Prepare to listen (about 5 minutes). Pray: “Teach me your way, O LORD.”
Read John 18:1-12 (read slowly as you wonder about the details in the text).
1After 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 fulfill 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?’ 12 So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him.
Some background information
‘I am he’ should most likely simply be ‘I am.’ Because this is God’s name, Jews considered it blasphemy (a claim to be God) to say it. Hence the religious police shock when Jesus answered, ‘I am.’
‘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.’ There is something very ordinary about these words and yet the most momentous event in history took place there that very day. Gardens often conjure up pictures of beauty and peace (think of the Garden of Eden). Jesus chose to enter a garden, ‘knowing all that was to happen to him.’ Violence takes place but Jesus refused to be defended from it. He rejected, outright, an act of violence from his own disciple. He let himself be arrested.
I wonder what Jesus would say to our American culture, especially his Church, that is so pro-guns and violence? What do you think Jesus calls you to and how will you obey his call?
Respond to Jesus in prayer. Write your own prayer response or pray the following prayer:
Lord Jesus, give to your people in this country wisdom and courage to act with grace and also humility so that we promote peace and love, not violence and hate. Amen.
Be silent and still (for as long as you want). Simply be in the presence of Jesus, who loves you, regardless.