This chapter follows Jesus through his betrayal, arrest and trials. He faces all of this calmly and willingly. Peter, on the other hand, is not prepared to face the consequences of his faith.
Here is a link to the livestream video:
James “Whitey” Bulger was a Boston crime boss, whose story has been told in books, documentary form and at least one major film, Black Mass starring Johnny Depp. Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_F-lVhSfx8
One of the many crazy things about Bulgar’s story is his ability to avoid arrest. He cooperated with the FBI for a very long time and eventually ran from the law – some sixteen years as a fugitive, most of that while on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.
Some people will do almost anything to stay out of prison, even if they deserve it.
With Jesus, though he was by no means a criminal, it was very different. Here is the story as John presents it,
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.
All of these people come to get Jesus. The word used for “a band” of soldiers would usually number in the hundreds. So how does Jesus respond?
4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.
The reaction of the organized mob is fascinating and probably indicates something supernatural at work.
6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Jesus is still rather determined to make himself known.
7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”
And just in case future disciples would misunderstand, we get this detail.
10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Jesus went to the cross willingly. We might even say intentionally. It was part of God’s plan. There is, however, an example here for us. Should our faith ever get us into trouble, we need not avoid that trouble at all costs. We follow Jesus, not men like Whitey Bulger.
Such suffering or trials may be part of God’s plan for us. We are not criminals who need to run from justice. We may even need to face injustice with willing hearts and bodies ready to suffer harm. The history of martyrs for the faith is long and growing. It’s one way many have had to follow Jesus and there will be many more as we wait for Christ’s return.
Omar Yamout walks us through John 13, in which Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. Judas goes off to betray Jesus, while Jesus predicts Peter’s denials
John 13.mp3 (Omar Yamout)
Here is a link to the livestream video:
God forbid any of us should betray Jesus as Judas did. Honestly I’m not very sure what that would even look like today. Possibly, it could be someone doing the opposite of the Apostle Paul. He was an early persecutor of the church who later was converted and became an ardent follower of Christ. Today I can imagine someone following Jesus, serving him in what appears to be sincere, outward devotion encouraging others in a position of ministry. What if this person turns, if Satan enters him as he entered Judas, and then this public Christian turns and becomes a persecutor of the church? It could happen. Maybe someone knows of a story just like this. (I do not.) This would be just Judas-like enough to qualify as a complete betrayal.
More common by far are those who deny Jesus like Peter. Simon Peter was overconfident. He would have gladly laid down his life for his Lord – or so he imagined. Jesus knew better and told Peter he would deny him three times before the night was over. Many of us fit into this category. We’ve blown it when we had the perfect chance to resist temptation or make Jesus look good. Let’s face it, we sometimes find it hard not to go along with the world.
The church is full of Peters and most of us can identify with his weakness. Thank God that he uses weak servants, empowers them with his Spirit, and builds his church through their feeble yet God-infused ministries.
By God’s grace, most of us who follow Jesus do so with a modicum of faithfulness. Our lives give evidence of a modest amount of the fruit of his work. We exercise our mustard seed of faith. We donate our few loaves and fishes to the cause of feeding the multitudes. Someone wishes to see Jesus and we are happy to lead the way to the Savior. We figuratively (or literally, if need be) wash the feet of the saints. These little actions are the big ways that God furthers the kingdom.
One thing that stands out to me in this chapter is how little the other ten disciples could do to prevent the betrayal by Judas or Peter’ denials. As far as I can tell, they could do nothing. There are times when we all have to stand or fall on our own. Even following the crowd, in the end, becomes an individual decision. When that time comes, may we all be found faithful. Let us each take a few more steps today as we follow our Lord.