John 18 Part 2

Resumed from part 1


So you recall that? I think for a very small moment, maybe just a few seconds, they saw that glory and then it was closed again, but it was enough to cause them to fall backward. To show again, that Jesus’ authority was so awesome, so powerful, that no one could take His life from Him. Recall that He said in chapter ten, “No one takes My life from Me, I lay it down on My own initiative. I have the authority to take it up again. This authority I received from the Father.” No one killed Him. He laid down His life.
So, if you asked, then, who killed Him, in one sense we are all responsible for that, but in the other sense no one killed Him. If you understand what is going on here, He hung on the Cross not because of the nails but because of His love. That is what kept Him to the Cross.
So, He clung to that Cross, knowing that was the purpose for which He came. Continuing, in verse seven, “He again asked them, ‘Whom do you seek’? And they said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene’.” I rather suspect they were quaking, to see if it was going to happen again. “Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way’.” So, immediately He is thinking about the needs of His disciples. He does not want them to be arrested, “To fulfill the word which He spoke, ‘Of those whom You have given Me, I lost not one’.”
So, He protects His disciples. However, what Peter does now is something that could have led to real trouble. In fact, he could well have been arrested at this point. He had a sword and, “He drew it and struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his right ear, and the slave’s name was Malchus.” I suppose he meant to cleave his head but he didn’t have good aim, but in any case, he cuts off his right ear. This becomes Jesus’ last miracle before His resurrection. He takes the ear and puts it back. In so doing, by the way, He averts an almost certain arrest for Peter. Besides which, it is truly an amazing event and they don’t know what to make of it.
So, this healing was an act of grace toward the disciples, especially for Peter, and it is also, of course, for this servant named Malchus. So, in verse 11, “Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it’.” There is a parallel account, back in Matthew 26, verse 39.
But, John does not record the agony of Gethsemane in the same way the Synoptics do. We know, prior to this particular event of His arrest, that Jesus went to pray and He said to them, ‘“My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death. Remain here and keep watch with Me.’ He went a little beyond them and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’.” Those are the words that made the difference, “Not as I will, but as You will.”
Frankly, that surrender, that submission, to the will of the Father is really what discipleship will ultimately be about. There will be various submissions along the way, but at the end of the day, He wants us to continue to submit to His will. Again, there is a phrase from a prayer I have given you before, but I will give it to you again, “Grant that we may love and desire what You promise.” It is a very insightful prayer. To love what He commands us, is to trust that what He commands is always in our best interest. To desire what He has promised is to be convinced that what God promises really will bring about our hope rather than buying into the fleeting promises of a dying world.
So, there is a huge difference between the two. So, the drinking from a cup is often used in Scripture to indicate suffering and sorrow. It is found in Isaiah 51 and Jeremiah 25 in that way; drinking of a cup is one of sorrow, suffering, and wrath. Jesus has compared His own sufferings to the drinking of a cup and also to the experience of a baptism. If you go to Mark chapter 10, verses 38 to 39, it shows us, “Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking’,” and remember they had made this modest request, to sit, one on His right and one on His left, in His glory. I love that audacious request. Jesus said, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
I love what they said. “We are able.” They have no idea what they are talking about. Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink, and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.” In other words, they themselves would suffer martyrdom, just as Jesus would, because of the testimony of the resurrected Christ. When He instituted the supper, He compared the cup to His blood shed for the remission of sin. This cup was the new covenant in His blood. It was a blood covenant. Apart from the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness, no remission of sin.
So, what we are seeing here is a submission to the Father’s will that is reminiscent of Psalm 48: “I delight to do Your will, O my God. Your law is within my heart.” I must tell you that God, our Father, will give us some cups and He will prepare them for us in love and in the long run they will never harm us, though we may suffer pain and heartbreak. Eventually, He will turn this suffering into glory because the story is not over yet. How it ends, really, determines the whole.
So, if we see they are part of a process that leads to a greater good, then the best analogy to use is that of a father who has to hold his own son down on the table in the doctor’s office so that the doctor can give him a shot. The son looks at his father and wonders why he seems to be betraying him. He has no category for understanding, at that age, why it is necessary for him to go through this pain. If he sees his father’s tears, he also knows his father loves him and does this because it is necessary for him.
Do you see the point here? If that is true of an earthly parent, the point here is that when he has to do that it is for a greater good. If the son had not encountered that pain, what would have been the consequence? He would have suffered from a terrible disease or possibly even have died. The point is that there will be things in a fallen and disease-ridden world where pain is involved, but the pain brings us to transformation. You will recall that I said before there are two basic principles when it comes to suffering. One is the principle of substitution and the other is the principle of transformation. Substitution is where you are having trouble and you are hoping that God will substitute and give you something else. If your toy is broken, He will give you another one.
But, transformation happens when we go through the pain and we discover that He uses this to transform us just as when a woman experiences pain in labor, she has sorrow, but when the child is born she forgets the pain experiences the joy of a child that has come into the world. Pain is very brief but joy endures. In fact, the ultimate example is that the pain and sorrow in this world are as a tiny moment when compared to the joy of eternity. There is no comparison.
Recall what Paul said in Romans 8:18. “I consider the sufferings of this present time not even worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Pain is momentary in life, but glory has weight and is eternal. The pain is only a little while, the glory is everlasting. That is the perspective that we must understand. Why do we have to have this pain? Our Father knows what we need, even if we do not understand it. We would choose the lesser good, God would choose the greater good because He knows that pain can be an instrument to forge a Christ-like character in our life by causing us to become more dependent on Him.
So, there is a whole process that we go through. So, there is a sense in which we also experience a cup. Now, I believe that we will either hold a sword in our hand or a cup in our hand. Look at it that way. We will either try to resist what is happening or you will surrender to it. Frankly, it goes on to describe a trial that is mentioned here. It says, in verse 12, “So the Roman cohort and the commander and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him, and led Him to Annas first; for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year. Now Caiaphas was the one who advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people.”
So, there was an illegal and brutal trial that took place and Christ began as One who suffered wrongfully. He committed no evil and no sin was found in His mouth. He suffered sinlessly, silently, and as a substitute, because there was a redemptive dimension to His claim. It continues on, in verse 15, “Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest.” This was probably John. “But Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought Peter in.” Now frankly, Peter followed the crowd. He would have been better off fleeing because Jesus said in verse eight, “If you seek Me, let these go their way.” It talks to the idea about how, if you strike the shepherd, the sheep will be scattered.
Fortunately, had he gone his way, he would have never denied the Lord, but by doing this he has put himself in harm’s way. Have you ever allowed yourself to gradually move into a place of temptation? Have you ever put yourself in a compromising situation, where you make it easier for yourself to be in a position to where it goes beyond your ability to restrain yourself? You don’t want, for example, to put a person who is addicted to gambling in the middle of a casino. There are some things you just don’t want to do. You don’t want to hand a bottle of liquor to a person who is an alcoholic. You see where I am going here? There are obvious things that you don’t want to do. A person who has a sexual addiction shouldn’t be dropped off next to a porn house. Those are all obvious examples, but there are more subtle things we can do so that a person begins to compromise himself. You must allow yourself enough margin, and you know your own convictions, so you must be a safe distance in order to flee the temptation. Remember Psalm 1:1? Turn with me to Psalm 1:1, because there is a good analogy here.
This Psalm invites us to see the consequences of walking with God or rejecting God. Verse one says, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” He doesn’t walk, stand, or sit with them. Then it says, “His delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law, he meditates day and night.” It also goes on to say just how fruitful that will be. Here is what happened, though, Peter stood at the door, and was brought in by “that disciple, who was known to the high priest,” and then in verse 17, “The slave-girl who kept the door said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this man’s disciples are you’? He said, ‘I am not’.” That is the first denial.


Continued in part 3

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