A dreadful end to a very long day ~ Jesus arrested. John 18.1-14
It had been a very long day ... Jesus and all of his men were tired. The day had included Passover Dinner, Jesus washing each of the disciples' feet, his talk about leaving them to return to the Father, and the sudden departure of Judas from the room-which was really strange. There was the walk through the night out into the valley, where Jesus moved away to pray alone once he got to the garden.
John, the one whom Jesus loved, remembers, 'Jesus had asked us to wait, watch and pray with him, and we could hear him agonizing in prayer to his Father. But in spite of that, as tired as we were, as late as it was, we all fell asleep. Our Lord had to wake us up three times! The third time, as he was standing near us, noise split the quiet of the night as the clanging of metal and harsh voices could be heard approaching.'
'Suddenly hundreds of soldiers and some high Jewish officials came through the olive trees! The men were armed, angry, and aggressive looking from left to right as they surrounded us, with their torches in the air. There was one man out front, who seemed to be leading them ... Judas? I could not imagine what Judas was doing with these men. Jesus took control of the scene, stepped forward and asked who it was they wanted... knowing, of course, it was him.'
'Apparently, whatever Jesus had been agonizing about in prayer was over; there was only resolve in its place. When they said it was Jesus of Nazareth they wanted, my heart skipped a beat, as my thoughts raced round-'Wait! This is happening so fast. How could they want to arrest Jesus? What has he done, but preach and heal and point us to God the Father? What should we do? What should I do-anything? Should I step out in front of Jesus, and place myself between him and the soldiers?' Just then, Peter drew his sword and charged at one of the men, and cut off his ear. The Lord picked it up and reattached it. Yes, just like that.
But one thing struck me-he was one, they were many, but it was Jesus who was in control. He separated himself from us and submitted to his arrest, because that had been the plan from the start.
Then, they shackled our Lord, and lead him off into the night.
It was dreadful, I felt sick, but as I look back, it was as it was meant to be. Jesus has been arrested, aye, but it was all part of the plan.'
Maundy Thursday this day is called - pointing to Jesus' command for us to love one another; leading into Good Friday ... doesn't seem so good to me. And Jesus' arrest leads into a mockery of trials, both civil and religious in nature. Ultimately, Jesus is dragged a second time before Pontius Pilate, who thinks to find his way out by offering a boisterous crowd the release of one hardened, murderous criminal, Barabbas, or one who had just offended some of the Jewish religious leaders, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The people called for the release of Barabbas, and as for Jesus-they yelled, 'Crucify! Crucify him!' Even when Pilate asked, 'what has he done?' They yelled again, 'Crucify him!'
And so our beautiful, perfect Lamb, Jesus Christ, was beaten mercilessly. I have wondered if I would have spoken out in the crowd that yelled for his blood, in any of the ridiculous trials, or when he was being beaten ... truly, did anyone almost speak up for Jesus? I can't help but wonder what faces could be found in those crowds . . . was the blind man who sat by the gate of Jericho, given sight by Jesus just days before? And, where was Zacchaeus, whose life had been irrevocably changed by Jesus of Nazareth? 'And, how about his inner circle... where were the disciples? 'Lazarus-who he had raised from the dead? Did they almost speak up? Did they almost step forward?
Weak and near death from being beaten and from the great blood loss, Jesus was then nailed to the rough old wooden cross ... which was raised and then dropped into the rocky hole in the ground with a sickening, screaming thud. Because his heart is beyond good, and mine is not.
'Our Jesus on the cross ~ the once and for all blood sacrifice for you, for me, for our children and theirs. Yes, all so we can be made right with God--that's why we call it Good Friday.
God bless you, dear ones.