Day 18 – Nick
Summary of Chapter 18
Verses 1-14: Two gardens are separated by a dark valley – sound familiar? Jesus leads His men from the scene of the Vine discourse, through the Kidron Valley, to the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would be arrested. It was a place that the company often went to because Judas knew it well (verse 2). The betrayer Iscariot led a detachment of Roman Soldiers to their secret lair, complete with weapons and torches. It was night time and they evidently expected a fight. (see verse 36).
Jesus asks a question that hurtles through the ages and vaults off the page of the Bible,
Who is it you want?
It’s a bizarre question because the answer was obvious. Or was it? Jesus asks it again after the detachment have picked themselves off the ground having been floored by Jesus’ revealed Majesty. ‘Who is it you want?’. I’m not sure what Jesus is getting at here. Are you? Perhaps He was simply wanting them to know Who it was that they finally ‘had’. (This was the Lamb of God, remember, the One Who takes away the sin of the world – 1: 29 – and this was the way the Lamb was to be led to the slaughter).
The question lands with me again, as it will do more through Peter’s life: ‘Nick, who is it you want?’. Do I want a Jesus moulded by the social narratives of our day? Do I want a Jesus diluted by the political correctness of the instituted religions of the world? Do I want a Jesus that keeps me all warm and fuzzy? Or do I want the ‘I am’ Jesus, the resurrected, glorified Christ who is nothing like how I often imagine Him to be; Who is altogether more lovely, more powerful, more awful, more frightening, more lion-like than I could imagine. When a new vision of Christ begins to dawn in our lives, we are doing well to be on our knees.
Verse 12 is highly significant. Remember all the times before when the Pharisees wanted to arrest and kill Jesus? But couldn’t because He mysteriously evades them? Well, here is one of the worst verses in the whole Bible for me,
Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound Him.
The Maker being taken captive by the made – the absurdity is palpable. It’s something like Superman losing his powers to kryptonite but infinitely worse…literally. This shouldn’t be happening. It can’t be happening.
But it’s vital to remember Jesus’ words from 13:3 at this stage, mainly because Jesus did,
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;
So, in verse 11, after Malchus’ ear has been chopped off, Jesus simply says,
Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?
Verses 15-18: Notice in this short section that, prior to his first denial of Jesus, Peter is comforting himself by the warmth of a fire. What might this fire represent in your life, today?
Verses 19-24: Before Caiaphas, the high and obliviously prophetic priest, Jesus is being grilled by officials. We wince when Jesus is slapped. We gasp.
Verses 25-27: Now almost like a scene from 24 with multiple plot-lines, we cut back to Peter’s incongruently comfortable moment warming himself by a fire. For the second and third times Jesus is denied from the lips of Peter. Though inexcusable, imagine Peter’s fear. It would be like you or I stood with a company of IS terrorists being asked if we were with Jesus. *Who is it you want?*
Verses 28-40: It makes sense that this is the longest section of the chapter because Jesus’ dialogue with Pilate is important to the whole gospel of John. Recalling John the Baptist’s “Behold the Lamb” from Chapter 1, Pilate is the second person to prophetically herald the Lamb of God to be looked on but only unintentionally. (See 19: 5). Pilate seems to be agonisingly close to actually ‘beholding’ Jesus, seeing Him for Who He is, but, in the end, was complicit in sentencing Him to death.
The call to ‘behold’, to ‘look’, is not random or incidental; it is a gracious Father from heaven calling His children to receive the Son. The Old Testament fore-shadow of this scene and, in some ways, the whole gospel, is found in Numbers 21:9,
So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
The thick irony of verse 28 makes me feel sick,
Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the place of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the place, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover
Is there a more ironic verse in the whole Bible? I don’t think so. The verse that this is personifying is 2 Timothy 3:5 (NLT),
They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
Jesus couldn’t stay away. The cup that He’d been given by the Father to drink was to submit Himself to them.
Key thoughts from Chapter 18
- Who is it that we want? It would be good to spend time meditating on that question connected with Peter’s denial. Have we come to a place of being ‘floored’ by the greatness of the Lamb in our lives? That would lead us to death if required?
- Comfort is a killer of our radical discipleship. Peter’s ‘radicalisation’ hadn’t happened at this point. Chapter 21 is coming but, here we are in John 18, looking at a man conquered by comfort and fear.
- How is it that the Pharisees could have been so blind? In denying the power of the form of godliness that they proclaimed, they, along with Judas, were consigned a place among the dead. Instead, we are called to 2 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
Prayers from Chapter 18
Father, please forgive our half-heartedness in following You. Cause us instead to burn for You with unquenchable fire and to fearlessly make known the gospel as we should. Thank You that we have been invited and allowed to share the Passover with You and to not miss You while You’re right in front of us! Oh, God…help us to see how close You are by Your presence. Thank you that though we stumble You restore! Amen.