Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as was written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book. “When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the book Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:1-11).
“Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was the father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people” (John 18:12-14).
“And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciples, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art thou not also one of this man’s disciples? He saith, I am not. And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself” (John 18:15-18).
“The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world: I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou. Me? Ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smites thou me? Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest” (John 18:19-24).
“And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew” (John18:25-27).
“Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover. Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die. Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Tine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: What hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king them? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the Passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber” (John 18:28-40).
WHEN JESUS HAD SPOKEN THESE WORDS, HE WENT FORTH WITH HIS DISCIPLES OVER THE BROOK CEDRON, WHERE WAS A GARDEN, INTO THE WHICH HE ENTERED, AND HIS DISCIPLES! As you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will encounter the teaching of Jesus as set forth in chapters thirteen through sixteen drawing to a close. Not only this but when you come to the eighteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will also find Jesus’ prayer for His disciples and followers having been completed. At this point in the gospel narrative and at this point within the life of Jesus we find Him deliberately and intentionally coming unto the garden of Gethsemane which was nigh unto Jerusalem. Perhaps one of the greatest truths that surrounds this particular time during the life of Jesus is that He not only knew that His time and hour had come but He also knew all things that would come upon Him. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture without understanding and recognizing the awesome and powerful importance of Jesus not only knowing that He would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests and many things at the hands of Gentiles and sinners but also that He would be ridiculed, mocked and scourged. Jesus taught and prepared His disciples for the suffering He would face and experience in the flesh and how it would ultimately lead to His death and crucifixion. In fact you cannot read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew without encounter and coming face to face with the incredible truth that Jesus would begin teaching His disciples those things which He must suffer immediately after He would ask them first who men said that He the Son of man was before making it more personal and asking them who they said that He the Son of man was.
I sit here today reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but ask you who might be reading these words if you knew that you would suffer in the flesh and would be mocked, ridiculed, scorned, and would suffer many things—would you deliberately, intentionally and purposefully journey to the place where that would take place? I can’t help but be reminded of the narrative of Abraham which is found in the Old Testament book of Genesis and specifically in the twenty-second chapter of this Old Testament book. If you turn and direct your attention to this particular chapter found in the book of Genesis you will encounter Abraham being tempted and tested of God in direct relation to his son. The twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis brings us face to face with this testing which would come in the life of Abraham as the LORD God would test him in that which was most precious and most valuable to him in this life—his son Isaac. It would be in this particular chapter where the LORD would speak unto Abraham and instruct him to take his son Isaac—his only son Isaac—and journey to a place where He would show him and there sacrifice him as an offering upon one of the mountains He would show him. We dare not miss the incredible importance of what is found in this particular portion of Scripture for within we find Abraham rising early the very next morning and setting out on this journey together with his son Isaac as well as with a couple of his servants. What so amazes me about this passage of Scripture is that you would think Abraham would have tried to reason with the living God concerning his son Isaac and even ask God why He would even ask such a thing. One would think Abraham would have somehow sought to delay this process and would have tried to push it back before actually walking in obedience in the sight of the living God. The truth of the matter, however, is that when you read this Old Testament narrative you will find that immediately after Abraham received this command of the LORD he would arise early the next morning together with his son to fulfill that which the LORD had commanded. Consider if you will the actual account of this time during the life of Abraham as it was written and recorded by Moses in the Old Testament book of Genesis:
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering; so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORED called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen. And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore: and thy seed shall possess the gates of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:1-18).
It is absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words which are presented here bring us face to face with Abraham being tested of the living God concerning his only son Isaac. In this passage of Scripture we find the LORD speaking unto Abraham and instructing him to take his only son Isaac and to sacrifice him as an offering upon one of the mountains in Moriah which He would show him. Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding this passage is when you think about and consider the fact that the LORD didn’t wait until Abraham arrived in that place which He would show him to tell him what he was commanded and being told to do. I find it quite remarkable that when the LORD God spoke unto Abraham at this particular point within his life He not only instructed him to go unto the land of Moriah but also declared unto him exactly what it was He would ask of him. As you read the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find this is the only time within the life of Abraham when the LORD God tempted him and yet it would be this one time which would be quite a powerful test coming from the LORD. We dare not miss and lose sight of the words found here in this passage for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that when the LORD appeared to and spoke unto His friend Abraham He declared unto him exactly what he was asking of him—namely, to take his only son Isaac and offer his as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which he would show him. Oh it is important for us to recognize and understand what is found in this passage for Abraham didn’t make this journey blindly with no understanding of what was being asked of him. Abraham didn’t saddle his donkey, gather together two of his servants, prepare his son Isaac and bring the appropriate things for the sacrifice without having an understanding of what the LORD had asked of him.
MAKING THE JOURNEY KNOWING WHAT THE LORD HAS ASKED OF YOU! MAKING THE JOURNEY KNOWING WHAT THE LORD HAS SPOKEN UNTO YOU! The question I find myself asking when reading the words in this passage of Scripture is whether or not you and I would have the same level of faithfulness and the same level of commitment and obedience to such a command that would come from the LORD. Scripture makes it very clear that Abraham knew exactly what the LORD was asking him and there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder what the rest of that night was like as Abraham knew what the LORD had asked him. I wonder if as Abraham laid in his bed that night together with Sarah next to him if he did not lose sleep as he wrestled within himself concerning this thing which the LORD had asked of him. Did Abraham spend the entire night wrestling with himself and with his emotions, his thoughts and his feelings concerning his only son Isaac whom the LORD was asking him to present as an offering upon one of the mountains He would show him? It is quite astounding to read and consider this passage and wonder what it was like for Abraham that night and whether or not he even told his wife Sarah what the LORD has asked him. I have to admit there is a part of me that can’t help but think and believe that Abraham didn’t tell Sarah that thing which the LORD had asked him and perhaps wrestled all night with knowing what the LORD God had asked him. We already know Abraham didn’t tell his own son Isaac where they were going and what would take place there for as Abraham and Isaac were making their way unto that place the LORD showed him his son would recognize that they had the wood, they had the fire and they had the knife for the burnt offering but didn’t have the offering. Isaac would recognize how they had everything needed for the sacrifice and for the offering and yet they were missing the most important piece of the sacrifice—the sacrifice itself.
The more I read and consider the words found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with what it must have been like for Abraham deliberately and intentionally making his way unto the place the LORD God would show him knowing exactly what the LORD had asked of him. Abraham would not make this journey having no knowledge of what the LORD was asking of him for the LORD made it very clear that He was asking Abraham to take his one and only son Isaac whom he loved and present him as a sacrifice and offering upon one of the mountains in the land of Moriah He would show him. What so amazes me about this passage of Scripture is not only Abraham’s obedience to that which the LORD had commanded him but also the urgency of that obedience. Scripture makes it very clear that Abraham rose early the next morning and saddled his donkey and prepared two of his servants together with his son and the instruments necessary for the sacrifice and offering and departed for the place the LORD would show unto him. Oh imagine what that journey would have been like as Abraham would be the only one who knew what would take place upon one of the mountains in the land of Moriah and knowing that he himself would have to carry it out. I can’t help but wonder what it was like as Abraham, his two servants and his son journeyed unto the land of Moriah where he would build an altar, arrange the wood, bind his son Isaac and prepare to offer him as a burnt offering and sacrifice unto the LORD. With this being said I have to admit that I do not believe Abraham told anyone what the LORD had spoken unto him—even and especially his own wife Sarah—for there is not a doubt in my mind that if he told any of them they would seek to dissuade and convince him not to follow through in obedience to that which the living God had commanded. There is not a doubt in my mind that Abraham deliberately and intentionally chose not to tell Sarah his wife, Isaac his son nor his servants what the LORD had asked of him and instead kept it close to himself. What it must have been like that night as Abraham lie down upon his bed knowing that which the LORD had asked him and I can’t help but wonder if Abraham lost sleep that night knowing what the LORD had indeed asked of him concerning his only son Isaac.
As I sit here thinking about and considering the words found in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but think about the fact that although the LORD God told Abraham the region where Abraham was to journey and although the LORD God told Abraham that which was being asked of him He would not tell him exactly when he was to carry out this particular act of obedience, faithfulness and sacrifice. What’s more is the LORD God would not even tell Abraham the specific mountain where he was to build the altar and lay his only son Isaac bound upon the altar as he prepared to offer him as a burnt offering. This is actually quite interesting when you think about it for you can’t help but think about and consider the fact that Abraham wasn’t given a specific deadline or time to complete this task from the LORD. The LORD would indeed appear unto him and command him to take his only son Isaac whom he loved and offer him as a burnt offering and sacrifice upon one of the mountains in the land of Moriah He would show him, however, He would not reveal unto him that mountain which he was to journey to nor would He instruct Abraham concerning the timing of this offering. This is actually quite intriguing when you take the time to consider it for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that Abraham was not given a specific time frame for which to carry out and complete the task which was before him. The only thing Abraham knew was what was asked of him and the region where this act was to take place and the rest of it was left entirely up to the living God. Abraham would rise early the next morning as if to display a sense of urgency in obedience and not wanting to delay in doing and performing that which the LORD was asking of him. In all reality I have to admit that I absolutely love that Abraham rose early the next morning for there is a part of me that wonders if the longer he waited to carry out and complete that which was being asked of him there was not the possibility of choosing not to do fulfill and carry it out.
THE URGENCY OF OBEDIENCE! NOT LEAVING ANY ROOM FOR DELAY! NOT LEAVING ANY ROOM FOR BACKING OUT! I find myself being incredibly challenged with the words found in this passage of Scripture for Abraham knew exactly what the LORD was asking of him and he did not delay in rising early the next morning to carry out that which the LORD had commanded him to do. If we are honest with ourselves we would have to admit that we might have tried reasoning with the LORD concerning His asking such a thing of us. There are those of us who would spend all night laboring and toiling within our souls and our minds as we wrestled with that which the living God had indeed asked of us. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear as to what that night was like as Abraham lie in his bed with his wife Sarah next to him and perhaps Isaac in another part of the tent. I have to admit that I can’t help but wonder what it was like that night as Abraham lie upon his bed knowing that which the LORD had asked him and knowing what he had been called to do. Abraham had been instructed by the LORD to take his only son Isaac whom he loved and offer him as a burnt offering and sacrifice upon one of the mountains in the region of Moriah he would show him. Oh with this being said there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if Abraham did not rise early the next morning because he could not sleep the night before and perhaps even because he did not want to delay his obedience to the command and word of the LORD. There is a part of me that believes the whole reason Abraham rose early the next morning was because he did not want to delay or postpone his obedience to that which the LORD God had commanded and instructed him. There is not a doubt in my mind that Abraham knew within himself that to delay in such an act of obedience before the LORD would be detrimental to him because it might leave room for him to choose not to carry out what the LORD had asked.
THE LONGER YOU WAIT THE GREATER THE CHANCE OF CHOOSING NOT TO OBEY THE COMMAND OF THE LORD BECOMES! This narrative concerning Abraham and the LORD God testing him concerning his son is actually incredible when you take the time to truly consider it for it presents us with a strong and powerful understanding of the urgency within the heart and soul of Abraham concerning obedience to the LORD. We know in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were in Rome that Abraham did not falter in his faith before the LORD—even when the LORD had asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac. We know from the epistle written unto the Hebrews that Abraham was willing to offer his only son Isaac as a burnt offering before the LORD knowing and believing the LORD would and could raise him from death to life. Oh I have to admit that I wonder what this narrative would and could have looked like had Abraham been permitted to carry out the offering of his son Isaac as a sacrifice upon the altar which was built there on one of the mountains in the region of Moriah. Imagine what this narrative would and could have been like had Abraham been able to plunge that knife into the heart of his only son Isaac whom he loved and watched as the life drained from his body and the blood flowed upon the altar. What would and what could this scene have looked like had the angel of the LORD not spoken from heaven and commanded Abraham a second time not to lay a hand on his son. What would and what could this narrative have looked like had Abraham been permitted to carry out this sentence of death believing in his heart the LORD could raise his son Isaac from death to life? In all reality it is quite intriguing to think about and consider the words found in this passage of Scripture for there is something to be said about what it would and could have looked like had Abraham actually been released by the LORD to slay his only son Isaac there upon the altar on that mountain in the region of Moriah.
I sit here today being absolutely gripped and captivated with the urgency of obedience within the heart and life of Abraham as he would not delay nor would he postpone that which the LORD had asked of him. The simple fact that Abraham rose early the next morning suggests that he was not willing to delay or postpone his level and measure of obedience to the LORD and was entirely and altogether willing to carry it out without hesitation. Could you do that? Could you respond with such urgency within your own heart and life as you seek to carry out that which the LORD God is asking of you? Would you rise up early the next morning after the LORD had spoken unto you and asked you to do something that would completely and dramatically alter and transform your world? There is not a doubt in my mind that Abraham rose early the next morning because he knew that if he delayed in any way obeying the voice of the LORD and what He had commanded him there would be the chance of his not carrying out or completing it. I can’t help but believe within my heart and spirit that Abraham rose early the next morning knowing what the LORD had asked of him and being unwilling to disobey that which had been commanded of him. Even if obeying the voice and command of the LORD would potentially cost him that which he loved and would potentially cost him everything he would still carry out that which the LORD had asked and commanded of him. Oh dear reader would you do such a thing within your own life? Would you rise early the next morning without delay and without hesitation expressing a powerful sense of urgency in obedience before the LORD your God who has asked and commanded you to do such a thing? If the LORD your God had commanded you to do something that would completely and entirely rock, shatter, transform and alter your world would you be able to do so quickly and without hesitation?
All of this brings us full circle and back to the words and language which is before us in the eighteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John. If you turn and direct your attention back to the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter, however, you will find some incredible language concerning the knowledge which Jesus had concerning this particular time within His life. Beginning to read from the first verse of the thirteenth chapter you will find the following words presented in this New Testament gospel: “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God, he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded” (John 13:1-5). With this in mind I invite you to also consider the following words which are found in the previous chapter within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John for within it we are brought face to face with this knowledge within the heart and mind of Jesus concerning that which would befall and come upon Him. It is in the twelfth chapter of this gospel that we again find Jesus knowing and recognizing that the time and hour of His suffering, the time and hour of His death, as well as the time and hour of His departure and return unto the Father had come. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in this passage beginning with the twentieth verse:
“And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and gain Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of what fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man? Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that talketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them” (John 12:20-36).
It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand what is found within these verses for they bring us face to face with the knowledge and understanding Jesus had—not only concerning the suffering He would experience in the flesh but also knowing that he would ultimately die and be crucified. Even in the twelfth chapter we find Jesus speaking unto those who were with Him concerning what manner and what type of death He would die. What’s more is that in the twelfth chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find the soul of Jesus being greatly troubled knowing what lie before Him and knowing what was asked of Him and yet what we find within the heart and life of Jesus is His unwavering commitment to carrying out, completing and finishing the work which the Father had asked of Him. It would be in the previous chapter we find Jesus speaking unto the Father in heaven and declaring unto Him that He had indeed finished the work which was given unto Him to do and it was at the Jordan River where the eternal Father spoke from heaven and declared that this was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. This voice from heaven would again speak at the top of the mount of transfiguration when Peter, James and John would witness and behold Jesus transfigured before them in a measure of the glory He had with the Father as He talked with Moses and Elijah. The voice would again speak from heaven and declare that this was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased and would also command and instruct those present to hear and listen to Him. It is absolutely incredible to think about and consider the fact that the Father was pleased with the Son before He would perform a single miracle and before He would actually carry out and complete that which He had been commanded and instructed. Not only this but when speaking before and unto the Father who was in heaven we find Jesus emphatically declaring unto the Father that He had finished the work which was given unto Him to do.
As you come to the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find that after Jesus had made an end of speaking all those things He taught His disciples and those things which He spoke unto the Father He would journey over the brook Cedron (Kidron) unto a place where there was a garden. It’s necessary for us to recognize and understand the significance and importance of this garden and Jesus’ journey unto the garden for it would be in this garden where the betrayal would actually take place. It would be here in this garden—here in this place where Jesus oftentimes resorted with His disciples—where the betrayal of Judas would in fact take place as Judas would lead a band of officers and men who were given unto him from the chief priests and Pharisees. What I so love about this passage of Scripture is that Jesus knew all things that would befall and come upon Him and He even knew what would take place in the garden. It would be at the table and at the last supper Jesus would declare unto His disciples that there would be one among them who would betray Him. There in the upper room Jesus would declare unto His disciples that there was one among them sitting at the table who would indeed and would in fact betray Him although none of the disciples knew who would and who could betray Him. Jesus Himself knew that one who would betray him and he even marked that disciple at the table by declaring that it was he with whom he had given the sop after he had dipped it. It would be there at the table in the upper room at the last supper Jesus would mark that disciple who was going to betray him and He did so with the sop after He had dipped it into the cup.
I have previously written of the contradiction that was present within the heart and life of Judas for before he would take and receive the sop from the hand of Jesus he would take and receive the silver from the hand of religion. On this night not only would Judas take the silver from religion’s hand but Judas would also take the sop from the hand of Jesus. THE SILVER OF BETRAYAL AND THE SOP OF FELLOWSHIP! We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when we come to the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John we find Judas leading a band of men and officers which were given unto him by the chief priests and Pharisees—those who had already paid him with thirty pieces of silver for his services. In fact when you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find while it was indeed true that Jesus and His disciples went forth over the brook Cedron where was a garden which they entered it was also true that Judas himself was aware of the place. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder how many times Jesus and His disciples had entered into this particular garden during those three and a half years—whether it was to take unto themselves their rest or whether it was to pray before the Father who was in heaven. I can’t help but wonder how many times Jesus and His disciples had come unto and entered into this garden during those three and a half years and what exactly took place in the midst of it. We know that this garden might very well have been a place of prayer before the Father as each of the Synoptic gospels presents us with Jesus entering into the garden and going a stone’s throw from His disciples and began pouring out His heart and soul before the Father who was in heaven. Within the gospels written by Matthew, Mark and Luke we get the strong sense that the garden was indeed a special place of intimacy and fellowship between the disciples and the Lord as well between the Father and the Son. There is not a doubt in my mind that this garden was indeed a place of intimacy, prayer and fellowship which took place between the disciples and Jesus as well as a place of rest.
The eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John is incredibly unique when you take the time to consider it for in the opening verses we find Jesus entering into it with His disciples. The apostle John does not take the time to describe Jesus’ agony and anguish in the garden as He poured out His heart and soul before the Father—this despite the fact that he was one of the three disciples whom Jesus actually brought into the garden with Him. Despite the fact the fact that the apostle John was one of the three disciples whom Jesus brought into the garden with Him he would choose not to write of the agony and anguish of soul which Jesus experienced there in the midst of the garden. The apostle John would, however, write of Judas’ enterance into the garden—and not only Judas’ entrance into the garden but also Judas’ bringing a band of men and officers which were given unto him by the chief priests and Pharisees. Judas was well aware of this place and how Jesus had oftentimes resorted into it together with His disciples. Oh I can’t help but wonder if Judas himself had not entered into the garden together with Jesus and the other disciples on more than one occasion. I find myself wondering if Judas did not enter into the garden together with Jesus and the other disciples and even spent time praying unto the Father there. Oh how many times had Jesus invited Judas into this place of quietness, this place of rest and this place of prayer and fellowship before this particular night? How many times had Jesus entered into this garden together with His disciples and how many times had they experienced prayer and communion with the Father who was in heaven?
On this particular night, however, Judas would not enter into the garden together with Jesus and the disciples but would instead enter into the garden with a band of men and officers who were given unto him by the chief priests and the Pharisees. When at one point Judas might have entered into the garden together with Jesus and His disciples he would on this particular night enter the garden—not as a disciple who would experience communion, fellowship, intimacy and prayer but as one who would betray the Lord. What’s more is that in the thirteenth chapter of this gospel we find the apostle John writing how Satan had already put it into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus into the hands of His enemies and adversaries. The New Testament gospel narrative of Luke describes something even greater for he would write how after Judas had taken the sop from the hand of Jesus Satan would in fact enter into him. Within the four gospels—not only do we find Satan putting into the heart and mind of Judas to betray the Lord but we also find Satan entering into him. This is something that is truly unique when you take the time to think about it for it brings you back to the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis. It is in the third chapter of the book of Genesis we find Adam and Eve in the garden after the LORD God had formed Adam from the dust of the earth outside of the garden before breathing into his nostrils the breath of life and placing him in the garden. What’s more is that it would be there in the midst of the garden the LORD would cause a deep sleep to come upon Adam as He would take from him one of his own ribs which he would use to form and fashion a helpmate for him which would be woman. Although Adam was formed from the dust of the ground outside the garden and placed within the garden Eve was formed from Adam himself there in the midst of the garden and presented unto him as a helpmate. This is important to realize and understand for there in the garden Adam and Eve weren’t alone for there would be an adversary and foe that would be far more sinister and for more subtle than any of the other beasts and animals which were present in the midst of it.
In the third chapter of the book of Genesis we find the presence of the serpent who would not only deceive and beguile Eve but would also tempt Eve with the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It would be there in the garden where the serpent would come unto Eve—perhaps at or near the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—and would not only call into question that which the living God had spoken but also undermining that which the living God had spoken unto Adam concerning the fruit of the tree. We know there was a serpent in the garden and we know from the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints as well as the New Testament book of the Revelation that the serpent in the garden was indeed Satan who would be the dragon in this prophetic book. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this for when we come to the eighteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find the serpent once more entering into the garden—this time not as a serpent which was among the animals in the garden but rather within one of Jesus’ own disciples. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read the words found in this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with the serpent once more entering into the garden—this time, however, not entering into an ancient garden that was planted by the living God before the fall but into a modern garden which Jesus and His disciples would enter on this particular night. Having journeyed from the upper room to the garden of Gethsemane we find Jesus and His disciples entering into that place of intimacy, that place of quietness and that place of communion and fellowship.
I sit here reading the words found here in this text and I can’t help but see the serpent entering into the garden once more as the gospel authors make it very clear that Satan did in fact enter into Judas at the table at the last supper after he had taken the sop from the hand of Jesus. It would be after Judas had taken the sop from the hand of Jesus that Satan would indeed enter into him and would indeed help him carry out that which he had already placed into his heart and mind to do. It’s interesting to note that Jesus would enter into this garden with disciples and Judas would enter into the garden with officers. Jesus would enter into the garden with those whom He called friends while Judas would enter into the garden with those who were given unto him by the chief priests and Pharisees. Jesus would enter into the garden with friends while Judas would enter into the garden with enemies and adversaries. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that here in the garden there is a strong contrast between Jesus the Son of God and Satan the ancient serpent in the garden as well as a contrast between Judas as the betrayer and the disciples as followers of Jesus. Not only this but in the fifteenth chapter of this gospel we find Jesus declaring unto the disciples that He no longer called them servants but called them friends—something which clearly indicates that when He entered into the garden He did so accompanied by and walking with friends. When Judas entered the garden, however, we find him entering into the garden as the betrayer with enemies and adversaries. Judas would enter into the garden with enemies and adversaries of Jesus which were given unto and provided unto Judas by the enemies of Jesus within the religious system of that day.
It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for here in this place of intimacy and fellowship we find the serpent once more entering into the garden. On this particular night, however, the serpent would not enter to deceive and beguile those who were in it but to actually seize and lay hold of the Son of man who was sent by the Father. It would be on this particular night Judas would enter into the garden with a band of men and officers who were given unto him by the chief priest and Pharisees for one reason and one purpose—namely to sieze and lay hold of the Lord Jesus Christ. Judas would enter into the garden on this particular night to betray Jesus into the hands of his enemies and adversaries as he would lead an insurrection in the place of intimacy and fellowship where Jesus and His disciples were. Oh that we would pay close attention to this for Jesus would know all things that would come upon and befall Him and yet He would still enter into the garden together with His disciples. Jesus knew when He made His way into the garden and even when He entered into it that Judas would also enter into the garden accompanied by officers who were given into his hands by religion to take hold of Jesus. Jesus knew all things that would befall and come upon Him and yet He would still choose to enter into the garden. Jesus knew that one of His own would betray Him and even knew the place where that betrayal would take place and yet He did not avoid it. What’s more is that we must needs recognize that Jesus knew that He would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of Israel and the Pharisees there in the midst of Jerusalem and yet He would deliberately and intentionally make the journey unto the city.
There is something to be said of Jesus not only coming unto the city of Jerusalem but also entering into the garden for Jesus knew all those things that would befall and come upon Him. Jesus knew that going to Jerusalem would mean the opposition, the resistance and the persecution against Him would be increased and brought to its highest level it had ever been. Jesus knew that journeying unto Jerusalem would increase the persecution He would face and experience at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, the Pharisees and the entire religious system. Not only this but Jesus also knew and understood that by journeying unto the garden which was just over the brook Cedron that He would be betrayed by one of His own. Jesus knew that it would be there in the garden where He would indeed be betrayed and where He would be seized and laid hold of by those who would bring Him unto the religious leaders and system of that day. Jesus was well aware of what would befall and come upon Him in the city of Jerusalem and even in the garden of Gethsemane and yet He would not shy away from nor avoid either place. Jesus would deliberately and intentionally make His way into the city of Jerusalem as well as into the garden of Gethsemane for it was necessary to fulfill that which the Father had ordained and appointed for Him. Jesus knew and understood that it was necessary to make His way into the garden on this particular night for it would be there in the garden His betrayer would enter together with an insurrection of officers who had no other objective and purpose other than to lay hold of Jesus and bring Him unto the religious leaders. Here on this particular night the Lord Jesus would enter into the garden knowing the serpent would enter into the garden once more that he might destroy Him once and for all.
What I so love about the words found in this passage of Scripture is found in the fourth verse as the apostle John wrote how Jesus knew all things which would come upon Him and yet still went forth to meet those who had entered into the garden. Jesus knew who they were who entered into the garden and Jesus knew what purpose they had when entering into it and yet He willingly went unto them asking them whom they sought. In the fourth verse of this passage of Scripture we find Jesus knowing all those things which would befall Him and all those things which would come upon Him and would go forth to meet His betrayer—and not only meet His betrayer but also to meet those who would come against him swords and staves. Jesus knew that which would befall and come upon Him and yet He seemed to deliberately and intentionally embrace and lay hold of it. There is absolutely no indication found within these chapters that Jesus avoided the garden nor even avoided the city of Jerusalem—this despite the fact that He knew what would befall and come upon Him. Jesus knew that Judas would show up in the midst of the garden and Jesus knew that Judas would show up accompanied by officers who would be armed with swords and staves and yet He would still approach His betrayer and would approach those who would come unto Him as enemies and adversaries who might very well have been prepared to be aggressors. We know that Simon Peter was the only one who would draw a sword there in the garden and that he would strike off the ear of the servant of the high priest whose name was Malchus. We know that Jesus would deliberately and intentionally speak unto Simon and instruct him to put away the sword for those who lived by the sword would be those who died by the sword. Jesus would instruct Simon Peter to put away his sword for he wasn’t there to defend Jesus from His aggressors, from His adversaries and from His enemies.
It is truly something to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and to consider how Jesus would approach those who would come against Him with swords and staves and ask them point blank whom they were seeking. When they responded by declaring that they were seeking Jesus of Nazareth Jesus would respond unto them declaring that He was in fact the one whom they were seeking. The apostle John writes and records how as soon as Jesus said unto them that He was Jesus of Nazareth whom they were seeking they all went backward and fell to the ground. Jesus would then ask them again whom they were seeking and they would again respond by declaring how they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth. Twice in the garden Jesus would declare unto those who came out against Him that He was Jesus of Nazareth and the second time He declared unto them that He was Jesus of Nazareth He would also declare unto them that if it was He alone whom they were seeking then they ought to let those who were with Him depart and go their way. What would happen next would be Simon drawing the sword which he most likely had on his person and using it to strike the ear of the servant of the high priest. The way the apostle John presents this particular event is different and unique from the other gospel authors for the apostle John would present it as Jesus instructing Peter to put up his sword into its sheath before asking him if He ought and should not drink the cup which His Father had appointed for Him to drink. In the other gospels we find the gospel authors writing how Jesus would also declare unto Simon that those who live by the sword would die by the sword. That which Jesus was seeking to do was deliver Simon Peter from the need to defend himself, the need to lash out against those who would come against him in persecution and affliction, and leave judgment and vengeance in the hands of the living God.
I absolutely love what is found later on in this passage of Scripture for when you read of Jesus standing before Pontius Pilate you will find Him declaring unto him that His kingdom was not of this world. What’s more is that Jesus would go on to declare that if His kingdom were indeed of this world then His servants would fight that He should not believed into the hands of the Jews. Jesus would go on to declare that because His servants did not fight and because they did not seek to deliver Him out of the hands of the Jews that kingdom was not of the world but something else entirely and altogether different. Simon Peter thought he could take up the sword and thought He could enact vengeance and violence in the name of defending Jesus from His enemies and adversaries and yet the truth of the matter is that Jesus would not allow Simon Peter to continue on with his use of the sword. Thankfully Simon Peter only struck off the ear of the servant of the high priest and did not strike off his head or inflict some other form of harm and bodily damage. What’s more is that even after Simon had struck off the ear of the servant of the high priest Jesus would take the ear and would heal this servant of the high priest. How absolutely incredible it is to consider the fact that here in this garden—not only did Jesus command and instruct vengeance to be left in the hands of the living God but He also offered healing. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this as it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous fact that there is something else that makes the kingdom of heaven entirely and altogether different from the kingdom(s) of men. Although there would be a band of men and officers who would come against Jesus with swords and staves and although Simon Peter would strike off the ear of the servant of the high priest with his sword Jesus would undo the damage he had inflicted.
HEALING IN THE GARDEN! Oh there is something incredibly powerful about this experience and encounter in the garden for although it would indeed be a place of betrayal it would also be a place of healing. Jesus knew those things which would befall Him and Jesus knew what this band of men and officers had come unto the garden to accomplish and yet when one of His own disciples struck off the ear of the servant of the high priest—not only did He command and instruct the sword to be put down but He also healed the damage which had been done by one of His own disciples. Oh I can’t help but wonder what it was like for Malchus as Jesus picked up his ear which was struck off by one of His disciples and healed and restored it. What was it like for Malchus to experience healing in the place of betrayal and healing in the place of violence and aggression? What was it like for Malchus to watch and witness as Jesus full of compassion and affection healed and restored his ear which had been struck off by one of Jesus’ disciples? Not only this but I can’t help but wonder what it was like for those in the garden to witness and observe how Jesus’ disciples would not rise up in defense of Jesus and would not attempt to engage this band of men and officers who were themselves armed with swords and staves. We know that when Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate that He declared that his kingdom was not of this world and that if it was of this world His servants and followers would fight. Oh this is something which we must needs recognize and understand for there is something to be said about the servants, the followers and the disciples of Jesus who would not fight—despite the aggression, the persecution, the affliction and the oppression that might be raised up against them. Oh there is something to be said about what we find in this passage of Scripture and how the kingdom of heaven was not of this world and as such it would not allow nor would it permit the disciples, the servants and followers of the Lord Jesus to engage in aggression and engage themselves in fighting with swords, with clubs, with spears, with shields and the like. Oh remember the words which the apostle Paul wrote when He declared that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places and that which is present in the unseen and spiritual realm.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which Jesus spoke unto Pontius Pilate concerning His kingdom for there is something fundamental concerning Jesus’ kingdom that was manifested in the garden of Gethsemane and later pronounced and spoken as Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate. It would be while standing before Pilate Jesus would emphatically declare that His kingdom was not of this world and that if his kingdom were indeed of this world his servants would fight. What’s more is that not only would Jesus’ servants fight but they would fight that He would not be delivered into their hands. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that the kingdom of heaven does not contain servants that fight against flesh and blood. The kingdom of heaven is such that leaves and entrusts vengeance into the hands of the living God and never tries to exact its own vengeance, justice and judgment. The disciples of the Lord Jesus could have very easily attempted to resist the officers and the band of men which Judas brought into the garden of Gethsemane, however, even when Simon Peter attempted to use the sword and struck off the ear of the servant of high priest Jesus instructed him to put the sword back into its sheath. PUT THE SWORD AWAY AND HEAL THE EAR! PUT THE SWORD AWAY AND HEAL THE DAMAGE!
Oh if there is something I can’t help but be absolutely captivated by when reading the narratives of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane it is how Jesus not only commanded Simon to put away the sword and thus cast down his need for vengeance and defense but He also healed the ear of the servant of the high priest. Even though Jesus knew the officers and band of men whom Jesus brought with him into the garden came that they might seize and lay hold of Him He was still willing to heal the damage that one of His own disciples had done. HEALING THE DAMAGE AND AVOIDING THE DEFENSE! There is something we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for within it—not only do we find Jesus healing the damage which one of His own disciples had inflicted but he also prevented His disciples from exacting their own defense of Him there in the garden. What’s more is that we must also recognize that in the garden Jesus would also declare that if He asked for it the Father would send Him twelve legions of angels to come His defense and rescue thus delivering Him out of the hands of His enemies and adversaries. Oh this is something we have a great need of understanding for there in the garden—not only did Jesus command the sword to be put back and thus preventing the disciples from exacting their own form of vengeance and justice but He also held back the legions of angels from coming to His rescue. Even as Jesus hung there upon the cross with His outstretched arms I would dare say that He held back the angels of heaven preventing them from coming to His defense and His rescue. I do agree in part that Jesus’ outstretched arms might very well have been stretched out toward the east and west thus pointing to the confirmation that as far as the east is from the west so far hath the living God removed our transgressions. I do agree and believe that Jesus’ outstretched arms was a powerful invitation that was being made as His arms would be nailed in a place of invitation as a wonderful and powerful invitation was being given unto those who would come unto Him and those who would call upon His name. I do believe that Jesus’ outstretched arms which were nailed in place by Roman soldiers would in fact point to those who were crucified on either side of Him and demonstrate the tremendous truth that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
With this writing coming to a close it is absolutely necessary that we call and draw our attention to the fact that both in the garden and on the cross Jesus held back the legions of angels who would have immediately come to His rescue and His defense had He asked the Father to send them. What we find within the New Testament gospels is Jesus commanding His disciple to put down their sword and not seek to exact their own vengeance, justice and judgment against those who would come against Him. Not only this but Jesus would also hold back and keep at bay the angels in heaven who undoubtedly had a front row seat to the events that would take place in the garden. Undoubtedly the angels in heaven witnessed the events which would take place in the garden and yet were entirely and altogether prevented by Jesus from coming unto His rescue and His defense. Not only this but we don’t even find Jesus asking the Father to deliver Him from this hour and sending legions of angels to His rescue. Even when He was hanging there upon the cross He would not ask the Father to come unto His rescue and deliver Him. Even when darkness covered the place of Calvary for three hours from the sixth hour unto the ninth hour and Jesus asked the Father why He had forsaken Him Jesus would still not cry out and ask the Father to deliver and save Him from His suffering and ultimately His death. It is absolutely necessary and important that we recognize and understand this as it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the kingdom of heaven it being such that does not allow vengeance, justice, judgment and our own pre-conceived notion of defense to be exercised based on our own opinions, feelings and thoughts. Perhaps the single greatest question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are truly willing to be citizens of heaven and allow the living and eternal God accomplish and fulfill His purposes and plans for our lives in the midst of the culture and society in which we are living.