One man's view of theology, sports, politics, and whatever else in life that happens to interest me. A little bit about me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

TOMS: John 18

For an introduction to this series, click here.

May 17, 2007

This chapter tells how Jesus was betrayed and arrested. John gives us more details than the other three Gospels. John is the only one who mentions that Jesus asked the crowd that arrested Him, "Whom do you seek?" They replied, "Jesus of Nazareth." When Jesus said, "I am he," they fell backward to the ground. John also records the name of the man whose ear Peter cut off: Malchus.

Honestly, my theory of Judas' reaction and my theory of Peter's reaction are similar. Peter and probably all the disciples were thrilled with the Triumphal Entry. Here it was the Passover, and all Israel was in Jerusalem. And here comes the moment they have been waiting for: the Messiah coming to set up the kingdom. When it became obvious that Jesus was not going to claim the kingdom, Peter and the disciples want to claim it for Him. But Jesus tells him, "Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?" (18:11)

And of course we have the story of Peter denying Jesus. I really like Michael Card's take on Peter's denial. It's not that Peter was afraid or ashamed; it's that Peter was disappointed in Jesus. They were so convinced that Jesus was going to set up the kingdom, and now here He is offering no resistance as He is being arrested. Peter was saying, "I don't even know the man anymore."

Whatever the motivation, it should be said that Peter's denial is not in the same league as Judas' betrayal. Judas' denial was premeditated, pre-planned and coldly calculated to inflict the most damage upon Jesus. Peter was caught in a moment of weakness. He certainly had no plan to deny Jesus - in fact, a few hours before he had been boasting that he would follow Jesus even to death. It is instructive, I think, that all four Gospels mention Peter's betrayal. It is a comfort to all who fall short in their faith in a moment of weakness or persecution. Peter was restored, and we can be too.

After Jesus was questioned by the Sanhedrin, He was taken before Pilate. Here John gives us a detail that Mel Gibson missed in his movie and the irony is so rich that it should have been mentioned in the movie: "Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor's headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor's headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover." (18:28) As I remember it (and I admit it's been quite a while), the movie shows the Jews, including the council members right in the courtyard of Pilate's house. Here is the irony: they were busy committing the greatest crime of all time, and they were worried about keeping clean for the Passover. So they all congregated in the street outside Pilate's house. Pilate had to go out, probably to a balcony facing the street, to where he could talk to them.

In Pilate's house, Jesus does nothing. He talks about His kingdom not being of this world and bearing witness to the truth. Pilate seems amused by this and asks the rhetorical question, "What is truth?" (18:38, ESV) It's not that Pilate did or did not believe Him. It's just that most people don't deal in truth. Jesus did, but truth is not very well defined. Politicians like Pilate certainly did not deal in truth. Politicians deal in consensus and compromise. Here was this man spouting all these things about truth and a spiritual kingdom as he is being arrested (I'm talking from Pilate's perspective here) what else would you say?

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