Summary: In one step across the Brook Kidron, Jesus changes history for ever. Are you willing to follow?
Part 1: God Delivers Himself into the Hands of Angry Sinners (John 18:1-11)
Rev. Mark A. Barber
The Gospel of Mark mentions that the last thing that Jesus and the disciples did at the Last Supper was to sing a hymn. As this was the Passover meal, we know that Psalm 118 was one of the psalms that would have been sung or chanted. If we were to look at the psalm, we would immediately recognize the verse that says “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” as the praise chorus we open every Sunday worship service here at the Hills church. It helps us to set our mind on the service. But there is a lot more to the psalm than this statement. Verse 26 states “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD”, a verse that should remind us of what the crowds on Palm Sunday shouted as Jesus approached Jerusalem on a donkey from the Mount of Olives. The psalm also talks about a man in distress petitioning the LORD for and thanking Him for deliverance. What is most interesting about Psalm 118 is that right before we read about the day that the LORD has made are the words: “The stone the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner” (AV). This verse was quoted by several New Testament writers as prophecy which predicted the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish nation, and his subsequent exaltation by God. So we can see that the Day that the LORD has made does not refer to a day in general in which people come to worship the LORD. Rather it refers to a particular day, the day in which Jesus would be rejected, crucified, and buried in a garden tomb to be resurrected and exalted on the third day. Come and follow me as we look at this Day, the Day that the LORD has made.
When we say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, we are attaching significance to what is by itself insignificant and making it stand for the whole. But without taking of the first step, the rest of the journey cannot be undertaken. Many of us can remember the day that the first astronauts landed on the moon in 1969. We can remember the words Neil Armstrong said as he made the first step ever onto the surface of the moon: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. With this one small step, the course of history was changed forever. History records that when Julius Caesar defied the Senate of Rome and crossed the Rubicon River, Rome was changed forever. But these steps pale in comparison to the step that Jesus was about to take.
Jesus and the disciples came to the brook called Cedron. It wasn’t much of a brook this time of year and would soon dry up completely as summer’s scorching heat came. So it was no Red Sea or Jordan in the time of flood that had to be miraculously divided. It was a steep descent to the brook, but the brook was easily crossed, perhaps with only a single step. In fact, the only liquid flowing in the brook may have been the blood of the slaughtered Passover lambs from the nearby Temple complex.
The brook had been crossed before by Jesus’ ancestor, King David. He crossed it to escape the wrath of his son Absalom. But Jesus by taking that one little step goes to accept the wrath of His Father. In one step, Jesus seals his fate. If he turns back, then he will find refuge with the pilgrims in the city. If he keeps on going to the desert, he will find safety. But Jesus is not interested in His own safety.
Across the brook is a garden. The other gospels call the place Gethsemane which means “olive press”. This according to Ray Van Der Laan was an underground olive press carved into the bedrock itself. It was big enough to provide shelter at night for Jesus and His disciples. But by going there this night, Jesus was going to his grave. The pit which was supposed to be their shelter for the night was known by Judas, who up to that night had sheltered there with them. But Judas was out gathering a large force, a cohort of crack Roman legionnaires as well as the Jewish Temple guards. They soon will cross that brook after Jesus. But Judas does not know any more than David’s son Absalom that crossing that brook will seal his fate. Soon like Absalom, and perhaps even before Jesus breathes His last breath, Judas will hang from an accursed tree between heaven and earth, pierced, dead, and with his bowels exposed. Unlike Absalom, there will be none to mourn him.