A reading and a reflection
St 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. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So 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. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he’, they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.’ This was to fulfil the word that he had spoken, ‘I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.’ Then 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. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’
Here is Jesus, face to face with the crowd. He is making certain of the safety of his disciples when suddenly one shouts and Peter flings his blade towards Malchus, cutting off his ear. Peter is not a swordsman, and he isn’t helping Jesus in the right way either.
Have we tried to help Jesus in the wrong way? Even when our intentions are good, like Peter, we can do a good thing in the wrong way. Have we approached an unbeliever in a way that actually made it harder for him or her to hear the Gospel? Have we displayed behaviour that made it more difficult for them to respond to the Gospel than before they met us?
Peter was looking at things with the wrong perspective. He saw the mob as a problem, so he just attacked. But Jesus looked beyond the mob and linked up with the will of the Father. “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” If we aren’t careful, we will be using up all our energy looking at the immediate problem instead of trying to discover God’s will in the situation. Are we working ourselves to exhaustion trying to solve a problem and getting few results? Perhaps we need to pray as Jesus did and ask how God wants us to respond.
John makes some things really clear for us in this passage. Jesus was not to be taken against his will; he willingly offered himself. He wasn’t a victim of the angry mob; he was in control the whole time. What a comfort to us in our own lives when circumstances do seem out of control. Jesus knows and is working in the events and circumstances that we encounter. We can find courage to trust him, even when we don’t understand everything that is happening.
Heavenly Father, I want to learn the spiritual lessons that You would teach me, and to live in willing obedience and utter dependence upon You. May I never fear the cup of difficult circumstances that I may have to face in life, but live my life as You intended, learning obedience by the things that I may suffer.. so that in all things I may say: Your will not mine be done.