Audio version at: https://youtu.be/mSVV_xtbgXQ
Prepare to Listen. Be still and silent, offering this prayer from Psalm 36: For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light (v9).
Prayerfully Read John 18:1-11
After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ 5They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he’, they stepped back and fell to the ground. 7Again he asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ 8Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.’ 9This was to fulfil the word that he had spoken, ‘I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.’ 10Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. 11Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’
“I have power to lay [my life] down, and I have power to take it up again,” Jesus had earlier claimed (Jn 10:18). He was right, as this account of his arrest demonstrates. It’s obvious that Jesus is the one in control, the one with power over his life and death. Judas lacked this power, despite an overwhelming contingent of about 600 Romans soldiers  plus temple police from the Jewish rulers. If Judas and his army anticipated a violent response, or expected to dominate Jesus with a powerful force, they were disappointed. They approached a man who knew what was happening (v4) and willingly submitted to the role he’d been given by the Father. He exercised his power to lay down his life.
He also took the initiative, asking, “For whom are you looking?” When they replied, “Jesus of Nazareth,” he boldly admitted, twice, “I am” (the Greek lacks, but implies he). Whether it was Jesus’ quiet claim to deity (I am is God’s name) or his boldness, his response forced an army of heavily armed soldiers to step back and fall to the ground before one unarmed man. Did they sense that Jesus possessed a power over them that they couldn’t control? It wasn’t the power of physical force, such as theirs. Jesus remained non-violent to the end, even rebuked Peter’s attempt at violence. But he clearly showed who was in charge and who had control over his life. He would lay it down and take it up at his choosing, not theirs, nor ours.
What caught your attention in John’s account of Jesus’ arrest? What do you now see about Jesus?
Respond to Jesus
Help me today, Lord to live more like you and willingly take on what I need to do, and refuse to respond with violence in my words or actions. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world. Willingly take up and do what you must.
 According to Thomas Brodie, a detachment (or cohort) was usually 600 soldiers (The Gospel According to John, 1993, p. 524).
Reflection on Scripture has been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Reflecting on Jesus in the Gospels has become a necessity to get Jesus right. Join me in reading John to see Jesus more clearly this Lent.