Summary: Jesus deliberately enables Himself to be arrested, showing that He is totally in control of the situation. In doing so Jesus demonstrates that no one who is in God’s family will be lost.
You can listen to the full message here:-
“Where It All Starts”.
For the next 8 weeks, and also on Easter Friday, we are going to focus our attention on the chapters 18-21 of John’s Gospel as we look at the Passion of Jesus and His willingness to give His life for us.
We are entering the story at the point where Jesus has just finished praying.
The prayer is in John 17 and it is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus.
Then the events which lead to His death start … and they flow very quickly.
Let’s read Scripture… John 18:1-27.
Since we don’t really keep a map of first century Jerusalem in our back pocket let me put up this helpful map gives us a clear understanding of where everything is.
The group comes out of the city, across the Kidron Valley – and over to a garden on the Mount of Olives.
Putting the towns in context here is a map showing the local area.
I wonder if anything about the location of Jesus stands out to you?
Maybe these factors will help.
So it is a quick walk from the Mount of Olives to Bethany … an easy get away.
Additionally while Jesus was in the city He is also safe because, as Luke 22:6 tells us, the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard wanted Judas to hand Jesus over when no crowd was present.
They are outside the city at night at the Mount of Olives. Jerusalem is an ancient city where street lights have not been invented yet. So, even if there is a full moon, it is going to quite dark. They are outside the city amongst an Olive grove. You could easily hide yourself behind an olive tree then quietly slip away up the hill and disappear.
John 18:3 tells us that Judas was leading a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Have you ever listened how far a man’s voice travels at night … even when they are talking in a normal voice? You would easily have a good 100 metre start to get away and disappear.
Jesus is out of the city, in the dark, able to flee, with a good head-start. There is only one reason why Judas finds Jesus on that night … it is because Jesus is allowing Himself to be found. Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples says John in verse 2.
What does this tell us?
Jesus stepped into the process. Deliberately. In complete control.
Jesus did not begrudge the fact that He went to the cross. Rather He chose the path knowing that this was the way for His spiritual brothers and sisters to come into the family of God.
Jesus did this because He knows us.
He knows how we think and the truths we hide.
He knows the masks we put on and the pretend answers we give.
He knows how our minds think and the difference between what we say and what we do.
The short-comings of your life. The sin you allow to determine your actions. The failings you desperately try and cover-up. He knows it all.
1 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep … 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
(John 10:1-2, 10-11)
Jesus knows … and Jesus goes. Our Good Shepherd in complete control.
Which brings us to the confrontation.
The Greek word used to describe the detachment of soldiers means, as a minimum, 200 men and possibly up to 600 men.
Which sounds like a lot of people for such a small task.
But the Romans were always keen to have the strength of numbers in every situation, especially when the possibility of a riot could occur.
We see this happen in Acts 23.23 when Paul is transferred from Jerusalem to Caesarea.
Claudius the commander sends “a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen”.
So when the arresting group arrives it is not even a contest. 200 verses 12.
Actually it is 200 verses 1.