Wednesday, April 30, 2014

ON PURPOSE (John Chapter 18)

John 18:11, “So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup the Father has given to me?’”

What you think about the cross matters.  The preaching of “Christ crucified” is a “stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, both Jews and Greeks (it represents) the power of God and wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).  Key to the possession of a right perspective of the cross is the realization that Christ’s death was no accident, it was God’s purpose all along.

Jesus was well aware of “all that would happen to him” (John 18:5).  He had long before warned His disciples of His sufferings (Cf. Mark 8:31).  He had known about and predicted Judas’ betrayal before it happened (Cf. John 13:11, 19).  He had spoken before of the “cup” He would drink (Cf. Mark 10:38).  It was a cup the Father had given to him.  He had earlier labored, sorrowful of soul, in prayer concerning it, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

The events recorded in John chapter 18 were not matters of mere happenstance.  They were not accidental occurrences that worked to bring about an unforeseen calamity or supposed premature end to a “good man’s” life.  The death of the divine Son of God was according to the predetermined plan of God (Cf. Acts 2:23).  God had purposed all along to send His only begotten Son to suffer and die for our sins (Cf. John 3:16; Romans 5:8).  In His cross--and in all that led up to it--Jesus fully and willingly submitted Himself to the Father’s will (Cf. John 17:4).

A company of Judas-led men came “with lanterns and torches and weapons” to arrest Him (John 18:3).  It was no small group and included “a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees” (John 18:3).  They came with torches to search for him, but He did not hide.  They came with weapons to overcome any resistance, but He did not resist.  The mere affirmation of His identity, “I am He,” caused them all to draw back and fall to the ground (Cf. John 18:6), but He nevertheless voluntarily gave Himself up and was bound by them.  Had He chosen to resist all the armies of the world could not have worked to arrest and bind Him, but He had already bound Himself to the will of the Father and that bond would ultimately work to bind Him to the cross.

Despite having been forewarned, Peter was not understanding the events that were transpiring.  His response?  “He drew (his sword) and struck the priest’s servant and cut off his right ear” (John 18:10).  What was his plan?  Defeat the enemies of Christ “one ear at a time?”  Matthew’s gospel includes the rest of Jesus’ response to Peter’s ill-advised effort: “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place.  For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.  Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legion of angels?  But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so’” (Matthew 26:52-54)?

Jesus could have called “twelve legions of angels” to rescue Him, but He did not.  He purposed instead to subject Himself to the Father’s will.  In so doing He fulfilled numerous, specific, and centuries-old prophecies.  The words “fulfill” and “fulfilled” are used repeatedly in the passion account to describe His obedient response.

Even in His arrest His divine identity was clearly attested to, being made evident by His miraculous works.  By His Word, “I am He,” they all fell to the ground.  Peter cut off the servant’s ear, but Jesus “touched his ear and healed him” (Luke 22:15).  But they were hard-hearted and refused to believe. 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son” (John 3:16).  The Son purposed to die in subjection to the Father’s will.  The cross testifies to the power, wisdom, and love of God!  “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16).  No one took His life from Him, He laid it down of His “own accord” (John 10:18). The cross was no accident, it was God’s plan all along.  The Father gave Jesus a cup to drink, for our sake, He purposed to fully partake of it.

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