with Alan Bailey
Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.
We have been reading the prayer of Jesus in chapter 17, and now we will read how the sufferings of Jesus began. Remember, He had warned His disciples about these coming events a number of times but they didn’t seem to understand. In each of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) the betrayal, arrest, trial, torment, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus take up a major part of their whole account. This is because we are looking at the most significant event of all of history.
Verse 1 When He had finished praying, Jesus left with His disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and He and his disciples went into it.
They had been in what we call the Upper Room, but now make their way across the small but steep valley on one side of Jerusalem, to the garden, known as Gethsemane. To this day, olive trees grow there. In other Gospels we read how Jesus prayed here, also, greatly troubled in His spirit about the ordeal He was facing. ‘Nevertheless, your will be done’ was the bottom line of His prayer.
Verses 2 & 3 Now Judas, who betrayed Him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with His disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
It is hard to understand the mind of Judas, one who claimed to be a friend of Jesus, but now betraying Him into the hands of those who wanted to kill Him. Judas had every opportunity to walk in a straight line yet he took the crooked path of treachery. The other Gospels tell how he warmly kissed Jesus to identify Him to the officials. By now it was very early morning – Jesus had not slept. Night had passed but it was still dark.
Verses 4 & 5 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to Him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’ ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘I am He,’ Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)
This is the beginning of the willing sacrifice of Jesus. At no point will we see Him resisting His antagonists. As the prophet Isaiah said centuries before, ‘He is led like a sheep to the slaughter.’ There was no attempt on the part of Jesus to avoid the cross.
Verse 6 When Jesus said ‘I am He,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.
Notice that something powerful made these soldiers fall backward. It was simply Jesus saying ‘I am.’ These words belong to God alone. He is the great I AM, the only true God.
Little did these people know how great was the wrong they were planning to do.
Verses 7-9 Again He asked them ‘Who is it you want?’ And they said ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ ‘I told you that I am He,’ Jesus answered. ‘If you are looking for me, then let these men go.’ This happened so that the words He had spoken would be fulfilled: ‘I have not lost one of those you gave me.’
There had been some hesitation, apparently because some were feeling afraid of Him, so Jesus spoke again, offering himself to them but asking that His disciples be allowed to go their way. The words which He had spoken previously about His disciples being saved are found in John 6:39.
Verse 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
It was never the Lord’s intention that his disciples should take up arms and fight. Peter was known for his impulsive actions and here is another case. You can imagine how he must have thoughtlessly swung his sword with a downward movement, slicing off an ear, though he could have easily killed the servant. Luke tells us that Jesus immediately healed the young man. It is interesting that his name is given, showing that we are reading actual history.
Verse 11 ‘Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’
Many times Jesus had had to rebuke Peter. As yet, it seems, the disciples did not understand that Jesus was not trying to conquer the world and rule over it. They felt that Jesus was worthy to be king over all people. True as that was, it was not the right time. Jesus had to die. By ‘the cup’ he meant the total sufferings that the Father had appointed for Him.
Verses 12-14 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound Him and brought Him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people.
Though it was early morning, and before the time it was allowable for a prisoner to be tried, they took Him to a house where Annas and the high priest Caiaphas were. To this point, no actual charge has been laid against Jesus and throughout the trial it not very clear to anyone what Jesus has been accused of. The note about Caiaphas giving a message about one dying for the people can be seen in its context in John 11:50. It seems that he was inspired to say it but didn’t know what it meant or its importance.
Verses 15 & 16 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, He went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there, and brought Peter in.
It appears that of all the disciples, only John and Peter followed Jesus. Apparently, the high priest knew John to some extent. How, we don’t know. John was bold enough to go into the courtyard, but Peter had to wait while John (John does not name himself here, but it is clear that John is intended throughout these chapters when he is just referred to as ‘the other disciple.’) spoke up for him and allowed him in.
Verse 17 Surely are you not another of this man’s disciples?’ the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, ‘I am not.’
Peter had followed out of loyalty, a loyalty he had earlier promised the Lord. But now he has just walked through the gate and his own trial begins. He is identified. But he denies that he is one of the disciples. In other places, Peter would be the quickest and bravest. Here, he is afraid and weak. No doubt learning about himself. Jesus had even told him that he would deny knowing Him three times. (See John 13:38.)
Verse 18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.
We can be sure that Peter is now in a situation he would never have dreamed possible. He is standing with those who are ready to condemn the Lord he loved. He shares their fire for warmth, pretending to be one of them rather than one of Christ’s.
There is a challenge in this for us. Today, many oppose Jesus and all who follow Him closely. We have a choice. To give our allegiance to Christ and stay with Him at all cost or to weaken and give in to the world around. For some, it is a choice to be made almost every day. To stand true, or to surrender to the enemy.
We need to pray for strength from God to be faithful in all circumstances. To say ‘Christ for me and I am not ashamed of Him.’
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