayer (chapter 17)
When Jesus had finished His final teaching and prayer, then He and His disciples left for the Mount of Olives
Crossed the Kidron Valley
Many of the modern translations say they crossed the brook or ravine of the Kidron [show map of Jerusalem with Kidron Valley and Mount of Olives]
That just helps us to understand what was there
Most the year the brook or ravine was dry (no water running through it)
It was only during the rainy season that the brook with run with water (mostly in the winter)
This same brook would have run red as the fluids from the Temple sacrifices would flow into the valley, especially during the various feasts and festivals throughout the year [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 216]
Perhaps as Jesus and His disciples crossed the brook, it was running red
They were headed to a place that Jesus had taken His disciples many times
Entered the olive grove
On the other side of the Kidron Valley was the Mount of Olives
“On the side of the Mount of Olives were many private enclosed gardens, where the well-to-do people of Jerusalem would go to escape the heat of the city.” [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 582]
These enclosed gardens would have been filled with vegetables, flowers, palms, fruit trees, and obviously olive trees. The reason for the private gardens on the Mount of Olives was because they were forbidden in city limits of Jerusalem [Rogers & Rogers, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek News Testament, 221]
Gospel writers, Matthew (26:36) and Mark (14:32) refer to it as the garden of Gethsemane, which is appropriate, because Gethsemane literally means “oil press” [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 576; Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 504]
The fact that Jesus and His disciples “went into” and Jesus “came out of”, is evidence that they probably had access to a wealthy benefactor’s personal garden on the Mount of Olives – they weren’t just entering the Mount of Olives as a whole (the eastern slope rising above the Kidron Valley)
Judas had been to this private garden on many occasions, so He knew exactly where to find Jesus
Show of power
John is letting us know which Judas he was talking about by mentioning that it was the one who betrayed Jesus
Obviously John is writing after the fact, so he can describe Judas this way
Judas had already been to see the religious leaders and had gotten his 30 pieces of silver
Now all that remained was to lead the group to where Jesus was, so they could arrest Him
Detachment of soldiers
The Greek for detachment is a “band, cohort, company, or squad” of soldiers
The normal use of the Greek word refers to 600 soldiers
It could also refer to a maniple which was 200 soldiers
“The Romans could use surprisingly large numbers of soldiers even in dealing with a single person (like the 470 soldiers protecting Paul in Acts 23:23), especially when they feared a riot.” [Köstenberger, 505]
The Jewish religious leaders were aware of Jesus’ popularity with the masses, so it’s no wonder that they sent a cohort of Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus
The Roman cohort would not normally have been stationed in Jerusalem
They were stationed at Caesarea Maratima on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea [show image of Caesarea Maratima]
They would be deployed to Jerusalem during the busy feasts and festivals to help maintain order and to deter any rioting from taking place
They were there as a show of force so that the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) would be maintained
I believe that this presumptive show of power was necessary to highlight the true power of Jesus, as we’ll see in verse 6
Officials from the chief priests and Pharisees
Not only is there between 200 to 600 Roman soldiers, but there are also officials from the chief priests and Pharisees
Most likely these were the Temple guards, who would actually be the arresting officers
It was their responsibility to take Jesus into custody and bring Him to the chief priests for questioning
These were strips of wood that were bound together
They put resin on them to provide a longer burn time
Köstenberger describes them as a terracotta cylinder with an opening on one side so that a household lamp could be placed inside with the wick facing out [Köstenberger, 506]
An image search reveals that they could also be made of bronze [show image of bronze lantern]
It’s likely that the Roman soldiers were carrying shields, short swords, long swords, and spears
The Temple guards may have been carrying some of the same weapons
While the group, led by Judas Iscariot, is coming out in a show of power, this power was really presumptive, especially when compared to Jesus’ power
True Power (vv. 4-9)
Jesus’ knowledge (v. 4a)
PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is all-knowing (omniscient)!
Jesus hadn’t gone to the private garden on the Mount of Olives to hide from the religious leaders or to try and avoid the inevitable events that were unfolding
Rather, He knew everything that was happening and was actually orchestrating everything according to God’s will and plan
He went to the garden where He had taken Judas many times
He was creating the perfect environment where God’s plan could be fulfilled without the concern of having large crowds trying to interfere and stop His arrest
This was all happening, because Jesus is all-knowing
This principle is important for us, because we can trust that Jesus knows everything that is happening in our lives
He knows the struggles we’re experiencing and the joy that is coming
He is also sovereign, so He knows how to guide and direct our lives
We can trust completely in Jesus and turn to Him when we feel overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, hurt, angry, confused, frustrated, and so much more
When we can’t see how things are going to work out, we can turn to the One who knows everything and rest in His plan for us
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Trust in Jesus’ ability to know everything that’s going on in my life and rest in His perfect, sovereign plan for me.
He even knew when they would be arriving, so He goes outside the walled-in garden to greet those who were coming to arrest Him
He asks them a question
Jesus’ question (vv. 4b-5a)
“Who is it you want?”
Jesus already knew the answer to His question, but it wasn’t the question that was most important, it was His response to their answer
They were looking for Jesus of Nazareth
His response was going to prove who was in control and had the real power
Jesus’ power (vv. 5b-6)
In response to their answer, Jesus says, “I am he”
In the Greek it’s actually “I Am!” (egō eimi)
God used the same self-identification with Moses in Exodus 3:14
Jesus is making it clear that He is God
Those two words carried incredible power
Judas is counted with the Roman soldiers and the officials from the chief priests and Pharisees – he is not part of the disciples anymore
As the arresting group hears Jesus’ response to their answer to His question, they all stumble backwards and fall to the ground
Imagine for a moment what that would have looked like
Anywhere from 200 to 600 Roman soldiers, the officials from the Temple, and Judas Iscariot all fall down
That must have been a sight to see
That video would have won America’s Funniest Home Videos and would have gone viral immediately on social media
Whatever power the Roman soldiers and Temple officials thought they had, probably left by this point
Jesus’ power far exceeds the power of this world.
PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is all-powerful (omnipotent)!
“Falling to the ground is regularly a reaction to divine revelation. This striking response also conveys the powerlessness of Jesus’ enemies when confronted with the power of God.” [Köstenberger, 508]
Jesus was completely in control of when and how He would be arrested and tried
“The effect within John’s Gospel is to put a very large exclamation point after Jesus’ words spoken eight chapters earlier, ‘I lay down my life, that I might receive it back again. No one took it away from me, but I lay it down on my own’ (10:17-18a). ‘No one!!’ – not even six hundred Roman soldiers, plus ‘officers both from the chief priests and from the Pharisees’ – can take Jesus’ life from him. The ‘authority to lay it down,’ like the ‘authority to receive it back’ (10:18b), is his and his alone. This he will do freely and voluntarily, ‘for the sheep’ (10:15), as he will quickly demonstrate (v. 8).” [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 891]
This is great news for us as His disciples
While the soldiers and officials were experiencing the negative effects of Jesus’ power – stumbling backwards and falling down – we can experience the positive effects of His power
There is nothing too hard for Jesus or God
They can handle anything you’re experiencing or going through
Are you dealing with difficult relationships at home, in your neighborhood, at work or school? – Jesus can handle that!
Are you struggling financially? – Jesus can handle that!
Are your emotions all over the place and you feel frazzled and hopeless? – Jesus can handle that!
Is your health failing? – Jesus can handle that!
Are you questioning your relationship with God and Jesus? – Jesus can handle that?
He is waiting for us to humbly come to Him for help
He knows all about our struggles and hardships, because He is all-knowing, and He stands ready to help us, because He is all-powerful
Turn to Him right now!
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Turn to Jesus and humbly ask Him to help me with whatever struggle(s) I’m currently experiencing.
Because Jesus is all-powerful, He can protect us
Jesus’ protection (vv. 7-9)
Jesus asks the arresting party the same question again and they answer Him the same way
My guess is that they braced themselves for His response this time – they leaned in as He responded with “I told you that I Am!”
Jesus goes a step further this time
He tells the arresting party to let His disciples go
We know, from Scripture, that they obeyed His request
They were probably ready to comply with whatever Jesus said, after they had experienced the power of His name
It was also in fulfillment of what Jesus had said in John 6:39, And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus is our protector!
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the One who protects us
“Whatever the wolf may represent in our lives today – guilt and shame from past failures, the accusing voices of criticism, sudden paralyzing feelings of inadequacy as they come snapping and snarling at our heels, the good shepherd is there to meet them and to issue his word of command, ‘Let my disciple go!’” [Milne, The Bible Speaks Today: The Message of John, 255]
This should give us hope as disciples of Jesus Christ
“Just as Jesus protects the disciples on that dark day, he will protect and preserve all who follow him.” [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 354]
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Claim the promise that Jesus will protect me from the “wolves” in my life.
We can hold on to that truth and know that He will accomplish it in our lives, because He did it for the first disciples – He is faithful and unchanging!
Jesus’ true power proved that the arresting party’s power was simply presumptive and not true
Jesus’ power far exceeds the power of this world.
John completes this section of Scripture with information about Peter’s misplaced power
Misplaced Power (vv. 10-11)
Throughout Scripture we know Peter to be a man of action and not just words
He had already told Jesus that he would lay down his life for Him (John 13:37), but Jesus checked him on that, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three time!” (John 13:38)
Perhaps Peter was still trying to prove to Jesus that he would lay down His life for Him
Peter shows either great courage or perhaps extreme stupidity
He steps up with his sword and swings it wildly at the high priest’s servant, Malchus
I don’t know if he intended to kill Malchus, but the result was that he cut his right ear off
That must have been a pretty sharp blade
Jesus commanded Peter to put his sword away
Matthew records these words of Jesus, “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?” (Matthew 26:52-54)
Peter had misplaced power, because He thought that Jesus needed Him to help with the situation
Peter was not following God’s plan at this point, but was trying to take matters into his own hands
PRINCIPLE #4 – God’s desire is that we follow His plan.
How often do we try to run ahead of God and His sovereign plan for us?
Remember, He is all-knowing, so He knows what’s coming and is all-powerful, so He has the power to handle it
Judy and I just experienced this in the last week
Let me tell you the rest of the story about trying to set up the mechanic co-op for Levi
The first mechanic we contacted was very excited about the opportunity to help Levi out
I called him back to try to schedule a time for him to meet Levi and sign some paperwork for the school
He told me that he had contacted his insurance agent about worker’s compensation and that he was trying to work out the details of that
The next time I called him, he said that, because of the cost of worker’s compensation, he wouldn’t be able to have Levi do his co-op with him. He was frustrated, because he really wanted to help
Judy and I discussed, very briefly, about covering the cost of the worker’s compensation insurance, but Judy also added, “Would that be forcing something, that God doesn’t want?”
Long story short, when I contacted the second mechanic, he said that they really needed the help and that they had done at least four mentorships with the Carlisle schools in the past, and totally understood the minimum hours required and everything else
We met with them on Friday and toured their facility
We are working through the paperwork to get the co-op set up for Levi
Have you ever tried to “help” God with His plan for your life?
How did that end? (positive or negative?)
Can you trust the Lord is to have the prefect plan for your life?
Have you talked with Him about revealing that plan to you?
Are you following that plan now?
#4 – My Next Step Today Is To: Trust God and follow His plan for my life.
Jesus knew God’s plan of redemption for humanity
God’s plan of redemption must be fulfilled
Imagine if Peter would have successfully defeated 600 Roman soldiers
Jesus wouldn’t have been arrested and tried
Jesus wouldn’t have died on the cross to take our punishment for sin
We would have to take our own punishment for sin and be separated from God for all eternity
Praise the Lord that Jesus did drink the cup the Father had given Him
Will you trust Jesus’ ability to know everything that’s going on in your life and rest in His perfect sovereign plan?
Will you humbly turn to Jesus and ask Him to help you with whatever challenge you are experiencing today?
Will you claim the promise that Jesus will protect you from the “wolves” in your life?
When we trust Jesus and His sovereign plan, humbly turn to Him with our challenges, and claim His promise to protect us, it’s a powerful testimony to the world that we truly believe what we say we believe about God
It will be what draws them to a relationship with Jesus Christ
“Set in A.D. 180, Gladiator tells the story of General Maximus Decimus Meridius (played by Russell Crowe), who was about to be given reigning authority in Rome by the aging emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before this could take place, however, the emperor's son, Commodus, killed his father in order to establish himself on the throne. He then ordered the murder of Maximus and his family. Maximus escaped, and the movie follows him as he is sold into slavery, becomes a nameless gladiator, and finally seeks justice against wicked Emperor Commodus.
The turning point comes late in the movie. After Maximus wins a great battle in the Coliseum, Emperor Commodus decides to meet this unknown gladiator face to face. The crowd watches as the emperor in full pomp strides with his soldiers onto the sands of the Coliseum.
The emperor asks the simple question: ‘What is your name?’
Maximus, streaked with blood and dirt from the battle, takes off his helmet and says: ‘My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, general of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.’
The crowd erupts with a deafening roar, while the emperor visibly shakes under the weight of the true identity of a man he thought was a mere slave. The emperor flees the Coliseum, only to face defeat and death later at the hands of Maximus.”
Elapsed time: 01:29:09 to 01:33:08 (DVD scene 16).
Content: Gladiator is rated R for violence.
Gladiator (DreamWorks, 2000), rated R, written by David Franzoni, directed by Ridley Scott; submitted by Bill White, Paramount,.