Updated: Feb 19, 2020
January 26, 2020
Here's where we left off two weeks ago. We're moving from Jesus' arrest in Gethsemane, heading toward his trial. We saw how, in the garden, Peter acted rashly toward a guard. He cut off the man's right ear. In his rebuke of Peter, Jesus 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?
There are three teachable moments from what happened when Jesus was arrested.
First, who do we look to for power? That's a decision we have to make every day. Do I look to my own strength? Do I look to somebody else's
strength? Do I look to money? Where do I look for power in my life? This moment teaches us that there's power in Jesus' name. Did you catch what happened when the guard's ear was lopped off? Neither the soldiers nor their commander intervened. They deferred to Jesus. He spoke and had command of the situation.
Second, who or what do we allow to command us? That's a decision we face every day. Sometimes we listen to the wrong commands. We let the wrong things order us around. One of my favorites is "follow your heart." Really? The heart can be deceitful. No wonder sometimes we feel beat up at the end of the day. We're following the wrong commands. It happens to all of us. But praise God He forgives us and gives us new direction in life.
Third, who do we look to for protection? Of course, there are practical things, like insurance and locks on your doors and seatbelts, among many more. I'm talking about protection from sin and death. I'm talking about protection from worry and hopelessness. I'm talking about protection from doubt and despair. Jesus Christ, and him alone can protect us against things that torment the mind and spirit. You can't buy insurance to guard
your inner treasures. Only Jesus can do that.
There is power and protection and command in the voice of Jesus. That's what we saw happening in the garden.
Here's the funny thing we also saw happening. They all came to arrest Jesus, yet Jesus was the one in control. Jesus was arrested and yet he showed them who he really was.
After his arrest, we next saw Jesus face the religious court. Here's how it happened:
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 Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
- John 18:12-14
Why bring Jesus to Annas, the father-in-law of the one who was going to judge him? Because of who Annas was. From AD 6 to AD 15 he had been the high priest. Annas was the power-behind-the-power. He had set up how the temple functioned. He set up how money was exchanged and how sacrificial offerings were sold. He built the temple culture. After him, his sons and a grandson and now a son-in-law acted as high priest. Annas was always in the background. He was the power behind the power. And don't forget what Jesus did earlier in his ministry. Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers and merchants. He chased them out of the temple. Annas did not like that. It's never a good thing when the power behind the power is harboring a grudge.
Then an incredible series of events happened. They happened along every step of the trial of Jesus. It's funny how, in putting Jesus on trial for not keeping the law, they break the law. And not just once.
They didn't have the right number of witnesses in the trials they held.
The witnesses they had didn't agree on the basic facts.
Not only that, but the nature of the accusation was changed in the trial. That's not how things were supposed to be done. When they tried Jesus before the religious court they tried him for blasphemy. When they tried him before the Roman courts they tried him for treason. Why did they change the charge? Treason in the secular courts brought the death penalty. So they changed the charges.
Another thing we need to understand is that a person arrested for a capital crime couldn't be arrested at night. Jesus was arrested at night. They carried torches to find him.
Also, when someone was arrested on capital charges, no one who associated with the accused could participate in the arrest. But who was key in the arrest of Jesus? Judas, one of his disciples.
No Jewish trial could be held at night. All the trials were held at night.
The court was not to immediately pass judgment on a capital crime. At least one day had to pass. Any court passing immediate judgment was breaking the law.
Witnesses had to be called before a prisoner could be questioned. But
what's the first thing Annas did? He questioned Jesus.
A prisoner could not be asked a self-incriminating question. It was their fifth amendment. But they asked anyway. They wanted Jesus to testify against himself.
These moments laid bare the lawlessness and evil in men's hearts.
And Jesus knew exactly what was happening. Look at what happened, beginning with verse 19:
Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. "I have spoken openly to the world," Jesus replied. "I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said."
Jesus reminded them about the law. Who was in charge here?
Let's now look at their response:
When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. "Is this the way you answer the high priest?" he demanded. "If I say something wrong, " Jesus replied, "testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?" Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Jesus was slapped on the cheek. And what did he do? He turned the other cheek. Jesus didn't respond in anger. He didn't slap back. But neither did he back down. He said, I was right in what I said. Why else would you lash out at me in anger? Jesus didn't let anyone run all over him. He didn't back down from the truth. In love, Jesus said he was standing for the truth. Why strike out at that?
Annas knew Jesus was right, so he sent him on to Caiaphas, the high priest. And that's the end of the Jewish part of the trial. We don't hear any more. It literally would have been across the street from his appearance before Annas. Jesus went from Caiaphas to the Roman governor.
Here's what I find fascinating. As Jesus moved through these trials, he
looked more and more innocent while those trying him looked more and more guilty. Most people, most of the time, when treated unfairly would grow angrier and angrier. Every step of the way these people behaved wretchedly. Just awful. And when that happens to us, we get indignant. Sometimes we wonder why isn't God doing something about it. But the reality is, life is sometimes unfair. That doesn't mean God is uninvolved or loving you less. Don't ever forget that. The truth is, life isn't always fair. But as we learned last month, don't let life's unfairness crush your joy. Amen?
Here's what God does when life is unfair. He is always working for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Life is unfair. God isn't. God will always take the unholy and unrighteous things done and use them through His perfect power for His perfect glory. Right here in John 18, God is using the unfair and unholy things done to Jesus to get
Jesus right where he needs to be…the Cross of Calvary.
Make no mistake. We can already see the verdict in all this. It came before the trials were over. Jesus was innocent. The louder they shouted, the more accusations they brought, the more they tried to twist things, the more innocent Jesus looked by remaining silent. When they brought Jesus to Pilate, Pilate said, what charges do you have against this man? What were you arresting him for? Here was their answer…it was so telling…if he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you. That made no sense at all. But that was the pile they were shoveling.
Here's one thing we have to guard against doing. We should never look at these religious leaders and think, "Praise God I'm not like them." We have to guard against such arrogance. It is so easy to do what they did. They were just trying to protect what they thought was right. They were protecting the status quo. They were protecting their comfort. They were protecting their power. We've all struggled with that. At some point or another in our lives, we're all been there.
In one very real sense, every day Jesus is standing before us, on trial. What will we say to him? What will we do with him?
Here are some speculations we can make about why all these people - talk about group think - about why they rejected Jesus.
I think we can rule out intellectual reasons. It's not like they sat down and made intellectual calculations for or against Jesus. That's not why most people reject Jesus.
I think we can also rule out personal reasons. None of them had a bad encounter or negative encounter or hurtful encounter with Jesus. People might use that excuse today…they've known a Christian who has hurt them or they've been hurt by a pastor or someone else in a church…but that's not usually the main reason people reject Jesus Christ.
I think one of the big reasons people reject Jesus is because people don't want to change. The heart wants what the heart wants, right? Some people like the idea of Jesus, so they keep him at arm's length. Give me just a little bit of Jesus, but not too much to cause a stir. Jesus does bring change to people's life. Sacrifices and selflessness are prominent. But some people are comfortable where they are, thank you very much.
Here's something you might want to write down:
If I'm going to grow, then I have to embrace the change Jesus brings to my life.
That's where we're going to stop. We'll finish chapter 18 next week. In the meantime, here's a little homework. Think of three things God wants you to change about your life. Not things you want to change about other people. But yourself. Maybe it's a habit. Maybe it's an attitude. Maybe it's your job or a toxic relationship you need to let go of. Maybe it's a new, healthy habit God is nudging you to develop. Maybe it's that sin you hold on to that's not hurting anyone, and it's become like a pet. A pet sin. Maybe you've spread yourself too thin and you need to cut back. Think of three things God wants you to change in your life.
If you take that challenge, you'll probably be surprised at the great sense
of joy it will bring to your life. See what God is up to in your life.