John’s Gospel, leads us immediately to the olive grove where Jesus was arrested. Our last readings had Jesus first telling the disciples about the events that were coming and then he prayed to God about what was coming and asked for God’s protection over the disciples. Today, Jesus purposely walks to the place where he knows he will be arrested.
Everything Jesus did was with purpose. He explained what would happen to the disciples and now the wheels are in motion. A fairly large group comes looking for Jesus and he asks them who they are looking for. When they say that it’s Jesus of Nazareth, he plainly states, “I am he.” They all fall to the ground. Did he look majestic there in the moonlight? Did he look Godly? How could they not see it? They apparently saw something.
John is sure to include here that Judas the traitor was with them. This was written by a man who loved Jesus. He was his friend and he wanted to be sure that all knew and didn’t forget Judas’ part in this.
Jesus tells them to let his disciples go. He was facing death, yet concerned about his followers. Christ sets the perfect example of selfless love.
Peter draws a sword. He’ll put a stop to this. He cuts off a servant’s ear. John’s Gospel is the only one that records that it was Peter who drew the sword. Luke’s Gospel reports that Jesus healed the man. Jesus rebukes Peter and tells him to put the sword away. This is God’s will.
One of the disciples went with Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest. That disciple spoke to someone and Peter was allowed in. A slave girl, the most lowly person imaginable, asks Peter if he is one of Jesus’ disciples. He says, “I am not.” He warms himself by a fire in the courtyard.
The high priest questions Jesus. Jesus tells him he has spoken openly in the synagogue and in public.He has done nothing in secret. Jesus says he should ask everyone who heard him what he has said. Jesus was then slapped, which by the way, was against Jewish law when dealing with prisoners. Jesus simply replies, that he spoke truth. They send him on, hands bound, to Caiaphas.
Meanwhile, Peter denies Jesus two more times and the rooster crows immediately. This would be a huge turning point in Peter’s faith. Jesus knew that Peter would deny him and he told Peter as much, but he also knew the pillar of faith as well as the pillar of the new church, that Peter would become.
Jesus is then taken to Pilate. Pilate tells them that if Jesus has broken Jewish law, then he should be judged by their law. In other words, if he hasn’t broken Roman law then there should be no Roman trial. But, the Jews didn’t have a right to execute anyone. They wanted him dead.
Pilate goes back inside and summons Jesus and asks him if he is the king of the Jews. Jesus wants to know if this is Pilate’s personal idea or if someone told him this. Pilate asks him how would he know, he’s not a Jew. He asks Jesus what he has done.
I have always really struggled with this exchange with Jesus and Pilate. I have always so badly wanted for Jesus to defend himself to Pilate, but that wasn’t God’s plan. Jesus’ self-control here is stunning. At any moment, he could have stopped it all, had legions of angels at his disposal, but he doesn’t. He willingly follows God’s will.
Jesus tells Pilate his kingdom isn’t of this world. Pilate sees very clearly that the Jews have trumped-up charges to have him arrested. Jesus is not trying to lead some kind of rebellion. Pilate tells the Jews he will let Jesus go for the Passover and they object. They want Barabbas released, a rebel and a murderer.
That’s where today’s reading ends. What do you think about Jesus’ arrest?
Have an awesome day!