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. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 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. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 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.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
The night before Jesus would embrace his crucifixion for you, and for me, Judas, Jesus’ betrayer, knew where he would find him. He knew Jesus would be in the garden, praying to his Father. We can ask ourselves, when the hour has come upon us, when our own crisis is bearing down upon us, would people know where to find us? Would they find us in prayer with our Father? Or would they find us trying to bury our anxiety in activity, or in talking to people, or in shopping, or in a pub, or on Netflix, or in some other activity involving screens of some kind?
When the hour came upon Jesus, Judas knew where he’d be. So he brought a large group of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests with torches and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that would happen to him comes forward to meet them.
“Whom do you seek?” Jesus asks.
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they answer.
“I AM,” Jesus said.
According to Keener, in the original language this can be translated “I am he,” as it’s rendered in your Bible, or, it can allude to a literal translation of the great “I AM” from Exodus 3:14. Because the group of armed men who came to arrest Jesus drew back and fell down when he said this, I’m guessing it was the latter, maybe even spoken in a supernatural way.
So Jesus asks them again, “Whom do you seek?”
And again they say, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus says, “I told you that I AM. So, if you seek me, let these men go. (This fulfilled Jesus’ words previously spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”)
Then Peter draws out a sword and strikes the high priests servant Malchus and cuts off his right ear.
So Jesus says to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Jesus’ Last Healing
In the other Gospels we see that Jesus heals Malchus by reattaching his ear. It’s a unique miracle because Jesus typically asks those he heals what they want before he heals them. Or maybe the person asks Jesus for healing unprompted. And the person’s faith also seems to be part of the equation in Jesus’ other healings. But not this time. This time, one of Jesus’ followers assaults a man’s ear, and Jesus, unprompted by Malchus or anyone else undoes the damage his follower did with the sword.
I do this sometimes. Maybe you do too. God’s word, which is sharper than any two-edged sword, is sometimes wielded against someone I disagree with. Some of us, me included sometimes, use it to assault another person’s ear. Or ears, or eyes, if they’re reading one of our posts on social media. And Jesus would say to me and to you, put away your sword. And then, if we look to him, to Jesus, to see what he does in response to what we know is wrong, we see he does good to that same person we just assaulted. He doesn’t want that person’s ear or ears or eyes assaulted. He wants that person to experience God’s power in the form of God’s love. What I’m saying here is that we find ourselves in trouble with God Himself when the love He puts inside us, as someone who belongs to Jesus, is imperceptible because of our big opinions. (Hebrews 4:12)
When our love for people dwarfs our opinions–that’s how we can know we’re in the flow of Jesus’ spirit.
Drinking From the Cup
The last thing I hope you’ll take from today’s passage is how Jesus embraced the cup God gave him to drink from. Jesus embraced it. He moved toward the men who came for him. He moved toward what God had in mind for him.
Today you and I hold a cup the Father has given us. Each one of us is dealing with COVID-19 and all it’s ramifications. Some people are taking it pretty lightly. Others are filled with fear and paranoia. But it’s the cup God has given us to drink from. So like Jesus, we might as well embrace it.
How Kathy and I are Responding to COVID-19
Today I thought I’d share a little about how Kathy and I are trying to embrace this cup.
We prayed together this morning and asked God to fill us with His Holy Spirit the way he filled Jesus’ disciples in the book of Acts. And we asked Him to help us to do what’s wisest and most pleasing in His sight. And we asked Him to lead us and guide us during this strange season.
We also had a discussion about mitigation and what that means. (Mitigation is defined as “the action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something.”)
So a person who’s already stocked up on groceries and supplies for the next six months and decides to stay at home and never be around anyone or any thing touched by another human being: this would be a complete and total quarantine. And if this imaginary person didn’t already have the corona virus, he or she wouldn’t get it, at least not for six months. Anything less extreme would be mitigation.
No mitigation at all would be to go about living life as though there was no COVID-19 outbreak.
After praying about it, what Kathy and I feel God would have us do is to stock up on three or so weeks worth of supplies and to limit physical visits to five people: My son Gabe and his wife Charise, and their son, our grandson Andrew, and, my son Nate and his wife Anastasia.
There are exceptions. If someone needs help I’ll prayerfully decide whether or not to do it on a case by case basis. I signed up as a helper on the Nextdoor app (and Kathy’s agreed to help me). So if an elderly or immunocompromised person in our neighborhood needs someone to make a grocery run, or pharmacy run, or help with some other problem, (Items can be left on the porch) I’m on the list of people who are available. I also asked a pastor at our church to let me know if there are people who need help. His answer was, “not yet.” But in the weeks and months to come people who aren’t working and living month to month are going to be crushed. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to continue working or have some other income stream that’s unaffected ought to do what we can to help those people.
Trial or Opportunity?
If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, you know I recently posted a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Galdalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
This quote is so perfectly relevant right now. I wish this didn’t happen in my time. But it did. All I have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. And what’s been given us is this time of pandemic. So even as Jesus embraced the cup God had for him, I’m trying to embrace our current situation.
In my experience, the difference between an adventure and a disaster is the perception and energy of the one who’s living it. These events are strange and unprecedented in our lifetimes, certainly. But they also bring unprecedented opportunity. So if we decide to, we can choose to look at these events as opportunities.
“. . . shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” Jesus said.
During these times we have opportunity to drink the cup our Father has given us.
Opportunity to put the love of Jesus on display.
Opportunity to love like Jesus.
I hope you’ll look for and embrace the opportunities God puts in your life in the coming days, weeks, and months.
In Jesus’ name.
Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, InterVarsity Press, 1993, p. 306
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Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
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