“When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then he asked again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me shall I not drink it? Then the band and the captain and the officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphus was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.”
“I remember March 30th, 1981, where I was when the report came to me, I was coming up from our track field at Wells High School in Maine, and somebody mentioned that President Reagan had been shot. And because of just the emotion of that moment, the traumaticness of the moment, I remember what I was doing at that moment. [Same thing for me when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot, live on television, and how they kept playing it over and over again, shortly after President Kennedy had been assassinated.] I guess sort of like some who are a little older with President Kennedy, when he was assassinated. I guess I’m too young to remember that. In fact, I don’t even think I was born, that was in 1963, so that was before my day. But I remember talking to my Dad, and he can remember being in a barber’s chair somewhere like in Louisiana, and upon hearing the news that President Kennedy had been assassinated. I also remember vividly January 28th, 1986, walking down Commonwealth Avenue in Boston on the way to one of my college classes, and some student passing the other way said, “Hey, did you hear that the Challenger Space Shuttle just exploded?” [I remember right where I was standing at my job in Warren Communications, and who was around me.] So like so many others in the country at that time, I found the nearest TV and sat there glued to the TV and watched the reports and the faces of the seven who perished, and of course, one was a civilian in that case, one young teacher. I think she was from New Hampshire [Christa McAuliffe]. And then of course September 11th, I think that the memory will never go away. Just such a traumatic moment, driving to church, clicking on the news on the radio real quick, then hearing the reports coming through about what was going on in New York City, and then the Pentagon, getting to the church and finding a TV and trying to get some tinfoil and rabbit ears somehow to get a reception, with my family watching the fuzzy broadcast of the reports that were going on that day. And then yesterday, I guess for many of us, we’ll also have memories of yesterday, getting up and getting started in the day, and then my wife mentioning to me that it might snow today, so turning on the radio, I want to hear the weather report, instead hearing some things about NASA and the Space Shuttle, and then as it went on I said to my wife, “Did the Space Shuttle crash or something?” And then of course turning the TV on and then seeing the newscast that indeed the Columbia had, you know, that whole disastrous event that happened yesterday. And then of course, like many Americans, glued to the TV again and watching the clips and listening to the stories and seeing the faces of the different people. Of course, this particular one stood out too in the sense that there was an Israeli, the first Israeli astronaut. So, another one of those days. I guess you could say, and we’ve used this term now since September 11th, but another of those “Ground Zero moments” for our nation. Sadly another Ground Zero moment for the nation of Israel also, I guess we could say especially a Ground Zero moment, a personal Ground Zero moment yesterday for seven families, seven families and their friends and co-workers there at NASA. Of course our hearts go out to them. Well, the reason I start with that, of course, this is where we are as a nation in these hours, considering all that just happened yesterday. But it’s interesting to me too that we now come to the time in the Gospel of John where we come to the Ground Zero, this is another Ground Zero moment, at least for a dozen guys it’s a Ground Zero moment. We’ve been reading about it, and of course John and his narrative, and Jesus has been preparing for this moment, and we’ve been leading to this moment. Now we’re at this moment. John chapter 18, it’s a Ground Zero experience indeed for some of these men, these twelve men. A little bit like yesterday, from 8:53 a.m., you know there at the NASA control center, data coming in, the disciples have had data coming in for awhile, they haven’t completely processed it and understood exactly what was going to happen, they knew something was going down, and not really getting the full weight of what was going to happen. And of course it was a little bit like that yesterday for a few minutes at NASA, and then it all began to sink in, as far as the full weight of what took place. Well, John 18, now this moment arrives, and sort of like the Columbia yesterday, the lives of these men start to come apart, you can say. Things in their world literally start to break loose. And I am sure that these twelve men will never forget this hour, they will have vivid, those color memories of this hour, because it’s such a dramatic moment for them. I’m sure the rest of their lives that will follow from this point on, they will be able to recall this very vividly. Now as we consider this hour, this Ground Zero moment for the disciples, and even in our nation, what can help us in those times in our lives when we encounter those Ground Zero moments? What can help us when life seems to break lose on us? Well I think as we go through the narrative here, at least through verse 16, that’s where we’ll stop this morning, there are things I think we can learn from, we can, well, if we apply them, consider them in our lives, it will help us when our world also seems to fall apart on us. There are three points we’re going to look at this morning together. Let’s say a word of prayer, and we’ll get started with verse 1. ‘Lord, we thank you that we can be here together this morning, even with the snow, and I thank you for these precious brothers and sisters, that snow doesn’t deter them Lord. They want to be together, and they have a heart to be near you, and fellowship with believers, and to learn, and to feed upon your words. So I thank you so much for that. I also thank you Lord for those that are listening through the radio, I know on days like today a lot of folks don’t make it to a church, some here, some other places, and they tune in. And we ask Lord that you would just speak to all our hearts. Of course as a nation it’s one of those moments again where we’re considering things about life, watching people that are hurting because of sudden changes that have come into their lives, just a traumatic moment. So we’re considering these things, and here as a church this morning we can consider the same with 12 disciples, the followers of Jesus Christ. So Lord, minister to our hearts. Maybe there are some listening right now, some present with us that are in one of those Ground Zero moments, one of those seasons. Or maybe they’re soon to enter a season, and you want to use this study to prepare them for it. I thank you Lord that you’re so gracious that you’d do even that. But Holy Spirit we pray you’d be upon all of us, and upon even myself now as we go through your Word, in Jesus name, amen.’
What to do when your world falls apart---ground zero moment for the disciples
Chapter 18, verses 1-9, “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. And Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees came there with lanterns, torches and weapons. Jesus therefore knowing all things that would come upon him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ They answered him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am he.’ [“he” is not in the original Greek, so in reality, Jesus said “I am”, which is one of the names of Yahweh, cf. Exodus 3:13-14.] And Judas who betrayed him also stood with them. Now when he said to them, I am he, they draw back and fell to the ground. [KJV, “they went backward, and fell to the ground.”] Then he asked them again, ‘Who are you seeking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you that I am he, therefore if you seek me, let these go there way’, that the saying might be fulfilled he spoke, ‘Of those whom you gave me, I have lost none.’” Well we see here, verse 1, when he says ‘When Jesus had spoken these words he went out…’ Now what is he referring to, where are they that he would say here, ‘They went out’? As you remember, as we’ve been studying these last couple chapters, back in the end of chapter 14, Jesus there at the upper room, there at the last supper [Passover meal], gave some exhortations to the disciples, and then he said to them “Arise, let us go from here.” So it appears at the end of chapter 14 they get up, and began to make their route to the Garden of Gethsemane. And so chapter 15 and 16 as they’re going, Jesus is sharing. In chapter 17, praying, as they’re enroute, at least it appears that way. Maybe what happens is they stop along the way, as Jesus then prays, and maybe discusses, as we talked about the engravings on the temple gates. And now they go on from there and they cross the Kidron. It is possible though that when he said ‘Arise’ there in chapter 14, they just stood up, and maybe he continued to talk a little bit, then said the prayer, and now they actually leave the room. I note that to you, because we mentioned it before. But either way, all that we just read, that whole discussion, certainly happens before they get to the brook Kidron, as it’s noted here, they come to this brook. Now if you have the King James, the brook Kidron says it is the brook Cedron. And the word literally, Kidron, in the Greek means of the Cedars, so you have ‘brook of the cedars.’ So in the King James, Cedron is a little bit closer to that thought. It can also mean evidently, some commentators say it could mean ‘murky river’. They come to the brook Kidron. Now there’s a picture here historically, we know some of the historical background, I know many of you do, that if you just read this through, you don’t necessarily see the full force and picture of some of the things that are going on. But this brook Kidron, it’s very possible, there’s a very powerful picture here. And that is, at Passover time, all the Israelites, they would have the Passover lamb that they would bring to the temple, and the priests would sacrifice these many Passover lambs. Now we don’t know the population at this time, although Josephus gives us some estimation of that. Now if you remember back in 2nd Samuel 24, David tried to take a census, and God judged the nation of Israel. So for that reason, the people of Israel didn’t take any more censuses as far as population. But the Roman authorities certainly wanted to know, get a sense of what the population was, so they would count these Passover lambs that were offered on the Passover, and based on the law that you could have up to ten persons per lamb, they would estimate the population. So we know how many lambs were sacrificed that year according to the historian, the Jewish historian Josephus. There were 256,000 of these lambs sacrificed. 256,000, I mean, a hundred thousand would be a lot to kill in one day, but 256,000. Well it’s believed, now the brook Kidron is very close in proximity, goes by the eastern wall, very close to the proximity there of the temple. It is believed that the overflow of all this blood would make its way into the brook Kidron. So the picture, historically that we get when we read this, is he comes to this brook, he steps over this brook, now you wonder maybe what’s going on in his mind as far as thoughts. Because potentially, this brook is just filled with blood, the blood of 256,000 Passover lambs. Now he is the Lamb, Passover Lamb, he’s the fulfillment of that, he’s the Lamb of God. So, he comes to this brook, maybe it’s just bloody red. You wonder what his thoughts would be. Maybe there are other thoughts too, you know, David, maybe Jesus considered this thought too, this great king, 2nd Samuel chapter 15, verse 23, there was the whole attempt by Absalom to take over the kingdom, and the kingdom of Israel rejected David at that time, he left at least a good number of people, and he left with a band of people that did follow him. He walked out of the city, and it says in 2nd Samuel chapter 15, he crossed over the brook Kidron. So here’s Jesus, the King of kings, also being rejected by the people. He’s got a band with him that are his followers, and he also comes to this brook, and maybe is reminded too of that tremendous event in David’s life. And of course he is the fulfillment of God’s promises to David, this seed of David. We’re told there in verse 1, they head to the garden, that is the Garden of Gethsemane we learn in the other Gospels. Now what you may not know, but historically there is evidence that there on the Mount of Olives, the wealthy people had these various gardens. Of course, we would assume they would be fenced in and potentially gated. Evidently there was some sort of ordinance in the city of Jerusalem that you couldn’t use fertilizer. So they would go, the wealthy people anyway, to the Mount of Olives, and they had these gardens that they would take care of. So they come to this Garden of Gethsemane. Now Jesus has access to the Garden, maybe it’s gated, maybe he has a key, and there’s this sense that he has a relationship with somebody whose wealthy, we know of that in other parts of the Scripture. There’s people that do follow him that would have been wealthy---you know, Joseph of Arimathea---have some financial means. But he goes to a garden, one that they visited a lot. And when we go to the nation of Israel on our Israel trips, we go to a garden right there on the Mount of Olives, and you can look up to just a tremendous view of the Old City, right there before you. And you can very easily imagine, because you have the Dome of the Rock where the Temple was, and it’s just a short distance away. A very awesome view of the city from there. So, I could understand why Jesus would go there and pray with the disciples, you know, pray for the city, and be there together in private. So they go to this garden, we’re told in verse 3. Judas comes, the one who betrayed him, Judas Iscariot, he understood that Jesus would go to this place. Interesting, he discerns something about his heart, he knows at this particular time he would go there. Jesus was certainly a man of prayer as the Son of God. So he goes there, and he’s come up with a plan, as the other Gospels tell us, we’ve seen a little bit already in John, he comes up with a plan with the religious leaders to betray Jesus into the hands of the religious leaders.
How big could this detachment of troops have been?
Now he comes, as we see in verse 3, with a detachment of troops. Now that word “detachment” in the Greek is the word speira and that word signifies there was a good group of soldiers. It isn’t like maybe some of the videos where you see just a handful, couple torches making there way up the Mount of Olives, there were a lot of soldiers. In fact as you see later, even the Captain of the Guard, the same type of position that worked with Paul later in the book of Acts. So, a leader amongst the soldiers and these officers with the Pharisees and the troops. So there’s a lot. That word speira often refers to six hundred, it means one tenth of a legion, which is six thousand soldiers. So there may have been six hundred. That’s probably a real good guess. [Strongs Greek # 4686: “speira”; a coil, a mass of men…a squad.] There are some instances in history where it’s used to refer to a unit of 1,200 soldiers and 200 cavalrymen, 200 guys on horses. And in some instances it’s used to refer up to 1,600 soldiers. But anyway, you’ve got hundreds of soldiers at this point in time. You may not have realized that when you read that. There is a large group of soldiers that come armed, that come with the Captain of the Guard, that come with the religious leaders, to come and arrest Jesus. And you can only imagine how traumatic that would be, to have that experience, to be standing there realizing that these guys are coming for you, and they come armed, come with torches, they come at night. That’s certainly an intention that they have. Obviously, just imagine what starts to go down in the minds of the disciples as they see this all transpiring before them. Now they come with these lanterns and torches. If you want to get a picture in your mind, you can also note that it’s a full moon. We know that, because the Passover was on the Jewish calendar in the first month, on the first full moon, or it would be in our fourth month on our calendar. But so it’s a full moon, and you know, even around here I like when it’s a full moon at night as far as parking one of our vehicles in the driveway, sometimes an outside light doesn’t come on, and on a full moon you can see pretty well. So it’s that type of thing, it’s a full moon. So just to get a picture in your minds eye.
Who’s in charge?
Verse 4. “Jesus knowing all things that would come upon him…he’s clearly understood it, and he’s tried to help teach the disciples about what’s to happen…he went forward and he says to them, ‘Who are you seeking?’…Now when you read that, you don’t have any sense that there’s fear with Jesus, in the sense that he wants to run away and flee. In fact, as you read this narrative and with other narratives, I mean, you really see, who’s in charge---it’s Jesus. These guys come with all these troops and things, and you would think that it would the other way around. But he’s really the one in charge, as the Son of God. He’s really orchestrating the moment, there’s no doubt about it. But there’s a confidence in him, there’s really no sense of being overtaken by fear. And as it says there, Jesus knows what’s to come. He understands. He knows the future. He understands God the Father’s plan. He knows God the Father’s intention. Of course, we know in him, as we’ve studied him, he has perfect trust in God the Father, his heart, his love, his will. So you have that sense as you read this narrative. He comes out and says “Who are you seeking?” And as you go on, and especially when you put the other Gospels together, there’s things that he says that clearly, there’s a sense of confidence rather than being overtaken with fear. And that leads me to my first point.
1. We must be the master of fear and not be mastered by it
When we come to those times in our lives, those times when it seems that our world is falling apart, things are breaking loose, one of the things that we can note that will help us, and it’s my first point, and that is, not to give into fear, not to give into fear. Of course we’re human and we have that emotion, and God has given us that emotion, and it’s a good emotion. It’s one thing to experience it for a season, and to respond to it. It’s a whole another thing to be overtaken by it, and to get into that physical state where you’re being consumed with fear. I was watching the news a little bit yesterday on the Columbia situation, and I thought of the attitude there of Milt Heflin, maybe you saw him too, as NASA was having their little briefing with the Press, and he’s the chief flight director at NASA Space Shuttle Program. Very emotional clearly, very much grieving for his friends, in fact he referred to them as family, he described, he and Ron Ditterman, a program manager of the Shuttle, both of them said that “at NASA we are a family, we are so close, we have a mission and a passion together.” So they were emotional, he was clearly emotional, but then went on to say that his attitude, and the attitude of NASA, was that they weren’t going to be crippled by this disaster. But as it’s always been the case in the past, the attitude was “let’s fix it, and let’s move on ahead.” So, not giving in to fear, but saying, “We’re going to fix this problem, and we’re going to move on, even though it isn’t easy.” No doubt, when you have six hundred soldiers come your way to arrest you in the middle of the night, man, that can be a terrifying experience. And we have those sort of experiences too in our lives, things just start to come down, man, they start in various ways through phone calls, through visits from the police or whatever it is, things just start to happen, and suddenly there’s this traumatic event that we’re in the midst of, maybe that we didn’t expect at all. But we can’t let fear, we can’t let fear master us. We have to learn, even in that, it’s a healthy emotion, but we must be the master of fear and not be mastered by it. And you know what I mean when there’s a significant difference, in these seasons as Christians we need to learn all the more to draw near to God in prayer and meditation of his Word, realizing that God does have a perfect plan for us. And that nothing comes our way by accident. That things really haven’t spun out of control, really they are in God’s control, completely in his hands. But these disciples, man, I can only imagine the emotion that must be gripping their hearts. But God, Jesus, has even prepared them for the hour. He’s been talking about it, he’s been preparing them for it. So it isn’t something that has just come out of nowhere, that they hadn’t been prepared for. In fact, he earlier warned them. But in the warning he also gave words of encouragement. Luke chapter 22, verse 32, he said to Peter, “Peter, I’ve prayed for you, that your faith should not fail. And when you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren.” So, earlier, he gave tremendous words of encouragement. He warned Peter that Satan was going to try to sift him like wheat, ‘but at the same time, when you return to me,’ meaning ‘you’re going to get through it, and when you get through it, and I use it to build you up, and sustain you, and strengthen you, and perfect you, strengthen the brethren.’ You know, I say this because we also, each and every one of us can know that anything that comes into our life God has ultimately allowed. He’s also prepared us for every single hour we face. It may not initially seem that way, but you can be sure, that anything you face, even now or next year or later this year, God has prepared you for it. That is a truth of the character and heart of God. My pastor, Mike, recently wrote a book, and if you’ve never read it, it’s quite a good book, it’s called “When Your Farts…Falls, excuse me, when your word [loud laughter], you know, I always like to throw in a little humor, just to make sure you’re listening [laughter]. Oh man, sometimes it’s just embarrassing to be up here. Anyway [loud laughter]. But let’s get back on track, Mike M, in his recent book “When Your World Falls Apart”, great book, if you’ve not read it, boy, I think it’s great for counseling, great book, man. The truth is, all of us have those experiences. And if you haven’t been there yet, you will be there eventually. You will have those times where it seems like things are breaking loose on you, when you’re completely in over your head, completely overwhelmed for a moment or for a season [yeah, when your wife of 19 years deserts you, try that one on for size]. And there is that sense that fear is just so overwhelming. But you can know that God has prepared you for it. He’s made you ready for it. Here’s Mike M. in his book. “If you’re feeling ill prepared to deal with your Ground Zero right now, I’d like to give you hope. At this moment, you undoubtedly believe nothing could possibly have prepared you for what’s happened to you, but you’ll soon find that God, a God who loves you, who knows the emotional, physical and spiritual trauma you’re now experiencing, has prepared you. As you pray, as you face the tragedy, whatever it is, you’ll find yourself drawing on reservoirs of knowledge, experience and understanding you may not have even known you had. Be forewarned, your reservoirs probably won’t be enough. But that’s said to bring hope too, for God is there to make up the difference. There’s no way he’ll let you down.” So, in those times, as Christians especially, we have the means not to be overtaken by fear. We can certainly struggle with it, and some things are so traumatic and come into our life, and we’re human, but to be overtaken by it, overcome by it, and to stay in that state can become dangerous. To the Church in Smyrna Jesus said this, I mean, he was preparing them, he said “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested. And you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful unto death, and I’ll give you the crown of life.” He says ‘Don’t fear, you’re going into troubled waters, be faithful unto death---but don’t fear, don’t fear.’ God preparing them. ‘Indeed the devil is going to throw some of you into prison. You’re going to be tested, have tribulation.’ You know, I was looking through some old newspapers, a friend gives me some of the old papers, so I kind of read through them just to keep up on things. I’m a little bit behind because I get them a couple weeks later, but I was reading through one even yesterday. And just the emotion of the photograph caught my eye, and you know, honestly as I was reading it, not even necessarily knowing where I was going to go with today’s message, I ended up praying out loud as I saw it, I said “Oh Lord, be with those people, why did that have to happen?” But I was reading about that situation, I didn’t hear about it until then, the situation recently in Lawrence, just before Christmas , four young boys falling through the ice and drowning. You know, one fell through and three tried to save him, and they all drowned. And there was a picture just catching the force of that, in the sense of the funeral and the moms around the coffins, and just the trauma, you could see it in the photograph. And then the newspaper in the article there, I’ll quote to you, second page, December 20th. “Later at a cemetery, mourning cries filled the frigid air, and friends and emergency personnel carried several women away, including one mother who strained her armed backward towards the gravesite calling for her baby.” So just, they had to get people to help them, you know, just to get them into the car after the cemetery service. And I would say, I would, I can’t ever relate, I would be there too, I’m sure. I mean, that’s being human. But it is dangerous to stay there. It is dangerous to stay there. I think then of the superintendent of schools in Lawrence, the whole school system was of course in a state of grief, with four kids. But he exhorted the city, he called to them, he said in one of these services, he said “To find healing and God’s grace and the memories of the boys we must struggle to lift the dark cloud that has covered our city for the past days.” ‘We must struggle, and move ahead, to lift that dark cloud.’ So the same type of thing as Milt Heflin said yesterday, you know, ‘We’re going to go ahead.’ And we need to have the same---through the power of the Holy Spirit---the same attitude when these things come, that we’re going to get up, and we’re going to move on. You know, ‘we’re going to go ahead.’ And we need to have the same, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the same attitude, and we’re going to move on, and that we’re not going to let fear take us and keep us down. Because that’s a dangerous state to be in.
Again Jesus is in control, if he has any fear it’s in check
Now, in verses 5-6, they answer Jesus, as he says ‘Whom are you seeking?’, they said “Jesus of Nazareth.” And he said to them, ‘I am he.’” Now when he says ‘I am he’, you can see in your translation [King James Version], probably the word he is italicized, and that is because it doesn’t exist in the original Greek. What he says is “I AM”, I AM is what he says here. He actually uses the name of the Eternal God, Yahweh, is what he says, I AM, and we’ve seen that repeatedly [see Exodus 3:13-14], he says I AM, I AM. And now he says “I AM”, and so wow! Picture it, I’d like to see this video, because he says “I AM”, and what happens, I don’t know, you can just imagine torches going to the side, the clamor of armour, swords kind of flipping around, and they all seem to draw back and fall down, six hundred guys. One guy says “I AM!”. Now if he can just say “I AM” and have that kind of reaction, you can know that Jesus could easily have gotten out of the situation. He could have just said “I’m not doing this, done deal, you’re not taking me as the Son of God.” But he doesn’t. He doesn’t. He willfully goes ahead. He desires to please the Father. He also understands the plan and purposes of the Father. So he does not resist. So verse 7, I mean, they get back up, as they’re getting up---that’s why it seems he asks them again when he says “I AM”, after he says “Whom are you seeking”, they all kind of fall down, all these soldiers, and he says again as they’re kind of getting up, ‘Again, who are you seeking?’ “And they said again, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’” Good thing he didn’t say “I AM” again, I mean, he could have just kept going I guess.” [like Mel Brooks might have portrayed it in a movie] But it’s clear, I mean, especially with these guys sprawled out on the ground, he could have moved on. [Just like he always managed to slip through an angry crowd as if he was invisible.] But he chooses not to, and then he responds and says “I’ve told you that I am he, therefore if you seek me, let these go their way.” (verse 8) Now, what we don’t have in the narrative here is the Judas kiss. Of course that’s an important part of the story, and you see it in Matthew chapter 26, and Luke 22. Judas comes, and in an amazing way, I mean, Jesus even says “Friend, friend,” knowing that he’s coming to betray him. And the signal was that he’d give a kiss to the one that was Jesus, that was the signal to these soldiers and to the Pharisees and the officers. And that happens, and we don’t have it here. John chooses not to include it in his narrative. Well, these things, he says, “If you seek me, let the disciples go.” We’re going to talk a little bit more about that in a moment. Even in the midst of this, you see that God’s hand of protection is with the disciples. They may not realize it. But he’s got the thermostat control in his hand, that’s for sure, as far as how much the heat is going to be turned up for ‘em. Well, this was to fulfill the Scriptures, and we’ve seen prophecies already, referenced about that. And then verse 10, “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into the sheath, shall I not drink the cup which my Father has given me?’” You know, we can knock Peter, but what a brave guy. Maybe there’s 1,600 soldiers in front of him, and Pharisees, and officers and things. I mean, 1,600, I mean, that’s a lot of people…[tape switchover, some text lost]…I regret and do things I didn’t want to do, just in the emotion of the hour, maybe the fear of the moment, reacting in the flesh in one way or another. I mean, that’s, you could say a normal reaction. But we can say too, it’s a great danger if you stay in that mode. It’s one thing be caught in the heat of the moment, and then to see what you’ve done, step back and repent. And if by the power of the Holy Spirit we can completely avoid that altogether, that’s even better. But it’s a real danger to get in that mode of the flesh and stay there. It is a real danger. In fact, it can be absolutely disastrous. And that brings me to my second point. And especially as I consider that Jesus reaches in and touches this man’s ear and heals him. What also can we learn from this narrative about when those times come and our world starts to fall apart, what can we also learn. And the second point is:
2. We need to allow God to heal our hearts
Simple point, but it’s true. Allow God to heal our hearts. And I tell you, that should ring through the churches. And maybe there’s people here that have heard this but it just hasn’t come down to the heart level, because there’s still healing that you need in your heart from a traumatic time. You got into the flesh, you’ve stayed in the flesh as far as in regard to that event. And now today you’re greatly affected by it. And the way we’re affected by it, is when we get into the flesh and stay there [with an unforgiving attitude] is how bitterness develops, we become bitter. We start fighting back. Yelling at God or shaking our fist at God, or maybe somebody’s hurt us and we’re angry at them, and we stay that way. And it’s a real danger when you stay that way. And I pray if you’ve been in that state, that God would speak to your heart even now, because you’re living one of the most miserable lives if you’ve stayed in that condition. [Sometimes the healing takes a long time, as with a divorce, and the healing is not something that you can do alone, but God does with us over time. Just give it time and pray about it, and trust God to do the healing.] Mike M. in his book, same book, he tells of a story. You know, he went down, September was his month with the Sierra team, this national team, that whole thing that happened with the World Trade Center, and those planes, within an hour. Mike that month was wearing a beeper, part of this national team, 8 men every month, on call if there’s ever an aviation disaster, they would come as Chaplains to minister to the people. And so Mike had his beeper on September 11th because it was his month. He’s in Los Angeles, and within an hour that beeper went off after the first plane had crashed, and it was six in the morning, he got woken up, and made the call to Washington, and the message was “There’s been an aviation disaster, a plane has struck one of the World Trade Center Towers, you need to be on a plane within four hours to come out here.” It turned out it took him three days because they grounded all the planes. I think eventually he got on a military transport. But within three days he was there, to see the horror. He was there for two weeks, worked a lot in the morgue, worked with the grieving Firefighters. On one particular day he was in the morgue, and in his book he tells about just the horror of the moment. In fact, he says “When I got there, how could I have been prepared for this?” And then he says in the book, “that God did prepare me, there were things that God had taught me earlier that now I could be strengthened through and be used as a vessel to minister to others.” But anyway, one evening at the morgue, he strikes up a conversation with a Police Officer, a forty-year-old lady from Puerto Rico, she’d been with the NYPD I believe 19 years. And this lady had had a tough life. And this event of September 11th wasn’t helping. But he began to talk to her, and he says she was attractive, looked like she was 25, but she was 40, outgoing, outspoken lady. And they started to talk, and she realizing he was a Police Chaplain she started to open up her heart, and began to shed tears and things, and he just ministered to her. But she said earlier, a year earlier, within a year earlier, her husband had left her with the kids, and had left her for another woman. Not only that, he pretty much left her fending for herself. And she shared that no matter how hard she worked, no matter how much overtime she put in with the force, she couldn’t make it financially, it’d been a rough year. And she had very little time with her kids as a result. And Mike says, as she began to share her story, she began to be more and more animated, heated up, more angry, and he said “she was bitter”, it was pretty clear. In fact, he writes “I could see it in the hardness of her dark eyes, the sharp downturn of her mouth, she spoke a certain way. This woman was bitter for what had happened...” And he continues, “…bitter about her failed marriage, about how the bum had treated her, about how he hardly ever spent time with the kids. When he did, he gave them gifts he couldn’t possibly afford, bitter about her finances, her lack of them, bitter about this terrorist attack sending shockwaves through her life.” And so Mike just began to minister the love and grace of God.” And this lady eventually broke down, completely crying, as he just told her about how much God loves her, that God wanted to heal her heart. And I tell you, there’s I’m sure some listening in right now, that you need to allow God to heal you. You’ve reacted in the flesh, and man you know, we’re human. Right? Things happen, traumatic things. Sometimes they come as instruments somebody else has brought, and we react a certain way in the flesh. And it is so dangerous to stay there, bitterness is the worst life. I’ll quote to you Mike M., he says this “Perhaps your story is not too far from my new friends”, referring to this lady, “or maybe it’s completely different, but the effects are the same. Anger, a sense of betrayal, helplessness and hopelessness, bitterness. But as bad as bitterness is, we could probably live with it if we could contain it, sweep it into life’s small corners, then get on with it, enjoying the rest of it. But we can’t contain it. Bitterness might start out as a little blemish on an otherwise joyous life, but it grows and it hardens. It sends out tendrils and roots that touch, then influence, then strangles other parts of our lives, bitterness towards her husband, tainted Maria’s relationship with her daughters, tainted her work-life, undoubtedly tainted her days off, holiday vacations, even her time with friends, certainly the relationships she had with her male friends was soured. Bitterness hardened her heart and sapped her joy.” Sapped her joy. So maybe you’re here this morning, and God says to you, he says, “I want to heal your heart”, because he’s a God that heals. And how does he heal? Two ways, through repentance, repentance that I’m bitter, but also forgiveness, where you’re willing to forgive. And the Word of God says “Why can’t you forgive? You’ve been forgiven of much more in the eyes of a Holy God.” Jesus said to Peter, he said “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which my Father has given me?” That is an amazing statement. We could do about twenty Bible studies on that, couldn’t we?
Jesus humbly accepts what he could have resisted
So clearly Jesus perfectly trusted in the Father’s will and love for him. So there’s this incredible sense of submission and humility in accepting the cup that God has for him. And what a cup, we never drank, any of us, we never drank a cup like this that he’s about to drink, where the entire sin of the world is put upon you. And you know, you think about that, and we’ll get there. The magnitude of what Jesus is about to take on, there is that sense even, that he’s the Son of God, perfect trust in the Father, but yet on the cross, what does he say? One time he says “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” So in the humanness as the Son of God, there is that sense too, of the magnitude, the weight of what took place in his life as he was on the cross. But here, he humbly accepts the cup. We see in other Gospels, we see in other Gospels as I’ve noted, he could have easily resisted. In fact, Matthew chapter 26, verses 52 to 56, Jesus said at this point, he said this to Peter “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think I cannot pray to my Father and he will provide me with more than twelve legions of angels?” So he knows, he says to Peter, ‘Put your sword away, I don’t need you Peter, I could call on 12 legions of angels, ten thousands of ten thousands of angels that would come and deliver me at this very moment. [Lets analyze this: One Roman Legion was composed of 6,000 foot soldiers. 12 x 6,000 = 72,000 angels. In the Old Testament, God sent one angel to defend Jerusalem against the Assyrian army, and the evening before the battle was to take place, that one angel slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Just think what 72,000 angels could do (take on the whole Roman Empire, probably).] But he doesn’t. He could. Now if you or I were in the same place, I mean, I could say “Angels, come on, I need 12 legions, right now, I’m outa here.” You know, he could do that! Truly, but he chose not to. It said he accepted the cup the Father had for him. I think that’s a great next point. And may we learn to do the same.
3. May we learn to drink whatever cup God has in store for us
May be learn to drink of whatever cup God has in store for us, sometimes they’re cups of joy, and sometimes they’re cups of heaviness and grieving, and all to the good, all to the glory of God. You remember in the Garden, Luke chapter 22, verse 42, in the Garden of Gethsemane, we don’t have it in the narrative here, just prior to Judas coming with the troops he was in prayer [about three hours in prayer---John’s narrative doesn’t record that], and he said “Father, if it is your will, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” ‘Yours be done.’ There’s a sense of brokenness there, of true humility. And that leads me to our next point. When we come to these times where our world seems to fall apart, there is another thing we can remember, and that is to humbly accept what God has for you. Humbly accept whatever it is. Accept it, to say ‘I’ll drink the cup, I’ll take it. I accept it God. Humbly accept it. That is a heart of brokenness. And rather than being stiffnecked and resisting, brokenness yields us to say ‘I accept the cup.’ I’m flexible, I yield. And brokenness is better, that’s for sure. Brokenness is the exact opposite of bitterness. And brokenness keeps us soft, and keeps the joy of the Lord in my heart. And brokenness really is flexible and it’s yielding, but it’s actually very strong. [Comment: This is a law found in nature as well. A sapling which is flexible in a hurricane just bends over, whereas a solid tree that doesn’t flex will often be blown over. Inflexible masts on a sailing vessel often snap in two when too much sail is on them during a hurricane. Aircraft wings must flex up and down in order that they not snap off. Sometimes on larger aircraft, the wings will flex as much as six feet up and down. Tall sky scrapers are built to flex in the wind by at least that amount or more for the same reasons.] So maybe you’re in a time in your life, and there’s a cup that’s come your way, maybe it’ll come later this year, maybe at another time. And you have the choice, you have the choice, you can accept it, you can resist it and become bitter. I pray all of us, maybe you’re in one right now, you’re like ‘Oh, I just don’t want this, I don’t like it’, but you know, you’re making it doubly hard on yourself. You can humble yourself and say “I accept it, I accept it. God I know you’re perfectly good. I love you, you haven’t forsaken me. I accept it. You’re going to work it somehow to the good in my life.”
Detachment of troops arrest, take Jesus to Annus and Caiaphus---historic background
Verses 12-14, “Then the detachment of troops, and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him, and they led him away to Annus first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphus who was high priest that year. Now it was Caiaphus that advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.” So they now take him, they take him to Annus, whose the father-in-law to Caiaphus the high priest, and we could talk a little bit about this guy, this guy was wealthy, this guy had made some bucks by selling “certified sacrifices”. He’s the guy who set up little tables there where the money changers were. You came to the temple, you had to get one of these certified sacrifices, you couldn’t bring one of yours, because they’d find a blemish on it, and you had to pay an exorbitant amount of money, and he was making a good wad of cash. So historically he’s a wealthy man. He’s a man that’s got a certain heart, he’s been taking advantage of people. We know historically, fifteen years before, he had fallen into disfavor with the Roman government, but we also know he had five sons. And because of the disfavor they eventually put his five sons, one at a time, in a short amount of time, put them into the office of high priest. But in time, all of them came into disfavor [the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree], so his son-in-law Caiaphus, Caiaphus married his daughter, and then the Romans appointed Caiaphus then as high priest. They wanted a guy who would work for them I guess. But the Jews didn’t recognize Caiaphus, and that’s why I mention it. They didn’t recognize him, he was appointed by the Romans. So that’s why they go to Annus, who previously had been the high priest. They recognized his authority. And then there’s a short little time, and then he does send him [Jesus] onto Caiaphus. And it says there, this is the one, interestingly, before the Sanhedrin, the whole little confusion with Jesus and what to do with him, and he said “it’s expedient” John chapter 11, verses 49-50, “You know nothing at all” he said to the Sanhedrin, “nor do you consider that it’s expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” ‘But one should die for the people’, and as John notes earlier, that was prophetic. He doesn’t understand what he really is saying [at that earlier time]. Verses 16-18, “And Simon Peter followed Jesus and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple who was known to the high priest went out and spoke to her who kept the door and brought Peter in. Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ Now the servants and officers who made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold and they warmed themselves, and Peter stood with them and warmed himself.” I know we’re getting close to the end of our time. I’m going to make a couple simple points. And I’m tempted to stop and pick up next week, and you know what, why don’t we just do that. Why don’t we just say a prayer…[transcript of an expository sermon on John 18:1-16, given somewhere in New England.]