Summary: Jesus deliberately set himself on the course of sacrifice so that we can be reminded of His willingness to take our place
“Where It All Starts”.
For the next 10 weeks, and also on Easter Friday, we are going to focus our attention on the chapters 18-21 of John’s Gospel.
These chapters focus on the events from the time of the arrest of Jesus to the time when Jesus appears to His disciples after His resurrection.
Through these verses we are going to be reminded about the significance of the work that Jesus has done as our innocent and blameless King so that we have the ability to come into a fulfilling relationship with God in His Kingdom.
We are also going to see how we, as the disciples of Jesus, are commissioned to take this message out into the world.
All of the Gospels have a description of these events, but each of the Gospels gives us different unique insights. So, in the case of John, we get a lengthy teaching section in chapters 13-16, followed by the longest recorded prayer of Jesus in chapter 17. Some of these events take place in the room where the Jesus and the disciples had the Last Supper. But we also read in John 14:31 that Jesus commands the group to leave and go somewhere else—we are not told where.
The event which starts this teaching is very important.
We find it in John 13:21-30 (read)
Through these words John creates a bit of literary tension.
Jesus knows Judas will betray him – but no-one else realises.
Jesus effectively tells Judas to make sure he does betray Him.
Then Judas goes out of the room – and Jesus continues teaching from chapter 13-17.
The tension is … when will Judas betray Jesus?
So that is a bit of context and background. Now let’s read the text we are focussing on today.
John 18:1-11 (but include 12 as a transition)
Just before the arrest of Jesus Matthew, Mark and Luke all talk about the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, which is on the Mount of Olives.
John doesn’t say anything about it.
That doesn’t mean John has got it wrong, or that somehow the Scriptures are mistaken.
Rather John’s eye witness account has a different perspective.
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.
I wonder if anything about the location of Jesus stands out to you?
Jesus has not stayed in the city – where at the moment it is the Passover.
The historian Josephus tells us that
During Passover every inn was filled to overflowing and whoever had a bit of room in his house made it available to the visiting pilgrims, never accepting any payment. Many of the pilgrims set up tents in the squares and open places of town, living there during the entire pilgrimage.
Josephus guessed that the number of people in the city at the time was approximately 2.5 million people. Time magazine estimated that the normal population of Jerusalem in the days of Jesus was 80,000 … so during the Passover there is a 30 fold increase. If Jesus stayed in city with so many people the leaders would not have acted because Luke 22:6 tells us that 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. 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. Dark enough to quietly slip away up the hill and disappear.
They are on the Mount of Olives. It is called that because there are many olive trees growing there. This is what an olive tree looks like. You could easily hide yourself behind one of them couldn’t you.
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.
Most of you don’t know this but I kind of had an AFL career. When I say “kind of” I mean that I have an AFL Doppel-Ganger. His name is Matthew Lloyd from Essendon.