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The Trial [1-12-20]

Updated: May 12, 2020

January 12, 2020

"The Trial"

Beginning in John 18, we have the arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The last four chapters of John cover a lot of events that happened over a short amount of time. Chapters 1 - 17 cover almost three full years of Jesus' life and ministry, while 18 - 21 cover only a few days. We can see what's of utmost importance to John.

The great thing for followers of Jesus Christ is you don't have to celebrate Easter once a year. Like the old song proclaims, "Every Morning is Easter Morning." The resurrection is a yearlong celebration for us. It could be July. It could be January. We celebrate the resurrection. We celebrate it every day because Jesus is real in our lives. This is not a made-up story of something that happened a long time ago. This is a real story about something that happened and its truth continues to play out in people's lives. It's about what God wants to do in your life today. With as much clarity as imperfect people can muster, we're going to look at what happened in the last few hours of Jesus' life.

As we move into these last few hours of Jesus' earthly life, we're going to see some great truths about God's love for you and some great things God wants to do in your life.

In these final chapters, John doesn't tell us everything that happened. Since John was the last gospel written, he knows Matthew, Mark, and Luke have covered a lot of ground and people have already read and studied them. So John brings in a few things they didn't write about. Everything in these chapters shouts who Jesus is and why he was born. He was born to be arrested and put on trial and die on a cross.

So today, as we take a look at what Jesus went through before he went to the cross, we're going to do a lot of contrasting. John is going to draw a clear contrast between who Jesus is and who everyone else is. In the end,

we'll see who Jesus is even in the most difficult of times.

In contrast, we're going to see people at their worse. But the good news is…and God's Word is always good news…the good news is it's countered with the very best of what God can do. God takes our worse and

transforms it into His very best. Only God can do that.

We begin with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. John 18:1 says:

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.

John sets the scene for us. He gives us the physical context, which is going to be important to what we understand. John always draws these pictures for us. He wants to remind us that these things happened in history; they're not simply a story; they are anchored in historical settings.

Here's an interesting translation point. In many versions of John 18:1, there's a word in the original Greek text, "cheimarrou," that isn't even translated at all. It literally means "winter stream." Many translations, including the one I use, simply render it Kidron Valley. "Young's Literal Translation" gives the full meaning this way:

These things having said, Jesus went forth with his disciples beyond the brook of Kidron, where was a garden, into which he entered, himself and his disciples.

As we will see, it's important to know that a brook flows through this place. Remember that.

So, Jesus and his disciples were in Gethsemane. Gethsemane means "olive press." This was a place where olives are pressed and pressured so olive oil would come out. Jesus was going to be pressured and pressed in this garden moment. It was most likely a privately owned garden, by a wealthy citizen of Jerusalem. All the gardens on the outskirts of Jerusalem were owned by wealthy people. You couldn't have a garden inside the sacred city itself because laws forbade using fertilizer or manure of any kind. So wealthy people had gardens outside the city, where they could go and relax. We don't know who owned it, but it was where Jesus went during his greatest hour of need. It's funny how sometimes we don't know the names of the most significant people during some of the most significant


As they crossed the Kidron Valley, there's a reason John gave us that

detail. During the time of Passover, lambs were slaughtered in the Temple. It was the sacrificial lamb representing the sacrifice made at the first Passover, where the blood of the lamb was applied to the doorposts of the homes of the Jews so the Angel of Death would pass over their homes when delivering judgment on the Egyptians. Every Jew knew this. And here's the most important piece. This ceremonial sacrifice involved tens of thousands of lambs. And the blood from all those sacrifices would run off the altar in the Jerusalem temple and out of a tunnel and into a ravine into the brook of Kidron. So as Jesus and his disciples approached Gethsemane, they had to step over this brook flowing with blood in order to get to the garden. In other words, Jesus, the Lamb of God, who was going to be slain for the sins of the world, walked over a brook that smelled of water mixed with lamb's blood. What a picture of what Jesus was going to do. What a picture of his love for us.

As Jesus entered Gethsemane, he began a series of encounters. Each encounter was about people thinking about and deciding who Jesus was.

The first encounter was with a few soldiers. Here's how verse 3 puts it:

So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns, and weapons.

A detachment of soldiers was probably more than 20 but less than 200. Amazing they brought that many for an itinerant peasant teacher and his band of 11, many of whom were fishermen. There were at most a couple of swords between the lot of them. And here we've got temple guards and Roman soldiers sent to arrest Jesus.

So, they came for Jesus at night. They had lanterns and torches. I'm sure they thought Jesus might flee, so they would need light to search for him. How foolish of them.

In the face of this show of force, Jesus showed who he really was. Three things happened when this overwhelming force came to arrest Jesus:

Jesus overpowered, not in a physical way, this large group of soldiers.

Jesus commanded them. He told them what to do.

Jesus protected the.

Let's look at these points, one-by-one.

First, as we read in verse 4, "Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen

to him, went out and asked them, 'Who is it you want?'" How many people, if they know they are going to be arrested, approach the arresting officer? Jesus was confident of God's will in that moment. So he went out and asked them…because they didn't know what he looked like…who is it you want? Remember, they had lanterns and torches, so they could see him. And Jesus said, "I am he." With that, they fell to the ground. Jesus overpowered them. Not in an aggressive or violent way, Jesus overpowered them.

Why do you think they drew back and fell to the ground when Jesus said, "I am he?" Were they afraid they were going to be attacked? Did they think they walked into a trap? No, they were soldiers and armed guards. They're not assuming a defensive position. Jesus is just one man.

Jesus said, "I am he," and that's when they fell to the ground. Remember all the times in John's gospel when Jesus said I am…I am the good shepherd…I am the door…I am the light of the world…I am the resurrection and the life. As we saw, when Jesus said, I am, he was applying the sacred name of God to himself. By the power of Jesus name,

they were terrified.

Philippians 2:10 says, "So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Do you feel the meaning of it?

Here's the thing. I don't think there were any supernatural special effects happening. I think, in their encounter with Jesus, they felt the full weight of his personality and the power of his conviction. They got a glimpse into who they were arresting.

As they pulled themselves together, Jesus helped them regain their composure by asking again, "Who is it you want?" "Jesus of Nazareth," they said. And again Jesus said, "I am he."

The next thing Jesus did was he commanded them. He said, "If you are

looking for me, then let these men go." Arrest me but not them, Jesus

said. That was a command. And a strange one, at that. They were there to

arrest Jesus and yet he was telling them what to do next.

Then finally, Jesus protected them. He protected the soldiers and the guards and his disciples.

Here's what happened next:

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.}

Peter's intention wasn't to lop off the soldier's ear. He drew his sword and just as we was swinging for the man's head, the man ducked. What a detailed description. Clearly from an eyewitness.

Jesus then commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" Remember, Jesus was in charge and he knew what was going to happen. It had to happen like this. Luke's gospel adds that Jesus also healed the soldier.

Here's the point I want you to see. This is how Jesus protected his disciples. You've got one disciple swinging a sword wildly, and armed soldiers and guards now provoked. Who could protect these mostly unarmed and confused men? Only Jesus. And knowing he was going to the cross in a few hours - Jesus loved these people enough to heal an ear. Even as he was arrested, this shows who Jesus really is.

Let's end this section with an observation and then an application.

First, the observation. While he was trying to be courageous, Peter came across looking foolish. What did he think he was going to accomplish? Jesus knew what was happening. Jesus knew how the next several hours were going to unfold. Jesus did not need defending. Peter was always impetuous. And impetuous people usually come across as foolish people. So Jesus healed the servant and saved Peter's hide. That's the observation.

Now for the personal application. Author and pastor Ray Stedman once asked:



I have. You have. We all have. We think we're doing the right thing and in our zeal we do the wrong thing.

Centuries ago, someone once said, "I would rather face a thousand of the King's army than 100 Calvinists convinced they were doing the will of God." Just because it feels like the right thing to do, doesn't mean you have to do it. Just because you can speak your mind, doesn't mean you always need to speak it. Just because we have the correct theological thing to say, doesn't mean we always ought to say it. Sometimes we're like Peter…we think we're in the right but we do the wrong thing.

Look at what Jesus did. He saved Peter from himself. And as we're going to see later, he would have done the same for Judas, if Judas would have let him. Jesus has a way of saving us from ourselves. That's who we see here in John 18. Jesus is Lord. Jesus Christ is the Lord. And every day we have a decision to make. Are we going to let Jesus decide what he wants for us or are we going to decide what we want for us? Every day we have to decide that. Is it Jesus' way or my way?

Next week we'll pick things up with Jesus' arrest and trial.

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