February 21, 2018
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It is written: When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. Thus far the text.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, who gives us our joys as well as are sorrows, grant us Your Holy Spirit so that we may remain abide with You through Your Word; in the name of Jesus. Amen.
This Lent we will work our way through the Passion of Jesus according to John’s Gospel. Tonight we hear the events in the Garden of Gesthemane.
Jesus crossed over the Brook Kidron.
Jesus did this often. It was part of His normal routine. He would would teach in Jerusalem but did not sleep there. He would leave the city. Gesthemane was His normal place to pray. This is His routine.
Jesus doesn’t change His routine. He knows what is coming. He knows by this time He will be betrayed and crucified. But Jesus does not change His routine.
This is important because there are two kinds of suffering. One is the kind we bring upon ourselves from the disciplines of fasting, prayer, and charity to those in need. The other kind of suffering is the kind God brings to us. Sickness tragedy, hardship that we never asked for yet we receive from the hand of God.
The Passion of Jesus is the kind of suffering His Father brings upon Him. Jesus does not alter His routine even though He knows what is coming. Jesus trusts His Father. Let us learn to trust the same Father who brings us our joys as well as our sorrows.
2 And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. 3 Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Judas is a smart little cookie. He has the backing of Rome (detachment of troops) and the backing of Jerusalem (officers from the chief priests and Pharisees). This amount of power will quiet the people who might complaint and fight against the authorities. It is overwhelming power.
Round one of this entanglement between Jesus and Judas:
4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” 5 They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I AM (He).” And Judas, who betrayed Jesus, also stood with them. 6 Now when Jesus said to them, “I AM (He),” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Those of you studying the Gospel of John on Sunday mornings know the name: I AM. This is the name Jesus revealed to Moses at the burning bush which did not burn (Exodus). Jesus told Moses to go to Pharaoh with authority to bring plagues upon Egypt, to strike down Egypt, until Israel is let go from slavery.
In the Garden of Gesthemane, Jesus says, I AM. Judas, the troops, and the officers are struck down to the ground. With that name, Jesus’ enemies are struck down. Jesus has this power even in His weakened state. He is God in the flesh. He knows the suffering His Father is bringing upon Him. And yet, Jesus speaks and knocks His enemies to the ground with a spoken word. This is a warning to all the enemies of Jesus.
Round two between Jesus and Judas:
7 Then Jesus asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I have told you that I AM (He). Therefore, if you seek Me, (let My people go) let these go their way,” 9 that the saying might be fulfilled which Jesus spoke, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.”
Jesus let’s Judas stand up and then remain standing. Jesus asks the question again but He does it not to demonstrate His power against His enemies. Rather, Jesus demonstrates that He fulfills His promises.
Jesus says, Let My people go. Jesus put this request to Pharaoh through the mouth of Moses (actually his brother Aaron). After striking Egypt ten times, what did Pharaoh do? Pharaoh let Israel go.
After lightly striking Judas and his buddies, Jesus lets His people go. Not one disciple of Jesus is harmed even while our Father is bringing upon Jesus a devastating blow at the hands of both state and church.
At the beginning of this Lenten season, let us consider this:
Jesus does not flee the suffering God brings upon Him. So also, do not flee the little sufferings God brings upon you. The suffering you bring upon you does not save you. It is ok to keep you in God’s Word but don’t abuse yourselves.
Jesus fights His enemies with His name - I AM. So also, Jesus fights His enemies with His Word. Government officials may take away your freedom of religion. Church officials may refuse to teach God’s Word. Yet, Jesus always lets His Word remain.
Finally, Jesus sets people free with His name - I AM. So also, Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. Satan, the world, and your own flesh may strive to enslave you to your fallen nature again and again. Yet, Jesus has let you go to be a people of God both this evening and forevermore.
So much for a brief look at the arrest of Jesus according to St. John 18:1-11.
Next week, we continue with Jesus’ trial before the religious authorities according to St. John 18:12-27; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, guard and protect your body and soul through Jesus Christ our Arrested Savior. Amen.