24.5 John – Three Words

I love the beauty of words in the Gospels especially in situations of parallels like we see in John 18.

When the soldiers come for Jesus, he goes out to them and asks who they seek.  When they answer, He responds with three words, “I Am He”.  Twice he says these words and twice they fall back through the power of these three words.  On the third time, He is taken and the disciples flee and darkness is at hand.

When John is hiding in the midst of the soldiers he too is confronted and he too responds with three words, “I am not.”  Twice it is recorded that he says these three words and upon the third denial the cock crows as prophesied by Jesus.

Jesus, though captured, walks and speaks in the light of truth.  John, though free, hides in the darkness attempting to blend in with those who betray Jesus.  Jesus, though showing extreme restraint, is fully in control.  Peter has lost control of his tongue and his will and his confidence and his strength.

What three words will you choose when confronted about your faith?  Will you fall into Peter’s temptation of “I am not.” And assume a position of weakness in the face of darkness.  Or will you follow the example of Jesus and profess, “I Am His”?

As Jesus shows, the path of following Him is not an easy path.  The world will hate those who profess they belong to Him because they first hate Jesus.  But, it is the right path.  It is the path of perpetual light.  It is the path that allows us to walk side by side with Jesus and be with Him for all eternity.

It is also the path that Peter turns back to, as chronicled in the book of Acts.  It is the path he followed when he enters the house of Cornelius.  It is the path that leads to his own death on a cross, and it is also the path that leads to his name being written on one of the 12 foundation stones of the New Jerusalem as noted in Revelation 21.

What three words do you choose?  Jesus Loves Me? I Am His?  Jesus, forgive me?  Lord save me?  I am saved?

My Answers:

11.
Fear, concern, reaction.  He ran away from the Lord and tried to hide among those persecuting Him.

Stay with Jesus no matter what.  Avoid those who persecute Jesus.

12.
Daily

13.
It was Jesus’ most recent prophecy.  The entire night was about the fulfillment of prophecy, both old and new.

24.4 John – A slap in the face

While Jesus is in the “court” of Annas, one of the men present doesn’t like the words or tone that Jesus is using and physically rebukes Him by slapping Him in the face.

This horrifies us to think of a man, any man, raising his hand to slap God in the face.  But is this really so different than the slap in the face of Peter’s denial of Jesus?  In John 13 Peter argued with Christ that he would die rather than deny Jesus, but in these same verses where Jesus is being physically slapped by a member of Anna’s court, Peter is in the act of denying Jesus.

Isn’t it something each of us do when we argue with God?  When we decide we know more about how things should be and begin thinking of prayer as giving direction to God to “get on board’ with our plans and back us up?  Isn’t it what we do when we use God’s name in vain?  When we try to bargain with God in prayer?  When we say one thing and do another?  When we profess to be in the light, but secretly turn to the darkness as soon as no one is looking?

I think part of the reason this scene in the courtyard is so striking to us is because we too often see that our place in the narrative is not Annas, not Jesus, not the soldiers by the fire or the girl by the gate, but the 2 people we relate to the most are Peter and the slapping courtier.

But, these two men also provide a contrast in what they do after the slap.  Peter repents and turns back and becomes a cornerstone in the church, whereas the man in Annas court would have been one calling for Jesus’ crucifixion and not an individual we ever hear of becoming a part of the church.

Just because we have sinned, even as grievous of a sin as slapping Jesus in the face with actions or words, we have the opportunity to follow the example of Peter, repent and become restored and strengthened and to strengthen others through the process.

My Answers:

9.
Arrogant, illegal, pompous, evil

10.
He was truthful through and through.  He did not shy from the truth and pointed out that He taught openly daily.

24.3 John – Message to the Zealots

In each generation there are code names for political thought that carry significant meaning at the time, but may become lost to future generations.  Take terms like liberal or conservative.  These have meaning to us today.  But will they mean the same to future generations?  Nazi, Whig, Rabbits, Mules.  Some have meaning today, some we have not idea what they were or what they stood for.

Take the Zealots of Jesus time.  This was what we might consider a radical group of Jews who held to the idea of an earthly Jewish King who would come in power and glory and defeat the Romans with power and might and the sword.

Interesting to note that Jesus’ Apostles weren’t all the fishermen we often think of.  They also included Matthew, the tax collector who had served the Roman government and Simon the Zealot, both of whom had been in the room with Jesus while he prayed and both of whom would be among the disciples who would scatter this very night.

But in this hour of darkness, Jesus holds out a very special message to the zealots of the day.  Jesus makes it very clear that it is by design and fulfillment of the scriptures that God has chosen for Him to be taking this path.  It is not because of weakness.  With a word, legions of angels would appear in full battle regalia.  Jesus specifically tells people to put away the sword and, in a bigger message explains that those who live by the sword die by the sword.

While we may not see the meaning, it would have been clear in that day and age that Jesus was sending a message to the Zealots – I am the Messiah, and we will not be attacking the Romans with sword we will be attacking and overcoming death with His sacrifice on the cross.

My Answers:

6.
He turned Himself over willingly.  He asked that all others be released.  He told Peter to put away the sword.

7.
That when He rose from the dead He would go to Galilee, that all would fall away, that He prayed in the garden and they kept falling asleep, that He saw His betrayer coming, that He was betrayed with a kiss, that He commanded Judas to do what he came for and called him friend, that He had legions of angels at His disposal, that He didn’t call them so scripture would be fulfilled, that all the disciples deserted Him

8.
It was fully within His control.  He willfully submitted to to what must transpire

24.2 John – The light of truth

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Seek Unity and you will find neither Unity nor Truth.  Seek the light of truth, and you will find Unity and Truth.”

The truth of these words is magnified in the actions of Jesus in John 17-18.  Jesus prayed to the Father for unity of believers, not just with each other but in Him as He is in the Father and the Father is in Him.

But, in the hour of darkness, He demonstrates that the path to unity is not by yielding to darkness or compromising with evil, but by shining the light of truth.  Jesus is truth.  He told Thomas, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

Jesus was alone with His accusers.  You or I could have been tempted to yield, to hedge our statements, to cushion the words to paint them into shades that could have allowed the darkness to hide within.  We were out of earshot of our followers.  But, not our Lord.  Jesus knew and showed us that the path to what He seeking, the unity of the Holy Spirit, is not found through darkness of any sort, it is found only in the light of truth.

My Answers:

3.
He went to a place known to Judas, He approached (not run away from) the soldiers, He announced Himself to His would-be captors, He told Peter to put away the sword, He said “shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”, He went with them

4.
We see that He was slapped and that He will be beaten, tortured and crucified.  Everyday He had taught in the open, not hidden.  But many other times, when it was not “the hour” Jesus had walked away from those who sought to hurt and stone Him.  This time the hour of darkness had come and Jesus allowed Himself to undergo all their wickedness

5.
Even in the face of unlawfulness and abuse and ridicule, Jesus spoke only the truth.